CRM in Sports

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Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink
Member

Posted 04-Oct-2005 04:02 PM
[Posted for Mario Zambas]

I am the CIO at a British football (soccer) club.

We have implemented a CRM strategy at Norwich and I wondered if there were any U.S. or worldwide sports related CRM studies that you could direct me to?

I am particularly interested to hear about research carried out on customer churn, loyalty programmes, call centres, customer lifetime measurements or anything where CRM has been effective directly in the sports and/or leisure market.

Mario Zambas
CIO
Norwich City FC PLC


Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink
Member

Posted 04-Oct-2005 04:04 PM
[Posted for Barry Trailer]

FirstWave (formerly Brock) has been targeting sports franchises for the past couple years. Also, GoldMine had a couple sports teams, and the Seattle Supersonics (NBA) and Seattle Storm (WNBA) were using MS CRM.

Barry Trailer
Principal
CSO Insights


Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink
Member



Posted 05-Oct-2005 08:42 AM
[Posted for Michael Lowenstein]

My sports franchises are similar to Barry’s; however, I think there are a good many more. Several NBA teams are actively using CRM techniques and technologies; and I’ve read about several minor league baseball teams also doing it.

In addition to Norwich in the U.K., Manchester United is doing some leading-edge CRM work. Also, although not a sports franchise, Churchill Downs (through their VP of CRM, Atique Shah) has received a lot of press regarding their CRM system successes.

Michael Lowenstein
Senior Vice President
Customer Management Center of Excellence
GfK NOP


Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink
Member

Posted 05-Oct-2005 08:44 AM
[Posted for David Rance]

Manchester United is one of the most famous and valuable football clubs in the world (now in U.S. hands, of course). They have a CRM manager and have invested a great deal of money on systems and processes to maximize the value of their massive fan base, 90% of which live outside Manchester.

David Rance
Managing Director
Round


Gwynne Young
Managing Editor, CustomerThink
Member

Posted 05-Oct-2005 08:47 AM
[Posted for Bill Price]

One of the best-known sports teams CRM successes is another Seattle team, the basketball SuperSonics, whose VP, Service Development, I’ve gotten to know; plus, they have benefited from having Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks, as majority owner.

Bill Price
President & CEO, Driva Solutions
Creating and sustaining highly effective contact center strategies and solutions, locally and globally
A LimeBridge Global Alliance founding partner
http://www.drivasolutions.com http://www.limebridge.com
1-206-321-0841


Steve Webster
Member

Posted 06-Oct-2005 09:57 AM
Our experiences with sporting associations in the UK (especially football clubs), is that a lynchpin of CRM is Data Quality—i.e. validity & completeness of names & addresses.

The challenge often is that data is captured in a rush (pay on gate, busy ticketing centres etc), so if the data collected is not validated, cleansed & improved subsequently, then marketing, analysis and CRM activities are at a major disadvantage. It’s therefore worth looking at DQ tools to underpin your CRM investment.

Steve Webster
Sales Director
DQ Global


Larry Martin
Member

Posted 06-Oct-2005 11:11 AM
Currently SmartDM a subsidiary of Acxiom Corporation handles CRM and database marketing for over 20 professional sports teams in the United States. Organizations such as the NBA, Comcast-Spectacor (Sixers & Flyers), Madison Square Garden, Miami HEAT, Oakland Raiders, Kroenke Sports, Roush Racing, Dallas Stars and numerous univerisities (ASU, Vandy, UCLA, etc)make up part of the client list.

Among the leaders of the pack for SmartDM are the NBA, MSG and the Miami HEAT. There are some good articles in the Sports Business Journal and the Migala Report that reference CRM and database marketing success stories in sports.

Larry Martin
Marketing Strategy Consultant
SmartDM/Acxiom Corp.


Tom Everly
Member

Posted 06-Oct-2005 12:26 PM
Here a success story on the use of SAS for customer intelligence purposes at Major League Baseball.

http://www.sas.com/success/mlbcom.html

Thanks,

Tom Everly
CI Business Development
SAS


Gavin Watson
Member

Posted 10-Oct-2005 12:38 AM
Onyx Software has a number of Professional Sports organizations among its customers.

The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Seattle Mariners are all Onyx customers.

The Seattle Mariners use of CRM across the organisation is really an amazing story. A large number of visitors to the ball park are from out of state and even out of country—big Japanese following—so the use of CRM to track and maintain all interactions and notifications with these customers is very important.

From messaging on the giant scoreboard to in-stadium seat upgrades the Mariners organization is using CRM to deliver a very customer focused experience.

Go Mariners!!!


Graham Hill
Guru
Member

Posted 10-Oct-2005 01:19 AM
Mario

As the replies to-date have pointed out, CRM is being used extensively to assist sports clubs to acquire, grow and retain customers.

For example, a quick search on the internet revealed that:

Hawthorn Football Club in Melbourne used CRM to rebuild its membership after the club had a disastrous run.

The Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks & Atlanta Thrashers (all owned by Time Warner) used CRM to cross-sell to each others’ customer bases.

Paris Saint Germain Football Club used CRM to maintain revenue in the face of poor European performance (there is an excellent Gartner study available for free at http://www.gartner.com/2_events/crmawards/2004/emea/paris.pdf).

Manchester City Football Club is using RFID smart cards to provide ticket-less entry during matches at their home ground and to learn about customer behaviour whilst in the ground.



San Diego Padres introduced a loyalty programme to improve attendance on match days.

Manchester United developed a new Internet Portal to provide a centrepoint for customers and partners around the world.

What all these (and many more examples) have in common is the clubs being genuinely interested in their customers, generating insight about their behaviours and using this to improve all aspects of the customer experience, rather than just on improving the mechanicss of information-based CRM to drive more sales, more often at lower cost.

Most customers never get to see a game in person so the customer experience has to be much broader than just attending games and merchandising.

This broader customer experience can include things as diverse as: Offering dozens of different membership packages each one targetted at a different segment, developing a consolidated call-centre to manage all contacts with customers, providing a broad range of activities & events to “emotionalise” the customer experience, offering a loyalty programme providing rewards, developing on-line communities to allow customers to talk to and around the club, providing e-newsletters & blogs to further this dicussion and providing customers with a directory of sponsors offering better deals. And the same goes for affinity partners and sponsors too.

No matter how this is done, the key is to drive it from the customer and their needs, not from the club and its.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant
(Occasional Köln FC fan and lapsed Grimsby Town FC fan)


Derick Price
Member
Picture of Derick Price

Posted 13-Oct-2005 04:30 AM
Mario,

In our experience, CRM strategy begins with a full understanding of the consumer and their every interactions with the business whether they be a dedicated fan, a remote fan, or a corporate prospect. Generally for sports clubs this is difficult due to data being spread across the organisation in silos. Get the data together and ensure its accuracy. Use the right tools to do this.

Deployment of CRM strategy should be focussed on measurable short term wins, whether they be financial or operational. Placing this in line with sales & marketing strategy is an effective way of gaining quick ROI through campaign management, and demonstrating increased profit, reduced costs, and the ultimate goal of increased revenues.

To mention a couple of clubs listed previously here; Hawthorns FC in australia implemented Pivotal CRM to increase membership, closer to home Fulham FC use the same technology as an enterprise wide system. The Pivotal Corporation is part of ChinaDotCom who operate MUFC’s Chinese web portal if you are looking further affield.

Integration with CCTV, Content Management, Smart Card and Access Control can deliver the full 360 degree view of the business, and the technology is there to do it. Venue Solutions as a partner to Pivotal and the Sony Corporation specialise in this area in Europe.

Derick Price
Business Development Manager
Venue Solutions


Bobby Whitson
Member

Posted 25-Oct-2005 07:30 PM
Greetings Mario,

I trust all is well since we last spoke. A lot has changed since then, and I’d like to catch up with you to see how things are going there.

Hey Larry,

I hope all is well with you too. Give me a call.

The sports industry is unique unto itself; there are many challenges that other more mature industries do not face. All of the companies mentioned here are solid companies and offer solid platforms; however, it takes more than just a platform to service this market. Implementing a platform is only the beginning for a sports organization, and I’d argue that that is the easy part for them. Most sports related organizations do not have the internal resources to properly (forgive the split infinitive) staff and manage a true CRM platform. Therefore, it is vitally important to partner with an organization that can support the platform after it is up and running, because you will need the help. If you do not have the support, it will fail. If you have the support, you will have a solid ROI.

Best to each of you.

Bobby Whitson
Whitson Sports and Entertainment


Graham Hill
Guru
Member

Posted 26-Oct-2005 04:08 AM
In today’s edition of my local newspaper (the German newspaper the Kölner Stadt-Anzeige), there is a full-page article on the creation of a brand new football club, FC United of Manchester (http://www.ksta.de/html/artikel/1129587916326.shtml in German). This club has been created by ex-fans of Manchester United FC, angry at the way they belive the great club has been mis-treated by its new US owners for their personal financial gain.

FC United had over 4,000 members within two months of being founded, (many of whom were the die-hard Manchester United fans who hadn’t missed a home game for 20 years!), had collected over GBP100,000 in funding and attracted over 900 applications from amateur and semi-professional players to take part in trials for the new team. It has also generated acres of great publicity of the type that money just can’t buy.

Although the new club doesn’t pose any real threat to Manchester United, it does show how important it is to understand in core fans, be interested in them and look after them, and how easily “naked business” can get in the way of the more complex task of running a successful sports club.

Take a look at the two websites.

United FC of Manchester
http://www.fc-utd.co.uk/

Manchester United FC
http://www.manutd.com/splashPages/black.sps?itype=5786&…tompageid=15923&bg=1

Interestingly, the FC United of Manchester landing page is all about the club and football, the Manchester United landing page is all about buying tickets.

Graham Hill
Independent CRM Consultant


Mario Zambas
Member

Posted 17-Nov-2005 05:31 AM

Originally posted by Bobby Whitson:
Greetings Mario,

I trust all is well since we last spoke. A lot has changed since then, and I’d like to catch up with you to see how things are going there.

Hey Larry,

I hope all is well with you too. Give me a call.

The sports industry is unique unto itself; there are many challenges that other more mature industries do not face. All of the companies mentioned here are solid companies and offer solid platforms; however, it takes more than just a platform to service this market. Implementing a platform is only the beginning for a sports organization, and I’d argue that that is the easy part for them. Most sports related organizations do not have the internal resources to properly (forgive the split infinitive) staff and manage a true CRM platform. Therefore, it is vitally important to partner with an organization that can support the platform after it is up and running, because you will need the help. If you do not have the support, it will fail. If you have the support, you will have a solid ROI.



Best to each of you.

Bobby Whitson
Whitson Sports and Entertainment

Greetings Bobby and Larry

Hope you are both well.

I agree totally with you about the assertion that a number of sports clubs that I have dealt with buy a CRM system and then think that they are doing CRM!

They seem to settle on what is no more than a a contact management system with a bit of email marketing thrown in.

What I was interested in was which sports businesses are doing data mining, predictive analytics, basket analysis rather than the bog standard who is buying what, where and when.

Will speak to you when I get back from the Middle East

All the best

Mario

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