Vision Critical Customer EngagementVision Critical wants to help sports teams enhance their customer engagement levels with fans.

Recognized professional sports organizations like the New York Knicks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and NASCAR use Vision Critical’s platform to engage their fans for actionable insight. This platform is known as Vision Critical Insight Communities.

Just last month, Vision Critical also launched Sports Fan Council. Built on Vision Critical’s customer intelligence platform, the Sports Fan Council solution revolutionizes how sports teams engage today’s digitally-savvy fans for insight. Now sports teams can harness the collective wisdom of their fans to tackle key business challenges.

Kobi Ofir, Chief Technology Officer of Vision Critical, talked to Loyalty360 about his company’s main goals around customer engagement. 

How would you describe the current state of sports fan marketing and what trends do you see for the future?

There are two main trends affecting sports organizations and their marketing teams today and in the future. First, consumers have more entertainment options than ever before. From different sports to minor leagues, from movies to plays, consumers are offered many different ways to spend their time and money. Second, no longer are TV viewing options limited like as in the past. The 55-inch TV at home, or a dozen scattered across a sports bar, offer a near real-life experience that is far cheaper and, at times, equally enjoyable. And, for a population on the go, watching via mobile is a very real and Vision Critical Customer Engagementgrowing viewing alternative. For these reasons, sports teams are under pressure to maintain and increase ticket sales, grow fan engagement (on and off season), enhance media and corporate partnerships, and come up with new merchandising ideas. In order to win in this new marketplace, sports teams and their marketing departments will have to look past transactional data and social media—they’ll have to engage directly with their fans over time for feedback and insight to help them make the right decisions.

What factors prompted the creation of the Sports Fan Council and what makes this solution unique as far as customer/fan engagement?

At Vision Critical, we’ve been working with sports teams for years, so we’re familiar with the common challenges they're currently facing, including stalled or declining ticket sales, weakened fan engagement and stagnant corporate partnerships. Over the years, we’ve also witnessed many changes in consumer behavior as it relates to game attendance. For example, consumers have more entertainment options than ever, and they have the luxury of experiencing games at home on their TVs, computers and tablets, or even on the go via their mobile devices. We know that in order for sports teams to be successful in this evolving marketplace, they need to know what fans want at the speed of business, so that they can meet those needs.

We're also aware that many teams tap social listening tools and/or deploy lengthy one-off surveys to better understand what fans prefer and why they do the things they do, but those tactics for gaining true fan intelligence are not accurate, representative or valuable. One-off surveys in particular, are seeing decreased response rates and the pervasive realization that they are one-sided, self-serving and provide only a snapshot in time--not a long-term view of fan behavior. Social media is a good compliment to fan intelligence, but it doesn’t provide a representative view of fan preferences as it only captures the loud minority that is often sharing. Social media also doesn’t allow for team and fan collaboration, and it doesn’t provide a private and secure way for teams to share back with fans how their insight influenced decisions.

Specifically, how does it help sports teams increase sales, engagement, and brand loyalty?

We believe that sales, satisfaction, and brand loyalty are intertwined and are centered on engagement. A core part of engagement is two-way communication between teams and their fans. A team leveraging the Sports Fan Council provides select fans exclusivity via membership and participation. Teams connect with fans through fun and exciting exercises were they can provide input on key team activities, and they can see how their feedback has impacted decisions. The solution creates and maintains a deep relationship between teams and their fans—increasing fan engagement and loyalty. Sales are increased by using the community to optimize ticket offers, test merchandizing concepts, evaluate menu and snack changes, and provide better intelligence about fans to corporate and media partners. 

How many teams are using this solution right now?

Vision Critical has a long history of working with sports teams from the New York Knicks to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Best-practices from existing teams were used to create the Sports Fan Council solution. Newly released into the market, Sports Fan Council is now available for purchase, but at this time we can’t reference any teams publicly. 

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