Village Cinemas kicks off live innovation exercise

Marketing leader says the latest initiative to create a digital product offering for customers during a three-day onsite exercise is about boosting its customer centricity credentials

Harry Ly, digital Designer at Deepend, prepares for the three-day innovation challenge at Village Cinemas
Harry Ly, digital Designer at Deepend, prepares for the three-day innovation challenge at Village Cinemas

Village Cinemas’ marketing chief says a live innovation project running across Melbourne venues this week is not just about finding new ways of incorporating mobile into its offering, it’s about customer centricity.

The cinema operator has partnered with digital and user experience consultancy, Deepend, on a three-day onsite activity that sees a team of six consumer technology specialists engage with local patrons to create, test and prototype a customer-centric app or program. The project will be based on live guest feedback, and could potentially lead to a new digital product or service offering for Village Cinemas to rollout nationally.

Village Cinemas general manager of sales and marketing, Mohit Bhargava, told CMO one of the biggest challenges for the group is transitioning from its bricks-and-mortar history into the omni-channel retail age. Village entertains on average 1 million guests a month.

“Our legacy is not in ecommerce or m-commerce, but we find ourselves operating in that space and becoming a bigger and bigger player,” he said. “Between 35 and 40 per cent of ticket sales are now done via mobile and desktop devices, so digital is a huge sales channel for us.

“As an organisation, we are overwhelmed by the opportunities mobile presents in terms of furthering the customer experience on-premise. Internally, we have multiple views of what can happen – from in-seat ordering capabilities around food and beverage, through to location-based services we can offer to customers, such as ordering over your phone and then notifying our site when you are approaching the cinema to prepare your meal. There’s also reducing dwell times in queues and making the entertainment experience begin from the moment you enter the premises, not just when the film starts.

“There are a lot of use cases we are grappling with internally as a company. We have decided to hand over the decision around ‘what next’ and where we invest our energy and resources, to the customers.”

Like many retailers, Village Cinemas has built up a robust customer service index platform over the years, and the group surveys half a million customers per year.

“Historically, that has been the channel we listen to customers through and based business enhancement and operational decisions on,” Bhargava said. “Then between our suppliers and key stakeholders there are always organic innovations and suggestions that pop up.

“But we are trying very hard to be customer driven. This is the next step up from customer surveys – to aggregate customer feedback in real-time, when they can touch and feel the things they’d like to see, with developers, on-premise.”

Bhargava also noted 60 per cent of total Web traffic is now coming via mobile devices, and 60 per cent of email communications are opened via mobile.

“That is where the customer is – and the vast majority of browsing is being undertaken within 2 to 3 kilometres of our location,” he said.

Bhargava said there is no one ultimate outcome expected from the innovation exercise.

“It’s daunting and exciting at the same time,” he continued. “We have some pre-conceived ideas and priorities around product development. One good outcome is if one of these is reaffirmed by customer feedback... Another is if we identify an unknown area of enhancement or a customer pain point. Something that uses the mobile phone would be ideal; or something on our list of things that are top of mind for customers, so we can prioritise on those.”

The initiative has the backing of Village Cinemas CEO, who is leading a wider transformational charge around customer centricity. Bhargava is also working closely with the head of operations.

“Information technology as an area is increasingly becoming embedded into the overall marketing function,” Bhargava commented. “That’s an interesting area for us – we’re both learning to improve our ability to listen to customers. Marketers inherently can be good talkers, but you create an ecosystem of people which can confuse the voice of the customer. For myself, I’ve had to change how I go about these things.”

The most challenging part of the technology-fuelled customer era is arguably the relationship between marketing and IT, and Bhargava admitted getting IT executives enlisted in the innovation activity has been a hurdle, given the questions around risk and infrastructure capabilities to support any mobile or technology-led initiative identified through the customer listening exercise.

“But that’s not the point,” Bhargava said. “The point is that this not only gives us good insight, it’s a great brand and marketing exercise, where our customers walk away with a level of advocacy around the fact that we’re making efforts to hear what they say. And they’ll see the work being done in front of them.

“We’ll be filming a lot of this, and you can’t hide from what the customer says to you in real time.”

The original idea for the three-day innovation activity stemmed from Deepend, who is an existing digital and user experience partner to Village Cinemas.

“Deepend is passionate about human-centric design and developing solutions based on real-world insights,” managing partner, Kath Blackham, said. “The work will follow this lean methodology to create a product that the customers actually need and want, and will enhance the experience.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Data has the power to build or burn brands

A brand can be severely wounded by use or misuse of any of its assets and you could say data has the greatest power of all to inflict damage.

Lucy Acheson

Head of data strategy and customer experience, LIDA

Totto and your inorganic future

At Cannes Lions this year we’ve been treated to many artificial intelligence (AI) insights. It’s one of the major discourses of our time.

Richard Brett

CEO, opr

Personas of one and the rise of ‘always there’ marketing

I’ve got some bad news. The ‘always on’ marketing approach that many companies have only just fully implemented is already out of date.

Nigel Roberts

Founding partner and strategy lead, Yell

Promotion is difficult. You should be able to do it. Sometimes it turns out bad, and when you turn to professionals, it turns out well - ...

Jordan Samuil

Village Roadshow partners with Lion for pourage rights and promotional partnership

Read more

This is very good news for Australian SMEs as ActiveCampaign is an very powerful marketing automation / email marketing tool that costs a...

Lawrence

SMB marketing automation provider sets up Asia Pac HQ in Sydney

Read more

Thanks for the info! If you are looking for commercial real estate in Mumbai, visit us at Jagaha.com! We have over 20,000 verified proper...

Gizelle

Salesforce ups the Marketing Cloud ante with Datorama acquisition

Read more

Completely agree! For the best commercial properties in Mumbai, visit our website - Jagaha!

Gizelle

Salesforce ups the Marketing Cloud ante with Datorama acquisition

Read more

Carisoprodol is used for treatment of pain.so it has some amount of drug use it carefully . Get its complete usage and prescription from ...

jensons henry

CMO profile: The strategy behind Cash Converters brand and customer experience reboot

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in