As a Ticketing Manager for many organisations, I am of the firm belief that customer service is the most important thing to get right for staff. Why then do so many organisations get it wrong.

Firstly, we’ve been told since the dark ages that the “customer is always right” – those four words have been the cause of so many disagreements in various box offices over my career., mostly because, as anyone who works in customer service for any length of time knows, that is quite often far from true. While many customers are reasonable folk who just want to be listened to, are understanding of explanation and agreeable to resolution, there are quite a few who become completely unreasonable.

We all know them, those who barely take time to draw breath, let alone listen to anything we might say to assuage them. How are these folk right? And why do they have the right to verbally abuse the well intentioned staff member.

So what are we doing wrong? All the organisations I know work by the same principles, listen to the customer, try and understand their grievance, come to a resolution within the framework of the principles of the organisation and if you need help escalate the issue to a supervisor or manager. The problem I think is that customers also know that this is the process and have an expectation of a favourable outcome.

In most cases, a favourable outcome is exactly what we want customer service to achieve for both customers and organisations. But why do we always talk about customer service as a response to a negative action?

customer service is about reading the signals from the customer

Customer service should be an attitude not a response or as I recently saw “a department”. If organisations are creating good customer service environments you would hope the level of issues would decrease in turn. It should be about ensuring that every staff member is equipped to answer the questions that they will be asked, to know about the venue, area, events, restaurants, bus timetables or know how to find the information quickly and easily, to feel empowered to take that extra few minutes to understand a customer’s requirements or discover how they can make their visit better.

As so many customers are time poor, customer service is about reading the signals from the customer and providing the level of service that is right for them. Being efficient and effective for someone who only has their lunch break or having a conversation with Mavis who last saw this play 30 years ago. Finding the right attitude and dealing with them in the manner that is fit for purpose is good customer service.

CRM does is give us the tools to understand our customers

One of the things our increased data capture and emphasis on CRM does is give us the tools to understand our customers better, to enable us to know that Mavis likes a chat about the play she is booking for, or that Jim has to have the aisle seat.

Marketing and Development departments are utilising data to segment and tailor communications but what about our frontline services? Surely, our Box Offices have as much need to understand the customer relationship, if only to enable a better experience for both the customer and staff member. Remember knowledge is power, we should start working smarter in all aspects of the customer service ratio.

By empowering our frontline staff and creating positive customer service attitudes we will be more successful in developing relationships with our customers and producing advocates for our business. Isn’t that what most of us are aiming for?