I recently had the honour of being the guest presenter at the ACTIVE Speaker Series in London. My session focused on how organisers of mass participation events  can achieve further growth by becoming more customer-led.  During my presentation I zoomed in on 2 of the 8 principles of customer-led sport: customer understanding and designing outside-in.

Mass participation events – customer understanding

Having relevant and up-to-date customer understanding is vital for designing compelling customer experiences. This customer understanding can be developed in many ways. The two I focused on in my presentation were:

Participant lifestages

For each sport and activity, all potential participants stand on 1 of 6 steps. At the bottom of the staircase is ‘uninterested’ and at the top is ‘adopted the lifestyle’. This model is similar to the Sport England behaviour change model, but with one important distinction: it’s specific to each sport. So you can have someone who has adopted the lifestyle for swimming or playing football, but they are only developing an interest or even uninterested in running.

Real-time feedback

Becoming customer-led means tuning into the on-going comments and expectations of customers. Many events are missing out on getting real-time customer feedback because:

  • A significant number of participants still stay silent, choosing to just walk away rather than share feedback with the organisers
  • The remaining participants are sharing their feedback across several different channels – surveys, direct emails, face-to-face, online review sites and social media posts.

To better understand our customers, we need to ask more and listen better. It still amazes me that many events don’t ask for feedback, either through a survey or through providing a feedback form on their website. I ran on Twitter recently, which showed 76% of event participants felt they were rarely asked for feedback.

Similarly, event organisers can make better use of social media activities by organising the conversations. Many events still don’t have a dedicated hashtag or Twitter account handle. As a result, it’s hard for participants to join a single conversation. Equally it becomes very hard for busy event organisers to monitor and respond to those conversations.

Mass participation events – designing outside-in

Using the customer journey for mass participation events, we discussed the  various steps and decisions that influence the participant’s overall customer experience. This journey has 4 main steps:

  1. Sign-up: customers look for, or hear about, potential events, review their options and then decide to register
  2. Build-up: once accepted they plan their training plan, buy kit, manage injuries and plan/book their travel
  3. Race day: first they must get to the start line (usually via the carpark and loos), complete the race and then find drinks, friends and their kit before heading home
  4. Review: once the race is over there’s still time to share their experiences, decide if they like their race photos and then consider if they will return next time

The presentation slides include looking at each of these stages through the eyes of the customer. They include example customer feedback taken from the MyCustomerLens platform.

Following my presentation we had a great round table discussion, exploring these themes in more detail. Ben Campion from ACTIVE summarised some of these discussions in his LinkedIn post here.

If you would like to download the slide deck from my presentation, here’s the SlideShare link.

And if you’d like to watch the presentation again, here’s the YouTube link.