Are we really in the customer service business? I thought I worked in the arts.

Why is it that so many non- profits, especially performing and visual arts organizations, create arcane rules that frustrate the experience for the customer? No – you cannot exchange your ticket! No – you cannot bring your drink into the theatre. No – our museum is not open after 5pm!

Now, once the performance begins, then we should expect that adults will behave like adults for the benefit of the entire audience – and that is why texting or talking on your cell phone should be prohibited.

But, to enhance the individual experience we need to treat our audience and our patrons, the same way the Ritz-Carlton treats its guests – are we ready do anything to make the guest experience positive? Some museums are now hosting adult sleepovers with great success. Guests have to opportunity to wander the museum – with wine – until the wee hours of the morning and then sleep in the museum.

To help end the cries of “elitism” we need to truly focus on and pay attention to the customer. Yes, ….of course it is essential to constantly breathe life into the artistic repertoire through the commissioning of new art and we should develop a safe harbor for artists, but we must think of our patrons as customers whom we need to satisfy. Because we really are in the customer service business.

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