Carol Jones explains how PatronBase has been helping Chapter Arts Centre to make the most of its points-based loyalty scheme

Changing a ticketing system is a big deal for any arts organisation. At Chapter, the challenge also included integrating CL1C, our successful points-based loyalty scheme. Well, not just integrating it but developing it from something that worked well but was just too Heath Robinson (neatly defined as “a temporary fix using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations.”) Perhaps Mr Robinson, the wonderfully eccentric inventor, would have appreciated how we’d adapted our existing software to make the scheme work but also seen the need for something more dynamic, more interactive, more 2012.

Our loyalty card works in a similar way to a Tesco Clubcard or a Boots Reward Card. You join for free and every time you attend an event we swipe your card and you get an allocation of points. When the points add up to the equivalent price of a ticket you can redeem them for a free seat or keep on saving until you collect enough to treat friends and family too. The scheme has been a huge success, improving loyalty and also encouraging risk-taking, with double points initiatives increasing sales for more adventurous parts of our programme. There’s also the real benefit of greatly improved data capture and intelligence on a primarily cinema audience.

When we launched the scheme 10 years ago this more than met our objectives: affinity, loyalty, growing market share plus a nice dollop of data for good measure. But the world has changed and now both we and our audiences want more – more interactivity, more control, more flexibility. We chose PatronBase as our ticketing supplier, partly because we were impressed with their ethos – their values matched ours in many ways – but also because they took the idea of CL1C and ran with it, developed it and made it more relevant to today’s market.

The backend has been simplified, which enables us to add and change points in a simpler, quicker way, but the real advance is is at the customer end. Originally system points could only be added at the box office, but now they are automatically added for online purchases too and customers can manage their accounts, check their points and make real choices.

We’re also working closely with PatronBase and the digital agency Tincan on developments that encourage deeper relationships with us online. When our new website launches in the spring customers will get points for how they interact with us – by posting a review, uploading a photo or video or taking part in online activities from blogs to research. They’ll also see examples of what their points can buy them carefully tailored by us to suit their purchasing behaviour.

It’s early days and the changeover hasn’t been without a few hitches and glitches but for something that’s so firmly putting the customer at the heart of every transaction we’ll end up with something SMART, sassy and yes, fun too.

TW @carol123jones

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