Controlling the Uncontrollable

We often think of customer experience as a factor that you can influence as a marketer. Making access to information easier. Immersing your customers in value-adding extra activations. Even throwing in a free addition. But not everything is under your control, so how do you control the uncontrollable influencers?

Times Square Snow

Broadway is currently experiencing one of these uncontrollable situations. Their marketers are good, but none of them actually have the power to control the weather with an enormous snowstorm freezing over the Big Apple this weekend. And with this one uncontrollable factor, the customer experience has changed dramatically!

Remember, the customer experience exists outside the theatre. If customers have a bad experience either side of your service then it will probably reflect badly on the entire time. Compare a customer who had tickets to a show last week and a customer who had tickets to the same show today. Their pre- and post-show experience will be markedly different. One will have had a rather uneventful trip through dreary Winter weather. The other will have been swimming through snow just to make their way to the venue. I wonder what mood the latter customer will be in when they begin their theatre experience.

Something Rotten is one show which has recognised these additional customer experience barriers which are placed in the way of their audience. There is increased effort required to get to the theatre. There is increased risk that public transport won’t be running. And there is a higher chance that shows will be mandatorily cancelled by the New York Government. With each of these comes a higher personal cost to buying a ticket in addition to the already high monetary cost from huge ticket prices.

So what has Something Rotten done?

They are offering a fire sale, well maybe it is more of a snow sale. Tickets to all shows this weekend have been dramatically discounted.

Will the increase in personal costs associated with reaching the theatre be covered by the decrease in monetary costs? That comes down to a case-by-case basis. Some people will be able to reach the theatre easily while others will have to take multiple forms of transport leading to a higher personal cost. Some people will be more enthusiastic to venture out into the snow than others. Each of these audience member equations is personal and, for some, the decreased monetary cost will even out with the benefits they will receive for seeing the show. For others, it won’t. But it will help fill seats that would be lost inventory with the show running anyway.

It is easy to think of the customer experience changing with new, big innovations. But actually, it changes every day. When it is raining there is a bigger personal cost to venturing outside. When its sunny, there is less. If a train is cancelled or roadworks block your route, then it goes up. If you get a fantastic run into the city, then it goes down. All these things are outside your control. But make sure that you consider them when a significant part of your audience will be affected.

Maybe the solution is seasonal pricing? Maybe you get a free drink upon presentation of your public transport ticket? What is your customer’s experience on their way to and from the theatre?