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Making your website part of your customer-facing team

18 February 2020

Most theatre, arts centre, and touring company websites are managed by marketing and communications departments.

But how can your website better serve users who are looking for specific – and timely – information about an event, for example? Or who have other very specific questions that would be usually be answered by front of house or box office teams?

Here’re a few ways your website could be helping customer-facing teams day-to-day:


Scrap the FAQ page

FAQ pages can become a catch-all list of every question customer service teams have ever been asked. As such, this list gets very long, very quickly – so customers can’t easily find what they’re looking for, even if their query has been answered.

Instead of a single FAQ page, pre-empt those questions and answer them in context, in relevant places. For example:

  • A ‘How to Book’ page may also include Box Office opening times.
  • A ‘Food and Drink’ page could include information covering dietary requirements.
  • Some FAQs aren't relevant until someone has booked. So, make the most of pre-show emails by using them to answer common questions like how to find you, when to arrive, and what to wear.

As quick-win to uncover what customers are struggling to find on your website, use analytics data to find out what search terms they're using.

You can then make sure you’ve got content on the website covering-off those most-searched terms, helping more customers to find what they’re after.

Search term results can also reveal detail about the language customers use; which can differ from industry terminology.

Do your customers search for ‘Shows’ rather than ‘Productions’, for example? When your website uses the same language as customers, it can more easily provide them with the right information.

Do your customers search for ‘Shows’ rather than ‘Productions’? When your website uses the same language as customers, it can more easily provide them with the right information.


Have a process for responding to enquiries

Even with the most informative website, you’ll still receive enquiries through a variety of channels. It’s important to respond to these in a timely and consistent manner, and make sure any long-running conversations or issues are tracked – and resolved.

There are lots of smart tools out there, and it’s worth looking outside the sector for ideas.

Helpdesk platforms (such as Zendesk or Freshdesk), Live chat (such as Intercom or Crisp), and unified inboxes like Front can all help to gather and field enquiries from your website, email and social channels.

They allow you to assign responsibility, deal with similar queries in bulk, and bring them to a quick resolution. When well set-up, this can mean enquiries can be dealt with seamlessly across shift changes – and may even make onboarding new team members a little easier.

Each of these platforms also offers valuable data, by clearly highlighting the most common enquiries.

If you’re eager to start making use of AI, consider a chatbot to answer some of your most common questions.

At an advanced level chatbots can collect data that already exists across your digital platforms, and be set-up to use this to provide answers automatically. So, when a customer asks “What are the showtimes tonight?’”, the chatbot can reply without the need for a human.

If you’re not quite ready for a clever tech solution, think about how you can manually optimise the workflow of enquiries – things like directing queries to the right people. For example, you might want to direct ticket enquiries to the box office, while press enquiries go to the marketing team.

Have a process that works for everyone – whether that’s a folder structure, labelling emails, or starring to-do tasks. A clear and simple process will make it easier for lots of people to take responsibility, rather than relying on one or two people.


Broadcast updates

There are lots of occasions when you need to get a message out to customers. This could be about a cancelled show, a road closure that’ll affect travel, or that your phones are down.

We’ve developed a ‘Sitewide notification’ that sits on all of our websites. It allows a message to be added to all pages quickly and easily. And these can even appear on the site without a user having to refresh the page they’re on. Magic.

It’s important that customer-facing teams have access to edit/update parts of the website, and have had some basic training. (Keep in mind that issues don’t always arise during office hours, and you might need a notification to go live at 7pm on a Saturday evening!)


Train customer-facing teams to use (parts of) your website

Whilst the marketing team often manages the website day-to-day, it’s important that other teams have access and training.

A content management system that gives you granular permission controls is useful. And it’s worth making sure that common tasks – such as adding a site-wide notification, updating an event, or publishing a press release – are documented in 'How-to' guides; so anyone can do it.

Don't forget about tone of voice in this documentation! Customer-facing teams spend all day (and evening) talking to your customers. So, anyone updating the website needs to know the right wording and language to use, and feel confident in updating customers.


Involve everyone in developing a new website

Regardless of who takes ownership of a new website, or your budget for ongoing development work, the website is first and foremost for your customers.

And no one spends more time with your customers than box office, front of house, and catering teams.

When we build a new website, spending time with these customer-facing teams is an integral part of our process. And once the website’s live, working with them to improve the website for users – and in turn make their lives easier – is as important as working with the marketing team.


Top tips for keeping customers informed and happy:

  • Provide relevant information in the right places, and avoid one long FAQ page
  • Invest in smart tech and solutions, with a focus on efficient and easy to use processes
  • Get customer-facing teams involved in the website; they’ll know better than anyone what customers want to know
  • Loop-in feedback from audiences, so you can make regular, meaningful changes and improvements.

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