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Jana Adkins: The importance of customer service

Business Notes

Posted: August 25, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2011 1:57 a.m.
 

A colleague facetiously suggested all brick-and-mortar stores should go away.

He said companies too often open their stores and expect consumers will flock to their business. His point being, company owners should understand a good business model is all about the customer experience.

My husband and I reluctantly left the sacred grounds of the Santa Clarita Valley behind last weekend in pursuit of the independent documentary film, “Senna.”

The movie chronicles the career of Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the Formula One world championship three times before his death at age 34. 

The movie received great reviews, and from our point of view, the praise was well-deserved.

Now mind you, after commuting out of Santa Clarita to locations throughout the Southern California market for years — leaving Santa Clarita is the very last item on our wish list.

But we will leave in pursuit of something we need or want and cannot find locally.

And we were pleasantly surprised by the customer experience we encountered.

Trekking down to Westwood to visit the Landmark Theatre on the corner of Pico Boulevard and Westwood Boulevard, we found a very civilized movie-going experience.

Founded in 1974, the theater group steadily acquired movies houses across the country until it was acquired by The Samuel Goldwyn Co. in the 1990s. Today, the chain is owned by Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner.

Landmark understood that it didn’t need to re-invent the wheel when it launched a chain of movie theaters.

What the company did do however, and do well, was to differentiate itself by appealing to a niche market of sophisticated film audiences by showing first-run independent, foreign restored classic and mainstream films.

The movie theater we visited branded itself by offering a unique theater-going experience.

In buying tickets, we were allowed to select our own seats in advance. This small luxury offered a huge customer benefit.

Selecting seats in advance meant we did not have to enter the theater 30 minutes early or so to find decent seats, only to be held hostage by scores of commercials we did not want to watch.

When we did enter, ushers saw us to our seats. We hadn’t seen ushers at a movie theater in decades.

Leather upholstered theater seats were clean and extremely comfortable. The seats were more akin to a good seat with lumbar support in a luxury automobile.

Just prior to the film beginning, an announcer welcomed the audience and told us exactly how long we would be sitting in the theater — including the movie itself and all trailers. What a delight!

Despite the dreaded commute to a congested area, we made relatively good time, and garage parking was provided free of charge.

Landmark took an age-old business — movie theaters — and turned the business into an entertaining, relaxing, thoroughly enjoyable customer experience.

The Westwood Landmark Theatre not only shows movies, but celebrates the moviegoer’s experience.

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