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Introduction to Box Office, Ticketing and CRM

Ticketing used to mean simply gaining entrance to an event. But now, when we talk about ticketing within the arts, it’s a much more complex subject. With advancing technology, the act of selling a ticket has developed into a means of accurately capturing audience behaviours and harnessing meaningful and engaging customer interactions.

With ticketing systems no longer being the sole responsibility of the box office, they are providing opportunities for multiple departments to collaborate and influence the entire audience experience across an organisation. This allows us to eliminate guesswork and use ticketing processes to improve your decision-making when it comes to your audiences.

Fine-tuning your delivery

As customer expectations continue to grow, the pressure to deliver a memorable event experience has never been greater. With over 50% of all purchases now taking place online, your ticketing system plays a pivotal role in securing that event attendance.

Efficient delivery is key, and with most ticketing systems on the market you’ll encounter a wide range of features designed to fine-tune your fulfillment needs. Do you want a streamlined user journey with as few clicks as possible? Do you want to allow guest checkouts, so customers don’t have to sign in to buy tickets? Should customers log in via their social media accounts? Have you thought about encrypted payment card storage, or instant mobile tickets?

Whilst you may think that a feature-rich ticketing system is reserved solely for organisations with considerable investment, there are in fact a wealth of affordable platforms on the market, suitable for a range of different scales. Extensive server infrastructure isn’t always necessary: if you have an internet connection, you can gain access to a ticketing platform for a nominal fee per transaction and no upfront costs.

Tailoring your approach

If your audience is logged within your database, maintaining a relationship with your customers and encouraging consistent engagement with your programme should be a priority. It can be up to 25 times more expensive to locate and market to new audiences than it is investing in encouraging the existing audience in your database to re-attend.

So, how do we do this? Tailoring your approach is key: that means a clear strategy with defined milestones of interaction with your customers. If you know you’re dealing with a first-time booker, a regular visitor, or one of your members or donors, it will help you to design meaningful touch-points to progress your audience through your relationship pipeline. It will also give you insights on how to appeal to your audience, so they buy from you again.

Segmenting your customers based on behavioural characteristics has been known to result in an impressive 100% increase in click through rates for organisations. Having automation functionality within your ticketing & CRM system will also severely reduce the amount of time it takes to interact with your existing and new customers.

What is CRM, anyway?

You may well have sat in meetings where it’s been decided that your organisation should start ‘doing CRM’, but what does that actually mean? Successful CRM (Customer Relationship Management) extends beyond the audience data you have and the technology you use to store your data: it involves an organisation-wide approach to customer interaction.

Good CRM focuses on cultivating meaningful relationships with customers, audiences, volunteers, donors or anyone that encounters your organisation. Your approach will allow you to build a comprehensive understanding of who your audience is, how they behave and interact with you, and their needs.

Supporting your approach with a software platform that centralises all this information in one place will give you an overview of your audience’s behaviour across all departments of your organisation. A good CRM system will enable you to accurately record this information, allowing you to make informed decisions which can lead to increased sales, engagement and advocacy for your organisation.

There is an abundance of CRM platforms on the market with varying functionalities and specialisms, from sales to fundraising. Finding the platform that suits your current strategy, one that will grow with you as an organisation, can be a tricky task to navigate.

What’s the solution?

There is a vast array of technology solutions out there, just waiting to support your ticketing and CRM strategies. However, just having this tech at your disposal will not do the job for you.

It’s important to involve all areas of your organisation in understanding what journeys your audiences can take through your services and identify ways in which technology can support this. Every member of staff interacting with your ticketing or CRM system can help deliver your strategy and make it a real success.

What next?

This article has explained some of the benefits and challenges of perfecting your CRM strategy, and outlined some of the ways in which you can learn about your audience through the box office and ticketing elements of your organisation. To learn more, you can read one of the articles linked below.

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

Original article created in 2020. Author: Nick Kime. Article reviewed on 24th February 2021.

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