Thursday, February 28, 2013

Part II of the Kennedy Center customer service saga; maybe we need telemarketing companies (and calls) after all

The saga of third-party Kennedy Center ticket purchase, as a consequence of website difficulties, continued today.  To its credit, Cheap Tickets called me this afternoon and told me that the broker didn’t have time to send an e-ticket, and gave me an order number and broker name for pickup at will-call (for a Sibelius (pun) NSO concert).  But when I got there, the broker name was wrong; the order number matched another broker in California.
But 45 minutes later, just in time, I had a comp ticket anyway for the concert.  So being a Kennedy Center member helped after all.  (And I got to see the bird collection on the third tier).
Some questions occur, however.  I noticed that most of the seats in the upper tier were empty, as if they had been bought by third party brokers to be sold at huge profits, perhaps when word of the website failure spread.

I sat next to a gentleman., however, who had an NSO subscription.
That brought back memory of the period in the fall of 2003, when I worked for Arts Marketing (a Canadian company) trying to sell subscriptions to the NSO.  (The Minnesota Orchestra had started using Arts Marketing in the spring of 2003, while I was calling for the Guaranty Fund, before I came back to DC, my first interim job after my 2001 career-ending IT layoff). 
We were told to “overcome objections” and to tell potential subscribers that the website was “hard to use”.  That isn’t true – except yesterday, when there was a sudden surge of demand (because of “Book of Mormon).  It doesn’t seem that these telemarketing or telefunding jobs are of much use for organizations that have good online presence and mechanics (including plans to handle surges in volume). 

On the other hand, Arts Marketing tended to employ retired people, some of whom were good at it and could earn an extra $40000 a year or so besides their pension and Social Security, part time.  They did it by calling the same subscribers every year.  And it employed some professional people who had been laid off from more conventional jobs (like me).  Too much efficiency (as from the Web), you don’t need to employ as many people really needing work (and raising families).  It seems as though the Amish know this better than anybody else. 

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