Even as multiplexes expand their presence into B cities and serious talk is now beginning to be heard about cinemas going digital, I think the overall movie going experience has however come down over the years, in cities like Delhi.
The quality of screen, projection and sound is all superb, but what about service quality? I have been thinking about this for the last couple of months and was on a specific lookout today as we went to watch ‘Devil wears Prada’.
Compare your cinema going experience with one in any hospitality environment – a restaurant (fast food, casual or fine dining), hotel/ resort; an airline or for that matter any other service industry segment, I think the customer is being short changed in the first. For example, even though the entertainment tax got cut substantially, the ticket price has stayed constant. But let’s forget the ticket price completely today and just concentrate on the experience…
My innumerable attempts to buy a ticket over phone have always yielded the same outcome – failure (phone is off the hook or no one picks it up); irrespective of which brand you try it with, the payment gateway on their websites doesn’t work (irritating if you have spent 15 minutes, each, registering on respective sites); there’s a queue at the ticket counter but only one window, of three, is manned; even when reasonably free, the staff at the counter doesn’t even look you in the eye as they talk to you, leave alone smile – the voice is harsh and untrained; the guard’s touch doesn’t differentiate between a college student, me or my father – it’s equally rough; the washroom floor is wet; carpet inside the cinema smelly; air-conditioning gets too cold and needs to be switched off from time-to-time. This is my personal experience with several multiplexes, but of course there could be exceptions and experiences may vary.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to reach out to the cinema manager when the young gentleman manning the ticket counter arrogantly said he only had front row seats left, but his body language was telling me something else. I asked the cinema manager if that was true, he apologized and gave me 2 tickets for the back row!
It’s not all complaints, there are a few nice experiences too. Last week, after waiting in the queue for about 7-8 mins (and after being told by everyone that Lage Raho Munnabhai is sold out) I decided to opt for ‘Devil wears Prada’ and even as the gentleman manning the counter punched my request into the computer, I asked availability of LRM tickets for a show later that evening. He stopped, looked at the chart, gave me 2 tickets of LRM that I wanted- for the current show! I was speechless!
I remember this instance, a few years ago, when I had gone to meet a good acquaintance of mine – head of marketing for one of the multiplex chains at that time – he had called for a fizzy drink for both of us, but upon finding it flat not just did he send it back, but also asked his staff to recalibrate the dispenser immediately; I left my feedback with him about smelly bathrooms at their flagship property and the problem had disappeared next time when I visited the cinema hall. I asked the guard manning the gate today, if they ever greeted their guests with a ‘Good Morning/ Afternoon/ Evening’ etc. and if they had received any training towards that – the answer was a ‘No’ on both counts.
I am convinced that a great customer experience has nothing to do with big monetary investments, rather is about training & empowering the staff to delight the customer with little things when they are least expecting it, as my Munnabhai experience would perhaps validate.
See comments: http://indeverbum.blogspot.com/2006/09/cinema-going-experience-is-customer.html
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