Since someone commented on the previous entry about always enjoying a good customer service story, let’s stick with that theme one more time. Sadly, though, it’s another example of an organization simply going through the motions of customer service.
My wife and I recently joined a friend for a night at the movies. After selecting a just-released show, we thought it best to reserve our seats. So I jumped on the Cinemark website to purchase three tickets.
While finding the movie and selecting the time, I was actually thinking about how great it was Cinemark allows me to purchase my seats in advance. That satisfaction quickly changed to disappointment and frustration when, upon checkout, I was hit with almost $5 worth of service fees. Not wanting to add to an already expensive ticket, I decided to abandon this purchase and take our chances at the theater.
After returning home from an enjoyable evening, I decided to contact Cinemark to express my disappointment with their service fee. Using their website, I wrote a brief and professional note about my frustration with their online purchase process. I wasn't really looking for anything in return. I was simply voicing a concern with hope that someone would actually think about changing this policy. Their response elevated a mildly annoying customer experience into this blog entry.
My Name Is Darren
Cinemark’s response started, “Dear Valued Customer.” Well, if I were truly a valued customer, I wouldn’t have to pay that “convenience” fee in the first place. But now that we’re to this point, can’t Cinemark value me as a customer by using my name? And before you ask, yes, my name was on the “Contact Us” form. In fact, my name and verbatim memo was pasted below Cinemark’s response!
Cut And Paste
Cinemark’s Customer Service rep wrote (and in my head, this response was delivered with a disrespectful tone) their policy “clearly states that there is a service fee when verifying your order and again when putting in your credit card information.” I already know this – I saw the fee when I was checking out! The CS rep then simply did a cut-and-paste from that policy.
Our Cards Are Free
If I pay for my movie tickets using a debit card, I have to pay an extra $1.50 per ticket. Cinemark’s response said if, however, I pay using a Cinemark Gift Card, I can avoid this fee. So there’s a service fee for only certain kinds of cards. I guess if I use a Cinemark card, I then become a Super Valued Customer?
No, The Problem Isn’t Solved
This is what really got me. Cinemark’s entire response started with, “Your request has been solved.” How do they know that? Cinemark simply said, “Look at our policy and use our own card if you want to avoid the service charge.” I’m still not happy. It was still an unpleasant customer experience. And Cinemark’s “Read our policy and pay up” response did nothing to resolve my displeasure and frustration. So, no, the problem isn’t solved.
As stated multiple times on the PCC blog, the theory behind delighting the customer is simple – build a customer-centric culture. Translating that theory into reality is the hard part. It takes an exhaustive, around-the-clock effort to do whatever is necessary to make the customer happy. And when something slips and a customer is not delighted, it takes even more effort to “make things right” as we learned in the previous blog entry.
If Cinemark wants to eliminate their service fee for their Super Valued Customers, I understand that. But at least explain that to me in a nicer way, use my name, and ask if I’m satisfied. Is that too hard to do? For some organizations, apparently it is.
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.