Waiting Customer are Unhappy Customers

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I’ve been a basketball fan and player as long as I can remember. I had the full sized Dr. J poster on my bedroom door growing up and The Iceman staring at me from my wall. I grew up watching Phi Slamma Jamma and the Houston Rockets and have been trying to build the same love of the game in my two sons, working with them in the driveway and coaching their junior high basketball teams for several years (you should see my collection of basketball strategy and coaching books and DVDs). Now, as a Dallas resident, I follow the Mavericks and have enjoyed watching Mark Cuban mold the team – good or bad, it’s always interesting.

Early last year, we were pretty excited to learn that the NBA All Star Game would be played in the new Dallas Cowboy stadium. Devoid of a corporate sponsor for the moment, it’s affectionately known as “JerryWorld” and to some as the “Deathstar.” Whatever you call it, it’s an incredible facility and boasts the largest video screen in the world (see the picture above). In the stadium’s football configuration, the board stretches from 20 yard line to 20 yard line and forms an 11,000+ ft diagonal HD image!

While I’m definitely a fan of the Jerry-Tron, there are aspects of the stadium that are not as nice. It is incredibly confusing to get from level to level in the stadium and several levels are not connected contiguously so you can’t walk all the way around the stadium at certain levels. Not a very customer-friendly design.

Another thing that was very surprising was the wait to get into the stadium. As expected, the security was tight and tents were set up to facilitate TSA-style screening – no big deal. What was amazing was that the wait was about 60 minutes and that there were no signs or staff members managing the line or informing (or – gasp – even entertaining) the guests. What an opportunity for the master-marketers Jones and Cuban to sell some gear, some season tickets or whatever. To top it off, my friend who we were sitting with arrived 45 minutes later and walked right in another entrance! He said there were NO wait times.

This got me thinking that for a stadium with a $1.5 Billion price tag would support the investment with a model of superior customer service. The Cowboy Stadium could learn a lot from fellow Dallas businessman and Lexus dealer Carl Sewell. With a few people and some walkie-talkies this problem could have been licked.

Or, in this labor sensitive economy, maybe there is a technology solution? How about some basic IR sensors posted along the light posts next to the line like those used in banks or airports and a simple wait time display? This type of technology would also boost the overall security profile of the facility and grounds. Given that the stadium boasts the largest video screen in the world, maybe sprinkle some cameras and smaller displays around the exterior of the building too? Or, how about offering a location-aware iPhone app to help people find the best entrance, locate their seats, order food, and find the concession they are looking for?

When you first begin to engage your customer, why not set the stage that you care about them and you want their business and longer term relationship? Give them some helpful information about their visit – wait times, seat locations, etc. to get them ready to do more business with you.

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  • Interesting post. Shame the Jerrytron (he he) didn’t have customer engagement built in eh? Modern technology needs a human touch.

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