This is one of those ‘lessons you can learn from’ posts. I don’t write them very often, but I had such a pleasant customer experience recently, it got me thinking.
I love going to watch a film at the cinema. But it’s something though that I rarely do, as I don’t enjoy the experience that surrounds it. Usually, there is queuing involved. To buy tickets, to pick up pre-paid tickets, for the toilets, for popcorn, and then to get into the actual screening. Then there is the bit that bugs me most of all. The adverts. I am a stickler for punctuality. If I go to see a film that is starting at 7.30, I’d like it to actually do so. But the time a film is supposed to begin is usually the start of multiple adverts, suggestions to go out and buy more junk food, and trailers for films of an entirely different genre that I don’t want to see. The actual film probably begins a good 30 minutes after that.
I’m starting to moan. I’m sorry about that.
This weekend I went to a small, local, private cinema. There was no queue. Just a wave of your phone with the tickets on it. There was also no queue for the sweets – and you didn’t have to take a mortgage out to buy them. Best of all was that the film began….. on time. There were just a couple of trailers for similar films. And… there was an intermission. Where someone came out and sold ice-cream. If that wasn’t enough, individual bottles of Proscecco to drink during the screening.
I didn’t love the film all that much. I might, in fact, have had a small nap during it.
But I did love the experience.
First of all, it felt personal. They clearly understand what their customers want and value, they deliver it. In the march of progress they had held on to the special touches, like the intermission and the ice cream seller. The staff were friendly – and didn’t appear to have targets to upsell you a larger popcorn.
There wasn’t the range of sweet stuff you get in a big screen cinema. No fancy reclining seats. And no hot food either (because there’s nothing like sitting next to the guy with the highly odorous hot dog).
In much the same way that we have seen consumers begin to value once again the small, independent and local retailers over huge out of town supermarkets, what we want as customers and as employees has changed over time.
On one hand, we want speed and immediacy. Quick responses on Twitter. Products at our doors in ever decreasing time frames. But at the same time we want something personal. We don’t want to feel like a cog in a machine. Processed.
When it comes to people stuff, big isn’t necessarily better. One size only fits one. Targets, as we know, have unintended consequences. What is valued, is highly variable for different people. For all I love technology, it is possible to lose the human touch along the way. We don’t have to automate the heck out of everything.
While fast and fancy is good, we don’t necessarily want to trade experience and feeling for it.
Less, can most definitely be more.
There’s probably also a HR lesson in the price of pic n mix…. but I’m still working on that.