The Fine Line Between High Quality Data Collection And Stalking

The marketing director at my new job was discussing the potential of using geofencing with me today and then lo and behold, the first article on my social media feed when I got home contained a link to an article on that very subject.

Geofencing can be used to track someone’s movement by where they carry their cellphone and send messages to them based on their behavior. As the article on Tao of Sports explains,

Geofencing also follows customers around for up to thirty days, which means beyond the initial purchasing period, it can also showcase whether the fan receiving the message then went to the stadium or not. With addressable geofencing, conversion zones can be setup as well. So if a fan crosses into a conversion zone, say a specific venue which advertised to them within the last thirty days, it will show on the report.


For secondary brokers, geofencing technology also adds an additional way to catch fans as they are entering the stadium parking lot, by hitting their phone with a last minute advertisement for concert or sports tickets. Image getting them right before they hit the window with a credible advertisement that beats the venue price.

Like any technology tool, geofencing is something of a double edged sword. It can provide you with much more accurate data about the way people are behaving than asking them about their habits or trying to observe it in other ways. But there is also that creepy Big Brother is Watching element.

The tweet by Roger Tomlinson that brought the article to my attention notes that geofencing is not legal in Europe without permission.

Last month when I was suggesting conference session topics for the Non Profit Technology Conference, I alluded to the issues surrounding geofencing in one of my topic ideas:

Ethics of Using Geofencing For Marketing  – i.e. I can geofence a local theater and target people based on the idea that they enjoy attending performances or with the intent of stealing the audience.

I don’t doubt that the use of geofencing or something like it will become increasingly prevalent. I suspect that a number of bad actors will cause people to become very protective of how their movements are tracked to the point that even if a law isn’t passed requiring you to ask for permission, in practice that is what you will have to do in order to gain the data you want.

New Perspectives From A Different Part of The Country

I mentioned last week that I was in the process of moving. Today I started a new job at the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

I am really excited by this opportunity. The Grand is a storied theater having undergone many evolutions, and renovations  over its, depending on how you count, 134 or 104 year history.

One of the other things that really excites me is that Macon is a Knight Foundation community.  Over the years I have written about the interesting programs they have initiated and supported in their chosen communities. I am looking forward to experiencing some of this first hand.  (As you might imagine, I now need to insert a disclaimer that The Grand Opera House benefits from their support.)

I will apologize in advance that my posting schedule might be a little irregular as I tackle the challenges of my new job. Not to mention, my furniture has yet to catch up with me and blogging while sitting on my living room floor presents some challenges.

Still, I anticipate having new perspectives and insights to offer readers in the coming months.

The Best Customer Is The Emotionally Satisfied Customer

Back in 2009 I wrote a series of articles on the book Human Sigma after I had heard someone at a conference remark that arts administrators were often so emotionally satisfied with their work that they didn’t feel the need to keep up on current literature and attend to professional development. I had asked the person where he heard that and he directed me to Human Sigma.

Human Sigma is actually more about interactions between customer facing employees and customers than professional development so what the authors, John Fleming and Jim Asplund, have to say is pretty applicable to arts organizations.

Emotional connection and satisfaction are very important when building a relationship with customers. As I wrote about one of my biggest revelations I received from the book:

What surprised me was that those who are rationally satisfied “behave not any differently than customers who are dissatisfied.” They use the example of a credit card company. Those who were emotionally satisfied spent an average of $251/month and used the card 3.1 times a month. Those who were rationally satisfied spent an average of $136/month and used the card 2.5 times each month. Those who were dissatisfied also spent $136/month and used the card 2.2 times.

What informs people’s emotional satisfaction is often tied to a perception of fairness. While the definition of fairness can differ from person to person, one thing that is true for pretty much everyone is that anything that appears to make the interaction easier for the business than the customer is perceived as unfair.

I wrote prime example of this,

…is the phone queue with the recorded message about your call being important leaving you to reconcile how this can be if the place is so poorly staffed the average wait time is twenty minutes. What the authors say about this really struck me, (my emphasis) “From the customer’s perspective, any process or system whose primary purpose is to solve a business problem rather than a customer concern is unfair.”

They also note that treating people equally can appear unfair. If your customer service staff follows the exact same scripted process with customers not recognizing that the script can’t cover all eventualities, the result may make you look incompetent and patronizing for asking questions or suggesting solutions which obviously do not apply to the situation.

In the third post of my Human Sigma series, I devoted the whole post to the authors’ suggestions about how to handle customer complaints. I will list them here. Check out the post for more detail.

The importance of handling complaints well is extremely important. As the authors write,

“customers who encounter a problem and are extremely happy with how the company handled the problem often have levels of emotional attachment equal to—and in some cases exceeding– those who have no problem at all.”

They say that customers don’t expect a business will always resolve a problem to their liking, “but they do except the company to handle them in an exemplary way.”


They have found that people who have a high emotional investment are likely to give a company the benefit of the doubt when a problem arises viewing it as an honest mistake or even pondering how they may have contributed to the situation. Those with low engagement are more likely to place heavier blame on the company for the problem making it more difficult to please them.

Here are the six steps to addressing customer complaints they suggest as I first wrote in my post:

First is to acknowledge the problem exists. Second is to apologize. They are quick to add that apologizing is not accepting the blame.

The third step they suggest is “Take ownership of the problem and follow up, even if the problem is unresolved.” Promising to follow up by a certain time or date is better than a vague “as soon as possible” because the customer may feel they have to continue checking in on your progress.


Suggestion four is to handle problems on the spot rather than bumping it to a supervisor.


Their fifth suggestion is have a process which quickly brings the problem to the attention of a supervisor or manager.


The last suggestion is to leave people better off than they were before the problem occurred.

In the next post I wrote, I noted that Fleming and Asplund said the best way to achieve this is to empower the employees to find the best way to solve customer problems rather than create a formal process/decision tree. Essentially, tell the employees the end goal and then let them figure out how to get there. Employees are evaluated on achieving the end goals rather than how well they adhered to processes.

A Decade Later, Same Stuff Appears On A Twitter Feed

Apropos of my post addressing arts education yesterday, I also stumbled upon an old post where I cite Richard Kessler’s The Things I Hear About Arts Education.

His post is from almost a decade ago so maybe people aren’t still saying these things,…but I wouldn’t count on it. Some of it reads like the Twitter feed of Shit Arts Administrators Say.

Here is a sample of his list:

Children are transformed by simply walking into ____________ (performance venue–you can fill in the blank).
Famous Artist and Board Member of Unsaid Institution

The integration of the arts cannot be done at the high school level.
School District Administrator

We like arts because there are no wrong answers.
School Principal

We do not like the arts because there are no wrong answers.

Parents are the key to arts education.
Foundation Staff Member

Parents are a waste of time.
The very same Foundation Staff Member

Parents in low income areas don’t care about the arts.
Arts Education Consultant

Parents in low income schools understand that the arts are part of a well-rounded education.
Grass Roots Organizer.

Low performing students shouldn’t be required to have the arts.
School District Official


There would be no arts education without cultural organizations.
Arts Administrator

There is no arts education in our schools.
Elected Official

This year is going to be another great year for arts education.
City Official (in the same school district as the elected official)


We must do something about ensuring that artists entering schools have basic training.
Director of Arts Education/Cultural Organization

After all the training artists have already received, why should we have to receive additional training? We’re not teachers; we’re artists.
Teaching Artist

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