Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Customer is #1

Imagine you sell something that is in such demand that people will camp out in rain and freezing temperatures for 3 nights in order to be in line to buy it. And then imagine that those waiting to spend their hard-earned money on your product actually have fun while waiting for all those hours.
That's exactly the position the Cincinnati Reds are in. They have created just such a product, but it's not all about getting tickets for Opening Day. It's not just about the game.
The owners of the Reds, led by Bob Castellini, adhere to the philosophy that the customer is the number one priority. The management team and the marketing department never forget that the success of the team is directly related to the satisfaction of the fans. This morning on Fountain Square, I witnessed the Reds customer service program in action.
I arrived a little before 7:00 am. Those who had spent the night in tents and sleeping bags were starting to pack up, and a quiet line of fans snaked around the Square. I had hardly found my place at the end of the line, when the John Morrell Rally Pack team showed up with coffee and doughnuts for everyone in sight. Reds highlights began playing on the big screen tv overhead as fans began to really anticipate the start of the 9:00 am ticket sale. Soon, the mascots Mr. Red, Rosie Red, and Gapper began to mingle among the crowd. Rosie Red and Mr. Red each spent at least 10 minutes entertaining two young boys near me in line, throwing a ball and pretending to steal the boys doughnuts. The father grinned from ear to ear because he knew, even if he couldn't get the coveted tickets, his kids were making Reds memories that would last a long time. Next the Rally Pack Team passes out Reds towels to everyone and conducted a trivia contest with autographed prizes for the winners. At exactly 9:00 am, the line started to move in a very orderly fashion. The Reds were well-staffed to sell the tickets efficiently in a big tent out of the weather. Each successful purchaser who emerged from the tent with tickets in hand was high-fived and cheered by the mascots and the Rally Pack.
After about 25 minutes, I was within a few people of the ticket tent, but unfortunately, my part of the story doesn't have a good ending. The Reds spokesman took the microphone and announced with regret that the 1500 tickets were, in fact, sold out. Sure, I was among the disappointed, but I felt my 2 hours were well-spent as I got another good lesson in customer service. The Reds didn't have to distribute coffee, doughnuts, and towels. They didn't have to bring the spirit crew and a full contingent of ticket sellers. They would have easily sold the tickets without any of the extras. However, the extras are what made me feel as if my experience was worthwhile, and the extras are what made me think the Reds care about ME.
What a good lesson for any business...Show the customer that he's #1, and you'll be way ahead of the game.


  1. The Bengals should take a few notes.

  2. We're on the same wavelength, Craig. Thanks for taking the time to comment.