By Theo Papanikolaou I Service Culture Expert
In an article posted online by The Daily Telegraph, “NRL attendance figures have alarmingly slumped to their lowest level in 12 years in the opening three rounds of the 2015 premiership as disenchanted fans walk away from the game,”it sheds light on a disconcerting trend in the sport. A combination of exorbitant ticket prices, terrible refereeing blunders, fans being locked out of a game, the inconsistency of the match-review committee and a lack of confidence in the game’s administration are being blamed for the dramatic slump.
Why is this happening? A number of factors could be at play here, with the convenience of live television coverage being the most obvious factor competing for fans’ attention and impacting their decision to attend (or not attend) a game. But, if we dig a little deeper, perhaps there is another reason: fans’ expectations for the game-day experience have evolved to include points of contact that extend well beyond the action that takes place on the field.
So, what can sports administrators do to retain fan loyalty? In short, they must focus on enhancing and perfecting the total customer experience. Just as the team develops and executes a strategy to win on the field, sports marketing departments and stadium/venue operators must now also refine their experience for fans on the phone or web site, in the parking lot, at the box office, and in the stadium.
As the article mentions, “In the AFL, kids are admitted free of charge to the MCG and Etihad Stadium on Sundays. The code has also negotiated a deal to slash food and beverage prices at their games. Then you have the shabby treatment of NRL fans. In the round two Monday night game at Campbelltown, thousands of fans were locked out of the first half of the Wests Tigers’ match against St George due to a staff shortage on the gates. Instead of apologising to fans, a Wests Tigers spokesperson accused a media correspondent of bullying for exposing the poor customer service and not a single word from League HQ.”
While it may be surprising to some, many businesses are remarkably similar. The manner in which we operate our business offers a unique perspective into the game-day experience we provide to our guests.
So, where do we begin with developing the game-day experience? It all starts with a focus on customer service. At Positive Concepts, we collaboratively work with organisations to consistently deliver the highest levels of service by intentionally designing every detail of the Guests’ experience. And, since we know that customer service manifests itself everywhere an organisation touches the customer, the key to success is to intentionally manage the entire service experience beyond the obvious customer “touch points.”
Here are just a few of the questions we might ask to help organisations evaluate the vast array of touch points in their guest experience:
- Does staff greet every guest with a warm, engaging welcome when they arrive?
- Does staff genuinely thank guests for attending as they leave?
- How convenient is the arrival and departure from the venue?
- Is parking perceived to be safe and hassle-free?
- Are restrooms clean and well-stocked?
- Are food concessions appealing and high quality?
- Are there enough options to meet special dietary needs?
- Are credit cards accepted for purchases throughout the venue?
- Does staff engage with guests on an emotional level (or do they treat interactions as merely transactional)?
While it’s true that wanting to meet or exceed guests’ expectations in these areas is a common business objective, what we at Positive Concepts have found through our work is that implementing these consistently is not necessarily common practice. And, that is a key source of what differentiates an organisation in the marketplace.
If your organisation was a sports team, what would your customers’ ideal “game-day experience” be? What customer “touch points” could you improve or enhance?
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