The curtain came down on AFCON 2013 as the Super Eagles of Nigeria scooped the prestigious cup. I can make this statement safely- People love football. A 90 000 seater stadium was full to capacity. I visited my young brother Nick on one weekend and arrived while he was watching the AFCON quarter final match between Nigeria and Ivory Coast. He greeted me with a wide smile and eyes glued to the TV screen. I got proper and enthusiastic attention only after the match, and I owe it to Nigeria’s win. The story could have been different had they lost. Needless to say, the excitement would spill over into the office the following day, as he would have proved to most of his colleagues that he supports a winning team despite the fact that Ivory Coast was a starred team and most workmates would put their money on it. So having witnessed this contagious enthusiasm, I decided to watch the final match, not essentially to support a team but to support the supporters- my brother in particular. As I sat there watching the match, because my mind thinks more service than football, I could not help but learn a few customer service lessons from football. I just picked 5 here for discussion.
1. Giving the best to your customers pays.
People would not pay money to come and watch stuff that wastes their time. Supporters derive value from watching football. If you deliver value for money products or services, people are willing to pay for them. Players would probably not play as hard as they would if the stadium was empty. Doing things well, creates followers for your brand. If you work on creating value that people are willing to pay for, the number of people around you who expect that value consistently will start working on you. Their support energises you to do more, better. If you give good service to your customers, it grows the personality of your brand and it also fattens your bank account.
2. Create Raving Fans.
Football gives birth to more than just supporters. It gives birth to loyalists, brand advocates and Raving Fans. Even if their team is not the one in the lead, they keep supporting, singing, chanting slogans with the hope that it’s not over until it’s over. Loyal customers grow a business. They give their allegiance to one brand. They spend their money on you and not on your competition. They are brand advocates who will never testify against your brand but stand to defend it from anyone who suggests doing so. They take over your brand and make it theirs. They brand their face, clothes, musical instruments etc with your colours and logos just to show to whom they are affiliated. Would your customers do the same with your brand? Do they love you to this extent that they want to tell the whole world that they are proud to be associated with you? You may also want to check this article which I wrote on creating Raving Fans.
3. The Platinum Rule of Customer Service.
The Platinum Rule of customer service says “Do unto the customer as the customer wants done unto them”. In a bid to please your customers, maintain integrity and your customers will respect you for fair play. Climb to the top without pulling others down. Accumulating yellow cards and red cards against your opponents and competition makes you accumulate yellow cards and red cards from your customers too. Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.
4. Customers want service not excuses.
When fans come to support you, they are expecting a win- full stop. Except for a few people like my brother, most people don’t handle defeat well. It usually comes packaged in tears, taking out the anger and frustration on children, spouse, co-workers etc. Fans are not concerned with the fact that the pitch ground was uneven or the ball was not as round as it should be. When customers come to you, they don’t want excuses of why a quality product or service cannot be delivered. They want results, so deliver to their satisfaction.
5. Team -Work scores the goals.
Though on that Sunday, Sunday Mba took the ball home for Super Eagles, it was not his effort alone that brought the AFCON Cup to their camp. Some were leading from within-Captain, and others from outside-Coach. Fellow team members; strikers, midfielders and defenders all played a role in sending defeat packing. In an organization, everyone should work to the benefit of the organization. Be concerned about the goal not the fame. A lot of progress would be achieved if people did not concentrate on who gets the credit. After all, none of us can be everything though each one of us is something. Play your part and Together Everyone Achieves More!
Just as the Super Eagles have soared to great heights, I pray that you may also soar to great heights in 2013 in your endeavours and customer service efforts. If fans can love a team that much and would dare to make it known even if the players themselves don’t even know the fans by name, how much more love shall you extend to people who know you by name and more still to One who knew you before you were made in your mother’s womb-God!(Jeremiah 1v5).
Now Your Turn. Share the Customer Service lessons that you have learnt from soccer.