Taking responsibility

Who has responsibility for customer service in your organisation? If you produce your own product it may seem straightforward but, if you are a receiving venue, perhaps the boundaries are less clear. Add in ticket agencies, producers and production companies, and the situation blurs even more.

Does it matter? Well in these times of increasing customer expectations and the potential for brand reputation damage, a clear policy on customer care is key to any organisation’s success. While we may understand the differences between the various parties does the customer? When producers also own venues the situation becomes virtually impossible for an audience member to untangle.

This thought was triggered by a recent theatre trip. Tickets were purchased through the theatre’s own online box office and, while some seats did carry warnings of restricted views of varying degrees, the seats purchased carried no such warning. On arrival, though, the booked seats turned out to have a restricted view of the stage.

What prompted the question of responsibility for customer service was the response from the theatre manager when raising the concern over the restrictions during the interval. Now you would think seating and view complaints are standard issues for venue management to deal with. The theatre manager advised, however, that, despite tickets being sold by the theatre themselves; they have no responsibility for complaints and that responsibility lies with the producers of the show. Is this a wise customer service strategy for building brand reputation?

Yes, producers do set seat prices and classification of price bands but who do audiences identify their customer service experience with – producer or venue?

After a bad experience at a particular venue, is the customer likely to avoid shows from a certain producer or, more likely, avoid returning to that venue? Word of mouth and now the social media age means negative comments about the venue can soon spread and, while it may have a short impact on the current production, long-term the reputation of the venue is likely to suffer more.

So I return to the original question. Who has responsibility for customer service in your organisation? Is it worth taking a step back and checking that internal divisions within the industry are not blocking your customers’ perception of your service and brand?

This blog originially written for http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/

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