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Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

The Miracle of an Apology - 3/19/24


Unfortunate but true story… The manager basically lost his mind.  He terminated his employee on the spot.  She had told the customer that there was going to be a delay in the shipment.  The employee called up the customer ahead of time to let the customer know what was about Read more

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait - 3/12/24


Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax Read more

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.

Did you like this post? Here are other Sports-related posts:


Ticket Sales Down Due to Accounts Reducing Seats?

Posted on in Business Advice, Sports Please leave a comment

Blog 9-24-14Typically, fewer than 6% of season ticket accounts are likely to reduce their number of seats year-to-year. That’s based on a history of our CSS fan research in the Sports Industry. So when we read stories like USU football: Aggies looking to increase season-ticket sales where the Athletic Director notes the main reason for recent drops in season tickets is a reduction in seats by individual accounts, it’s odd to hear. The AD states “that the school’s tracking system shows the Aggies haven’t lost as many season-ticket buyers as they have the number of tickets bought. Many fans are buying two or four season tickets this year instead of six or more in years past.”

So what can cause a relatively unusual action – reducing the number of tickets – to occur? Among the factors not controllable by the club are the economy, the financial status of the accounts, families downsizing with kids going to college elsewhere, etc. But what are causes that the club can control?

What we’ve found is that when fans are keeping their accounts but reducing the number of tickets, this is a symptom of a wavering commitment to the team. The somewhat controllable factors are the following:

  • Concerns with the “Direction of the Team” – Fan is uncertain about whether their investment is worth the lack of a plan (or a poor plan) for improving performance of the club. The fan is less likely to want to invest big on something that seems like it’s going in the wrong direction.
  • Lack of Personal Connection – From a controllable perspective, there are no strong ties to account representatives that can communicate more 1-on-1 with accounts to allay concerns and strengthen ties. A strong relationship is not being built. Weakness drops commitment.
  • Decreasing Pride in the Team – The organization is doing little in the community or little to overcome negative perceptions of players, coaches, and other personnel. It’s no longer the “cool thing” to be a fan of the team – it becomes more of the cool thing to bash the team or hide your fandom. The organization is doing little personally with the fan to overcome these perceptions.

Much of the decision of the account to decrease their annual season ticket purchases is out of the control of the “business side” of the club. But that can’t be an excuse for failure. Look for those aspects of the organization, the experience, and/or the people involved that are controllable.

Look for those attributes that decrease perceived value or create doubt about the future direction of and relationship with the club.

Find ways to keep the accounts from dropping seats.

Did you like this post? Here are other Sports-related posts:


Ensure Your Voice of the Fan Approach Includes These Key Points

Posted on in Business Advice, Sports Please leave a comment

Blog 5-1-14Voice of the Fan – we use that phrase with many of our clients, but to clarify its meaning, sometimes it helps to look at examples.

The University of Florida’s “University Athletic Association” (UAA) is forming a fan advisory group that will provide feedback on how to improve the fan experience at UF football games, in particular. According to the article UAA to improve gameday experience through new fan advisory council, the advisory group “will select representatives from several season-ticket-holder demographics, including current students and boosters…The issue that needs to be discussed is how we can help students come in, but at the same time help people who have been season ticket holders for 40 years still have a good time at the game.”

These comments go to the heart of why a Voice of the Fan strategy is so important in sports. We can’t make the assumption that all fans are the same. Conversely, we can’t make the assumption that the long-time fans don’t matter – which often turns out to be a concern in the heavily marketing/sales-oriented world of sports.

We have to develop a strategy of dialogue with our fan base, that not only includes the surveys and 1-on-1 discussions with staff, but it also includes the sit-down discussions that get you depth on issues, creativity on solutions, and the fan’s perspective on potential changes being considered for the future.

Develop a Voice of the Fan approach that has at least these characteristics:

  • Includes a quantifiable component to evaluate multiple aspects of the fan experience, preferences, renewal drivers, etc.
  • Includes trended data through ongoing (including real-time) research or point-in-time annualized surveys.
  • Includes Focus Groups for deep dives on specific issues or about consideration of future changes/improvements.
  • Includes Advisory Boards that provide some consistent feedback mechanism as ideas are developed, refined, and moved toward implementation.
  • Crosses all key demographics or fan types.
  • Has predictive characteristics about retention/growth likelihood.
  • Uses multiple platforms (face-to-face, web, social media, e-mail, telephone, etc.) to ensure breadth of response.
  • Results in actionable information.
  • Shares back with fans the results and actions taken.

When you’re thinking about an advisory board, focus group, survey, or other research method, first make sure it’s getting at the voice of your true fans. Create a strategic approach to listening to and utilizing the Voice of the Fan.

Did you like this post? Here are other Sports-related posts:

Learn about our CSS Sports services at: http://cssamerica.com/sports/


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