What Broadway customer service and a teapot have in common.

Back in the frigid cold of January (remember that single degree nonsense?), we announced the opening of The Davenport Theatre, named after my dear old grandpa, Delbert Essex Davenport (we just hung up a bunch of Del’s artifacts in the lobby of the theater – so pop by sometime and check it out).

It’s been just a touch over five months, and I’m loving having the space, and talking to producers interested in getting their shows on (we have Forbidden Broadway running now and Pageant starting in a few weeks around FB’s schedule).

I’m also loving talking to theater patrons directly . . . something that you don’t really get to do when you’re just the Producer in a Broadway house.

I wish I could say that all of my patrons loved talking to me.

See, quickly after we took over, I instituted my classic “thank you for coming” email which we send to everyone who sees a show (it’s based on this old technique of mine that was written about in the NY Times back in 2006 (read the article – I talk about our MySpace page)).  In the email, we thank the patron for supporting Off Broadway, encourage them to spread the word about the show, and of course, ask for feedback on their theater-going experience at The Davenport.

We ask for feedback for two reasons:

  1. To find ways to improve what we’re not doing well enough
  2. To be a teapot.

I lost you there didn’t I.

See here’s the thing.  You can’t make everyone happy with whatever it is you’re producing (and that goes for shows or muffins, if you own a bakery). And people are going to complain from time to time.  And the truth is, if they’ve got a complaint, you want them to complain . . . but just to you.

Asking for feedback gives your disappointed customers a place to vent, a place to blow off steam in a controlled way (get the teapot comparison now?).  Because if they don’t blow it off to you . . . they will blow it off to someone else.  And in today’s online-review-based world, that someone else could be Yelp, or Twitter or any of the other billion sites that allow comments.

Most angry patrons just want to tell you they are angry.  They want to shake their fists and scream about the injustice of high priced tickets or not enough bathrooms.  Let them.  Encourage them too.  Because once they’ve let off that steam, they usually move on.  But if you don’t give them the opportunity and the mechanism by which to release that pressure, they’ll just walk around with it until they burst.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.