10 Customer Service Tips From Hollywood Flops

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You may have heard of the Oogieloves. You would--if you were one of the few people that saw the movie. According to data from Box Office Mojo, “The Oogieloves In The Big Balloon Adventure” was the worst box office disaster of 2012, earning only $1 million of its $20 million price tag. To give some perspective, movies have to gross double their cost to break even. What’s shocking is the Oogieloves are the brain child of the same producer that brought us Thomas the Train and the TelleTubbies. Just shows you can have all the right components for a smash hit, but find you’ve got a barking dog when the reviews come in.


In an article in Forbes, “The Biggest Box Office Flops of 2012,” Dorothy Pomerantz gives a list of movies that failed miserably. You would think that they all had bad scripts, inept directors and no-name actors. No so. Even though they had some of the elements that would have predicted success, they failed anyway.  


It’s the same for customer service. You’ve got a great product or service, but the critics are brutal! Here are some lessons from film “flops” that can help improve customer service.


  1. No one bats 1000. An actor’s or film maker’s career can span decades, with ups and downs along the way. Of the millions of movie goers around the world, some will love the film, some will hate it. The same with your product or service. Try as you may, you can’t make everyone happy.
  2. Don’t believe your own press. Company slogans are great. “We’re the Best!” hanging on the wall won’t change your customer’s perception if they had a bad experience. To be the best in customer service, you have to prove it every day, with every customer.
  3. The past doesn’t ensure the future. Peter Bogdonavich had a series of successful films, then bombed with the movie trifecta, “At Long Last Love,” ”Nickelodeon” and “Daisy Miller.” Just because you were a hit yesterday, doesn’t mean you will be on top tomorrow. 
  4. Don’t rely on star power. Another movie flop on the “Top 2012” list was “A Thousand Words,” starring Eddie Murphy. Not even Eddie Murphy’s star power could make this dud pop! Celebrity endorsements or a reputation as an industry “legend” isn’t enough. How well it plays with the customer is all that matters.
  5. Quality depends on direction. Directors and producers set the tone. The end product largely depends on their expertise and ability to communicate their vision and motivate the cast and crew. In the same way, the quality of customer service depends on the quality and support of leadership. 
  6. The right equipment. Customer service reps need training, the latest information, and systems that make their jobs easier. They need flexibility to tailor service to the customer and authority to resolve problems within boundaries. Part of leadership is to provide the training and resources to get the job done. 
  7. A cast of thousands. Watch the credits at the end of a film and you’ll realize how many people with a diversity of skills it takes to make a film. Customer service doesn’t start and end with the guy answering the phone. Everyone in the company is part of customer service.
  8. Read the reviews. Pay attention to customer feedback. They will tell you what it takes to produce a hit.
  9. Pay attention to the box office. Are you gaining new customers and retaining the old ones? It takes less money to keep a repeat customer than to gain a new one.
  10. Not every hit needs a sequel. “Gone With The Wind,” Margaret Mitchell’s classic tale about the old South, is one of the most successful movies of all times. The sequel, “Scarlett,” never made it to the screen but was a TV mini-series instead. Not everything needs to be repeated or upgraded.


Customer complaints aren’t flops. They are gifts of insight that can help turn a box-office disaster into a blockbuster. 


Photo source:  Freedigitalphotos.net


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  • Valerie B
    Valerie B
    I think this is a good article.  You are right when you say everyone counts.  So often it is the little guy that gets blamed for the company image.  Oftentimes it is the decision makers that have made a blunder.  I like point #10 also.  We need more original ideas in our films.  There are so many remakes of the same films over and over again.
  • Frances Y
    Frances Y
    Growing up in California among the stars I could really relate to this article on customer service. I am working in an Employment Center and also at a thrift store. Being aware of good customer service is one of my main goals. Thanks for putting it all into words.
  • Troy A
    Troy A
    The ultimate question is this...how many people actually like the movie enough to want to have a copy on their blank discs, or to buy the film in some way? It does not bode well when sales sag, and when people don't even want to see it on cable or even have a copy in any form, shape, or fashion.

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