Since I have started a new job I am in the process of evaluating every document, process and interaction my organization undertakes. One of those areas is customer service, of course.
For that reason, an article I came across via The Drucker Exchange is really resonating with me. In a blog post titled, The Dark Side of Customer Experience, Monique Reece opens with a joke we can probably all relate to.
The longer version is in the post, but basically a guy dies and is shown heaven and hell and given a choice between the two. On his visit to heaven, everything is sedate and lovely. Hell is a veritable Mardi Gras party. After the doors close on Hell, the guy tells St. Peter he chooses Hell. The doors open and it the scene is the stereotypical hellish landscape.
Upon wondering what happened to the party scene, the man receives the response “Well,” said St. Peter as the doors closed. “The first time you came to visit you were a prospect. Now you’re a customer.”
Reece cites some of my biggest pet peeves– the introductory rate that rewards new customers and makes the person who has been loyal for 10 years, enduring price increases, feel like an idiot for sticking around so long for no recognition or reward. As Reece notes, there is actually more of an incentive to separate your relationship and then renew it.
The performing arts version of this is giving cut rate discount tickets to last minute purchasers, suggesting a certain amount of foolishness on the part of those who planned and purchased ahead of time. Some arts organizations sell large amounts of rush tickets at rates lower than those of subscribers who have committed to many shows in advance.
It just occurred to me moments ago, why don’t performing arts organization offer Rush tickets exclusively to those who have already purchased two or more tickets?
This would have multiple benefits 1- It rewards people who committed in advance; 2- It turns those people into recruiters for your show when they invite their friends along; 3- It gets people you already have a relationship with paying closer attention to your emails or social media account that you are using to communicate this discount, providing an opportunity to get them excited and mention other shows.
My suspicion is that attending a show on a half price ticket thanks to two people who purchased weeks in advance is a better model of behavior than attending alongside two other people who also decided to attend because tickets were half price.
It probably also reinforces many elements of the advance purchasers’ self-image if they know their friends were only able to attend because they were stalwart supporters of the arts organization.
The only real problem I can see with this idea is reserved seating. Offering rush tickets in this way appeals heavily to a social element which is compromised if everyone can’t sit together.
Granted, it illustrates the appropriate outcome associated with paying half price on the day of a performance versus full price in advance. Still the emotional disappointment of not being able to sit next to ones guests could supplant the acknowledgement of this logical consequence.
General admission events are good to go though.
This is not the direction I intended to go in when I started this entry. I like this result better.
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