Optimising Operations at Regent Ipswich & Corn Exchange

Discover how Regent Ipswich and Corn Exchange Theatres, two leading entertainment venues in the region, faced dramatic change and leveraged the power of technology and people to create operational efficiencies across multiple venues.

About Ipswich Theatres

Boasting a 1500 seat theatre and the 700 seat Corn Exchange, Ipswich Theatres comprised tow the leading entertainment venues in the region. The council-run theatres host a broad range of arts and cultural events, in two venues including film screenings, ballet, musicals, concerts, comedy and West End touring productions, reaching a diverse demographic.

An iPad showing Ipswich Theatres' website
An iPhone displaying a blog entry from Ipswich Theatres about Covid-19

The challenge

Post-pandemic, Ipswich Theatres faced closure of their physical box office due to budget cuts, losing box office expertise and walk-up sales. All box office calls were redirected to the council’s centralized call centre, which handles inquiries on all topics. This was frustrating for customers calling about tickets. With the box office closure, Ipswich lost staff who’d been with them for decades – plus their knowledge and expertise. This left remaining staff feeling uncertain and put pressure on them.

Besides budget cuts, Ipswich dealt with reduced ticket sales from the pandemic and cost of living crisis. This led to staff redundancies, less resources and uncertainty.

Ipswich needed to maintain an engaging customer experience without a physical box office, ensure accessibility without face-to-face engagement, manage expectations without overburdening customers, and energise burnt out staff.

The Solution

Ipswich focused on 4 primary technology solutions familiar through Ticketsolve: online help centre, chatbot, e-tickets/vouchers, email automations.

  • Online Help Centre

    They built an online self-service help centre with Zendesk, using existing website content and internal docs. This provides 24/7 answers without relying on call centre hours.

  • Integrated Chatbot

    The integrated Zendesk chatbot provides help during ticket bookings without customers leaving the page. Chatbot pulls relevant help center articles based on questions asked.

  • E-tickets and E-vouchers

    They moved to mobile e-tickets/vouchers. E-tickets are easy to scan at the venue, and customisable e-vouchers retain a high quality feeling.

  • Email automations

    Email automations through Ticketsolve send relevant, segmented communications. New customers get info 2 days after booking.

These solutions filled resource gaps, empowered customers to self-serve, and provided personalised experiences despite limited human resources.

An image of a laptop showing Ipswich Theatres' help centre

The Results

  • An Iterative Approach

    Ipswich took an agile and iterative approach: implement, get feedback, refine. They continually improve the help centre based on most viewed articles and customer feedback. Their use of technology supported this iterative process.

  • The key numbers

    After launching the help centre, the most popular questions were about reopening, refunds, exchanges, updating account details – showing it met key needs.  In the first year, the help centre had 73,000+ views of articles and 30,000+ chatbot interactions. Searches on the website increased by 2,800+. The call volume to the council call center has dropped since launching these self-service options. Initiatives are successfully reducing calls and empowering customers. E-tickets and vouchers have been well received. Customizations like gift cards retain the quality feel. Over 90% now use e-tickets, reducing printing and improving convenience

  • Quality customer communications

    Ipswich uses Net Promoter Score surveys immediately after ticket purchases to catch issues quickly vs post-event. They follow-up via email with unhappy customers. Automated, personalised emails go out based on customer segments like new buyers. This scales communications without heavy staff effort.

  • The ability to evolve

    These technology solutions sit alongside human team members, enhancing service vs fully replacing humans. Self-service and automation fill gaps and relieve burdens on the team. Ipswich credits their people and their ability to evolve as the real power behind navigating substantial changes successfully. Being open, creative, and adaptive has been key.

An infographic showing the key numbers detailed in the text

Tackling even bigger challenges

Beyond internal operations, Ipswich utilised their experience leveraging technology to tackle even bigger challenges: using Ticketsolve’s fundraising tools and email automations, they ran a public donation campaigns raising money for the Red Cross.

An image of Ipswich Regent Theatre's auditorium, overlaid with the words

Looking to the future

They are still making tweaks, but Ipswich believes this agile, human-centred approach balancing talented teams and supporting tech will best serve their audiences moving forward.

Find out more about Ipswich Theatres