Helen Dunnett explores what we mean by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and why it’s not widely adapted. Using a Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO) case study, she demonstrates the impact that segmentation and targeted campaigns can have on developing audiences.
I hear a lot of people in theatres at the moment talking about Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and how they need to do it - the problem though is most are not really doing it and seem reluctant to start. The question is why?
A popular definition of CRM is:
'The establishment, development, maintenance and optimisation of long-term mutually valuable relationships between consumers and organisations'.
The key to this definition is 'long-term mutually valuable relationships'. The doctrine of CRM holds that repeat visits/purchases/contact are made by those customers who are understood, listened to and have their different needs met by a responsive organisation. The engine that drives CRM is segmentation and by defining and profiling our segments, and differentiating our marketing, we can meet all the audiences' needs and sell membership/subscriptions, repeat visits, attendance at special events and gain advocates.
So if it is such a good idea, why is CRM not practised more widely? Partly because it takes a lot of dedication and hard work and the day to day tactical necessities of just selling those tickets and filling seats always takes priority. But today's multi-channel environment means that there are a whole host of ways to talk to potential customers, and that, coupled with increased competition for people's time and today's economic climate, make it imperative for us to work smarter, listen and be more responsive. The days of pushing out a standard direct mail letter or email to all our customers are gone. They don't work any more. It's not about selling, it's about marketing.
The box office system is your organisation's most powerful CRM tool. Its database contains all the information on your customers and their interactions with your organisation, from every 'touch-point'. Too often there's a systematic underdevelopment of box office data that means that only the most loyal customers are ever contacted and the rest are ignored. The task should be to persuade the less knowledgeable and wary to come and to come more often. It's about getting customers to move up that 'ladder of loyalty' - something that seems to be astonishingly difficult to achieve.