As I opened my ‘incredibly hard to get Derby Day’ tickets, nearly crying at the receipt for £120, I couldn’t help but wonder about the amount of time and money I have spent over the years following my favourite football team. It got me thinking about whether some businesses & clubs actually respect their customers or see them as nothing more than increased revenue.
I am talking about the increasing price of ‘top flight’ football entertainment and the fact that the cost of attending football has increased more than five times the rate of inflation since last year, with the cheapest adult tickets going up by 11.7%. This is before you even take into consideration ‘matchday essentials’ such as the travel, latest kit, pre match pie, half time programme and cup of Bovril. I will never forget the half time chips and a drink at Wembley a few years back costing more than the travel down to London itself!
Most of the price increases are justified by clubs as going towards player’s wages each week, and yet these are the players who will happily drive past in their Bentleys and ignore the hundreds of 9 year olds waiting for hours in the cold after the game desperate for an autograph – The next generation of fans, most of who will have parents who must be stretching to afford it, must feel a little disheartened.
One of the worst examples I see constantly is clubs switching the days and times of games to suit TV Schedules – usually with little more than a few weeks’ notice. There seems to be no thought towards the supporters who have to travel to these games and make alternative arrangements.
Fans are simply… Customers? Yes. Valued customers? No. Supporters may feel like they are no more than cash cows in a multi-million pound operation.
So after spending £120 on away tickets (this is in addition to the average £600 season ticket may I add) for a game that has been described as passionate, emotional and with an atmosphere that’s hard to beat, you have high expectations of the experience you are getting. Except no, fans are simply seen as a barcode from the second they enter the ground. The average price of a pie and a cup of tea will set you back £6.50 with a matchday programme coming in at £3.50. That is £10 out of your pocket before you have even taken your seat.
Football fans are considered some of the most loyal “customers” in the world. Customers that will pay inflated prices and continue to receive substandard service including overpriced tickets and refreshments. Combine this with uninspiring members of staff and a hierarchical structure that doesn’t listen, makes you wonder if it is even worth going at all. After all, my annual Sky Sports subscription includes a comfy sofa, a fridge and endless supplies of Bovril and comes in at a fraction of the cost.
Even the most loyal customers to a business or brand can lose interest and vote with their feet – and for some businesses or clubs, to operate in this way could mean massive financial consequences.
Businesses need to realise that the only way to retain loyal customers is to exceed expectations and not just meet them.
As Bill Gates once said “Unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”