Top Tip 1: Get the staff on board
Some sites report that staff and volunteers are unfamiliar with the VisitorVerdict study and so are a little reluctant to approach visitors for their email address.
To turn this reluctance into enthusiasm, it might help to talk staff through the survey in its entirety and outline what the museum hopes to gain from the results. You can explain how the insights will help with such things as improving customer experience and supporting funding strategy. Adam Ogelsby from The Galleries of Justice states that sites can go one step further by sharing the end results and the insight gathered from the survey to get the staff completely on board.
Top Tip 2: Incentivise staff
Some sites have reported that incentivising staff has improved data collection. At The Ceredigion Museum, staff are given a target for the number of emails to collect, while The Galleries of Justice runs a friendly in-house competition with rewards for the highest number of email addresses. Both sites have seen an increase in enthusiasm amongst staff in collecting email addresses, resulting in an increase in data collection.
Top Tip 3: The art of the approach
Sites report that the level of engagement and customer service provided throughout a visit will positively impact data collection. As Chris Wright from The Greenfield Valley says, Ask with a smile and you'll get a yes!
Sara Brown from the Ely Museum believes the personal touch provided by staff members helps keep data collection high. It may sound simple, but staff members at this site are all trained to say Hello and Goodbye to visitors and engage with them throughout their visit. Sara believes this has had a positive impact on the sites history of solid data collection.
As well as a positive attitude, it is important to explain why visitors should take part in the survey. Staff at the Fry Art Gallery tend to explain how their participation in the survey will help with funding opportunities and development of the museum.
Adam Ogelsby from the Galleries of Justice sums this up nicely. He thinks that when asking for visitors email it is important to remember it is an appeal to assist and that visitors need to know that their opinion is highly valued and their participation will be of enormous help to the museum.
Top Tip 4: Tell visitors contact will be minimum
In today's world, people are flooded with post, emails, phone calls and text messages because they happened to give an organisation their details ages ago. Site visitors may hesitate to provide their email address to yet another appealing organisation.
Ruth Dewdney from the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre believes that it is imperative to inform visitors that they will only be contacted a maximum of 2 times in regards to the survey. This should increase their likelihood of providing their email address.
The VisitorVerdict certificate, clearly displayed may also help promote recognition of VisitorVerdict and emphasise that the survey is not a marketing exercise.
Top Tip 5: Pick your battles
Sites are placing increasing importance on word of mouth via social media. Visitors are now encouraged to tweet about their experience, post their photos on Instagram, like the sites Facebook page or write a review on Trip Advisor. After being asked to do all of the above a visitor may feel slightly bombarded and less inclined to participate in an online survey.
In this case, it is perhaps a good idea to pick your battles. You may not need to ask visitors to tweet, post, like or review. Instead encourage them to do one or two of these, leaving energy for them to participate in the online survey.
The Museum of Army Flying found that locals are more likely to provide their email address than tourists from outside the area. Other sites have reported similar challenges.
To collect a variety of visitor email addresses, ensure that staff mention that involvement in the survey helps museums across the UK, not just your particular site. This may encourage a higher number of tourists to take part, which in turn will increase your data collection.
Several sites have successfully addressed this challenge by:
- Encouraging the staff to write the email themselves or check the email address on the spot.
- Specifying that visitors write in block letters, while letter divisions or the use of grids on collection forms will also help visitors write legibly. Visitor Verdict's printable data collection sheet is presented in this way, which you can download here: [Include hyperlink]
- Going digital. Some sites use tablets or a computer which allow visitors to accurately input their address themselves. This will also reduce staff workload!
If collecting the email addresses is difficult, finding the time to upload these email addresses into the online system can itself be a challenge. Some sites have reported when they eventually find the time to upload the email addresses, the visits took place over a month ago making the addresses obsolete.
Staff at the Gilbert White and The Oates Collections have encountered this challenge and to overcome it they have given the responsibility to one individual, the Front of House receptionist. It is also this persons job to ask the visitors for their email upon entrance and then upload them. Since implementing this change the Gilbert White and The Oates Collections have been able to upload the emails into the online system promptly.
Another way to overcome this is to enter e-mails directly into the system. Use the 'Add a Visit' tool to add them one-by-one or collect them electronically in a spreadsheet and upload them all in one go using the 'Upload Tool'.
Due to the size of some sites, the number of staff on hand to approach visitors is small. Some sites have addressed this issue by asking at the point of sale or entrance. All visitors will have an interaction with a staff member upon entrance, whether that is to purchase a ticket or if it's a free site, to be welcomed by staff. If this is likely to be the only point of interaction that the visitors have with a staff member, then use it as the opportunity to ask visitors to participate in the survey.
Sometimes, especially during school holidays or bank holidays, staff may be just too busy to approach visitors about the survey. If you find that your staff are often too busy, the following methods could help.
- Leave forms out: The Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre staff do not actively approach visitors for the email. Instead, they leave feedback cards around the site, where visitors can sign up to their mailing list and specify whether or not they would like to be part of VisitorVerdict. If your site does not have the staff capacity to approach visitors then this method may work for you.
- Go digital: Setting up a tablet or computer means that the visitors can input in their email address themselves and do not need to have interaction with the staff.
If you do choose to implement these methods, please ensure that all information regarding the survey is clearly visible.