For the right consumer experience these days, teamwork is necessary.
On New Year’s Day, hubby and I went to the movies. For certain reasons I won’t mention the name of the Cineplex theatre on Winston Churchill at the QEW in Oakville, Ontario.
We arrived 40 minutes early for a movie that is newly-released but not a box office smash, and planned on using a gift certificate.
This means that we had to stand in line at the box office. A hopelessly long line. The line was long because their new ticket distribution kiosks don’t allow for gift certificates and it seemed everyone had a gift certificate.
If we had planned this differently we could’ve avoided that line and purchased our tickets on line instead of redeeming the certificate, but it was expiring that day and we wanted to use it. Besides, there were long lines at the kiosks too. It doesn’t seem like anything was gained by reconstructing the entire front entrance of the theatre to remove the ticket agents and allow for these kiosks, especially since while you can order online, they don’t yet have tickets via smartphone available yet.
Why they might choose to expire a gift certificate on the busiest day of the year is beyond me. Why we chose to wait until the last day to redeem it is also somewhat of a mystery but it has something to do with cleaning the basement and finding the certificate just before Christmas.
Once we got in the theatre we went our separate ways. . .hubby to the concession stand and I to the theatre to stake out seats.
It takes teamwork to get the right seats and the concessions before the movie starts, especially if you are using a gift certificate on a holiday.
Why do companies put us through these things just to get what we want? Even though I earned an A in microeconomics in university and am the life of the party during any discussion of guns and butter, in this case I still don’t get this intersection of supply and demand.
Why are all the new releases during the holidays? Why couldn’t I redeem my gift certificate online? Why do they have to so understaff the theatre that it takes 20 minutes to get through a relatively simple concession line? As I was sitting in the theatre by myself waiting for hubby to get through that line, these questions were burning for me.
Recently, my good friend Michael VanDervort directed me to an article on Salon.com, are Killing Us. In it there are some scathing truths and conspiracy theories about why it is so important to keep the wages of restaurant workers so low. While I could write many blog posts responding to the suggestions of the article, there was a key point of relevance to the HR professionals who read blogs on this site. That is this, we are increasingly mechanizing the most entry-level jobs, making them quickly-trained and easily-replaceable. There is no need to pay them more. If the apocalypse they propose in the article is real, very shortly there’ll be no true entry-level jobs left, not just in restaurants but in everything that is in the service industry.
This is a big deal to those who view customer experience as important.
A few years ago I worked on a project to set up a manufacturing plant in Mexico. As part of the project, I immersed myself in Mexican employment practices, to understand how everything there works. I wanted to avoid an implementation failure by mis-anticipating culture and customs. One of my take-aways from the experience is that in Mexico there is a focus on jobs. From an HR planning perspective, the advisors tell you to increase the staffing numbers from what it takes to produce your product in America. Their unions, tax incentives and way of thinking make that a winning formula. There’s another discussion here about underutilization of talent there, but let’s leave that for a different blog post.
Stop right now and ask yourself about customer service at your company. Are you over-mechanizing the process? In the name of efficiency have you taken out too many people? By doing so, do you make it difficult for your customer to have a good experience? Do people really have to plan how they are going to access your service by going to extremes to make the stars line up? Like in the case of hubby and me, do they have to employ teamwork just to make things work out?
If yes, unless you’re Costco, you need to rethink this. After all, if I want to make my own popcorn and pour my own cola, I might as well stay home and slouch on the couch.
About the Author: Bonni Titgemeyer is the Managing Director of The Employers’ Choice Inc. She has been in human resources for 20+ years and works in the international HR arena. She is the recipient of the 2012 Toronto Star HR Professional of the Year Award. You can connect with Bonni on Twitter as @BonniToronto, often at the hashtag #TEPHR.