May 4

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Nittany Lion Feedback Program Launch

David Millay

May 4, 2021


A first of its kind customer experience program in college athletics just launched today at Penn State. 

For the last few months, the EngageMint team and the Penn State team have been working on this. It’s going to have big impact externally & internally.

https://t.co/B3tyWfTx3f?amp=1

Imagine it as an expanded fan council, focused more on quantity & frequency of feedback, rather than quality and depth. We’ll have a diverse group of 2k fans who volunteer to be surveyed on a frequent basis, on a wide variety of topics, throughout the year.

It’s not a new concept by any means, but it is one of the first in college athletics at this scale (that we know of). It’s a testament to Penn State’s investment in innovation and trying to become more customer-centric every day.

Here are some of the impacts from this program I’m excited about:

Deepen emotional connections w/ fans by allowing them to weigh in on department decisions. That doesn’t mean we’ll always do EXACTLY what fan sentiment tells us, but we’ll always listen & provide updates.

Strengthen trust with fans through transparency. We’re taking a “You Said, We Listened” approach, sharing key insights from the surveys with the group. We’ll try to be just as transparent about what’s NOT being done with the data as what is.

Breaking down silos internally by allowing all departments to submit survey topics. If F&B wants to understand pregame eating habits, we’ll run a survey on that. If development wants to understand deeper motivations towards charitable giving, we’ll run that.

Surveys will be focused on specific, focused topics, but we’ll share that data across the department to make better decisions as one team. It shifts the entire department to become more customer-centric by making decisions grounded in data.

This allows us to make smarter financial investments by testing how the market feels before committing resources to specific projects. Rather than merely thinking a Pet Club is a good idea, we’ll run a survey to understand PSU fan relationships with their pets. (hypothetical)

The experimental nature of the program becomes a vehicle to shift the department culture towards “done is better than perfect.” Too often in traditional industries, everything has to be perfect before it goes out, which often does more harm than good.

With this frequency and high touch, we’ll inevitably make a small screw-up at some point. And we’ll have to recover. But we won’t let that risk detract from our desire to build genuine relationships with fans.

The speed and frequency will force us to improve the efficiency of internal approval processes & workflows and increase employee empowerment. I believe a hassle-filled employee experience is often the biggest barrier to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Penn State Athletics is already is one of the best in the sports at delivering incredible fan experiences, and I’m excited to see them take it up even one notch more. 

If you’d like to find out more about this program, or are interested in starting a similar program at your organization, please reach out. https://t.co/B3tyWfTx3f?amp=1

David Millay

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