Case study | Great first impressions are no accident

publication date: Aug 23, 2018
author/source: Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE

"Hi, I'm Brandon." said the man with a big smile. "I'm the guard for the design section, Just a few quick tips about this area. You can take photos but flash damages the art so no flash. If you get too close an alarm goes off and you don't want that. Other than that, you're good. Have a great time and thanks for coming."

With that introduction, Brandon caught my attention. Suddenly I felt welcomed. the museum itself felt warmer. I wanted to spend more time there; I began thinking I should stop by the gift shop to remember this visit. All of this thanks to a friendly welcome.

Great front-line staff is no accident. I have been to a lot of museums and met a lot of museum guards. All of them are pleasant, some can be chatty. But never have I gotten such a great greeting. Part of what made Brandon's greeting great is that he managed to give a lot of important information in a friendly way. So what he said was better for the museum and better for me as a guest.

As I walked through the museum, I realized this welcoming approach was something that the museum had worked on. The front of the museum was labeled "Welcome Centre" in big letters - a much nicer greeting than "Information." The sticker I was wearing to show I had paid admission said "Future Member," a great quiet invitation to stay connected.

Several times museum volunteers greeted me and asked if I had questions. I noticed that when some people looked lost, a staff person approached them and said "do you need some help?" The whole place, top to bottom, must have had well designed visitor experience training and staff clearly and consistently had learned to be pro-actively helpful.

Like most charities, frontline museum staff don't get paid the highest salaries in the organization. Yet this museum clearly understands that the people who make the biggest impression on visitors are those frontline staff members. The level of customer service I experienced was no accident.

What about your charity? How do you make your clients, your donors, your members truly feel that they matter?

How do you make sure your frontline staff view their role as important?

How do you support making sure that your frontline staff has a clear and explicit mandate to help clients, donors, supporters have a great interaction with your organization?

How do you test that your approach is working?

How do you reward staff for good work?

The charity sector is changing. One way your charity is going to thrive in the next years will be by making sure every single person has the best possible experience with you.

Ann Rosenfield, MBA, CFRE loves to take a break on a road trip by visiting a museum. She encourages you to visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art to experience a great museum and live case study in great visitor experience. You will find Brandon on the second floor in the Design Section.


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