- Since the end of January ish we prominently listed our Easter opening hours on our website, and mentioned this on social media.
- In the building we has posters with the Easter opening hours.
- In website blogs and updates we occasionally called back to the Easter opening hours.
- In the run up to Easter we posted regular reminders, and links to the website Easter opening hours, on social media.
- In the week before Easter our email newsletter listed our Easter opening hours.
Someone has blamed us of “only announcing you were closed on social media when it was pretty much your opening time".
On the one hand, do you not check opening hours before driving for miles at Easter?
On the other, have we fallen down here?
The cloud of complaint is a call to action, not just to response.
On the website, changes like opening hours are posted alongside other blogs, and grouped in a separate section which is prominently flagged at the side of each page. New and repeat visitors both see the link to this flagged section, whether they are looking for basic detail pages, or more in-depth blogs. We can't force people to click and read, but we do point people to this section on pages about planning visits, opening hours, etc, advising that they always look before they visit.
On social media we can't assume that everyone who wants to visit follows us, and even people who do follow us don't see all of our posts thanks to the ever changing algorithms. Promoted posts and paid advertising on social media wouldn't even hit all of our followers. We do post content which encourages and gets high levels of engagement though, which then means the algorithm is more likely to show followers our less exciting, but essential posts.
With email newsletters, getting people aware and signed up is stage one, getting them to open and engage is stage two. We try to send suitably timed emails (in terms of how frequent, and when in relation to the event being discussed), and we encourage people to open and read by the content being brief and relevant to their interests. However, even if our visitors are signed up, spam can eat things, or they may miss news due to not being a regular email checker.
Finally, in the building, we have posters, which when the changes are listed on the website. These only reach our existing visitors, and only if they visit within the time-frame between the announcement and the change. This should mean regular visitors are informed, but posters are colourful wallpaper to many people, especially those who breeze on in because they are here so often, and know exactly what they are looking to engage with.
So, do our channels work? (Silver lining)
Looking back at what we did in this situation, one person making a complaint out of the thousands we saw over the Bank Holiday is really not that bad (obviously, all complaints are bad, in that someone is disappointed) as we can honestly say that we followed all of our practices to reach our visitors about our Easter opening hours, and usually, those practices work.
There's a sliver lining to most situations, and here, it's been the kick to go and genuinely evaluate, rather than just fire and forget a response.