Baseball Opening Day has arrived! Tonight the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers will throw out the first pitch of the 2013 MLB season. Banners will be unfurled, famous dignitaries will be in attendance and shown on television, and pomp and circumstance will be heaped upon the American public.
Once the new sheen of the 2013 season has given way to routine and momentum of regular season play and the dog days of summer, maximizing the customer experience will become the priority. There are baseball organizations that go the extra mile to make the customers feel like special dignitaries all season long (and achieve season-long sellouts), and there are organizations that look at fans as a basic given (despite the empty seats).
So what are some of the customer-facing business processes that could use a closer examination for optimization?
– Facility maintenance, upkeep, and organization
Teams have to provide a stadium that fans want to visit – energy, excitement, colors, sounds, an experience – without putting them in danger of health hazards. This means the stadium needs to be clean and organized as well as safe. Clean and organized means bathrooms that aren’t filthy, concourses aren’t lined with trash and are regularly picked up, spills at concessions counters are wiped up, condiments are protected from the elements, and so forth. A safe stadium means trip and slip hazards are minimized, floors are clean, broken/sharp edges and points are repaired, stairs are safe, and anything the customer can touch or use is not going to run a risk of injury.
Beyond safety and cleanliness, other elements of the facility must be optimized. The PA system or video board should be acoustically and aesthetically pleasing. Paint should not be chipping away. Holes should not be found in the backstop screens. Seats should be functional. Bleacher labels should be clean and easy to read.
– Ticket sales operations
Once the team has a facility that fans want to visit, now they must get those fans in the gates. This means simplicity, speed, and accuracy of fans purchasing, receiving, and redeeming tickets and applicable discounts. This also means back office processes need to be prepared and streamlined so as to meet those fan expectations.
It’s one thing for a team to charge high margins on food and drink, but ideally teams want to make that purchase experience as painless as possible. If fans not only have to pay high amount of food but also invest significant amounts of time waiting in lines or walking long distances to get to a concession stand that offers what they want, they will be less likely to not only make that investment but may also be deterred from future purchases or even attending at all.
– In-game promotional events and entertainment
While it’s somewhat hard to directly link quality of entertainment with process optimization, what happens if a promotional event can’t happen because the equipment required is broken? One example I’ve experienced first-hand is a mascot not being able to drive his ATV out onto the warning track because one of the ATV tires went flat overnight and wasn’t noticed until shortly before the game started, then the tire could not be reinflated or replaced in time.
This is just a start. There are many business processes that could use attention where waste can be driven out so that productivity and efficiency can be applied to improving the customer experience.