fan relations

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential concerns, and overall experiences.  Needless to say, we’ve had a ton of lessons learned that we’re sharing with you today.

Find the Customer’s Sweet Spot

Every event is going to have precautionary measures – protocols to utilize in order to keep staff and fans comfortable and safe.  Realize that you are striving to provide a great fan experience, but part of that great experience involves the fans being comfortable enough to have a good time.  So before events, conduct research with fans so you have a sense for what are the most important characteristics or potential protocols that you could put in place, from the fan’s perspective.  Understand what their expectations are and their needs are to have the comfort and confidence to have a great experience.  Before trying to do too much or too little from a sanitization perspective, make sure you have an understanding of those key perception drivers from the fan’s perspective so you have a better chance of hitting their sweet spot for protocols.

Educate New AND Old Customers

Most sports organizations, if they do any pre-event education with fans, tend to tailor those communications to the first-time fans.  This is being done for obvious reasons – first-time fans are the least experienced in how to navigate the fan journey and how to do their part to have the best experience possible.  But in this COVID world, keep in mind that even long-term fans and season ticket holders have never experienced an event of any kind – particularly a major sports event – within a COVID environment.

Make sure that the educational path you take is geared toward these two distinct groups – the first-time fans and the long-term fans about to have their first COVID event experience.  Remember in these times, in order for the customer to be comfortable and confident, you need to become an educator to the fans of what the experience will be like and what THEIR part is in helping to create that safe environment.

Post-event: Research, Refine, Reinforce

Finally, we’re going to discuss post-event activities from 3 perspectives:  Post-event Research, Refinement of plans, and Reinforcement.

First, make sure that you’re conducting Post-event Research on the fan experiences and future expectations.  You want to know what you did great so you can recognize staff. You want to know what was most appreciated by fans, so you can replicate that action.  And you want to know what needs to most be improved upon, because just like the COVID findings and recommendations seem to change every day or every week, the approach for events is going to slightly change every day or every week.

Also make sure that you understand their future expectations.  Identify whether their likelihood to return will go up or down based on whether the number of protocols go up or down.  Gauge their likelihood to return and their likelihood to bring more people to the next event.  Gauge their likelihood to be a repeat COVID Era customer.

Refinement relates to operations and communications.  Based on the feedback from the fans, make those adjustments in your operations.  If you were successful enough to find the sweet spot in your protocols, then you’re just tweaking your operations event-to-event.  In terms of communications, if you do a good job proactively engaging and educating fans and asking how they want to be communicated with, if you do a great job after the fact in your post-event research of asking them what communications were most useful, most used, and most effective, then refine your communication strategy with fans so that you can – again – continuously improve.

Reinforcement relates to changing perceptions.  Fans have the experience that they have, and down the road when they’re making their decisions about recommending your event to others, coming back themselves, spending more money with you, the memories that they have and the perceptions they have days weeks and months down the road are going to help them make those decisions.  You can impact those down-the-road perceptions.  Send them communications about their experience, reinforcing what a great experience that they had, what success that the event had in mitigating negative outcomes from a health perspective, sharing visuals of people having a great time, and highlighting fan comments from post-event surveys about how much they enjoyed their experience and how much the protocols oftentimes enhanced that overall experience.

Take these lessons learned that we’ve gleaned from our client work, and make sure that your COVID Era sporting events deliver a great experience your fans as well.


Get Your Guru On – 8/25/20

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

You may have heard of management gurus – these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior.

And so you don’t roll your eyes at the thought of you being a guru, it’s always helpful to understand the origin of the word.  Upanishads in 10th century to 6th century BC said “The syllable ‘gu’ means darkness, the syllable ‘ru’ means dispeller; he is therefore called a ‘guru’ because he dispels darkness.”

I really like this definition – it goes away from the modern interpretation that gurus are far more brilliant than any of us could ever imagine being, that they are somehow superior intellectually to others.

The Situations with Darkness

With Upanishads’ definition in mind, how can we become gurus in our respective jobs?  The definition talks about gurus being people who can dispel darkness.  So to be a guru, you don’t have to have knowledge far exceeding others.  You just have to have a given situation where you can dispel darkness.

Maybe it’s dealing with the sports fan who is unsure whether to invest in tickets for games this year.  You could be dealing with the local contractor who is struggling with tasks he’s done 100 times because he’s so overwhelmed by economic concerns.  You could be dealing with a patient or a family member whose anxiety and fear of the unknown is understandably high.

How to Bring Light

Einstein once said that darkness is an absence of light, so how can you bring light in these situations?

You bring it in by listening to the other person.  You bring it in by truly trying to understand what they’re going through, even if you’re not going through it yourself.  You try to identify what is causing that darkness and see if there are some solutions that can be brought to light.  You try to bring some lightness in tone to the situation – often people are so concerned and burdened that just the positive/pleasant/upbeat tone and some levity, appropriately delivered, can bring light in the situation.

Being a guru can mean dispelling darkness.  It can be you enlightening them on new information.  It can be you bringing to light something that’s unknown to them, that may work for them.  It can be you being light at times in the tone you take.

To truly be a guru, understand what could be causing their darkness and dispel it by enlightening them, bringing solutions to light, and bringing a lighter tone whenever possible.

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How to Avoid Refunding Fans

Posted on in Business Advice, Sports Please leave a comment

Blog 1-29-15The New York Knicks are terrible – 9-37 as of today. And with the highest ticket average ticket prices in the NBA at almost $130 per seat per game, fans aren’t happy according to a recent New York Times article. Many even want refunds! Yet, the Knicks repeatedly report attendance near capacity. How? To a large extent, it’s about supply and demand. But most sports organizations are not located in a city of over 8 million people, so when the product on the court (or field, pitch, track, or rink) is terrible, what can be done? This is when the season ticket service and sales representatives of the world have to focus on what they can control. Here are some things that reps can control, which have nothing to do with the team’s performance:

  • Your relationship with your accounts
  • Your knowledge of their renewal drivers
  • Your knowledge of which of your organization’s services, information, programs, and solutions can address those drivers
  • How often you reach out to them personally
  • How you reach out to them personally (preferably in the way your client prefers)
  • Your understanding of how they’re leaning toward renewals
  • Your understanding of their favorites – players, visiting teams, aspects of the game experience
  • Your knowledge of why fans of similar profiles have left in prior years
  • Your knowledge of their share partners
  • Your knowledge of what benefits are most important to them – and which are irrelevant
  • Your understanding of how they use their tickets
  • Your knowledge/skills about how to deal with the irate customer

What’s the key takeaway?

You can’t control the play on the court. But your knowledge of your account, your personal skills, how/when you communicate with your clients – those are all things you can control. It’s very easy (and understandable) to look at the play on the court and be frustrated. To get over the frustration, focus on what you can control. Work on your knowledge, skills, and communication with clients.

Build yourself up to build renewal rates.

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