A Championship experience

As it’s my last pre-Christmas blog, I thought I’d stray from the world of communications, albeit briefly, and into the national pastime where I think there is a lesson to be learnt for all those involved in providing a  customer service of some description. OK, it’s about football, but hang in there…

An East Anglian occasion
I confess, I’m an irregular attendee of Championship football and sometime supporter of Ipswich Town. Now, they aren’t doing very well at present. Post Roy Keane, the optimism of a golden spring dawn has given way to the gun metal grey, late afternoon clammy embrace of an East Anglian winter’s day, and a team labouring under the Jewell encrusted outfit of 2011-12.

But, ever the optimist, I set out on my biannual pilgrimage last weekend to Portman Road to check on progress: Ipswich v Derby. I know, the prospect will set every devotee of the
beautiful game salivating at the prospect.

As I stood at the pre-match and unheated communal stainless steel troughs where gentlemen tend to congregate before the game, I contemplated the outlook for the game. Fast flowing, technically superb football in front of a packed house and a great

Taking my seat (soaked from a recent downpour), I soon realised that none of these expectations would come to pass (in fact few of the players could actually manage a pass). And the sparse crowd were ‘rewarded’ by a drab, goalless first half display from either

A pie and a pint
Still, there’s the half time pie and pint to look forward to – except the queue is so long that the chances of being served in a quarter of an hour look remote (football still hasn’t quite realised that most people will come for a half time refreshment at…half time). Surely it is not beyond the catering team to work out a way of distributing their wares in a slightly more efficient way. After all, the more they sell, the more they make! And you don’t need to be John Maynard Keynes to figure out those rudimentary economics.

Fast forward and full time is blown. An iffy goal, and an unconvincing win for the Town, where the goalie seems unacquainted with the measured throw out and more wedded to an agricultural hoof up field, but at least, I consoled myself, the players would come over, give us a wave and generally thank us for sending them on their way in their Astons, Beamers, Jags… oh, no, it appears they don’t do that either any more.

How much for this thankless experience? £26 for the finest of match day tickets, £16 for the best seat National Express can offer – and the crowd for the game? Just over 17,000, one of the lowest of the season. Now, why that would be I just can’t imagine.

Mary Portas scores
It wouldn’t take Mary Portas to work out where the customer experience might be found wanting; although at least Mary Portas gets stuck in which is more than can be said for the 22 plus players on show at Portman Road last weekend.

Apparently Gandhi once said (although I find it slightly bizarre that the ‘Father of the Indian nation’ would take time off from over throwing the British to lecture on customer
service): “A customer is the most important visitor on our
premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an
interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider of our
business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is
doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.”

This could of course equate to the poor, benighted Ipswich crowd, we are the customers after all. Gandhi promoted a non-violent form of civil disobedience and for the luckless supporters of many a football club that equates to simply staying at home with your feet up and watching Strictly Come Dancing. Come to think of it, Russell Grant looked quite nimble on his feet…sign him up Tractor Boys, sign him up.

Thanks for reading and a Happy Christmas and New Year to one and all.

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