NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder CLICKs With Its Fans

I attended last night’s Oklahoma City Thunder game to participate in a ceremony awarding the NBA team’s partners with a CX Innovation Award from the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org).

Actually, the Thunder won the award for its fan experience efforts. But the NBA organization feels so strongly about the role that its partners play in the overall experience that it shares these types of awards with partners.

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In addition to the Thunder’s Pete Winemiller, Senior Vice President, Guest Relations and Danny Barth, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, I was joined on the court by Gary Desjardins from SMG, Steven Tamborello from SAVOR, Joe Guthrie from Levy Restaurants, Brandi Plumlee from Force Personnel, Aaron Blum from Gameday Merchandising, and Major Brian Jennings from the Oklahoma City Police Department.

There are actually dozens of partners that create the OKC Thunder fan experience. They collectively help the Thunder achieve its mission to be “the most FAN-centric organization in professional sports.” The Thunder does a great job, it even won a 2012 Temkin Group CX Excellence Award.

The Thunder’s approach to fan experience includes having all front-line team members, from parking to concessions (including police officers assigned to the game), participate in its CLICK™ With Your Guests training program. This is part of the Thunder’s three-step customer experience improvement process: Educate, Evaluate, and Congratulate.

The acronym CLICK! represents the Thunder’s five service principles:

  • Communicate courteously
  • Listen to learn
  • Initiate immediately
  • Create connections
  • Know your stuff

I really enjoyed touring the “on stage” and “off stage” areas of the game with Winemiller. The signage clearly reinforced the team’s message with employees.

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Everywhere we went, we met happy, engaged employees (who worked for many different organizations). Most of them were wearing lanyards around their necks with FAQ’s to answer customer questions, key information for their jobs, and the CLICK! Principles. On the back of their CLICK! With Your Guests cards was a note or picture that each person had created for themselves, which identified something that they wanted to do above and beyond the “non-negotiable” CLICK! principles.

I witnessed one team member receiving a CLICK! Chip, which recognizes employees for doing a little thing that makes a big difference for fans. Winemiller called these “employee of the moment awards.” Once employees receive four chips, they can redeem them for an “I CLICK! With My Guests” pin and select one of many unique gifts not available to the general public (a few employees were sporting a very sharp-looking Thunder scarf). Here’s one of those employees, Tori, who had just selected a set of headphones for her prize (notice the branding on the bag).

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Thunder employees can also win monthly Fan Favorite and employee of the year awards.

Winemiller calls complaints free consulting. That’s why the Thunder collects feedback in many ways including intercept surveys at the game, post-game surveys, secret shoppers, text messages, comment/complaint cards, and several visible guest relations booths. And they act on what they learn. After every game, the Thunder meet with leaders from their partner organizations on the floor to discuss any issues or lessons learned that they can use to improve the next game’s experience.

I really enjoyed the game, and need to give a special shout out to Kaylee Lonsinger, Guest Communication Coordinator, who helped make this fan’s experience so wonderful. I even had a special visitor come to my seat.

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The bottom line: Do your employees CLICK! with customers?

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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