An Arthouse Affair

An Arthouse Affair

In recent years, Ster Kinekor has slashed costs by operating theatres on lower headcount, self-service terminals and online bookings. Overpriced refreshments are standard fare. Now if they could just put the customer back into the equation. I literally walked into a bad customer, bewildered staff experience at Cinema Noveau, the arthouse brand in Ster Kinekor. The customer that I shall name Sandy wanted to join their Movie Club (loyalty programme) and use the free complimentary ticket to watch a particular movie. The cashier advised her that it was the first week of a new release on circuit and complimentary tickets were not accepted. Under normal circumstances, it would be the end of a trivial matter. But a faceless employee on the floor had been negligent earlier that day. That individual probably forgot to place the distinctive ‘no complimentary tickets’ slip on the movie poster. Sandy being a firm consumer activist rightly wanted to use her complimentary ticket and stood her ground. The cashier refused and referred her to the manager. He provided a cautious ear with zero positive action. Sandy’s voice moved up the decibel meter as the conversation went in circular loops. In a 360-degree turn around, the manager had an identity crisis and claimed he was not the manager after all. He went into the back office to summon the real manager. The cashier was gone as well, leaving Sandy and myself at the empty counter. After several minutes, the real manager arrived to carry the conversation down the same path. Sandy was highly peeved off by this stage. The manager eventually acknowledged that it was their mistake. While she was keen to assist, all the doors to a happy customer experience are automatically closed – she could not manually override the system to process the complimentary ticket or provide any compensation to the customer. Her only ‘solution’ was for Sandy to contact the manager perched higher up in the hierarchy on the following day.

Quick Report Card

Financial Amount: R40
Customer Experience: Dreadful irritation over twenty minutes
Staff Experience: Uncomfortable for the three powerless staff
Social Experience: The experience was in the public space, spreading the wrong message to other moviegoers about receiving a fair deal.
My Experience: Excellent, the bad customer experience and response by staff brought a new friend into my life.
Cost to fix: From zero to R20. A commitment to resolve the matter within 24 hours should have been forthcoming. Throwing in a free or discounted movie ticket or refreshments is a cheap and effective response.   
HR Lesson: Empower those in position of authority to render customer service that leaves you feeling like a celebrity.

Perhaps that old quoted term, “customer relationship management” has been misunderstood. The disappointed customer is constant, the relationship is non-existent and management don’t care.

Budget 2007

Another Budget Speech has flown by with enough developments to keep tax consultants in business, HR puzzling and payroll professionals on their toes. A quick 30 second briefing for those that are in the dark but want to be clued-up in meetings. The welfare state is under construction. The highlights included scrapping retirement fund taxes (good), planned social security system (wait and see), mooted wage subsidy (good for lower income earners), stingy personal tax relief to combat fiscal drag (disappointing) and marginal increases in the medical aid caps (disappointing given higher medical aid rates).

What the New Job Lingo means

From one of my employee forums, an anonymous online post on the meaning of job lingo:

“Join our fast-paced company”
We have no time to train you.

“Casual work atmosphere”
We don’t pay enough to expect that you’ll dress up; well, a couple The real daring guys wear earrings.

“Must be deadline oriented”
You’ll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

“Duties will vary”
Anyone in the office can boss you around.

“Must have an eye for detail”
We have no quality control.

“Seeking candidates with a wide variety of experience”
You’ll need it to replace three people who just left.

“Problem-solving skills a must”
You’re walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

“Requires team leadership skills”
You’ll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.

(HR Future, April 2007)

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