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June 06, 2011
Kicking out unwanted customers, Alamo Drafthouse style
Two years ago, we wrote about the best theatre chain in the country: Austin, Texas' Alamo Drafthouse and how it clearly warns customers to not talk or text during a movie or "we'll kick your ass out." (Their actual words.) The Alamo maintains its policy with their own funny PSA's that run before the previews.
This week, the chain launched a new PSA featuring the evidence of a slightly inebriated, unhappy customer who didn't heed the warning. See below. Audio is NSFW.
Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League explains on the company's blog:
Ma'am, you may be free to text in all the other theaters in the Magnited States of America, but here at our "little crappy ass theater," you are not. Why you may ask? Well, we actually do give a f*$k.
Check out the comments on the blog post (like the one below) and you'll see why standing up for your principles and your best customers, at the expense of bad ones, is a smart loyalty strategy.
- CNN's Anderson Cooper does a segment on the PSA and calls Tim League a "great American hero" who should win the Nobel Peace Prize.
- Tim League pens a CNN.com article detailing all of the founding principles of the Alama Drafthouse designed to provide an "awesome experience for true movie fans."
Other blogs that reference Kicking out unwanted customers, Alamo Drafthouse style:
As a customer service professional, I really love it when I see a company stand behind its own rules rather than bending over for a bitchy consumer. Sometimes a business makes a rule that if followed, will benefit every stake-holder. Had the Alamo caved for this one annoying lady, they would have gone against their own founding principals for one person. Instead they held their ground & even turned it into a new PSA for the brand. LOVE IT!
So glad to see a company willing to stand for something, even at the sacrifice of some customers. If you're not upsetting people, you probably don't have a brand that people are going to talk about.
Sometimes, it really works to make enemies in your business because it somehow makes your business a "talk-of-the-town" and thus drives more and more gossip from it. That is if you do it with style and the alamo drafthouse style made them popular in their business field. Heads up to Alamo!
Umm, was tht call a JOKE?? what the heck, we all know that it is rude to be calling someone or texting in the theater. And she did disturb other customers because she was flashing her light all over seats to find hers.
I agree, Entrepreneur. I wish there was a "zero tolerance" policy towards texting and cellphone use in more movie theatres, generally, especially in our neck of the woods. It's really disgusting how people get away with this stuff. It's what the world is coming to. Quite sad, imho.
That woman is clearly a liar who was just making up an excuse to use her text and disturb other people in the movie. She deserved to be kicked out and told to GTFO and stay out until she was ready to obey the rules, like a decent human being.
Refreshing! More businesses need to stand up for what they believe, especially if it benefits the vast majority of their customers.
I just found this link, and I wanted to thank you for posting it. As a professional auctioneer, I often find myself stuck between two sets of customers - The Buyers at our sales, and the Sellers for whom we are the contracted agent. It ends up being a pretty fine line to walk, especially when those two customers are at odds with each other.
While most of our customers are great, every now and again, we get exactly that - a buyer who decides to stand a few feet from the auction block, on his cell phone, trying to shout over the auctioneer, completely oblivious that there's anyone else in the room. It's distracting to the other bidders, and drives prices lower for the seller.
Like clockwork, when we ask those bidders to quiet down, they almost always become even more belligerent and obnoxious, and when it gets to the point where we have to ask them to leave, then we hear complaints about it being a "Public Auction" and their "right" to completely ruin the experience for everyone else in the room.
We work so hard to get each and every customer we can to our sales that it becomes hard to reconcile this mentally with having to throw one out. But in the end, it's worth it, and ends up a better sale for everyone involved. For every one person that expelled bidder tells about his terrible time (and let's face it, most of his friends either know he's obnoxious and take his complaints with a grain of salt, or are just as obnoxious themselves and it's a good thing they don't come) three pleased customers will tell a friend about the great experience they had.
Overall most of our customers are great, and we love having them at our sales, but in those very few instances when they are not, having a clear set of standards and the courage to enforce them has always paid off for us in the end.
Great job Alamo Drafthouse, you guys rock. Your customer service to all the other movie goers is top notch. Its highly annoying to have one customer who is highly disrespectful of your other customers thinking that by complaining to management they will get what they want. Portland SEO
I completely approve of this! Tolerating one bad customer might make that bad customer happy, but companies won't get much respect or approval from good, loyal customers.
As a former owner of a family restaurant and advocate of putting your customers first in my book Restaurant Marketing Strategies and my site www.myrestaurantmarketing.com, I draw the line about pleasing customers no matter what when their behavior disrupts or bothers the experience of the remaining customers. A disgruntled customer can cause a lot of damage via nasty comments in Social Media and review sites but tolerating unacceptable behavior makes the good customers to pay the consequences.
Be patient with your customers but don't allow them to disrupt your business. I guess this is a good compromise.
Thanks for reading,
Jose L Riesco
World needs a bit more straight talk, a bit less "thank you for sharing your concerns with our theater."
More like this, please.
Agreeing with your article, sometimes it's better to screw the customer before they screw us in an unexpected way, but consider this an example not to repeat. As for the company's sake rules should be applied because they're meant to be applied.
Well, the Alamo Drafthouse knows how to look after its good customers - and generate plenty of publicity and support by kicking out the ones its customers don't want. Talk about generating customer loyalty, Texas-style - wow!!
Great premise! Not sure I know what kind of customer base they have that wouldn't be offended by the language in the PSA, but great job sticking to their guns.
Thank you for posting this! I had a good laugh. Sometimes we get customers who are just horrendous to other customers and to our employees. We want to be civil but firm. Thank you for illustrating how to do that...and then turn around and make it into a "customer testimonial". Now that's what I call creativity!
I have posted my thoughts about this strategy by the movie theater chain here:
Curious as to your thoughts?