What does it really mean to delight premium customers?

About Kirk Wakefield

Kirk Wakefield is Executive Director of the S3 Program, publisher & editor of the Baylor S3 Report, author of Team Sports Marketing (www.teamsportsmarketing.com), and is the Edwin W. Streetman Professor of Retail Marketing at Baylor University.

Sports franchises may draw some of the less-discerning masses with dollar hot dog night and all-you-can-ingest seating sections, but luxury seats and suite buyers expect intimate personalization. 

You can’t get intimate with an advertised special or promotion night. As with any other relationship in life, intimacy doesn’t lend itself to just anyone who makes an offer. As customers, we are only willing to commit ourselves to those who take the time to get to know us, understand what we like or prefer, and are interested in our past. Then, maybe, we can talk about having a future together.

What does it mean to delight customers?

Consumer psychologists have studied the concept of consumer delight–the consequence of surprise mixed with joy–for over two decades. Not all surprises are good, of course. Surprise mixed with anger results in outrage. Good to avoid those types of surprises.

More aggressive, proactive properties now go beyond trying to satisfy customers to interact on a very personalized basis. Why?

Selling suites and luxury seats caters to an expert clientele dissatisfied with what everyone else gets.

Fans with limited resources and experiences (novices in terms of sport & entertainment consumption) may be excited just to see a game from the upper deck. But expectations are much higher in premium sales situations and it takes much more to truly delight expert consumers.

Start with knowing your customer

Steve Massi, Director of Marketing and Client Strategy at International Micro Systems, explains, “Customer delight is driven by one primary insight: Know Your Customer. At IMS, we transform our customers’ businesses through unique utilization of real-time customer-centric data, resulting in more relevant customer engagement, customer experiences and organization-wide ROI.”

How can this kind of technology lead to delighting customers? The STADIS© Data Integration, Promotions and Engagement Platform empowers properties to use customer data two primary ways:

intimate personalization

Fan Intimacy

  1. First, to drive real-time behavioral engagement and incremental revenue at the transactional “moment of truth,” and
  2. Second, by making this customer-centric data accessible and actionable to develop more relevant offers, communication, and customer experiences.

Mass/group focus vs. Individual focus

Pre-planned, scripted elements of the event experience are aimed at masses or groups. No surprise there. And no delight.

Venues with commercial messages seen on TV surprise no one. Bored or annoyed would be more like it.

Groups brought on the court for special occasions are expected. The only possible delight is when the little kid in the dance squad performs in some unexpected way. Of course, those in the group benefit from belonging, connecting, and recognition (see Fan Intimacy matrix). Semi-scripted portions are more enjoyable.

We only begin to make real progress when we begin to reward and acknowledge individuals with meaningful, relevant methods illustrating our understanding of the customer as an individual.

Personalization

Brandon Steffek, Director of Sales at Full House, helps properties delight customers by incorporating variable information into the designs and content of email and direct mail collateral. Through analyzing market and customer data, Full House can use variable information such as surnames, demographics, company names, industry specific images and content to appeal directly to the behaviors most applicable to customers. Brandon emphasizes, “This approach creates a more personalized and meaningful touch to our email and direct mail efforts both internally and for our customers.” 

The Oakland Raiders, for instance, can personalize emails and mailings to individuals who’ve leased a suite in the past or are identified as potential suite customers.

suitelife

First thing to do

The first thing you must do to delight premium customers is simply to understand that’s the goal. If you think it’s just to sell them space in a seat or suite, provide an entertaining experience, and good service, they can get that at a lot of places. If you continue to do only what expected, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.

The second thing you must do is take advantage of the technologies available to us today to market, sell, and service on an individual personalized basis. We’d love to hear your ideas and examples of ways you’ve found to truly delight premium buyers in your markets. Leave a comment or tweet to us @BaylorS3 and @KirkWakefield.

Download our Sales and Technology Presentation from the 2013 ALSD Conference.