Jun 5, 2007

Customer Service at the Concert

I DID go see Harry Connick Jr on Saturday night as planned. It was an outdoor venue at a Winery and we were on the third row. Everything was great until about the last quarter of the concert. Then I think Harry needed a lesson in customer service!

Our section was reserved seating with actual chairs. We paid a premium price to have those seats in that smaller section right in front of the stage. Around us was "open seating" all on the grass. NOBODY even got to walk into our section without their hand-stamp. To the right of us was the "Dance" area. And, as the evening wore on, some Wine-fueled women were getting their groove on in the dance area outside our section. Well, just as the concert was reaching a feverish pitch, Harry called out, "Let those women come in here and dance! That's how we do it in New Orleans!" Security hesitated but his production manager waved them to obey so they reluctantly opened the flood gates and in poured about 100 extra bodies. Immediately, a woman in the front row got up and stormed over to security. Some of us started to "Boo". All of a sudden, our premium seats were worse than the seats on the grass behind us. We couldn't see ANYTHING for the rest of the concert. We tried standing up but the people behind us weren't so we sat down so they wouldn't be mad at us.

So, for the last quarter of the concert, we would have been better off in the "cheap seats". We couldn't even get up to the front because there wasn't room. If someone was going to be invited up to stand in front of the stage for the finale, it should have been the people who paid the extra $ to be there!

Most of our section (including us) were steaming mad when we left and gave the security people a tongue-lashing. I assume that most also did what we did which was contact the Winery the next day to complain. It was a poor decision all around.

There are a couple of lessons here.
  1. Think before you act! Making snap decisions can have long-term negative consequences. Customer service should be planned out as any other part of your business. Decide what you're going to do to keep your best customers happy. The women were THRILLED to get to come in (one of them was crying later because she TOUCHED him). But, they were his best customers AT THAT MOMENT. The long-term effect of his decision will not immediately be known but I assume some of his long-term fans were mad enough that they will never come back to one of his concerts.

  2. Know WHO your best customers are and consistently treat them like your best customers. We had paid quite a bit MORE to be where we were and yet, he didn't seem to realize that. We were his BEST customers that night and we got tossed under the bus. Much of that section was filled with Fan Club members and VIPs. Not the crowd to mess with!

It WAS a great concert and I assume that I'll never get any response from the Chateau St. Michelle Winery. So, I won't let it ruin my evening, but I really think there was a good lesson in customer service in what happened on a beautiful Saturday night!

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