Marketing / 03.11.20
From Customer Relationship ‘Management’ to ‘Mastery’: An Interview With Tessitura Co-Founder and CEO Jack Rubin
What’s one of the most important keys to success in today’s fast-paced and disruptive world? Well, if Tessitura Network’s mission helps provide any indication, it can be summed up in just three words: continuous technological innovation.
Tessitura is a nonprofit that is owned by more than 650 arts and cultural organizations worldwide. It offers a single unified enterprise system that manages ticketing, fundraising, customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing activities.
Since the seven founding organizations came together to found Tessitura as a cooperative model, CEO and Co-Founder Jack Rubin says the pace of change has been constant. “We made a mega investment over the last few years in producing an analytics platform that is flexible and visual, and we’ve had many other functional advancements. We have never had a year where we didn’t have releases with a lot of great new features.”
This coming year will be no different. Since we last interviewed Rubin as he and his team were gearing up for INTIX 2019, there have been even more advancements, and one of the organization’s biggest releases to date is just around the corner. While just about everyone is trying to “do CRM,” says Rubin, Tessitura is taking customer relationship management to a new level: not just management, but mastery.
How does Rubin define customer relationship mastery? INTIX learned this and more in a recent interview.
INTIX: What is customer relationship mastery, and why is it vital to go beyond simply managing a customer relationship?
Rubin: Simply managing customers isn’t enough. We need to move them along the path of engagement, and each customer should ideally take a personalized journey with each organization. If you don’t do this, a first-time ticket buyer could hear from somebody about a subscription offer or a membership offer, and there’s no correlation and no coordination. It’s not just a matter of having a capable system but a capable organization with clean data and an integrated, unified system.
The organization has to be aligned with how to deliver this personalized journey. It’s important to define the customer journey so that the organization knows what behaviors to help encourage in each step. It can then build in the tactics that encourage consumers to move along a pathway that builds interest with the right message at the right time but also can lead to a financial commitment from those customers.
INTIX: What’s involved? How does an organization go on its own journey from management to mastery?
Rubin: There are essentially three key elements of customer relationship mastery. The first is people: those who decide the goals of the organization and execute the strategies — people with the right vision, the skills, and the attitude to build and manage effective processes. The second is process: organizational strategies and tactics designed intentionally to connect customers to the mission of the organization and having processes to evolve and turn those ideas into action. Third, a platform that is the foundational infrastructure of CRM to serve as an enabler of these organizational goals and operationalize the strategy.
INTIX: How you see customer relationship mastery impacting and changing interactions with patrons in the future?
Rubin: The goal is to deepen the relationship — to have it be a lifetime relationship — to enrich their experiences. I was at a ballet recently where the executive director talked to me about how critical it is that they truly have a lifetime of engagement. Not only do people attend the ballet because they are interested in dance, they literally have young kids attending where they are participating in their first dances, and they have the elderly crowd participating, dancing and stretching to help have great quality of life as they get older.
If you didn’t know all those relationships along the whole life cycle of engagement, then they would just be one-to-one interactions. Again, you could be at cross purposes internally because you have this department doing this and this department doing that. So it’s not only having a unified system but having a unified organization that intentionally plans out how they can create those ongoing relationships.
INTIX: How can organizations avoid damaging a relationship with a patron?
Rubin: Customers today expect that no matter what channel they use to contact you or you use to contact them, whoever is on the other end of the email chat or phone call knows who they are, the details of their interactions, their situation and their lifetime of engagement. So, good CRM means that anyone who is in communication with patrons has access to that information instantly and can use it meaningfully, not just to avoid frustration but to make sure customers feel seen, heard and understood.
As a cultural organization, when you know your patrons, that allows you to deal with them and inspire them to get more involved, thus leading to the potential movement along that engagement ladder that ultimately could lead to volunteerism, philanthropy [or funding] the rest of the [organization’s] needs that don’t just come from ticket sales.
INTIX: One of the sessions Tessitura presented at INTIX 2020 was on marketing automation in service of the customer. Why is it important to pay attention to the choices that customers are making, and what they are telling us through their actions?
Rubin: Relevance is the key to good relationships with customers. When it comes to customer experience and customer service, personalization can make them feel understood and taken care of; essentially, it’s the foundation of a strong relationship. It’s not just a system that can drive this; it’s the people that are driving the system understanding that, and as we talked about a minute ago, having the people, the process and the platform. With the proper capabilities — you know all of the first-party data about people, you know what they’ve indicated that they’re interested in, and you also know their behavior as to what they actually attended and what they actually clicked and opened.
INTIX: How do you think timely, personalized and relevant communications help to improve not only relationships but conversions as well?
Rubin: When communications are timely, relevant and personalized, they help build trust with customers and potential customers. They deliver messages that resonate, which in turn helps deepen their interest and their engagement with you. So the combination of deepened engagement with relevant messages leads those patrons to buy more tickets, perhaps create their first subscription or package, renew their subscriptions, start [or increase] donations, and do all the things that reflect that a strong relationship that arts and cultural organizations work hard to build because, essentially, they have to regenerate their revenue every year. Arts organizations need to create interest and those meaningful moments in people’s lives to have customers come back.
INTIX: You hinted about a new upcoming release. What will we see from Tessitura between now and next January when we’re in Orange County for INTIX 2021?
Rubin: Customer expectations around memberships are rapidly evolving. Tessitura has always offered strong membership capabilities, and in our next version, we will relaunch and enrich these capabilities to make it even easier for organizations to build loyalty and encourage customers to become repeat audience members and supporters. And we have some other exciting capabilities coming out that I’ll wait until closer to release to talk about.
INTIX: Why is it important for Tessitura to attend and support the INTIX conference each year?
Rubin: INTIX is a place where ticketing and admissions [professionals] go regardless of their industry or genre. Of course, ticketing is top of mind, but people have broadened their minds. It’s not just about ticketing; it’s about their customer relationship mastery. It’s about understanding the intersection of fundraising, digital, marketing and analytics where Tessitura excels, so it gives us the chance to talk to people about that. We’re into sharing ideas, too, and, unlike other companies, we’re focused exclusively on arts and culture and helping power the business of arts and culture. So, it gives us a chance to see many of our users and also help expose people to ideas and concepts that might help them in their jobs.
INTIX: How do you think things are changing for arts and cultural organizations these days?
Rubin: There is an increased need for financial stability. More organizations are utilizing the data that they have to find that stability while increasing the focus on the whole picture of the customer, leading to deeper engagement and more. They have to bring whatever their mission-driven purpose is to the stage or the platform that they’re performing in, and that has to be exceptional. The business of arts and culture is really hard.
INTIX: What do you think arts and cultural organizations need to be prepared for?
Rubin: Customer expectations, frictionless purchases, in-person experiences, that power of the live experience. There are some theaters in this rush to sell as many tickets as possible that don’t always give you the best customer experience. It’s almost like it’s depersonalized. They want to get you in to see the performance, get you out and get as much revenue as possible. Creating that experience that will be meaningful not only on stage but also through educational events, through the quality of your service, through the food and beverage options, through communications [is critical, so] they need to be prepared that customer expectations continue to be high.
INTIX: In live music, we’re seeing escalating prices with many types of premium ticketing options and different types of packages being offered to fans. Are you seeing anything similar in arts and culture, and what do you think we may see coming in the future?
Rubin: Interesting question. If prices are going to be high because there is demand, that’s the way the economy works: supply and demand. That money should go to the organization putting on the performance. We’re seeing a lot of use of dynamic pricing and revenue enhancement in ways that are going to go to the organization, not to extra services that a company creates to be able to siphon off that extra revenue or play games with consumers. But we’re also seeing that organizations are really trying to be inclusive and have seats available for different audiences, encourage new audiences and have lotteries of various types so that they can have a spectrum and not just be catering to those who can pay the most money.
With the rise of mega events like Hamilton, Kusama in the museum sector and other very popular events, we continue to see that organizations are going to optimize their pricing but also focus on access. I think it’s exciting that a lot of organizations are focusing on access in various ways, not just in [terms of] diversity, but organizations that have sensory friendly performances and relaxed performances that can encourage people to not be threatened by coming to an event. Organizations like the Goodman Theatre, [which] helped pioneer a lot of this in Chicago. Lincoln Center had a whole festival powered by Tessitura, the Big Umbrella Festival, the world’s first large-scale performing arts festival working with young audiences with autism. Theatre Royal Newcastle in the U.K. and the National Theatre do sensory adaptive performances. I think while there’s a lot of focus on prices escalating, there’s also a lot of focus on ensuring that you’re serving the public and reaching a public that has not always been comfortable coming, and it’s great to see that they can also experience live events.
I think it’s important for the industry that the money stays not only with the artist but also with the organization presenting [the performance].
INTIX: Do you have any closing words of wisdom to share?
Rubin: Good ideas come from all over. Keep an open mind to listen; invest in your community and the resources that you have at your fingertips. Interact with your peers. Good ideas can come from not just your genre of organization but other genres and all sizes [of organizations] as well.
As we get older, we should be continually learning. I’m encouraged and enlightened to see that people are interested in learning at every stage in their career, and part of our mission is to help make that happen. Look for learning any way you can get it. INTIX is a great way to find out new ideas, share insights and have an open mind as you advance your career.
This article was sponsored by Tessitura Network.
Tags: Consumer Behavior , Sponsored Content