Whenever cinema is mentioned, the chatter is around current blockbusters on circuit, technological advances, and the premium experiences that accompany the medium.
But digging down to grassroots level highlights the simple fact that cinema is a people-oriented media at heart. Customer convenience and service cannot be overlooked, and interactions between attendees and staff are crucial. The human connection is what it is all about.
Staff training and customer service
Nu Metro has been focused on this aspect of its business. Human capital executive, Amelia Sequeira, says the company does weekly training sessions, mainly focused on customer service excellence. “Our employees are presented as customer service champions and proudly wear a badge to remind them daily of this. Linked to this, we regularly promote employee engagement projects to continue reinforcing this,” she says.
The company has a flexible workforce, albeit all permanent employees, with a combination of fixed and flexible hours. There is nothing worse than understaffed businesses and for Nu Metro, workforce numbers per site are calculated based on attendances expected on a weekly basis.
Ease of booking
With digital being more prominent, most customers in today’s world want technology that makes their media experiences more efficient and streamlined. Cinema ticket sales are no different.
“Customers can book tickets on our website/app at any time, or via the self-service terminals in-cinema. We also have a national customer helpdesk to assist customers daily from 8am-9pm,” reveals Chantelle Burrows, marketing and content executive for Nu Metro Cinemas.
But if technology is not maintained, then it doesn’t function and can crash. But the cinema group has this well in hand as well. “Our website/app is in continuous development through constant research and international industry-expertise to improve its functionality – including its capabilities to handle increased volumes of online traffic,” says operational executive, Andries Basson.
When the masses flock online to purchase tickets, say for the latest blockbuster (think Black Panther, and the Avengers franchise), IT systems may not hold up (airline ticket promotions come to mind, including crashed websites and all). But Basson adds, “We experienced record-breaking numbers of online bookings with the release of The Avengers: Endgame and, even though the massive traffic volumes online at any given time resulted in some delays, the systems held up beautifully without crashing. We have a focused technical team as well as a skilled IT team in-house that caters for all our maintenance.”
The takeaway message is that backend support, particularly for IT and tech systems, is crucial for any media business.
Tweaking the customer journey
Over the years, Nu Metro has significantly tweaked its customer journey and continues training to ensure that its employees assist customers with the lowest possible transaction time. The cinema group has applied specific tools informing the customer of options available that can speed up the decision-making process. Menu-board designs, show times, synopsis boards etc. were all revised with this journey in mind.
“There are always various variables to keep in mind when it comes to inconvenience factors. The human factor remains probably the most challenging of all, since you will come across customers who take long to make a decision or an employee that for some reason is not working to their full potential. In order to counteract such challenges as much as possible, we have tweaked the menu boards for quicker decision-making and we plan our staggers with the influx of customers in mind to always try and be as efficient as possible,” concludes Basson.
While refusing to disclose actual attendance figures, managing executive for Nu Metro Cinemas, Nitesh Matai reveals that “Our cinemas have seen steady growth over the past few years – mainly based on the available content that fluctuates from month to month.”
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