Tag Archives: customer experience

Follow Our Rules or Get The Hell Out

For companies, it is as crucial to define target audience, but almost more important is to define who is NOT your target audience.

When we adopted our strict no talking policy back in 1997 we knew we were going to alienate some of our patrons. That was the plan.

If you can’t change your behavior and be quiet (or unilluminated) during a movie, then we don’t want you at our venue. Follow our rules, or get the hell out and don’t come back until you can. 

– Tim League founder/CEO Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Week ago I was watching a film in movie theatre and someone´s alarm clock started ringing during the show. Everyone noticed that expect the guy whose alarm bell was ringing. My movie experiences have many times been ruined by talking or mobile phone4s. And I am not talking about loud action movies or mild noises; once watching European art film where there is practically no dialogue or loud sounds, one couple was having loud conversation about what to have for dinner. So my stance is clear: if you cannot be without your phone for a length of a movie, stick to Netflix.

Alamo Drafthouse is perfect example of movie theatre that truly walks their talk. Because the problem is not that patrons are encouraged to use their mobile phones. Practically every cinema has no- mobile phone policy. But pretty much no one is truly enforcing it. You as a patron are forced to be the “bad guy“, which not only ruins your night, but also probably the one who is texting (like I would care). Alamo Drafthouse is giving warnings of texting and after the first warning you are kicked out if you continue your bad ways. And they are not afraid to kick texters out of the movie theatre (troublemakers are “snitched” anonymously in the food order sheets).

Rules are meaningless if you don´t follow them.

Other movie theatres let short-sighted greed (or ambivalence) to let few bad apples to ruin the experience for majority. What Alama Drafthouse has realized that bully or a trouble maker as a client is never a good client. You should get rid of them, because having a bad client ends up costing you money in the long run. If you have rules and defined target audience, you should be true to it.


Interestingly Alamo has also separate program “Alamo for All”, where noise and technology rules do not apply and you are allowed to move freely in movie theatre. This is to create inclusive accessible movie theatre experience for children, guests with special needs and those who cannot behave in normal movie theatre. Again rules are stated clearly and they are followed. In these screenings you are not allowed to whine about texting.

Few lessons from Alamo Drafthouse:

  1. Be true to your target audience. You do not need to serve everyone. 
  2. If you have rules you must enforce them. Rules without enforcement is not called rule. It is called a joke. 
  3. Have some integrity in what you do. 

Because at the end of the day, the only thing defining you are your principles (which you define yourself so they can be super easy as well). If you cannot abide them, everyone will eventually lose respect for you.

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Real Omni-Channel Customer Experience

We consumers are living in truly omni-channel environment. We live in app economy. We don´t just want things fast, we want them now. This a real user journey from this new brave world:

  1. I realize that I don´t have any food in the fridge. This might pose a problem to my survival. I am too lazy to walk to smaller store so I decide to buy online.
  2. Because I am also a cheapskate, my online store of choice is Giant Online.
  3. The experience starts by not remembering your password. After resetting your password, you are finally into system.
  4. Giant Online has a great system called Shopping list. It enables you to put items you buy frequently to “shopping list” so it would be faster to buy your items. Expect when it is not.
  5. You cannot just import your shopping list to the cart, but you have to check every single item one-by-one.
  6. After you have put those products in the really innovative product feature kicks in. The products that are not currently available will disappear. So you have to start checking what items are actually missing from your shopping list.
  7. Because I buy lots of fruits and vegetables, Giant recognizes those as individual items. So if I put Avocado from US to shopping list and they do not have those exact fruits they will disappear from my shopping cart. The system is not smart enough to recommend avocadoes from New Zealand (or vice versa). The system does not also learn in any way of my purchase history. So then again I need to spend another 10 minutes by putting the missing items manually.
  8. Because I have used this store for long I have also realized certain quirks of it (like the one above). Sometimes you don´t find products with search and you have to go to specific category to go them through. Sometimes you can find certain products only through search. The time it has took me to master this online shopping platform could have been used to learn a new language.
  9. Finally you seem to have everything on your cart so it is time to check out.
  10. Expect the system tries to sell me something totally unnecessary. This time they offer me a funky green saucepan. Great deal, expect I don´t have any need for that product. Naturally these upselling offers are totally random and not connected to what I am normally purchasing.giantpromotion
  11. I select the option that if I miss any items they would be replaced automatically if there is a substitute item and they would not call me. Usually these calls are only about that the item is missing and there is no replacement. No idea to call if there are no solutions to missing items.
  12. I check out from the store. Great, it only took 20 minutes. My nearest store is five minutes walk so I probably would have already done this faster in there. But at least I didn´t need to stand up from my computer. Wait a minute; I did it on my stand-up desk at work. So at least I burned some calories.
  13. Ok of I go or so I think.
  14. Because I selected to pay with credit card, I have to do some extra security confirmation through SMS. So I have to check a code from my phone and type it into the system.
  15. Ok, not that hard, the card is valid. I will get e-mail confirmation of my order. By this point I have already utilized desktop, mobile and received e-mail during this shopping journey. And this for the quite mundane order of cabbage and yoghurt.
  16. My earliest time slot I could get the order was two days away. So eventually I had to go to nearby store to get some emergency stuff because otherwise I would have died of hunger meanwhile. So already this process has took an hour. Smooth…
  17. Day before the shipment, they call me (although I explicitly forbid them of calling). Well they call me anyway and say that certain items are missing and there are no replacements. Thank you for the information.
  18. The big day is here; I finally get my food delivery. Expect the delivery time frame is four hours from 9AM to 1PM, so I have to stay home and wait for that delivery. Luckily NBA playoffs are on so these four hours are not total waste of time. Way to go Boston!
  19. Little bit before 1PM the delivery is there. I check the order list and naturally some additional items are missing. I call Giant and they promise to reimburse (which they always do, just an additional phone call to do)
  20. I put the stuff into fridge taking around 10 minutes.
  21. Mission accomplished. I can´t wait to do this again in couple of days.

So to conclude, making things easier and digital meant the following:

  • Over 20 steps for a very simple process: select your food, buy your food, store your food
  • 5 hours total for making, managing and waiting the order
  • Using laptop for the order, doing two phone calls, receiving one SMS and one e-mail. So truly omni-channel experience!

So why do I still subject myself to this torture?

Answer: laziness.

I cannot be bothered to walk to the store because I am lazy bastard. I cannot be bothered to change to Redmart, because I am not convinced it would be any better. I have already registered to one service and cannot be bothered with my passwords. Laziness trumps loyalty.

Quite often companies do not actually need to make things easier or cheaper, they just need to give you the illusion that they provide easier and cheaper solution.

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