Understanding Your Customers

Best Practice – The Everyman Theatre

The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham stages around 400 shows a year to which it sells 200,000 tickets. It has 30 employees.

Like all small businesses, the theatre needs to work hard to attract business and sell tickets. Its success relies not only on choosing shows and events that are attractive to its audiences, but also on effective marketing and a high level of customer service.

Like many regional theatres, a high percentage of the Everyman’s ticket sales are to a group of regular theatregoers who can be relied upon to return year after year. As Philip Bernays, Chief Executive of the Theatre, says:

“We have always been very keen to develop long term relationships with our customers and increase their use of the Theatre.”

The problem was how to identify the business’s most valuable customers and increase the frequency of their visits.

The Everyman already had a range of IT systems in place, but the marketing potential of their customer data was being lost because it was not all stored in one place or stored in a convenient way. Eventually the Theatre’s directors decided to tackle the problem by investing in ways of identifying and targeting specific customers, and by developing the ability to manage marketing campaigns with clear goals and objectives.

The brief was to create a system that would ‘enable them to form individualised relationships with customers, with the aim of improving customer satisfaction and maximising profits.’

Read on to find out how they did it.

Just how well do you know your customers?

If your business has a small number of big clients locked into long-term relationships, it could mean that you already provide excellent customer service. However, even with years of accumulated knowledge, there’s always room for improvement. Customer needs change over time, and technology is making it easier to find out more about customers and make sure that everyone in an organisation can exploit this information.

Think about your business and ask yourself:

How good is customer service?

Do staff always have the right information when they speak to customers? Are customers kept waiting or put on hold? Are there complaints and how are they dealt with? Are there acceptable response times for fax and e-mail enquiries?

Are customers satisfied?

Is your customer retention rate good? Are customers loyal? Do you get many customer referrals?

How good are sales?

Are you happy with your revenue per customer? Are you happy with your customer acquisition costs? Are your marketing campaigns as successful as they could be?

How good is communication?

Does your support service have good links with the rest of the business? Do sales teams work closely with the rest of the business to spot opportunities and pinpoint weaknesses? Is everything you know about customers and prospects accessible to all your people?

If the answer to a number of these questions is no, then you should consider how you can make your business more responsive to customer needs.

Published by the Department of Trade and Industry. www.dti.gov.uk
© Crown Copyright. URN 04/1724; 10/04

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