Service Design series…Digital is not just screens

Today, I walked into the snazzy PVR Cinemas at Bangalore. With machines to book your ticket, if you haven’t booked it online already, and minimal crowd at the counters, it’s always a pleasure to visit the multiplex. I chose my seats, picked up my tickets at the counter and walked towards the security gate. On reaching there, the guard standing there asked me a strange question – “which movie, sir?” There are nine auditoriums at PVR, so I wasn’t sure what his question had to do with the security of the place – or was he being polite? His tone didn’t suggest politeness though! As I was thinking about this, I was ushered into an enormous lounge with brightly lit displays – plenty, probably a hundred, or more! It was a plethora of screens, each one conveying a different message – food menus, upcoming movies, advertisements of various beverages – they were all there. It was a visual treat – but was it?

Digital Screens alone don’t make a place Digital.

The screens came in all sizes and shapes – a cornucopia of colors and moving imagery that welcomed, haunted, buzzed and roared – all silently! But none of them told a seamless story and were not connected with themselves or with the numerous smart phones in the pockets of the people. They were disjointed pieces of hardware each vying for attention thrown about at the mercy of their makers. Neither did they teach me anything new about PVR, or their renowned value added services – I could neither order food from my phone or learn a little more about the movie – the reason I was there for!

It’s telling when you see 100 screens welcoming you into a world that is primarily screen based – the movie itself!

They sure reduced the eventual movie-screen-time effectiveness. An opportunity to be multi-sensorial experience, was let go by this beautiful theatre!

I have always found it enjoyable when I am inside a PVR auditorium. The plush seats, the soft carpeted floor, the spacious aisles – all combine into a pleasurable experience. But remember – this is because we are at a ‘generally low threshold of delight’ today. It soon becomes common place and ceases to be a differentiator, and then, PVR must look for other ways to create more value to its guests. What eventually did provide a true sense of delight was, when at the end of the movie, the lead actor stood up and thanked us all. His surprise appearance led to him being mobbed by his diehard fans – all wanting to take selfies with him! Yet again, ‘digital’ could have maximized his interaction with his fans, had that been planned as part of the overall experience!

There is a lesson hiding in here to all the ‘in-venue’ experiences that are talk of town. Be it a consumable goods store, hotel or a restaurant or even a car showroom, they are not seen as showrooms or stores anymore but as experience centres. However, what dominates when one walks into any of these centres, is the dominance of screens that scream visual noise! These can be true experience centres and achieve the goal of providing high quality service experience, only when they go beyond just screens and become multi-sensorial in nature

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