No spoilers I promise!

So I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week and yes, for those asking - I LOVED it. Yet it was sadly marred by what I can only describe as complete and utter contempt for fans. So this is a rant, and a learning, from an awesome night.

Loaded up with junk food we were kept for 51 minutes before the film actually started! I don’t mind ads or trailers, they’re part of the ‘modern day’ film experience. I don’t even mind some lucky door prizes, some costumes and pre-film saver fight entertainment! But do so tastefully, and with appropriate timing. I did after all pay for a midnight screening!

I ranted slightly and published a storify of the evenings events:

Don't %*$^ the customer

For me customer service failed at three points - and its the same three points that I see so many companies fail at across tech.

Listen to the customer

20 minutes into entertainment the crowd was yelling ‘roll film’.

20 minutes later into ads the crowd was screaming ‘roll film’.

10 minutes later still into trailers the heckle and calls were becoming borderline offensive!

And one last cheeky ad before the film… this was the icing on the cake really!

I’m not saying the launch has to be perfect. Far from it. But listen to the crowd. If your entire user base is screaming for a feature thats within your control to give them then you’re alienating users by using it as a carrot. In this instance I consider it borderline contempt for customers since Event Cinemas knew they were shooting fish in an already purchased barrel!

Listen to the customer

I was tweeting and instagram’ing the whole thing. In fact mid-film I was getting notifications that Event Cinemas was liking my photos… shy of the complaints of course. If you’re on social (and really, you should be) then learn to deal with the good and the bad. A reply commenting “contractual obligations for advertising” would have been appropriate and in fact welcomed.

Customers want to know you’re listening and engaging even if you can’t immediately solve their problem!

##Listen to the customer If you’re dealing with complaints (whether its your problem or fault or not) just listen. A customer needs to know that their complaint is heard AND understood. Asking customers to fill in a form and deferring the problem is not a solution and ultimately alienates users.

When I spoke to the duty manager I first thanked him for running a great midnight premier (and hey - costumed staff, light sabers and disney princesses on roller-skates is pretty awesome). But I also said that as a company their treatment of fans was embarrassing and shameful and needed

If you have customers you need to have customer service, and that means listening.

Update: My storify was, as some friends queried, inspired by Atlassian’s core value of ‘Don’t #@!% the customer’. I believe, they’ve got it spot on!