CRM Evolution – My #Sportsbiz Revelation

Fresh back from a trans-Atlantic flight to attend CRM Evolution, I again muse at the dashing of my pre-conceived ideas. Don’t you love it when that happens? When you think you know something, and then you find out you couldn’t have been more wrong?

My big revelation was that the sports industry is not “way behind” other sectors when it comes to CRM - or as Jujhar Singh, GM of Microsoft Dynamics, responded when I asked how we should refer to the evolving industry that’s no longer just about tracking transactions, “Intelligent Customer Engagement”. In fact, in certain areas we’re way ahead of the game - we’re at the front of the ICE pack (ok so maybe that phrase won’t catch on….)

It’s the “engagement” part that gives us the advantage - our fans, customers, and stakeholders want to be engaged with us, and many have no choice….they were born into it. Their hearts rule their heads, and on certain days of the week (think Saturday 3pm) it consumes their every thought. But that places a burden of responsibility on us - to pay more attention to our fans, to treat them as they want to be treated, by putting in place the processes and systems that will enable us to do this.

The IoT Customer Experience

And that’s what Jujhar’s session with the inimitable Paul Greenberg focused on - how we can and should be improving the customer experience, starting with the Internet of Things and on that point, he was unequivocal. “You have to join the bandwagon or get left behind.” No buts, no maybes. That’s the way it is. And those organisations who’ve been thinking about it and planning for it for some time will be leading the pack. The rest of us risk being in permanent catch-up mode.

This led to the killer question from Paul - how do we start, how do those businesses that haven’t yet put IoT on their agenda go about it now? And Jujhar’s response was so simple we have no excuse not to be doing it: look at your business processes and your key assets and think about how IoT as a principle could work. The example given was a lift company whose products are not performing properly triggering a report that schedules a maintenance order - this “elevated” level of response could then guarantee a 99.9999% uptime providing their clients a better service. In our world, for the match day experience, that’s the equivalent of a beer pump not keeping up with our fans’ half-time demands - how frustrated do they get when they miss a goal scored in the 47th minute because they’re still at the concession stand?

So here are Jujuhar’s necessary steps to bringing IoT into your world:

1) Identify the asset in question.

2) Track the data that will provide the business case.

3) Tie it to customer engagement.

And here’s an example for #sportsbiz:

1) Executive seats.

2) The amount of food and beverage purchased per customer, facilities for customers to buy food and beverage, stock levels, number of waiting staff.

3) If the fans had their own sales point, removing the need to leave their seat, join a queue and wait for their product to be served, they wouldn’t miss a moment of the match.

IoT At-seat ordering VenuNextThere’s the business case for at-seat ordering in the VIP section! We’ve heard from one US team that there’s a demonstrable increase of 20% in F&B sales when the customer has access from his seat with his order brought to him. And think about the cost savings on front-of-house staff!

Another key point well-made by Jujhar was “Don’t look at cost because you won’t be in a position to make a decision. Look at the ROI”. That brings us back to one of our favourite discussions about in-stadium Wi-Fi and as Ben Wells will be often heard to say, instead of thinking about the cost of doing it, think about the cost of not doing it.

Paul then moved Jujhar onto the discussion of AI where he  stated it’s nothing new, it’s been around for years - it’s just about proactive notifications, hearing of a situation then the actions that follow. His assessment was that AI has multiple layers and we’ll never get to an i-Robot level. Instead bots will be used for very discreet, very small tasks, allowing humans at the higher level to focus on the bigger, higher order things. I like that - much better than the thought of robots as work colleagues (or bosses!)

The discussion then moved onto inter-operability between systems on the basis that “humans are interoperable - we can all talk to each other” - so for AI to be a reality, all systems must do the same. That would be a great segue into Brent Leary’s futurology session that highlighted Apple’s first ever move to an “open environment” with their recent collaboration on Siri, but that would take a whole new post so if you want to know more about his thoughts, you can reach out to Brent directly.

One final gem from Jujhar - “focus on delivering customer experiences.” And as we heard at SEAT, if the objective is engagement, the result will be revenue.

I was at CRM Evolution to join the closing keynote - a sports panel hosted by Paul that included Jason Lumsden from the Boston Red Sox, Jerry Drobny of the San Francisco Giants and Andrew Sofer of the New York Mets. The questions coming from the audience demonstrated that while they were there to discuss “all things CRM”, when you throw sports into the mix, everything becomes more interesting.

How lucky are we to be working in this business?

The next big CRM conference for #sportsbiz is SEAT, July 17th to 21st in Las Vegas. If you’re thinking of going from Europe, there’s a great offer for you to attend and stay at the conference hotel - don’t miss out, it’s a feast of information from speakers that support SEAT’s principles of transparency, knowledge share and networking. It’s an absolute feast of information!

Contact us if you'd like to discuss anything CRM or IoT in sport.