Museums: the Key to Positive Experiences

“A trip to a major museum exhibition these days can feel more like a Black Friday sale at Walmart than a rewarding adventure in esthetic uplift. So much so that a Gauguin retrospective at London’s Tate Modern, in 2010–11, elicited a slew of complaints on the museum’s Internet message board,” reports ArtNews.

So how do you consistently provide a rewarding, positive visitor experience? Where does the visitor journey begin? 

Conventional wisdom might have you believe that the “adventure in esthetic uplift” starts when the visitor crosses the gallery threshold and starts reading the text that accompanies the exhibit.

The savviest administrators realize that the visitor experience begins at the front door. What is the real very first visitor touchpoint? It is the bag inspection required before they even line up for tickets or pick up a floor plan.

Although long lines, bag checks, and security inquiries are becoming more commonplace and visitors are getting used to the queue, how your organization expects your guards to act sets the tone for the visit.

How do you expect your guards to react to inquisitive visitors? Uncooperative visitors? Visitors who don’t speak English? Those who insist on skipping all the lines and rushing to the front?

When your guards are faced with challenging situations, how do you support them? What tools have you given them to quell the disorderly or answer questions about the art? Have you shown respect to their important role by empowering them to interact positively with the public?

As the New York Times reminds us: “Museum guards find the lost, shepherd the confused and save runaway toddlers from impending collisions with immovable sculptures. The job demands long hours, constant vigilance and a reservoir of patience to put up with illicit picture takers, soda smugglers and pontificating amateur art critics, among other annoyances. Consider these guards the army grunts of the art world.”

And as the slew of complaints on London’s Tate Modern’s web site shows, an angry, dissatisfied visitor will continue to seek redress when they feel their important leisure experience has been marred. With the rise of online interaction, including web contact forms, chat bots, and artificial intelligence solutions, properly trained customer service employees may be your only opportunity to resolve any problems and create long-lasting good will.

Setting ALL employees up for success helps your museum thrive

The bottom line is, every employee in your visitor contact journey can affect your – well – bottom line. Supported, well trained, positive employees help drive up your revenue and brand reputation, while customer interactions with unmotivated and untrained staff affect every aspect of your organization in a negative way.

Why leave opportunity on the table? A small investment in employee training for the right attitudes and skills ensures a loyal workforce who does everything in their power to make your organization successful.

The fact is, every single employee at any visitor touchpoint can provide great customer service that enhances your reputation. At a museum, the customer experience starts at the front door.

Desander Mas