Customer service is important to the National Maritime Museum, because without customers there would not be a business. Excellent customer service results in:
- Higher visitor numbers and greater customer diversity
- Increased sales
- Increasing public image
- Survival in terms of competition
- Satisfied customers and greater job satisfaction for staff
- Repeat business and customer loyalty
Higher visitor numbers and greater customer diversity
Visits to the Museum's three sites are increasing each year, with 2,395,493 admissions in 2010, compared with 2,089,104 in 2009.
Like any heritage organization or tourist attraction, the NMM aims to increase its visitor numbers. The Museum is different from purely commercial organizations because it is funded by the Government, through public taxes.
In return for this funding, the Government sets targets for the Museum to provide a public service for groups of people who don’t traditionally visit, or use cultural or heritage organizations like museums.
Although Government funding means that general visits are free, the Museum still has to compete with other organizations for people’s leisure time, and to generate income to top up funding. The Museum generates income through shops, cafes, charging for special exhibitions, hiring venues for corporate events and weddings, and sales from the Picture Library.
Without customers visiting, using and valuing the Museum, it would be hard to justify the cost of funding to the Government.
Increasing the public image
As a national museum with collections of national and international importance, all our staff take pride in our reputation and public image.
Customer service is important, whether it is directing someone to the nearest toilet, answering an enquiry about the history of passenger ships, or providing more effective access to our collections via our website.
Survival in terms of competition
Good customer service can give the Museum an edge over other tourist attractions or leisure facilities, as we compete for customers' leisure time and money.
Satisfied customers and staff
As well as feedback from customer comment cards, and monitoring visit numbers, the Museum pays a market research company (Morris Hargreaves McIntyre) to conduct exit surveys. Visitors are asked to rate their experiences of the Museum, the staff and facilities. These are quantified into satisfaction levels. General visitor satisfaction is consistently high. In 2010, 100% of Museum visitors found the Museum 'at least' satisfactory.
Our staff also takes pride in being part of an organization which delivers high levels of customer service. Job satisfaction is increased by positive feedback from our customers; it's more rewarding to be thanked for a great day out than having to deal with an unhappy customer!
Repeat business and customer loyalty
Analysis of feedback and visitor surveys indicates that 99% of visitors would recommend the Museum to their friends. Excellent customer service results in strong customer loyalty and increased visitor numbers, especially repeat visits.
In the year March 2009–10, the number of repeat visits was 807,346.
A comment on customer service requirements from the Museums Association (2004):
To enjoy and learn from a museum's collections, visitors must first feel welcome, secure and comfortable in their environment. Crucial factors include friendly staff to greet and help, clear signage, queuing systems, gallery plans and well-maintained washrooms and cloakrooms. Improvements to these areas can significantly increase word-of-mouth recommendations, repeat visits and time and money spent by visitors. Competition for the public's time and attention is intense.
We have been able to find out more about our customer profiles through market research. Investigate for yourself: download our comparative visitor profile (PDF, 48KB).