REDMOND, Wash. — March 20, 2013 — In only its fifth season, the Oklahoma City Thunder already possesses one of the best home court atmospheres in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
In 2008, Oklahoma City began building an NBA franchise from the ground up, aiming to develop a sports institution deeply rooted in the city’s culture and identity. To generate and maintain fan loyalty, the Thunder also strove to create an experience that went beyond just having a great basketball team.
“We knew we needed a business strategy that focused on our fans,” said Scott Loft, vice president of Ticket Sales, Retention and Database Operations for Oklahoma City Thunder. “Our vision was to make the Thunder the most fan-centric organization in professional sports. When fans enter the Chesapeake Energy Arena for a Thunder home game, we want them to feel like guests rather than customers or numbers.”
Plans to deliver exceptional customer service were executed to personalize the fan experience. The Thunder customer service team promoted various campaigns, collected metric-based research data and shaped its training programs. To succeed in these efforts the team needed a user-friendly customer relationship management (CRM) system to help manage all aspects of guest satisfaction.
The franchise selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 over Salesforce.com because of its flexibility, ease of use, integration capabilities and lower total cost of ownership. The Thunder wanted to use the industry-standard Ticketmaster solution for ticketing, and Hitachi Solutions helped the Thunder build a Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation that wrapped every touch point of the fan experience process around the ticketing package.
“We used Microsoft Dynamics CRM to design a CRM system that allows us to personalize our fan experience,” Loft said. “It provides our staff the right tools and knowledge to create memorable guest experiences.”
This focus has paid off. According to the team’s Net Promoter Score (NPS), a system that helps businesses measure customer satisfaction, the Thunder has an NPS of 91.2 percent — more than twice as high as the NBA average.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM created accountability within and standardization of the company’s guest care best practices and now serves as the centralized repository for all customer information, providing a 360-degree view of franchise guests. The Thunder also uses four additional solutions that work with Microsoft Dynamics CRM to verify data that closely measures guest satisfaction.
“We endeavor to provide a memorable experience that keeps fans coming back for more,” said Karlis Kezbers, director of Season Ticket Retention for the Thunder. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can do just that by creating fun fan experiences even outside basketball season. The opportunities to enhance the guest experience in a nonbasketball setting are endless.”
More than 18,000 fans visit the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thunder game nights. The team’s CRM system contains preferences for thousands of fans, which helps customer service representatives tailor each guest’s individual experience. Microsoft Dynamics CRM has allowed the Thunder to capture valuable personal data about guests through a Season Ticket Member Preference Center.
All data from that preference center and an online survey program are transferred in real time as captured into Microsoft Dynamics CRM, making it easy to view important information individually. To date, the team has had 60 percent of its season ticket base provide basic information about their favorite players, favorite opponents, birthdays, family members’ information and lifestyle activities, such as hobbies, favorite foods and social networking data.
“When guests share their Twitter and Facebook profile names, that opens another channel of engagement between our organization and customers,” Loft said.
The franchise provides guests with the means to keep in touch with the team and other fans via social media and encourages fan feedback through telephone, email and online surveys. This data is fundamental to ensuring the customer support team can consistently improve.
All interactions are compiled into a monthly trending report that delivers a snapshot view of the current level of customer service. At the Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2013 conference in New Orleans, the Thunder shared how these customer satisfaction scores have soared since the team implemented Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In fact, the Thunder has been ranked the top NBA team in terms of the overall fan experience; 99 percent of guests have rated their overall experience as “good” or “excellent.”
“Our loyal fans are the driving force behind everything we do,” Loft said.