It’s an odd job title, which you hear less and less these days.  In fact this blog post only came to mind as I saw  in one of my feeds today a job advert for a “clerk” at a London theatre

Usually I hear this from either West-end box office types or those box office people of a (cough) certain age.

Has the clerk had their day and is it time for another title for those people?

_clerk

 

The usual Google search turned up the definition of clerk above. Well in Box Office we (or we used to) handle cash, we keep records in terms of who is sat in what seat (or which agent has sold which seat through the API to an unknown customer) and we have some routine admin tasks.

…doing a few hours on the counter until their next “proper” job

Surely though, with a few exceptions the people in our box offices are more than a clerk aren’t they? Even when you take into account the out-of-work theatre professional doing a few hours on the counter until their next “proper” job comes in, these people are doing more than basic admin.

What else have we called the clerk in the box office?

I remember the 90’s saw us use “Operators” as the moniker because we were all running call centres swamped with CIQ and DND issues with certain staff. As we were in the era of call centres being the place we gave sales advice, closed orders or ran out-bound campaigns “operators” fitted nicely, but was still was just a clerk with a phone and a sales or call-answering target.

meeting our targets, maximising revenues, filling those premium seats, up-selling the packages, offering lounge access…don’t forget the customary event insurance!

Of course that target or quota we assigned to operators was the start of a shift in the focus of “the people of box office” (TPOBO from now on). As we started to give TPOBO clear targets, they became sales people. Roger has the greatest phrase on this for both system vendors and TPOBO – “don’t sell, help people buy” – which I think sums up the role perfectly. Agreed, to all those Sales and Marketing Directors reading, we still need ‘bums-on-seats’ (sorry Roger, hearts and minds!) we need to meet our targets, maximise revenues, fill those premium seats, up-sell the packages, offer lounge access and of course sell the customary event insurance.

Don’t sell, help people buy!

The 00’s saw TPOBO start to become ‘agents’, an extension of operators, as they dealt with more electronic enquiries, keeping up to date with Twitter and Facebook comments and emails too, but still a base admin task title like clerk for the modern era. Some organisations started to append sales to the front, not just for outbound callers but inbound and in person staff too.

……sales, servicing multi-channel, multi-product consumer enquiries

Just doing a scan of the job ad sites and theatres I have turned up mutations of these with Sales advisor, customer service representative, box office assistant and many more.

So what, you ask,  does it matter what we call TPOBO? Well it is simple: If we don’t assign the right title, how will we attract people into this career, not just those wanting some money until something “decent” comes around. We need our front line customer facing staff to be knowlegable, helpful, caring, focused on matching people with product, price sensitive. They need to be commercially minded, used to dealing with technology and multiple communication methods. That’s quite a mix and way more than clerk.

What is the correct title? Goodness knows, something more than ‘assistant’, how about “Live Entertainment Omni-channel Revenue Realisation and Product Fulfillment Specialist”? – Yeah bit of a mouthful, but anything but clerk: c’mon we (and TPOBO) are better than that aren’t we?