What Sports Franchises Teach Us about Customer Loyalty

As I’m sure everyone has realized that I like a good sporting event. While baseball is my sport of choice I like any event where I feel like I can get emotionally invested in something happening on the field or court. Last week, I watched some of the Giants / Cowboys NFL opening game because it seemed like it would be a good one. This week, ESPN released its Ultimate Team Standings for 2012, which polls “fans” on their approval or disapproval of professional sports franchises.

The teams that ranked in the top 10 were not at all surprising, ranging from the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder to the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. (Sidenote: Congrats to my Texas Rangers for ranking #9!) In determining top ranked franchise teams there are a number of factors that ESPN takes into consideration and since we’re all trying to get “fans” on various social networks and boost referral customers, I thought I would break down some of the factors and how you can apply them to your business.

Fan Relations.

Are you providing excellent customer service to your fans? How accessible are you day and night for your customers to get the help that they need? Do you respond to Facebook comments or even negative remarks about your company? It’s important to meet your customers’ needs and be ready to respond if they need something.

Bang for the Buck.

When it comes to a sporting event, fans expect that their experience should be worth the amount of money they have spent for all aspects of their time at a park. This is everything from ticket prices to food prices, and even parking. If a fan doesn’t feel like it was money well spent, they won’t rank that team to have a good reputation and they probably won’t visit again. This one is pretty simple – a business should make sure a customer is getting what they are paying for.

Players.

Are the franchise team players accessible? Is it easy to get an autograph or attend a warm up practice? Even the demeanor and attitude they have in television interviews can be a factor in determining a player’s effect on fan perception. Step back and take a look at your customer service representatives and make sure that they are going above and beyond for clients. Do they smile while they are on the phone? Are they patient and understand when trying to walk a customer through steps? These are factors that will make a mark on customers that will affect your team, and business, as a whole.

Those are just a few factors that can cause a positive or negative reception of your team and business. While the Toronto Maple Leafs (dead last) and the Sacramento Kings (next to dead last) haven’t quite figured out how to make their fans happy, your business has a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of those franchises and improve customer relations immediately.

After all, fans always reward their team in the end, one way or another.

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