Using your customers to drive success

Sports clubs have long recognised they can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to engaging with their fans. Gone are the days when your dad and grandad’s favourite club becomes, by default, yours. The younger generation are much harder to reach and win over as loyal fans – they have been granted easy access to a global playing field, with local football teams now competing for fans against the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United.

In such a competitive world, clubs, just like businesses, must be prepared and willing to listen to their fans and adapt what they offer in order to differentiate and survive. One of the best ways to achieve this is seeing things through the eyes of your customers or fans to ensure their experience is first rate.

Here at Rewards4, we have always valued customer feedback – in fact we embed it into all that we do. It is the voice of the fan that comes first; understanding their views and using them to make informed decisions is the fuel that drives the popularity of our sports loyalty programmes. And we’re not alone. Some of the world’s most successful tech companies are thriving because of their customer-first approach. Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon has explained how the company innovates by ‘starting with the customer and working backwards,’ and arguably, it is applying customer feedback in this way that has secured them over 54 million Prime members alone.

So how does a business, or a club, gain the customer insights needed to inform their decision making and deliver a product or service that’s relevant? It starts with a conversation.

It’s good to talk… and listen

Whatever channel and form this may take, it’s vital that any conversation you strike up with customers or fans, new, old or potential, has a conclusion. Emailing can be a powerful tool but it’s important to facilitate quick responses. Social media can be an excellent channel to gain instant insights and feedback however likewise, it’s critical to listen and reply quickly – and be seen to adapt accordingly.

For businesses, establishing a presence on review sites, such as TripAdvisor, can not only provide a strong platform for gaining a wealth of valuable feedback on your product or service, it can also be used as a powerful selling tool. However, be aware of the potential for negative reviews and should that happen, be prepared to respond immediately and resolve quickly.

Carrying out regular customer or fan satisfaction surveys can deliver both top line statistics as well as more detailed feedback that shows easily where you’re succeeding and where improvements need to be made in the eyes of the consumer.

Translating insight into action

Once you’ve implemented the tools that allow your customers’ or fans’ voices to be heard, the important work really starts. It’s vital to apply that feedback within the business or club in such a way that those consumers can see they’ve been listened to.

By putting these insights at the heart of your decision-making process, you’ll be in a much stronger position to provide the service or product that your customers, and potential customers, truly want.

Informed evolution driving success

Today, every successful business and club is built upon a fluid foundation – one that accepts the need for change based on societal changes. Only by listening to customers and fans regularly and putting their voices at the top of your playlist will firms be able to improve, adapt and evolve in line with demand and changing needs.

As a technology-based rewards programme that prides itself on ensuring fans feel recognised and rewarded by their clubs, we invest heavily in turning customer preferences into unique insights that will drive our business in whatever direction they need us to travel. This is one of the reasons we recently launched a TrustPilot review platform. Not only is this an open platform, it includes reviews from all members, not just those who are invited to leave a review. The response has been incredible already; with feedback themes varying from ‘first class’, ‘easy to use’ and ‘brilliant’ to ‘amazing’, ‘generous’ and ‘fun’! We’ve started our own review meetings to ensure the feedback flows back to the right teams and we’re also taking this a stage further, planning to hold member ‘steering groups’ and polls to inform our future planning. Not only will this ensure we make strides in becoming ‘member first’, it will also ensure the clubs we work with have a data-rich connected view of fan behaviour that will in turn help inform their own fan engagement strategies.