Odeon Facebook rant breaks box office ratings

30 Aug

It was a good weekend for Odeon Cinemas until Friday evening when Mark Pledger posted a comment on the cinema’s Facebook page about the poor customer service ,which instantly generated more than 170,000 ‘likes’ and over 15,000 comments.

I’m sure we call all remember a time waving goodbye to a £20 note after handing it to a cinema sales assistant for a ticket to a film, a drink and one or two individual pick and mix. We can also probably remember shedding a tear when we received no change. Or, remember the time you were insulted by having to pay for a pair of 3D glasses when the special effects in question were simply an after-thought. (Was that ship coming out of the screen or did I just have something in my eye?) We all acknowledge that cinema customer service is poor, but why now is the argument gathering pace?

  1. Although Odeon says it responded to Mark directly by email after the comment was posted, it didn’t publicly acknowledge the thousands of additional comments until at least a day later. The business allowed the storm to brew in its own tea-cup. Bank Holiday weekend aside, social media is 24/7 and someone has to be, at the very least, monitoring its sites out of hours. See my blog: Finding Time to Tweet for more. When questioned, Odeon simply said: “We responded to him directly via email for the experience.”

     

  2. Although Odeon privately, then publicly, responded to the comment, it has not made the effort to publicly manage the expectations of the thousands of additional comments that followed. Neither has it issued a blog / statement that empathises with its customers. I have not added my 10p worth into the mix (yet), but feel strongly about the issue. How do I know Odeon will continue to make their experience better for me? Odeon told me that it  simply “responded to every post that warrented a customer service response.”

     

  3. Lastly, the business made the (fatal) mistake of not holding its hands up and admitting that its service occasionally slips below par by saying ‘we’re sorry’. I firmly believe that if it had taken this approach, it would not be in as much hot water as it is now. I tweeted Odeon commenting on how poorly they phrased their response, but they ignored this and simply told me: “he [Mark] was responded to privately to address the service by the cinema manager, as this was a local issue.”

No that the furore has reached The Guardian, The Wall blog and endless other forum sites (just type in ‘Odeon Facebook rant’ on Google and you’ll see what I mean), there’s little doubt that this has become a national issue now. How long now before Odeon focuses on its messaging to communicate some, clearly needed, changes that it’s making. What’s more, it’s an opportunity for the likes of Cineworld and Vue to produce some well-timed marketing that says ‘look at us’, we’re giving our customers an improved experience, always. Cineworld is already trying this with plans to boost its snack offer by partnering with Starbucks.

Whatever happens, with a run in with the ASA over a 15% off promotion,the marketing team at Odeon will have to paddle a lot harder in future to keep its head above water.

Have you had a poor cinema experience recently?

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