TITANS WIN!?!

My husband, my dear, dear husband, is a Titans fan. Yes, we live in Pittsburgh. Yes, we were born and raised in Pittsburgh. Yes, the Titans are awful. I vowed to love him forever, so I support his love for the Titans and decided to schedule a Nashville weekend to see a game for his birthday ((I’ll take any reason to visit Nashville I can!)). This past weekend was that weekend, so we dropped the twins off at G’s, and flew to Nashville for the weekend. After a drunk fun night exploring Broadway Street (I swear the minute you graduate college, your hangover’s multiply by 101092092x), we woke up Sunday to drag ourselves over to the stadium. Maybe I was the only one dragging, I don’t remember but let me just say I am by no means a die-hard Steeler’s fan, but come on, the Titans?!

Anyways..

For our final blog post, I am going to analyze my Titan’s Home Game experience with my new found expertise (or something like that) in Service Marketing.

Let me just preface my analysis by saying that I’ve attended a few Steeler games in my day, as well as a lot of Pitt games, so I have grounds for some football game comparison.

It’s important to start out with some pre-12/6 home game statistics of the Tennessee Titans. Before playing Jacksonville on Sunday, the Titan’s had a record of 2-9. In 2014 their record was 2-14. Their last home win was on October 12th, 2014 (400 some days ago). Not exactly the ideal scenario for booming ticket sales. Not to mention, I purchased seats 8 rows up from the 50 for ~$130/ticket. That price may get me in the stadium at Heinz (a little exaggeration here, but you get the idea).

Upon hearing those statistics it’s hard to believe there are even people at the games, but there were, and surprisingly fans keep coming. The stadium averages a fill percentage of 90%. This may be close to the lowest in the NFL, but it brings up a great discussion point – the Titan’s (and any service industry) have to be able to identify who their best customers are, especially in circumstances where the “product” may not be enough to encourage sales. In How to Identify the Best Customers for Your Business, the first criterion for success is being able to distinguish what type of customer you have, Transaction vs. Relationship Buyers. In the case of the Titan’s, I would equate the transaction buyers to the single game buyers. Season ticket holders would be the Relationship Buyers. As the article recommends, the Titan’s should treat their single ticket holders differently from their season ticket holders. The single ticket holders, as myself, are not all that interested in long-term solutions, hence, the marketing focus should be on gaining single ticket sales by reducing the cost of one transaction. I would recommend they act on this by offering parking, or food discounts to lessen the cost of the overall game day experience. Additionally, for their season ticket holders, who are more interested in the long term attributes, I would recommend they focus on the experience – separate, shorter lines, season parking passes, as well as ease of selling their season tickets as well. Not living in Nashville, it’s hard to gain experience in a weekend to all the Titan’s marketing strategies, but I did see some in-game advertisements geared towards their season ticket holders.

A second piece to this puzzle, is not just knowing what type of customer they have, but who that customer is. For example, the Titan’s featured several ways to get families at the game involved – Kid’s Camera (looking for kids at the game), Sign Making, Kid’s Half Time featuring Different age kids throwing the football. This ties directly in with Why Customer Participation Matters. This article states that increasing customer participation in their service business is an effective, underutilized tool to increase customer satisfaction. I thought the Titan’s used this appropriately. I do think where they can improve is getting more involvement from different customer segments (i.e. millennials). This can be utilized through social media. The article also states that to be more successful, the customer must also feel like they get some benefit for participation. An example of managing this could be using Instagram, and a hash-tag with pictures to win tickets, or something similar.

Overall, from my “expert” lens, I’d have to say that no matter how effective a team is marketed in the NFL, if they are not a winning team, they will not be a winner in ticket sales. However, I do believe all is not dictated by a winning record, and there is large merit in creating an effective marketing and consumer experience. The Titan’s went on to win Sunday’s game 42-39, and ended a 400+ day home losing streak. I admit that even though it wasn’t the best football I’ve seen in my life, it was rather infectious to be surrounded by fan’s who finally received a win they’d been waiting for. It’s those fans that the Titan’s Team should be celebrating as well — because, well, life ain’t easy being a Titan’s fan.

56816605

 

Productivity means more than just producing, obviously.

Productivity is defined as an economic measure of output per unit of input. Relatively speaking, you’re less productive if it takes 4 engineers to change a lightbulb (I’m an engineer, it’s an inside joke if you didn’t chuckle), and you’re more productive if your pet robot changes that lightbulb milliseconds after it goes out. After reading “Should Your Business Be Less Productive”, I admit I was a little confused; possibly because I didn’t fully understand what “productivity” exactly was, and why the article hinted at it having an inverse relationship with labor. To me, productivity was all about getting the most done in the shortest amount of time, I never considered the amount of effort though it takes to put in. It all clicked when I eventually looked up the definition, hopefully my painfully obvious example helped clarify this for you as well (if you were even confused as I was).

The article gives an excellent table (like I said, I’m an engineer, I like tables) of scenarios depending on your business structure, what the optimal amount of productivity to return the highest profitability. I happen to work in healthcare, in a segment that is currently undergoing several reimbursement changes to ultimately cut costs for insurance companies. One example of this is regarding COPD. ((Today is World COPD day, check out this video my company put together, it’s a tear jerker!)) Long story short (I’m going to heavily stereotype/generalize for you), think of your grandparents who have smoked their whole lives – trouble breathing, very wheezy cough – that’s COPD. Recently, the government is now penalizing Hospitals with readmission penalties for COPD patients that return to the hospital within 30 days. This had led to hospitals establishing care programs for COPD patients, to ultimately increase their quality of life, thus reducing hospital admissions. So where does Healthcare, as a service, fit into the productivity discussion?

If you look at the four categories Rust and Huang discuss you would see that Healthcare as a whole, does not necessarily fit into the High Service or Low Service Productivity Buckets. I would argue that it would lean slightly to the right on the +Service Productivity side.

Categories Healthcare as a Service
Market Concentration High
Wages High
Profit Margin Medium
Price Increasing

 

So how should healthcare appropriately find that balance between productivity and balance? This article titled “Productivity? In Healthcare?” I found tackles this discussion. The author, Joe Flower, works to disprove the misnomer that you cannot improve Healthcare’s productivity. He argues a 2012 book, where the author argues that Healthcare cannot be replaced by automation or technology (which equals higher productivity). In order for Healthcare to increase profitability, I believe it is not through increased labor (more doctors, more nurses), and tonight’s reading assignment and the government agree with me (don’t worry, I won’t bring up Obamacare).

I’ll give an example of how I think technology could help Healthcare find a better balance, because I’m immersed in Healthcare and technology every day. One word: Telehealth. Whether this is a skype with your doctor, or your doctor monitoring your medical devices (think ventilators all the way to weight scales), telehealth is huge now. It reduces costs (seeing more patients quicker, monitoring sick patients), and increases productivity significantly. I think you will find this happening more and more, and eventually, an ideal balance between customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability will be reached!

 

Service Success: AirBNB

Working my whole work life in a product industry, I have very limited knowledge of what it’s like to be successful in a service industry. As of 11/28 at 8:20pm, I have acquired two whole hours of service success knowledge. I did however, find these two hours very informing, and was able to draw one big parallel between having a successful product and running a successful service; know your customers. In a service industry, knowing your customers has to go a little bit further than just knowing their age, and income. Ok, I’m simplifying here, but really, instead of just knowing your customers, you actually have to manage them in a service. What does this mean exactly?

Well, searching through my News app on my Iphone (love the new update by the way!), the first story happens to deal with a fast growing service business – Airbnb. Before reading this article, Airbnb gave me the creeps – mostly from the “I’m going to pay you to stay in your bed, that I have no idea what you do there” point of view. There must be $25.5 billion dollars worth of disagreeance (is this not a word?!)  with me though, based on the company’s latest valuation over the summer. To summarize this specific article, Hilton’s CEO Christopher Nassetta says that he is in no way, shape, or form threatened by Airbnb stating that they will never be able to replicate what Hilton is doing. By the way, Hilton was valued at at a measly 1/2 billion dollars less than Airbnb. Let’s go back to my point on knowing your customer, and managing them. What better way to explain what “managing your customer” means than by giving examples. In Hilton’s case, they need to manage their customer’s expectations and experiences. According to Frances X. Frei, they state that managing customer’s is one of the four critical elements to being successful in a service industry, and its crucial to keeping costs low and quality high. Back to Hilton examples for real this time, Hilton has its customers do several things; make their own reservations and incentivize them to make their own beds by turning down housekeeping (or hanging up their towels), just to name a few. They also have to manage their expectations, because this could lead to poor publicity, which we know could spread like rapid fire. What Nassetta fails to mention in his article, is what Airbnb is doing right in regards to managing it’s customers. First, Airbnb’s customers also double as employees. Their business model, for anyone who doesn’t know, relies on people signing up as “Hosts”, and then people looking for a place to stay, and go and book a stay at these host’s house, whether it’s a one room stay, or an entire house stay. Airbnb reaches all over the globe, and has grown tremendously year over year. They rely on guest’s reviews and prices; almost always being significantly cheaper than Hilton.

According to Frei, another one of the four things to being successful is having a good employee management system. So to me, it seems Hilton and Airbnb both are managing their customers well but where Airbnb is excelling is their successful combination of customer and employee management. They are able to keep costs of employment very low, by having the Host/employee’s taking a lot of this own their own, thus making it a much more attractive place to stay, at such a lower price. Something else I found in my research of Airbnb, is that they promote the global experience, the camaraderie of sharing a space, and making new friends in new culture. Something, Hilton does not offer. With a generation of Millennials on their side, Airbnb has a lot to offer.

So Mr. Nassetta, I will tell you this – You may not be worried now, but I might want to start considering them a threat before it’s too late.

.. and from my point of view, I may just look into getting over my bed cootie fear.. maybe.