While reading a recent job posting for a visitor services associate at a local museum, I was struck by the wide variety of job tasks expected of an entry-level team member:
- Operate the front desk
- Provide positive customer service experiences to both guests and facility rentals
- Provide general information about four different properties
- Offer concierge-like service downtown businesses
- Keep attendance records in the POS system
- Facilitate daily ticket sales
- Facilitate membership sales
- Actively promote and sell memberships to reach museum revenue goals
- Create meaningful connections and fulfilling experiences for guests
The last job requirement stands out. With everything else this person is expected to do, how can they possibly also create meaningful connections? Given the position’s responsibilities, the associate can only speak to each guest for a few minutes at a time. While friendliness at the front desk always goes a long way, what the museum really seems to want is someone who’ll cultivate visitor relationships with the museum and build their loyalty to generate return visits…in the time it takes to process a transaction.
The key to driving that kind of engagement—the kind that leads to repeat visits and creates advocates—is collecting information about each guest and using that information to personalize their visits and other interactions with your organization. People want to feel that your organization values them as a visitor, member and/or donor. To achieve this, every constituent interaction with your organization should be as personalized as possible.
For example, most organizations place a high value on donors and create carefully targeted communications and opportunities as a result. Perks for donors often include special newsletters, early access to popular events and invitations to donor-only events. But how is your organization building greater loyalty with other kinds of constituents?
Consider a head of household who has a family membership, visits more than times a year, and registers their kids for summer camps and other programs. Even though this person isn’t a donor, their family’s active participation indicates that they’re passionate about your organization. It’s a small step to guide this person from participation to advocacy that brings in new visitors, memberships and registrations from their personal networks.
But, if that person isn’t recognized and treated as a valuable asset, how long are they likely to continue their support (especially after their children outgrow summer camps)? Unfortunately, some organizations consider donations as the only indicator of value instead of taking all the other ways a constituent shows their support for your organization.
To bring this back to the new visitor services associate,they’ll have a much easier time creating those meaningful connections and fulfilling experiences for guests when they know something about each person’s history with the museum. For example, scanning their membership card should not only validate admission but also bring up family names, registrations and prior visits so the associate can personalize even brief conversations. And, by expanding this personalization to every kind of communication—at the museum, on their web site, in their email as well as their postal mail—organizations empower all of their team members with the information they need to cultivate deeper relationships with every constituent.
Here are some related topics that I’ll be writing about soon:
- Why an organization-wide strategy to build meaningful connections starts with understanding why your patrons are visiting.
- How meaningful metrics based on attendance, purchase history and engagement are the key to building stronger relationships.
- Why your message tone and content should be tailored to the different ways that different constituents are interacting with your organization
- Developing a top-level strategy to strengthen relationships through highly personalized messaging.
David Ellis is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Doubleknot, a company focused on the success of nonprofit cultural organizations. David helps organizations identify ways to increase efficiency and effectiveness through innovative strategies to collect and leverage data. Throughout David’s career, he has worked with organizations like the Iowa Children’s Museum, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and many others.