Three things we can learn from how Wimbledon is managing the customer experience
I had the pleasure this week of being invited to Wimbledon by IBM to see for myself how their systems, artificial intelligence, and cognitive tools (Watson) underpin the customer experience.
What?! Isn’t Wimbledon all about ‘being there’? The atmosphere; the proximity to the athletes and pundits; the strawberries! Doesn’t the world divide for two weeks in July between those who are there and those who would like to be there? Surely the “customer experience” is all about the physical experience that the lucky few enjoy in a little piece of London SW19 once a year?
Well, no, to be frank. Just like most other sectors, sport has gone digital, omni-channel, real-time, and customer empowered. I was genuinely surprised by how The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) – known more for its upholding of tradition – is innovating in the way it engages with all its audiences via its long-standing technical partnership with IBM.
The facts, figures and technical capabilities are impressive, and if you’re into that then I’d highly recommend that you read:
- IBM’s Wimbledon homepage
- Pam Woehrle’s blog on the real-time technology and analytics
- The Daily Telegraph article on the subject
I’m not going to just repeat all that good stuff in this blog. I wanted to consider the “so what” of it all from my perspective as a customer experience practitioner, evaluating what it means for us all as customers and consumers, and for other commercial sectors.
Here are three conclusions that I have drawn:
- Great Insight has many Customers. The IBM team is systematically capturing millions of data points covering every point of every tennis match (and even the practices!) including the crowd reaction and augmentation by qualified humans where a judgement is required (e.g. was it a forced or unforced error?). What really impresses me is how this core data is being packaged for both real-time consumption and off-line analytics for all the different customers of the AELTC – live media, journalists, players and their teams, attendees, and of course the fans viewing and listening around the world.
This sparked a challenging thought. Is your business utilising its data and insight for the benefit of all its customer groups? It could be that you have developed some insight for internal purposes that would be extremely useful and valuable for some of your customers (especially in B2B)? Has it struck you that sharing at least some of this insight with customers can enhance trust, value and loyalty within the relationship?
- “Being there” Feeling. When I was shown round IBM’s data centre by Kevin Farrar and Suzy Jarratt I was most impressed with the real desire within IBM to imbue the digital experience with as much life, passion and excitement as possible – augmenting the experience for those attending (including re-living it afterwards) and for the rest of the world watching. This is a company that has truly embraced the new realities of omni-channel – it was abundantly clear that customer experience is of top importance.
Another challenging thought! Are your digital or eCommerce customers thought of as second-class citizens within your business? Be warned – what is and isn’t important to you as a business will be reflected in the quality and consistency of the experience delivered through your new channels and media because they’re much more transparent. Can you afford it for any of your customers to come away with a “they didn’t care about me” sentiment?
- Instantaneous and Interactive is the new norm. It is amazing how knowledge, data and insight are being democratised via tools and engines such as IBM’s Watson. Any of us can not only access this real-time (via the brilliant Wimbledon App), but also engage with the organisers and each other, in Wimbledon’s case via the #WhatMakesGreat campaign.
Some final challenges! Are you democratising insight or are you still behaving with a “knowledge is power” mentality? If so you are stifling innovation. Have you invested in real-time interaction and response mechanisms or do you still rely on overnight (or even weekly/monthly!) batch runs to prompt action? Are you truly engaging with your customers or just telling them stuff and only listening when they want to buy?
Wherever your business is at in these areas, I wish you well in your journey of customer experience and value improvement.