I was recently talking with Kevin Kahn, Chief Customer Officer and Vice President of Ballpark Operations of the Colorado Rockies. Kevin leads a cross-functional group that focuses on delivering great experiences for sponsors, employees, and guests (I like that they refer to someone who goes to their park as a “guest” which the Meriam-Webster dictionary defines as “a person to whom hospitality is extended.”)
His vision was clear: to make Coors Field the safest, cleanest, most family-friendly facility in professional sports.
During our discussion, Kevin told me a story that he felt showcased how empowered and committed the Rockies employees were to delivering a great guest experience:
At one of the Rockies’ home games, a guest lost the keys to his car. An employee took him in his car to the guest’s house to get a spare key and then drove him back to the park — an hour each way!
How do the Colorado Rockies create an environment where this type of experience can happen? Kevin provided a few insights into the answer:
- Executive commitment. According to Kevin, the guest experience has always been the primary focus of the Rockies. Why is that? Because the Rockies’ President makes it clear to the entire organization that it’s critical.
- Employee communications and training. Recognizing that employees influence many moments of truth for its guests, the ballclub focuses on communicating with employees (including daily briefings) and it puts a lot of time and effort into training — which actually includes some role playing.
- Employee recognition. The ballclub looks for ways to provide an enhanced experience for its employees. Besides bonus programs and highlighting special efforts by employees, the Rockies also try to find ways to connect employees to the overall business. Some of their programs: players give autographs at employee entrance gates and the General Manager and scouting team (who focus on the players) meet with the employees to discuss the strategy and goals of the team.
- Cross-functional cooperation. The team recognizes that the guest experience depends on a number of internal organizations like ticketing, retail operations, and baseball operations as well as partners like foodservice provider Aramark, the parking service, and the local police. That’s why Kevin leads a cross-functional group that works collectively to raise the level of service for the guests.
As everyone around me knows, I’m a huge Boston Red Sox fan (Kevin was willing to speak with me anyway). I go to a number of games at Fenway Park throughout the season and have run into many less-than-ideal experiences at the park. Maybe it’s because there’s no Chief Customer Officer on the Red Sox executive team. My advice to the Red Sox and ALL sports teams: Follow the Rockies lead.
The bottom line: Fans have to deal with both wins and losses, but “guests” shouldn’t have to deal with anything less than a great experience.