At Fandango, coordinating ticket sale days for a massive film such as Avengers: Endgame is a bit like sending a rocket into space: it takes a vast network of people collaborating seamlessly in a razor-thin window of time to pull it off successfully.
Fandango connects more than 67 million unique visitors a month with screening and event tickets for more than 45,000 screens, representing over 80% of US cinemas. Ensuring that fans can grab tickets online to their favourite new films quickly and easily requires every link in the business chain to be in sync, from internal departments at Fandango to film studios, cinemas, technology partners and more.
And in today’s fast-paced market, traditional methods just don’t cut it. Email involves too much lag time, conference calls can be fragmented and unreliable and departments that use different chat tools can reinforce silos. By establishing Slack as their command centre, Fandango and its external partners avoid miscommunication, prevent redundancies and tackle ad-hoc technical issues so they can devote more time to helping customers experience the magic of cinema.
“We’ve seen people outside of their department or function communicating together in Slack in ways they wouldn’t have in the past. There’s a lot of value in being able to do things ad hoc and quickly, as the moment dictates.”
Coordinating major ticketing events and product updates in Slack
Each major ticketing event is a complex, expert dance. First of all, the film studio notifies Fandango of the expected timeline for a film rollout. Then Fandango creates Slack channels – a place for teams to share messages, tools and file – for the various moving parts related to the big on-sale day, including collaborating with more than 80 cinema chains to load showtimes into their systems.
Fandango invites critical external contacts to these Slack channels too, from cinema representatives and publicists to vendors and legal – all to make sure everyone is able to reach one each other at a moment’s notice, both leading up to and on the opening day.
“We really rely on Slack to centralise and manage that conversation,” says Greg Ferris, Fandango’s Vice President of Product. “We have close to a dozen different dedicated channels that get spun up. Slack has been a great tool to have during these big events.”
While customers can buy cinema tickets on Fandango.com, they can also:
- Rate films and read reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Stream films and TV programmes with FandangoNOW
- Access and share film clips and trailers from Fandango’s MOVIECLIPS YouTube channel
Fandango’s product managers work not only vertically with the teams responsible for each site, but also horizontally to maintain the quality of their products.
Earlier this year, the company rolled out an update for Rotten Tomatoes that reinforces the authenticity of its Audience Score feature. Using data from Fandango’s main ticketing site, Rotten Tomatoes can now verify that users submitting a rating actually went to see that film. Similarly, user ratings submitted via Fandango are now incorporated into the Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score. Fandango was able to conduct all its coordination efforts, meetings and updates through Slack.
“Our Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score integration was a really big undertaking. Slack was an invaluable tool for us as we worked across different departments and different verticals in our business to get that out to the market.”
Using Slack channels to provide efficient customer support
When a customer leaves a comment about a new feature or how something is presented on one of Fandango’s web properties, it’s sent into a customer feedback channel in Slack in real time via the Qualtrics app integration. Fandango’s engineers can then have a conversation about it immediately, make tweaks as necessary and call in a customer care representative to follow up with the customer.
“I am constantly in our customer feedback channel, so I can see what’s happening with our products through the lens of the customer,” Ferris says. “I can instantly cross-reference any customer concerns with issues being reported in our customer care Slack channels.”
Fandango also uses the Datadog integration for monitoring technical issues and alerts. When a technical issue is flagged, Fandango’s engineering team create a one-off incident-specific channel for relevant stakeholders. Sometimes it might be used for just a few minutes, long enough to get to the bottom of the issue as quickly as possible. The team then use the Heroku ChatOps and Jenkins CI app integrations to manage the deployment of code for technical solutions.
“These single-purpose channels help us keep the noise out and isolate that conversation so we can spin up and down very quickly as needed,” says Paul Zimny, Vice President of Engineering at Fandango.
The process also produces a real-time record of how the teams think and work in crisis mode so they can revisit and make adjustments once an incident is resolved. This ensures that customers enjoy an even smoother, more improved experience with Fandango sites and products each time.
“The ability to jump into Slack to work an incident with a team and get a timeline view of all the communication that’s preceded is extremely helpful. Especially if you’re responding to a middle-of-the-night incident.”
Building a diverse workforce of cinema lovers
Slack helps Fandango organise thorough, high-quality hiring and recruitment efforts. When Fandango’s Director of Software Engineering, Rema Morgan-Aluko, attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, a women-in-tech conference hosted in Orlando, Florida, she created a recruiting channel to communicate with Fandango’s recruitment office back in Los Angeles.
Through this channel, engineering hiring managers, recruiters and HR representatives were able to pre-screen CVs, coordinate on-site and off-site interviews, assemble offer packages and reach consensus faster when they wanted to offer a great candidate a position on the spot. This helped Morgan-Aluko vet candidates in real time who she had spoken to.
“We were able to do so many more interviews than we could have possibly done on our own thanks to this on-the-spot recruitment process we spun up on Slack.”
Hiring the right coworkers also helps Fandango maintain a positive work culture and environment. Thanks to video clip integrations such as Yarn, employees can share the kind of shorthand feedback and recognition that’s invaluable within a company of film buffs.
“You can’t set culture,” Ferris explains. “You can foster it, you can nurture it, but you can’t really mandate it. Slack has been the right mechanism for people to express themselves and communicate with one another beyond the work, whether it’s in the way they set their avatar or the way they reference movie quotes with each other.”
By nurturing this team camaraderie in Slack, Fandango can count on top-notch collaboration efforts to deliver seamless customer experiences for film lovers online, at the cinema and at home.