Over the weekend I went to Hoyts Cinema with a friend of mine. We saw the new Michael Moore documentary, Sicko, and despite not hating the film as much as I thought I would, there was something else I found altogether more interesting.
So we waited in line for 15 minutes (50 people, 2 cashiers) to buy our tickets. This was at 7:30pm on a Friday night – so healthy crowds should be expected by Hoyts – surely more than 2 cashiers would help things along. But I will give Hoyts a free pass on that one…
Next, the pre-screening ads and coming attractions. The final ad to screen was an ad for a Hoyts service called Hoyts Red Carpet – their new exciting new concept for online ticket collection. The ad basically consisted of an animation (the pic show on this post) which explained that if you booked your tickets online, you would go to the very top of the queue and never have to wait to purchase tickets. Excellent. Pre-booking can be easy and save time and money its…Hang on! Hang on just a god damn minute!
Lets just stop and consider what this advertisement is really saying. If you purchase tickets the new way, the way Hoyts wants you to, life is sweet and you never have to wait. Super! However, if you book tickets the ‘old’ way, the way you have always purchased tickets – it will be like queuing for bread in Soviet Russia – Hoyts will punish you! (Notice the crowd in the picture – I can’t even see a Cashier attempting to service them).
I am all for organisations trying to reduce cost, improve service delivery and get customers to self-select the most convenient and least costly way of doing business. But punishing people for doing business with you the way they always have, really shows a disdain for the customers.
Does anybody remember when banks went on their crazy cost-cutting bonanza where they closed branches, charged customers for over-the-counter and face-to-face transaction to push customers to use cheaper, less personal transaction methods (like atms and internet banking)? The banks certainly remember. The effect on the banks was to alienate retail banking customers to such an extent that it severely restricted the banks ability to up-sell and cross-sell to higher profit services such as loans and insurance.
The banks eventually came to their senses and stoped punishing customers. Now we see branches re-opening, more managers in branches and a higher level of personalisation for customer service. (I even work for a bank whose new goal is "to be Australia's finest financial services organisation through excelling in customer service"). Perhaps Hoyts will come to their senses too - otherwise we may just all stay at home, download the bit-torrent and watch it on the plasma!