Batting 1.000

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It's like night and day. That's how Tom Sheridan, manager of ticket sales for the Chicago White Sox, describes the difference between how the major league baseball team deals with its season tickets holders now and how it managed those valuable customers prior to having a CRM system. "Before CRM it was like the old stories of walking uphill 10 miles in the snow to get to school," Sheridan says. "Now we are generating birthday cards that are automatically sent to season ticket holders. It's amazing." Six years ago the White Sox organization realized that if it could get a better handle on its fan base--particularly season ticket holders and those looking for group tickets--it would lead to more sales and better customer retention. The team draws millions of fans every year and already had a prospecting base of hundreds of thousands of potential ticket buyers, but was still using paper and file folders to manage the information. Each of the account executives was responsible for nearly 600 accounts and 600 seats in group accounts. Sheridan says it was hard to keep on top of all the information--especially since the team was receiving 50 to 75 calls per day from season ticket holders. So, the White Sox implemented ACT! as a contact management solution. But it outgrew ACT! just two years later, according to Don Brown, director of management information systems for the White Sox. "Our volume was outstripping the capabilities of the product. We had more than 150,000 leads," Brown says. The organization moved to GoldMine, from FrontRange Solutions. The team maintains several GoldMine databases to keep track of its leads. The main ticket sales database comprises people who have called and expressed interest in purchasing tickets. The direct mail database consists of purchased leads and names obtained from contests, and serves as a source of telemarketing leads. Once prospects express interest in coming to a game, their contact records are transferred to the main ticket sales database. Today there are more than 30,000 records in the main ticket sales database, and more than 100,000 in the direct mail database. The Sox' inbound and outbound call teams use these databases to solicit season tickets, group sales, company outings, suites, and events for the party areas. But the Sox use GoldMine to do more than just track leads. The organization initially had 15 users on GoldMine. It has since expanded into its marketing, suite-holder relations, and community relations departments, so GoldMine is used to manage season ticket holder relationships by transferring information stored in the Ticketmaster system. For example, the White Sox track season ticket holder's seat locations, create dates (to locate people by the year that they purchased tickets), and record birthdays (to send out birthday cards). They also track whether the ticket holders have purchased memberships to the Stadium Club. In addition, the Sox keep track of demographic information like the number of customers that take the Chicago Transit Authority, as opposed to driving cars. This information was critical in helping the Sox in its efforts to track traffic. The Sox also use GoldMine, in conjunction with Ticketmaster, to keep track of the number of games attended by each customer and how many children are in each home, allowing the team to send information about the club's Kid Days to those families with children. GoldMine affords the Sox the ability to be more service-oriented toward its season ticket holders, instead of bombarding them with impersonal, mass mailings. The Sox are better able to target customers' needs, since every conversation with every season ticket holder is tracked in GoldMine, Brown says. Sheridan, who started out as an account executive before becoming manager of ticket sales, says that Goldmine took the pressure off the sales representatives and dealing with season ticket holders. Now these account executives are free to focus on new sales and better customer service. The Sox are also using GoldMine to keep track of the 10,000 lost items that are left at the stadium every year. Julie Taylor, director of guest services for the White Sox, had a systems analyst at the White Sox customize GoldMine's interface so her interns could log found items using the system. GoldMine now tracks the date an item was found, what it looks like, and where a White Sox staff member picked it up. The items are then labeled and stored in a bin. Taylor estimates that since April 2002, when the software was deployed, her department has been able to return to visitors 50 percent more lost items then last year. "It has taken six years to get here," Brown says. "But this is an evolutionary process that will continue to improve. It's like flying an airplane that can't land." The Payoff The White Sox have progressed from paper and file folders to ACT! to GoldMine. Today the team is growing sales and increasing satisfaction by: 1. Using GoldMine in its marketing, suite-holder, and community relations departments, and to transfer information from Ticketmaster to its own system. 2. Better targeting customer needs by tracking all conversations with season ticket holders. 3. Tracking customer data like birthdays and demographics to better manage everything, from relationships to traffic. 4. Cataloging lost items. The organization has been able to return 50 percent more lost items than last year.
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