For those of us old enough to remember the days where direct customer service was essential and not just an option,  the phrase, “Hello caller, this is the operator, how may I direct your call?” will undoubtedly unlock the memory bank of a long-gone era.

Given the chance, the precise answer to the question of course, would always have been, “efficiently and correctly, thank you very much” but people in those days were far too polite to say so.

Then the world fell in love with the utopian idea of computers doing all the work. It was the start of a new era: Number crunching and connectivity, all in one (heavy) box while the button pusher sipped tea and only spoke when the person next to them offered another biscuit. Technological advances and computerisation eliminated the need for regular personal interaction – sometimes abrupt, sometimes wondrously warm and helpful – and over time the social animal within us began to realise that we actually missed this valuable ‘touch point’. Computerisation was all very well, but there’s nothing like a real, live human.

We haven’t quite gone full circle (heaven forbid) but these days it really is all about making the systems work for us. Computers and their systems must operate in the most efficient and personable way possible and now, people actually demand it. There’s no time for fuss, no time for wasted, irritating and irrelevant interaction, let’s cut to the chase, make an informed choice and get on with life. (Please).

Bingo! That’s where sophisticated management of computerised data puts marketers right in the middle of, ‘The People’s Game.’

In modern day data management, personalisation means two things. Obviously, its important to have the correct data about the correct person but these days customer expectation – and response – requires more than just the bald presentation of ‘the latest offer.’ Now, as a service provider, you have the ability to connect with a customer in two ways. Indirectly, you connect analytically by compiling information that is available from your database of purchases and general interactions which then means you connect directly by making sure your singular approach is tailored to their own individual tastes and desires in a human, acceptable and efficient way. The result of such wondrous organisation is maximisation of the message, greater confidence and acceptance from the recipient and hence, a greater propensity for the approach to be productive. Job done, Mr & Mrs. Smith are happy, pass me another biscuit.

Yes, the personal approach is actually back in vogue.

We’re not quite back at the point where every transaction is automatically presided over by the operator, although that can  – and is – an option and Aston Villa, for example, still use tele-sales to great effect in the right circumstances. Personalisation is a valuable tool which is undoubtedly proven to out-perform the wildly targeted cold selling and mass mail outs that were the result of marketing’s initial dealings with computerisation.

In the 21st century we can ‘do’ sophisticated. The secret of success rests in the initial capturing of accurate data and for our sports club clients, that means data from every available part of the business. It also means that a unique and relevant reference is built up for each and every customer which can then be applied by anyone and any department within the organisation. The key is in the planning and it’s what we as a company preach every single hour of every single day.

Every transaction and interaction from ticketing sales, merchandise website interaction or match day experience outlets is fed into the central CRM for club-wide user benefit and if the user is wired into the whole philosophy, the results will speak for themselves. Do it this way and you’re set up to play the game in a way the modern customer effectively wants.

As one obvious example, this is how Queens Park Rangers approached their season ticket renewal programme last summer and even after relegation from the Premier League, the result of an organised, efficient approach, was record sales achieved at half the cost of the previous year’s campaign. What’s more, the campaign earned them the accolade of “Best/Most Innovative Use Of Technology By A Football Club” at the Football Business Awards in November. It’s a solid sign that creating accurate personal data records and then producing an imaginative personal experience tailored to each individual supporter’s confirmed preferences is totally in line with modern day expectation.

QPR’s use of a personal URL (PURL) to effectively provide a personal webpage for every supporter is extensively covered in the latest edition of the football industry’s business publication, FC Business.  There’s an informative case study which focuses on QPR and the campaign itself and also a wider view of the Sports Alliance philosophy to reflect the whole approach. I’d strongly suggest you find yourself a copy and a spare twenty minutes to digest. On the other hand, we, at Sports Alliance are always available to discuss its implementation at any time!

Clubs and organisations are now looking for methods of communication that are both efficient AND responsible and the new year automatically sees the onset of internal annual planning processes, so what better time to consider a touch of data housekeeping? It’s clear that plans and campaigns in 2014 will undoubtedly revolve around efficiency as well as acceptable and rewarding interaction.

The modern day consumer is both sophisticated and demanding and the Personal URL approach is one avenue that can cover the options. 21st century technology doesn’t need the operator to make the connection every time, but believe me, the consumer’s answer remains the same. “Efficiently and correctly, thank you very much.”

Anthony Khan

MD, Sports Alliance

This blog was originally written and distributed on behalf of client, Sports Alliance and its M.D. Anthony Khan.

Anthony Khan, BA, MBA, was one of the key pioneers of Sports Alliance and its singular approach to data analysis and utilisation. He studied at Yale University in Connecticut between 1984 and 1988 and with one of the world’s foremost business schools, 1992. He is married with three children and regularly uses his academic skills domestically to assist with GCSE prep work.

“Tells it how it is and cuts straight to the detail. Lyndcroft Media is a great fit for Sports Alliance and its own client list of sports clubs. It’s comforting to work with people who clearly understand the landscape.”