News

Interview

Sandra Lynes Timbrell, Director of Visitor Experience at Shakespeare’s Globe and speaker at our upcoming Customer Engagement Summit, gives insight into her case study and role …

Can you provide us with an insight into a ‘day in the life’ of your role?

It is a cliché but true to say that every day for me is varied; the joy of operational management! I try to set aside least an hour once I get into the office to check emails and my diary for the day and see what meetings I have coming up.

One of my key challenges is keeping track of over 130 staff and 630 volunteers, so I like to take some time each day to check in on my team. It is hugely important to take an active interest in team members and their work, as they are the ones on the ground who can make or break an organisation. I am responsible for the public spaces, public events, and the majority of the operational teams at Shakespeare’s Globe, although much of what I do is office-based. This means my day could consist of meetings discussing catering contracts, HR or H&S legislation, or catching up with my departmental Heads on their areas of work. I sit on the Executive Board, responsible for setting the strategic direction of the site, and have multi-million pound budgetary responsibility, so I will have some time in the diary to spend with our Director of Finance, or have a 1:1 with my boss, our Chief Exec. On other days, I could be leading a project team focusing on our new tour interpretation strategy, chairing our commercial group or working as part of the team workshopping ideas to develop our marketing campaigns and CRM strategies for the next year.

I also spend a lot of my time at other cultural and heritage venues and forums, discussing new ideas and sharing best practice with my peers. I always try to spend the latter part of the afternoon in the office checking emails and preparing for the next day.

As part of my job, I receive numerous invitations to press nights, book launches, and other events. If I’m not attending these, I will ensure I’m home in time for my little boy’s bedtime, and check emails only a couple of times during the evening, taking time to read the operational detail in the end of day report and prepare for any sticky issues the next day!

What do you think is the most important factor affecting Customer Engagement today?

Customer’s expectations are rising; we are all competing with each other in different ways, so we all need to stand out. This is by no means easy. Netflix is now classed as part of entertainment spending, and retail is considered a leisure activity. This has huge repercussions for the cultural sector, traditionally more cash poor than our more commercial peers, as we push our teams to work harder, often not for more money. My teams need to ensure that our engagement at all levels are aligned: the website must be easy to navigate, the ticket sale quick, and that must be carried through to the onsite experience, because that’s how customers are now used to engaging with brands. We must keep listening and communicating with customers. In my role, I continually drive forward the concept that absolutely everything leads back to the customer in all their guises. Without them, we do not exist.

What do you think the future looks like for Customer Engagement?

We have to keep at the forefront of customer expectations, ensuring our engagement works on an emotional level and a basic level too. As technologies expand, certainly the cultural industries must work harder to keep up. We must also ensure that we keep that emotional connection with the customer; the one that will keep them returning and keep them as individuals engaged. In a way, that is easier for us in the cultural sector; a blockbuster exhibition or a moving performance on stage or a truly engaging family activity is easier to keep people talking and be the latest ‘must do’ than a trip to the shops. We need to ensure we develop these connections, using CRM other technologies and basic human emotion to make people feel truly valued. As a sector, we all have a lot of hard work to do, and we cannot be complacent.

Can you provide a sneak peek into your case study?

I am talking about how we worked hard to ensure we keep the trust of our staff, and in turn our customers, during a tumultuous few years at the Globe.

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

Meeting many other people who are passionate about customer engagement practices and getting lots of new ideas!