Ensuring an Excellent Night Out for English National Opera?s customers is what our Box Office is all about, writes Lynne Sinnamon.
By making that all important ticket purchase easy and hassle free, and by exceeding expectations in terms of the level of service we provide, we have an important role to play in enhancing someone?s experience of the company as a whole.
In attempting to offer the high levels of service the customer increasingly expects, we pay attention to the importance of keeping our staff happy and motivated, and have developed a positive, supportive and open atmosphere amongst a team of people who understand the company?s goals and objectives.
What practical steps do we take to get to this position? Here are a few areas, which work for us.
? Recruiting the right people: Rather than focusing on Box Office experience, we look for staff who have a natural flair for relating to people. The basics of the ticketing operation can be easily taught; what is less easy to gain from a training course is a warm, friendly and empathetic attitude.
? Training: Those first few weeks in a new job are crucial in terms of the long-term motivation of a member of the team. We offer a structured training and induction programme, backed up by on-going training and as much support as the new member of the team requires. Our annual training week encompasses all frontline staff including Box Office, Front of House and Catering, and covers all aspects of their work, from customer service training to first aid and evacuation.
? Communication: At regular meetings we give the team as much information as possible. Our General Director, Nicholas Payne speaks to the Box Office annually about his vision for the company. We also arrange visits from other areas, such as Fundraising, the Artistic Team and Orchestra; all with the aim of helping the Box Office staff feel part of a wider team. We also encourage the team to see performances, watch rehearsals and attend events. The end result is that ?extra something? which adds to our customers? experience when they contact the Box Office.
? Empowerment and flexibility: We give our staff the freedom to make reasonable decisions which will keep the customer happy. This means that they have the freedom to give an ENO credit, or perhaps waive an exchange fee without having to check with a Duty Manager. Devolved responsibility offers a more streamlined and flexible service to the customer, and avoids the uncomfortable and potentially de-motivating impact of staff trying to stick rigidly to petty rules (which also irritate the customer) and being overruled by a Duty Manager. When staff leave this is one of the things they often mention as being an important contributor to the satisfaction they have gained during their time with us.
Effective recruitment, training, and communication, backed up by a positive and flexible culture, is what we aim for. If a customer is genuinely thrilled with the ENO?s service, and the Box Office team has a positive experience of the company, then I feel I have done my job properly.
Lynne Sinnamon is Box Office Manager at English National Opera. The ENO Box Office has been recognised as an Investor in People. e: email@example.com