May 8, 2020Patrick Smith
There is no doubt that COVID-19 has brought many challenges to you and your organization in terms of daily operations. The initial stages of the shutdown brought chaos, but initial shock has worn off and we are left to wonder “what now?” It is hard to say when we will return to business as usual: however, there are ways in which we can stay proactive with your ticketing office so that when business picks back up, you are able to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Normally we are limited in addressing certain items on our to-do list until there is a lull in our ticket services offices. Now is the perfect time to evaluate the infrastructure of your ticketing office. How old are your ticket printers? How often do they breakdown? When was the last time you had them serviced? If your current printing setup fails, do you have a backup printer/plan? How old are your computers? What operating system are they running? Can you make upgrades or replace computers that are notoriously unreliable? Is your hardware (mouse, phone, keyboard, etc.) in good shape at each workstation? This unexpected downtime gives us the opportunity to be proactive with equipment that we are typically reactive to when it fails. You may not be able to physically be in your ticketing office at this time, but you can still outline the work you would like to accomplish and create a timeline in which you can review these items.
While you may not have access to your office, it’s also a great time to make plans for the future. That might include automated reports to keep all staff members up to date on all things ticketing related, or creating future contingency plans for other worst case scenarios. For example, do you having a plan in place if the power were to go out? What if the internet crashes or your servers fail the night of a show? Do you have printed hard copy backup of tickets if you were to have a complete system failure? Now is an excellent time to start making your business continuity plan!
Reviewing ticketing policies and your box office’s operations should happens at least once every year, typically at the end of a season. However, current world events have likely lead to you and the leadership at your organization to taking a harder look at how operations can be improved to better serve patrons during any future crises.
First, you will want to evaluate how quickly you and your team were able to react to COVID-19. Were you able to get access to your ticketing system from outside of the office? Were you able to setup virtual desktops for your team? Were they able to use your organization’s phone service from their homes, or did they have to use their personal cell phone or landline? Now is the time to evaluate what worked, what did not, and how long it took to get your box office team working offsite. Even though a global pandemic is typically a once in a lifetime event, there are regional challenges (hurricanes, blizzards, forest fires, etc.) that could call on you once again to work remotely.
It is also extremely important for you to document how you were able to accomplish your remote box office, as well as all items related to your policies and daily operations. You more than likely already have documentation of this, but now is a good time to update everything for the post COVID-19 world. This ensures that even in you absence, your ticketing team knows how to get the job done.
Cleaning up your organization’s data is an important task that often gets pushed back due to time constraints, so this is a project that can be prioritized and done from home (as long as you have your virtual desktop setup). Are you actively using the Identify Duplicate procedure within Tessitura (or the equivalent in your ticketing system) to highlight potential duplicate profiles? If this list of potential duplicate profiles is not caught up, it can be a great project for an associate to tackle. Your organization can also take this time to learn any new tools that may have been introduced through recent upgrades to your ticketing system. Even if the new tools go unused, it is still advantageous to be familiar with them for potential future needs.
This is also an excellent time to review the reports you run on a regular basis. Are you, your team, and your leadership getting the information and insights you need? Are there any metrics you can remove? Any you can add? Is the data pulling correctly? Is there a way to better format the report for better readability? If you find that you are struggling with these tasks, it may be worth your time to look into optimizing your CRM.
If you are a Tessitura User, this is an excellent time to train on Tessitura Analytics and set up your dashboards. It might also be prudent evaluate how you are building everything within Tessitura (seasons, facilities, campaigns, appeals, etc.) and how those items are pulling within your Tessitura Analytics dashboards, to make sure the data is accurately reflected.
Even if we weren’t living in the midst of COVID-19, it would still be vital for you to remind your team (as well as yourself) to practice self-care. Getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and staying hydrated can be difficult to manage even during the best of times, and are arguably more important now than ever. Check in with your team, insist on everyone using their webcam, and take the time to meet with each person individually to maintain a personal connection. In a world where most communication is being done through email and group video chats, taking these extra steps can go a long way in ensuring your team is in a good place.
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