Written by Jamie O'Brien, Assistant Director of Digital Services
An email goes out after every New Victory public performance. It contains two evergreen questions:
That email is step one in a process that turns digital feedback into real world action items for our staff. As the Assistant Director of Digital Services, it's a process that combines all sorts of things I like to geek out on: smart use of technology, automation and integration across data platforms, evaluating success based on specific customer comments and challenging one's self to continuously improve. Transparency is the name of the game, so, to me, it's also an essential step that we provide glimpses into what happens after you hit "Submit" on the feedback survey and send your thoughts our way.
Your comments land in the inbox of almost every full-time staff member connected to New Victory public performances. A daily report that includes all responses, verbatim, arrives each morning, plus we recap per-production trends. If your feedback after the first weekend points to easy improvements, like re-calibrating temperature or music volume, we simply take care of it. Anyone requesting information or in need of customer service hears from a Ticket Services manager. Larger topics that emerge become agenda items for department meetings and Senior Staff-level discussions.
While the responses are themselves anecdotal, I log some quality spreadsheet time in order to track trends. Each answer gets tallied by theme—and even on days when the rows start to blur together, it's a pretty great task since you're quite generous with the compliments: Even on the "could improve" side, 40+% of people answer like Karen F did, aka "Not a thing, truly." Artistic choices, the staff, the amenities and the Public Engagement activities dominate the "things we did well" thoughts. Suggestions are heart-felt too, covering everything from wishing the Talk-Back could be longer to wishing the family in front of you had gotten a babysitter for their 2-year-old instead of bringing him to an opera recommended for 8+...
Your feedback—compliment or complaint—lets us know where we're succeeding and where there are still gaps in our efforts to provide family-friendly entertainment in a family-friendly environment. Here are two examples of how we've made changes based on your comments:
"It might have been nice to have a glossary of terms in the playbill explaining some of the culture and traditions of Jamaica." - Daryl L
Daryl saw Bob Marley's Three Little Birds during one of its first performances here last season. We loved the idea—and had the website updated and a blog ready midweek, and a poster up in the theater for the weekend.
"The line for snacks was so long that by the time we were served, intermission was over." - Pamela R
It's no fun to buy animal crackers only to have to stow them away before Act II because crinkling bags aren't a good addition to the show's sound design. That's why you'll see an extra Usher ringing up your order next time you line up for a bite between acts.
We're still contemplating the great unsolved mysteries of 2015 family theatergoing—late seating disruptions, glowing smart phones, tall parents seated in front of short children (and tall children in front of short parents—hi Mom!), etc.—but I'll return to post another progress report in the Spring.
In the meantime, you've got a standing invitation to share your thoughts with us. Add a note in the comments, tweet @NewVictory, click on the survey link in your next post-show email or send us an email. I really, truly look forward to it—and so does the rest of the staff at The New Victory.
Jamie O'Brien is the Assistant Director of Digital Services for The New 42nd Street and has been wrapped up in all things email, website and digital for The New Victory since 2007. She reads every piece of submitted feedback at least twice. She is luckily a few inches taller than her mother.