CX Design Across High & Low Involvement Options: An Interview with Cineplex (Blog 3 of 3)

We set out to understand how companies are designing CX to meet the needs of high-and low-involvement customers to grow their business and increase customer loyalty.

Our third interview in this three-part CX design series is with Greg Ambrose, Vice President, Loyalty & Guest Experience at Cineplex.

CMA: Cineplex’s mission statement is “Passionately delivering exceptional experiences.” Why did Cineplex decide to focus on CX as a driver of the business?

Greg: Our business has changed over the years, and as a result we’ve reframed our competitive set. We consider any form of entertainment, whether it be at-home (e.g. content streaming, gaming) or away-from-home (e.g. bowling, bars) to be a competitor.  Our primary content that we “sell” is not something we have a great deal of control over – studios produce the movies and we exhibit them. Where we can add value and exceed our guest expectations is by delivering digital and physical experiences that are appealing, memorable and social. CX is at the core of how we win with our guests. If we can successfully deliver exceptional experiences, we give them a reason to share with others and come back more frequently. Additionally, we have continued to diversify into new entertainment experiences – from our Cineplex Store and The Rec Room, to our upcoming Playdium and Topgolf locations. As we expand our consumer offerings, we need to ensure we are delivering high-quality, consistent CX.

CMA: What are some of the key CX objectives and initiatives Cineplex has implemented to appeal to low- and high-involvement customers? What has been the reaction of your customers to your CX options?

Greg: It starts with developing a comprehensive understanding of our guests’ attitudes, preferences and behaviours. How, when and where do they want to engage? We have high-involvement guests who actively participate in a number of our different experiences, and we have lower involvement guests who stick to their tried and true habits. For both these guest types, we are looking to accomplish three objectives:

  • Increase their Frequency – how do we get them to visit our theatres or location based entertainment venues more often?
  • Deepen their Engagement – how do we get them to spend more time and dollars during each visit?
  • Broaden their Relationship – how do we get them to engage beyond our theatre venues and introduce them to our other experiences?

CMA:  Could you give us some examples of how you address each objective:

Greg: Let’s start with how we increase their frequency.

Our Cineplex app makes it easier for customers to visit and improves their overall experience by enabling them to:

  • Get theatre and movie information at their fingertips,
  • View movie trailers and other relevant content,
  • Buy and share tickets with their friends and family, and
  • Pre-order food / have it delivered to their seat.

Heightening their experience and making it easier to engage with us will keep us top of mind and encourage more frequent visits.

In terms of how we deepen their engagement:

We have made significant enhancements to our in-auditorium experience, which particularly appeals to our high-involvement guests with a passion for movie-going.

  • VIP Cinemas is an enhanced experience with licensed VIP lounges, comfortable reclining seats, and an expanded menu of dinner, dessert and drink options that can be served right at your seat.
  • UltraAVX, IMAX, D-BOX, ScreenX and 4DX auditoriums offer more immersive experiences with heightened sensory, video and sound.
  • Many of our theatres have been upgraded with more comfortable seats and reserved seating.

Furthermore, we’ve elevated our Food & Beverage offerings in an effort to become part of our customers’ pre-auditorium, in-auditorium and post-auditorium experiences:

  • We have increased the number of locations that are licensed.
  • Our menu has been expanded to include shareable appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
  • We have opened our VIP lounges to all guests, regardless of ticket type (and even if you don’t have one!)

Our final objective is to broaden their relationship.

To address the competition for our guests’ entertainment time and dollars, we’ve expanded our entertainment footprint beyond our theatres:

  • Our Cineplex Store offers on-demand digital movie purchases and rentals.
  • Our locations of The Rec Room (seven to date) offer incredible dining, exciting live entertainment, amusement gaming experiences and feature attractions, all under one roof.
  • We will soon be opening new experiences, including:
  • Our reinvented Playdium locations, which offer amusement gaming, feature attractions and fun and fresh food options for teens, their friends and families.
  • Topgolf locations, which offer a high-tech, climate-controlled golf experience that includes a lounge area with music, televisions showing live sports, and food & beverage service.

CMA:  What have been some of the successes and shortfalls of your CX program to date? How did you rectify the shortfalls and how did you replicate the successes?

Greg: We have seen positive results for the Cineplex app, which continues to grow in terms of adoption and usage. In addition, our enhanced experiences are gaining traction. Our VIP Cinemas theatres have also been a huge success. We are leveraging the key points of the VIP experience that are valued by all of our guests, such as reserved seating, and expanding it to our other theatre offerings. Meanwhile, we are careful to preserve the uniqueness and distinct value proposition of our VIP experience.

We are continuously evolving and optimizing our Food & Beverage service, informed by guest feedback. For example, food delivery timing can be challenging for our Food & Beverage operations when more of our guests are pre-ordering online. We learned that change can be disruptive, so we must be better at anticipating the impact of CX changes and we are investing time and resources in our operations to keep the entire guest experience positive.

CMA: The SCENE loyalty program is a strategic asset that Cineplex utilizes to drive customer acquisition, understanding and behaviour. What are the key performance metrics of your SCENE program?

Greg: We have the capability to increase the Lifetime Value of nearly 10 million SCENE members by tracking guest behaviour and optimizing their CX. At a macro level, we use SCENE to monitor our progress with each customer against our three CX objectives - Increased Frequency, Deeper Engagement and Broader Relationships. Specifically, we focus on measuring recency, frequency and monetary metrics. At a micro level, we track the effectiveness of our communications with views, clicks and conversion.

CMA: What advice would you give to organizations that are looking to redesign their CX journey?

1. Assess your inventory of customer insights. What data do you have? What other data can you get? The more you know about your customer, the more insights you’ll be able to apply to your CX design.

2. Understand your customers’ journeys.  What are the moments of truth? What are their pain points? What issues do they have with your CX journey? What points can be amplified to create more value? Customer understanding and empathy will bring focus to your CX priorities.

3. Expand how you think about your relationship with your customers.  For us, pre- and post-experience communications have a big impact and our guests are open to receiving specific, timely and relevant communications. For example, if a customer purchases a theatre ticket online, we’ll send them a pre-arrival message with a gentle recommendation to try our lounge or patio. This helps to deepen their engagement with Cineplex. Customers are also happy to receive a “thank you”. The day after a customer visits a Cineplex venue, we’ll send them a “thank you” message along with new offers. This helps to increase their frequency and broadens their relationship with Cineplex.

Cineplex provides us with a case study of how to leverage CX as a driver of business growth. A few takeaways from the Cineplex experience for organizations looking to optimize their CX:

  • CX can be a driver of business growth and a source of competitive advantage if you can exceed guest expectations with experiences that are appealing, memorable and social.
  • Changing CX can be disruptive. Anticipate the impact of changes to your organization’s CX and invest in operations to keep the entire guest experience positive.
  • Expand your CX lens: it’s not just about a specific timeframe or transaction. Customers are open to receiving suggestions and offers, as long as your message is timely and relevant.

Authored by CMA CX Council Members:
John Chan, Managing Director, Pearl Strategy and Innovation Design Inc.
Jennifer McLeod, Vice President, SinglePoint Group International Inc.
Lori Cohen, Head of Marketing, KPI

Read the first interview in the series here and the second here.

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