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My “Customer Experience” Experience – Part 2

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Redeemed – Part 2

Like most Americans, I have raised my antenna on the customer experience. In my last post, I reported on examples of “Good” and “Bad” experiences, citing the Elysian Hotel in Chicago and AT&T U-verse.

As I continue to scan the horizon and provide periodic reports on whether the signal is clear, fuzzy or just plain distorted from many of the brands I encounter along my journey, I found these two opposing examples of how brands can execute with near perfection while others project an image that is just plain “Ugly”.

The Ugly
Pizza Hut
A few weeks ago I ordered a pizza for carry out because I’m not fond of having my pizza delivered. However, as I stepped out the door to pick up my special order pie, tornado sirens began blaring and fortunately, this time I actually heeded the warning. The resulting tornado destruction kept St. Louis in the news for nearly a week.

After the storms had past (about 75 minutes), I was still hungry so I called my local Pizza Hut to ask if I could come get a fresh pizza. I was subsequently informed that if I wanted a pizza, I would have to take the original one that would be 1.5 hours old by the time I retrieved it. Furthermore, it was explained to me that:

  • I could not get a discount on the old pizza
  • A new, replacement pizza would throw off the store’s inventory, so it was either old pizza or nothing and (this is the best, so wait for it…)
  • Bad weather is not Pizza Hut’s problem!

Recommendation: I’m not sure where to begin with this one. The opportunities for improvement are numerous, so I’ll just go with the basics: Think about the customer first, deliver a good experience and ensure your franchisees are trained to provide reasonable/common sense customer service.

The Redeemed
AMC Theatres
After a subpar experience at my favorite theatre chain, I completed a survey request received via email following the movie. As you can tell from this blog, I’m rather eager to give my opinion, so I probably participate in about 50 surveys each year. However, only once in the 20+ surveys I’ve did I get a call or non-automated response from the sponsoring organization…and that was from the manager of my local AMC Theatre following my viewing of Black Swan (7 out of 10 stars).

I had some issues with the sound quality during the viewing and the cleanliness of the restroom, so my overall all experience wasn’t as good as I’ve grown accustomed to from AMC. But to get a call from the theatre manager the next day was completely unexpected, but appreciated. He actually walked me through each issue, listened to additional feedback and provided me with free passes that are good at any AMC location across the country. Not that I had defected from the brand or the MovieWatchers program, but I certainly have a greater appreciation for that proactive manager and for the AMC organization.

I am now enrolled in the new AMC Stubs program and expect even greater experiences from an organization that appears to be committed to listening, learning and innovating for their customers. AMC’s ability to recognize customers – allowing them to earn and redeem at the box office, concession stand and online – gives them the ability to treat program members in a unique and special manner.

Recommendation: Many organizations use similar survey techniques, but only a scant few actually respond in a proactive and personal manner. Issuing surveys don’t show customers that you care. Proactively responding to the feedback and making positive changes to the customer experience (service & product) are the keys to customer engagement and loyalty.

Great job AMC. Continue to show others how it’s done.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, AMC is a client of Kobie Marketing. That said, my interaction with their brand stands on its own. Give it a try and drop a comment here with your impressions.

Bram Hechtkopf

Bram Hechtkopf