What the Big Game Taught Us about Customer Engagement

As the most-watched sporting event in the U.S. each year, the “Big Game” is the ultimate in fan engagement. In the heart of the Silicon Valley, this year’s venue and its innovative use of technology made the fan experience—on-site and at home– rich and entertaining.

Smart business owners watching from the sidelines took note, as these types of fan engagement experiences are akin to the same types of experiences that their customers are craving. In today’s digital world, customers demand a high-quality experience throughout their entire journey. The better the experience, the more engaged the customer becomes with the brand, and the higher potential customer lifetime value. Here are three lessons to keep in mind:

Make it seamless: In 2016, it’s become the norm to expect a fast-paced network to cover the entirety of a sports venue. The days of spotty connectivity at stadiums are behind us, and ticketholders now want digital interaction at the game and with friends and family afar.

Down the road from Levi’s Stadium is Avaya Stadium, home of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer fame, where wireless connectivity and digital content are available throughout the venue. Fans can use their mobile devices to scan QR codes to access exclusive content, and the stadium mobile app provides access to all the information fans need about tickets, amenities, parking, and game-day matchups. With this technology, the Earthquakes are making the fan experience as seamless as possible, setting themselves up for success with loyal customers and positive word-of-mouth.

Outside of the sports world, customers demand this same kind of seamless experience across multiple touchpoints with the companies that they choose to do business with. Every interaction counts, no matter where it happens. Ensure the customer’s choice of omnichannel communication is recognized and completely integrated into their personalized customer access strategy, and be ready to pick up right where you left off each time.

Live in the moment: For today’s tech-savvy fans, it has become second nature to share content – from a game-day selfie to a tweet about the latest play – as a way to feel closer to the game, the players, and one another. Sports organizations are beginning to take advantage of the large amount of content that live events offer by engaging directly with fans and followers in real-time.

Over in Colorado Avalanche territory, for example, the Pepsi Center boasts a fan engagement wall that provides fans an interactive experience that is shaping the way they enjoy game day activities. A live broadcast of social feeds allows fans to share their special digital game day moments directly on the wall. This allows fans at the event, and all over the world, to engage with others who are passionate about the same things.

This same strategy of leveraging information to provide a personalized, specialized experience is just as important for customers.  Self-service, fueled by online tools, “self-healing” technology and peer forums, continues to gain momentum with customers. While this is great from a time-saving perspective, it also reduces vendor differentiation and can marginalize service providers to the point of becoming just another commodity. Vendors will need to fight against depersonalization by working to maintain the human factor and treating each interaction as a relationship-building opportunity.

Watch the scoreboard: During the Big Game, the teams, coaches and audience kept a close eye on the game’s score as it changed minute-to-minute. Each team  also collected and analyzed player performance data to guide decision-making on the field. Data also played a role outside the game, such as with advertisers gauging the results of their marketing efforts.

For instance, advertisers are constantly trying to understand their spectators better. What they like to eat and drink, which vendors they prefer, the path they take in the stadium, how many games they attend, how often they use the mobile application, etc. The ability to understand the fan better means that more value can be given to the sponsors and other assets that the venue operator might utilize, such as digital platform programming, parking, or on-site (or near-site) restaurants. The goal is for the fan journey to never end, but to progress with greater affinity (and economic value) from event to event.

While it’s not easy to provide a personalized and consistent experience to millions of people at once, professional sports organizations find ways to keep fans coming back week after week, season after season. Just as they did at the Big Game, businesses must make sure they’re putting their customers at the center of the action by delivering the experiences they demand.

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