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Home of the Exceptional Usher

Sunday 30 September 2018

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So what makes the difference between good and great customer service? We chatted to Sue Darby, Front of House Supervisor and employee of over 20 years at the Frankston Arts Centre.

As a regular patron of the performing arts, do you ever consider the role of the usher setting the tone for your overall theatre-going experience?  They welcome you with a beaming smile and a helpful offer of programs, refreshments and directions to the nearest facilities, all before showing  you to your seats in anticipation of the performance ahead.

It’s the ushers who are the first people to greet us face-to-face; leaving us with our first (and often last) impression of not only the performance, but of the venue itself.  And at a venue like the Frankston Arts Centre, one of the biggest performing arts venues in metropolitan Melbourne, the ushers are considered to be a cut above.  In a recent survey, an impressive 82% of Frankston Art Centre’s patrons rated the venue’s ushers as exceptional.

So what makes the difference between good and great customer service, particularly in the live entertainment space?  To get the inside scoop, we chatted to Sue Darby, Front of House Supervisor and employee of over 20 years at the Frankston Arts Centre.  According to Sue, who has “loved every second” of her time at the Frankston Arts Centre (including the first 10 years she spent as an usher & Head Usher), there are certain essential qualities and characteristics required of a theatre attendant.  Not only is being friendly and welcoming an absolute must for this customer-facing role, but Sue also believes that the most competent ushers are acutely observant, helpful and proactive.

“Our ushers are exceptional because they are just SO passionate about the Frankston Arts Centre and its patrons, and they do everything they can to make the patrons’ experience amazing”, notes Sue, who is not only quick to commend the Frankston Arts Centre for being inclusive and welcoming of patrons of all abilities, but to also provide specific examples of how each and every patron is personally catered for.  “Our ushers are always looking for additional ways to care for our patrons – whether it be finding a booster seat for a child who is struggling to see the performance, or grabbing a glass of water for an audience member who is experiencing a sudden coughing fit”.

But it’s not just this incredible level of attentiveness (and an uncanny ability to remember the names of regular patrons) that makes the ushers at the Frankston Arts Centre so exceptional.  As Sue points out, “The patrons’ experience has been so positive, and they’ve often commented that they feel like the ushers have been personally waiting for them to arrive!” 

So next time you take in a show at the Frankston Arts Centre, don’t be surprised if these unsung heroes are waiting for you with open arms.  They are, after all, your very enthusiastic and passionate local theatre family!

 

 

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