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How can CRM improve the customer experience at mega events?

By Community | 5 days ago

Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging. Sports & entertainment organisations ensure everyone belongs, they offer emotional engagement, meaningful and tangible goals, a team environment and the glory that comes with achieving or experiencing something great. 

Mega events, such as sold-out games or concerts, World Cups and those with a global following – golf, Formula 1 and others – provide the perfect cauldron for everyone to engage and see their heroes (or villains) compete against each other. It’s at these times where people get into their zone and embrace the experience, along with their fellow fans – and of course, those from the opposing side.

In order to take advantage of this, an organisation needs to understand, communicate, and gather hundreds of touchpoints about each person – what they like or don’t like, how they act and what their connections are. This in turn allows for tailored experiences and offerings that lead to true audience engagement and successful business outcomes.

When I worked on the Hopman Cup (the world’s first mixed teams’ event for tennis started), in Perth, Western Australia back in the 1990’s, the mechanisms for doing this were basic and simple. 

Communication was via the only available mechanisms – television, radio, print and outdoor advertising, while insights about customers were gained by talking directly to people and keeping spreadsheets or – dare I say it – 6×4 cards to manually scroll through. 

While the mechanisms were limited by today’s standards, the results were incredible. Sold out events, significant coverage and event profitability from year 1 onwards made the Hopman Cup a huge success. 

The technology was simple, but there was an underlying element that I would argue is even more critical now than it was then – total focus on executing an incredible Customer Experience. 

Fast forward to 2022 and the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, held at Homebush, the campus for the Sydney 2000 Olympics. 

Our winning pitch to FIBA made a brave statement – ‘the best attended and most successful Women’s World Cup ever’. While there were many elements to successfully achieving this outcome, a total focus on an amazing Customer Experience was central. Attendance doubled the previous event, the athletes loved it and the fans were out in force to support their teams loud and strong!

So, in today’s environment of data & digital overload, endless choice and fans that have many ways to consume Mega Events, how do we ensure that the Customer Experience is the best it can be?

Enhanced, smart and industry-specific CRM provides the perfect platform for this, so that Mega Events can truly take advantage of the opportunities at hand.

EngageRM’s extensive experience started with one of the world’s most successful Mega Events, the Australian Open Tennis in Melbourne, Australia in 2008. They needed a way to promote, engage and manage their Kids Tennis Day, and CRM provided the perfect solution.

Utilising Web Portals directly linked to the platform, we enabled people to register and participate with parents/guardians related to their children’s record. Workflows ensured timely follow-up of all registrants with information delivered directly from the CRM. Live dashboards allowed management to monitor the process. 

This in turn enabled personalised communication to attend the main event, referencing data from previous experiences and building further touchpoints. An individual or family could create or renew membership (and manage membership types) with information related directly to contact records empowering a single customer view before it became ‘cool’ to do this. 

Effective data & process management also enables fast action. The disastrous Queensland floods of that year prompted a global response. Making simple enhancements, we build a portal with a payment gateway in 36 hours that collected record donations for victims, all made possible through centralised processes and automation could be used to leverage customer touchpoints in a CRM environment. 

While seemingly simple now, this was ground-breaking at the time and has underpinned the ongoing drive to new frontiers we now take for granted. 

Today, strong, specifically designed and integrated CRM enables an incredible customer journey that underpins an outstanding Customer Experience for any fan. 

When someone expresses interest via inbound enquiry or other engagement, a tailored journey begins. The purchase decision can be influenced based on actions taken by that person and tracked in CRM. 

Integration with ticketing platforms means that the CRM then keeps ticketing or membership data against the contact record, monitoring transfers, upsells and attendance at the event. 

The in-event experience can then be influenced, tracked and enhanced. Because the right CRM will know when a person walks into the venue, offers can be triggered, again based on past experience or actions. If we know Simone bought a t-shirt and glass of wine last time she attended, we can offer recommendation vouchers for the same or related items based on the event type, the time of the year, and so on. The possibilities are endless!

We can further drive the experience with tailored content delivered at the right moments, allow for paperless entry to exclusive areas, and gain further information for communication outside the event. 

While in-event is one component and ticket sales are critical, the world is now connected like never before. This means people might not attend the event but can be an influencer in several ways. Incentivised interaction, no matter where you are, extends the in-event revenue stream. For example, fans can consume and share content on their social platforms and attend virtual events in dedicated online spaces, extending fan experience and partner branding opportunities. 

Want to get feedback or manage issues? The only logical place to do this is CRM, where you already have all the information about a customers’ experience and history. Case Management can be triggered by scanning a QR code in a venue, interacting from social platforms, chat services on mobile or web, or completing a simple form. This can then be triaged across the business, using automation where required. 

This new Omnichannel approach to case management enables people to deal with organisations when they want, how they want and from the device they’re with at the time of interaction.

Calls can come via Microsoft Teams directly linked to the CRM and include recording and detailed analysis in real time, using Microsoft’s Conversation Intelligence capability, which again is natively linked to the entire platform. This capability can also be used to enable outbound selling – with one of our clients using this to improve efficiency and output by over 30 per cent. 

Because we have fan connections and data, it makes sense to manage Corporate Partnerships from the CRM. 

We can track and manage engagement, centralising all emails and calls under a Contact Record, while then building and managing proposals from an Asset Register stored in the CRM. Because we track and manage touchpoints and fulfilment, we can see connections that enhance our selling process and have data to back it up – a far more difficult task if not managed from the CRM’s single source of truth. 

By then managing the Partnership in CRM we can automate invoicing, track fulfilment of benefits, manage ticketing, sell further events and opportunities, while tracking it all centrally. Sales activity and Commission payment can be monitored, with live tailored Dashboards available at functional and management levels across the entire business. 

Analytics related to asset Return On Investment ensures clients understand the reach digital signage and social posts provide their business, with focus turning to retention and renewal programs. 

I could go on…

CRM is not the Holy Grail, because it requires careful management, thought and execution. It is a tool and like any tool, is not designed to do everything. However, to fully engage, manage and deliver an incredible Customer Experience at a Mega event (or any event for that matter), there is no better platform than an industry specific, integrated and focused CRM to generate the results you want. 

About the Author: Ned Coten is the CEO of EngageRM, a Business Process Automation, CRM and Data Analytics platform for the sport & entertainment industry and Microsoft’s Number 1 Global ISV Partner in this vertical. 

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