Consumers are more discerning than ever; set your facility up for success from the start.

We recently discussed how we’ve been hearing stories of business owners experiencing more negative interactions with guests in recent months, and how to navigate those troubled waters in ways that can resolve problems before they escalate.

But besides the stress of the last year taking its toll, what could be causing so many new complaints? I believe many of the complaints businesses are getting have the same root cause they’ve always had: the guest experience killer known as customer friction.

The pandemic has created a lot of friction for consumers and businesses in the last year. With the developments of ever-changing guidelines and policies, it’s no wonder guests and business owners alike are feeling the effects. That’s why it makes sense to get back to basics and take a fresh look at your FEC’s current practices and determine whether they’re helping, or hurting your overall guest experiences. Read on for five ways to reduce friction in your facility.

No. 1: Assess check-in and attraction lines and wait time.

With reduced capacity capabilities and guests being more sensitive to crowds, it’s a good idea to help reduce lines, and therefore, wait time for guests where possible. Selling timed attraction tickets online remains a good way to help manage capacity. And, if you display the remaining tickets online for a time slot at the time of sale, guests can decide the best time for them to visit.

As a best practice, it also makes sense to periodically go out into your park during your busiest times and survey your facility through a guest’s eyes. Do you need someone to direct traffic at check-in? Perhaps more signage to direct guests to party check-in, waiver kiosks, or the sales office? A floater or manager who can jump in and help at point of sale stations to move people through lines faster? Use Hourly Sales Reports to identify trends for future staffing needs and Cashier Transaction Summary Reports to assess cashier effectiveness and determine if more frontline training is needed.

No. 2: Assess how the facility looks, feels, sounds, and smells.

Yes, these things matter, and if you’re in your facility day in and day out, you might not notice some of the less-than-welcoming aspects, like a constant burnt popcorn smell, scuffed paint on the walls, or full trash bins.

Ask a friend or family member or hire a secret shopper to assess and see if each piece of your experience puzzle fits together as it should. Check out social media and reviews online—both yours and your competitors’. You would be surprised how often guests compare local venues in their reviews.

No. 3: Ensure every team member is intuitive, informed, and inspired.

A lot of friction occurs as a result of apathetic or unengaged team members. Are they informed of promotions, packages, and even unavailable items? Have you trained them to watch for service cues on guests’ faces so they can interact with them with intention? Even with guests wearing masks, there are ways for team members to be on the lookout for guests who appear confused, frustrated, or lost.

In terms of inspiration, when was the last time you connected your team members’ jobs with the very real difference they make every day with their guests?

Connecting your team members through purpose is a great way to inspire your staff. Inspired team members are more likely to give great service, offer upsells, and build meaningful relationships with each other and with guests. In fact, in his book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Adam Grant writes about a call center where team members made cold calls to solicit university alumni donations. The results were largely lackluster until leadership connected the sales team’s efforts with the results of offering more student scholarships. Further, donations collected increased by 144% when callers had the chance to meet scholarship recipients in person.

The staff at your park is already well-positioned to make a difference, but sometimes leadership needs to help them make the connection between what they do and the impact it has on your guests.  Conversely, the more closely you can picture your guests, the more clearly you can assess how operations are killing, or being killed by customer friction.

No. 4: Use feedback wisely.

Feedback is a terrific thing—if used correctly, it empowers you to improve your potential friction points. You should always review all comment cards and online reviews and respond to as many as possible, good or bad. Creating a positive public opinion is a great start to setting up your facility as a business that cares about the service they offer, and getting it right.

Prospective guests form their opinion of you before they ever meet you, often learning potential pain points from the reviews of strangers.  It’s essential that you tune in to the feedback. Someone is always watching and the way you handle reviews tells a lot about your organization’s commitment.

You also receive feedback every time a guest sends something back to the kitchen or requests a refund on an attraction or merchandise item. By reviewing returns in your sales reports, department heads can assess any item that can cause guests to complain most often.

No. 5: Ask yourself, “How easy is it to do business with us overall?”

Asking yourself this question allows you to step back and take a broader look at your entire experience. Consider things like your event booking efficiency, deposits, communication procedures, ease of gift card or coupon redemption, social media presence, and your website.

Consumers expect an organized, user-friendly, and mobile responsive website. Can your guests easily buy tickets or passes, contact you, or book a birthday party all from their mobile phone? If not, contact us to discuss the latest CenterEdge Advantage Web.

Your guests need your facility now more than ever. If you’re intentional about reducing friction, your commitment will show and guests will start to notice. Hang in there. You’re doing great things for your community.


Have a positive guest interaction to share? Share them in the comments or send them to and be featured in an upcoming CenterEdge blog.

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