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The Most Important Play Your Team Can Make

Rothlisberger Steelers handoff In every organization that serves guests on a variety of levels, a handoff of some kind occurs. This is when one employee finishes his responsibilities with a customer and then “hands off” that patron to the next staff member. These specific moments can go one of two ways: Fantastic or horrific.

Here are five key actions in which a smooth handoff can make all the difference in the world. (Note that while this particular example was used for the customer-relations staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the ideas can be applied across multiple industries.)

1. Buying the Ticket

The first step involves the purchase of a game ticket. If the ticket agent is positive, friendly and enthusiastic about her job, not only will she sell the ticket, she’ll offer insight into making seating choices by asking questions such as “Do you like seats in the middle of the field, or do you prefer to be in the shade?” An astute salesperson will prepare for the handoff by recommending the best place to park and the best gate to enter based on that specific seat location. Offering a detailed map of the stadium or a fan guide to the ticket buyer is a nice touch.

2. Parking at the Event

When sports fans arrives at a game, they’re smiling because they already know the best place to park. When the parking attendant greets them and directs them into the assigned space in a pleasant manner, the good vibes are on a roll. If the parking lot attendant notices fans carrying a large bag of goodies and a big thermos or cooler, they should politely remind fans about what is allowed into the stadium and what is not. Adding “I thought you would want to know before you got all the way up there” can help avoid an ugly confrontation later.

3. Entering the Stadium

When fans reach the gate with a long line, security personnel can take preventive action by clarifying bottle guidelines with fans. This allows a patron time to drink or dispose of whatever must be gone before entering and thus avoid holding up the line. This also helps the process run smoother for ticket takers.

4. Finding the Seats

Once inside the stadium, ushers can begin positive relationships with fans in their section by offering assistance in finding their seats. Simple reminders for fans to take their tickets with them if they leave the section will help avoid delays or possible altercations after a quick dash to the restroom or a visit to a concessions area.

5. Assistance with Concessions

When merchandise vendors know where specialty foods can be purchased and direct fans to the correct location, concessions workers often return the favor by directing buyers to a specific cart or store that sells particular sports paraphernalia. After all, one good turn deserves another.

When this kind of synergy isn’t happening, the entire game-day experience becomes a nightmare for fans. Let’s look at what might happen in the above scenario were solid handoff strategies not in place. Imagine the decrease in ticket sales with just one encounter like this:

The ticket seller doesn’t explain where to park or where to enter the stadium, so the family of fans misses kickoff. When the family finally arrives at the gate, a security guard tells them bottles and other carry-ins are not allowed and sends them back to their vehicle. After finally settling into his seat, the little boy in the family decides he wants Dippin’ Dots, but none of the employees on the concourse know where the Dippin’ Dots cart is located. After settling for regular ice cream, the usher won’t allow the father and son back into their section because Mom has their tickets.

What are the chances of that family becoming season ticket holders — or even coming back for another game? Probably pretty slim!

Whether you are overseeing an NFL game, running a special event or managing a guest relations staff, there is always a handoff from teammate to teammate.

Are your players aware of the important role they each play in this process?

(Photo by Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons)

About Ruby Newell-Legner

As a Fan Experience Expert, Ruby helps leaders in sports, leisure and entertainment build strong teams between front line staff and management, and make exceptional customer service a way of life. She has consulted with and designed customized training programs for more than 60 sports and entertainment venues, 80 leisure facilities and 29 professional sports teams. From the only 7 Star Hotel in the world to Convention Centers, from Denver to Dubai, Ruby brings unprecedented expertise and insight on how to create a service culture that motivates employees and promotes customer loyalty and retention.

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