Like many of you I went to the mall over the weekend to try and shop for holiday gifts. This time of year, a trip to the mall is like going to an event. Lots of traffic, lots of people, lots of high priced junk food, and hopefully you are entertained.
Our customers in the event and entertainment business expect a good customer experience. We should have the same good customer experience anywhere we go. You would think with the economy bad and retail ready to crash & burn, an effort would be made toward making the customer happy. Let’s compare my recent trip to the mall with your customers experience at a venue or event.
The mall in my town has grown over the past few years. Along with the size of the mall came more parking. More parking is only as good as the people directing the cars to it. The mall had lots of police directing cars to a parking garage that was full. This in turn created grid lock. No one could get in or out of the garage. The mall security whose job it is to watch over the parking just drove round and round doing nothing. When one parking lot is full, doesn’t it make sense to close it and wait until you open some spaces and clear the gridlock? How about directing cars to an open parking lot?
Like buying tickets for an event, you go to the mall to spend money. Making a purchase should be treated as an experience that will make the customer want to do it again. Shouldn’t the people taking your money put on a smile? You don’t go to a show to have stress, so should you go to the mall to have stress? Why not have opportunities throughout the mall to de-stress? Maybe a free “time-out” area? Last year American Express had one of these for card holders. I loved it. A place where you could relax for a few minutes, have a free cup of coffee or hot chocolate. I think this is a great marketing opportunity. It made me happy to be an Amex customer. Your sponsors could do something like this at your venue. Maybe even offer something free for stopping by.
The mall food court is like the arena concession area. Try to keep your stands open and well staffed during key times. You know when these times are. The food court I went to had long lines at most places. Not because everyone in the mall was eating at once but because they didn’t have not enough staff.
I write this not to bitch about my day at a mall, but to have you think about what your customer goes through coming to your event. Please remember that our events are discretionary dollars. We have to fight for the dollar more then the necessities of life. When they do come to our events, they are coming for an escape from all the stress of life. They want a good, stress free experience. Maybe we can have a New Year’s resolution to give our customers the best experience ever.