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Fenway enlists Salesforce to fix sales-and-service communication gap

Fenway Park Events sells outings at Fenway -- but without a CRM system, sales and service were working at cross-purposes.

Fenway Park Events had a problem: Its sales team was flying blind without a customer database. Key account details were falling through the cracks because of shortfalls in technology and a sales-and-service communication gap.

It was 2010 -- well after the Red Sox had cast off the curse of the Bambino. The home of the Red Sox, the iconic Fenway Park, was busier than ever, providing the venue for the NHL Winter Classic, and hosting scenes from blockbuster films The Town and Moneyball. But for everyday fans, Fenway had also become a mecca to celebrate milestones -- from birthdays to corporate events. Customers could rent the park on nongame days and enjoy batting practice on the field.

A customer would say, 'We had our party there two years ago.' And as a salesperson, you think, 'Why don't I know that?'
Carrie Campbellvice president of sales and service, Fenway Park Events

Carrie Campbell joined the sales team at Fenway Park Events to help promote those fan experiences. But she soon stumbled on a grim reality: While she had a service to sell that customers could connect with emotionally, she didn't have the tools to do so effectively. Campbell was getting stalled by a lack of technology.

"There was no customer database, everything was in Excel and we were blocking off events in Outlook," said Campbell, vice president of sales and service at Fenway Park Events for the Boston Red Sox. "I couldn't type in X, Y, Z Company and see if they had ever had an event at Fenway before; it was blind." For Campbell, it was problematic to reach out to prospects or returning customers without knowing their history. She realized that data disconnects were alienating prospects and creating poor customer experience (CX).

Without a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage information about customer accounts, sales calls could hit a bump or two.

"I would start banging the phones and a customer would say, 'We had our party there two years ago.' And as a salesperson, you think, 'Why don't I know that?'" Campbell recalled.

The CX dividing line

As companies try to find a sliver of competitive advantage, they have come to recognize that company differentiation lies not only in products, but in customer service delivery. As products become commoditized, customers often place their brand loyalty based on their service experience.

The data indicates this tidal-wave shift in customer experience is indeed the primary point of company differentiation. A 2014 Gartner survey found that, by 2016, 89% of companies expected to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years prior.

"Customers are now purchasing products and services based on customer experience," said Eric Bensley, Salesforce's director of product marketing, at the Salesforce World Tour in Boston. "It used to be differentiation based on product or price, but now, people are prioritizing their decisions based on customer experience."

At the same time, he said customer experience is lagging because customer service agents are patching together customer data to understand the problem and making customers wait. "I call this the 'please-hold' problem," Bensley said. "That's not acceptable anymore."

Watch out for wet paint

Campbell can relate to the please-hold problem. At Fenway Park Events, having no CRM system was driving a communication gap between sales and service, as well as between sales and operations. Sales might sell an event, but fail to communicate that to service, or to the operations unit. The communication gap had a cascading effect.

Campbell's operations team, for example, had little insight into the scheduling of events and might easily overlap with scheduled celebrations. On one occasion, a pharmaceutical company had recently gotten its drug approved and scheduled a celebration, with plans for the CEO to make a speech in the dugout. But operations had painted seats in the park just two hours prior. Guests stood in the stands trying to avoid staining their clothes.

Carrie Campbell, vice president of sales and service at Fenway Park EventsCarrie Campbell

So, in 2010, Campbell researched applications for the hospitality industry and chose Newmarket International Inc. as Fenway Park's partner. Newmarket brought in the Delphi application, which sits on Salesforce, for the Fenway events team.

Today, operations teams can use the Chatter communication tool in Sales Cloud, and ask their colleagues about scheduled events. "By arming operations with Chatter, they can look and see, 'Can I paint section 32 next Tuesday?' And then, they can see, 'No, actually, there are seven events scheduled Tuesday. But Wednesday's open.'"

It also enables sales and service teams to provide the customer with much more information -- and a better experience, where, previously, communication gaps might have alienated them.

"When you load a booking, you can assign a service person, so a service person can see right away that it will be their event and their customer," Campbell said. "If they look in notes and see there are no notes about parking, for example, they can Chatter the sales person and say, 'Can you let me know if you discussed parking before I reach out to this customer?'" Customers don't have to get hit with the sticker shock of prices for parking downtown, because they weren't prepared.

Into the future

Salesforce has boosted communication between operations and sales, and between sales and service, but there are wish-list items on the horizon.

Despite the partnership between Newmarket and Salesforce, for example, customization can make things more complicated. Newmarket built a custom scheduling application for Fenway Park Events, so sales and service can determine which function rooms are available. But ideally, Campbell would like to have the function diary built into the CRM itself. "Newmarket is working on it," Campbell said.

Another wish-list item is sharing information between the Red Sox ticketing sales team and events. If the groups shared a single CRM database, they could up-sell on tickets or events. Sharing data makes sense, because ticketing and events "share the same customers," Campbell said.

"We have to double-enter, or they do. I can't type in how many times a company bought group tickets and how many suites they bought. I can ask for a report, or have someone tell me, and then I can load it and make notes. But if it were built in, to have that intel without that would be amazing." At the same time, Campbell acknowledged, ticketing sales has its own custom CRM that it has invested in, so investing in Salesforce isn't on the horizon.

Still, using Salesforce has changed the process of selling and servicing customers for events.

"I can see how salespeople are spending their time," Campbell said. "I can see why we lost a booking or provide feedback to salespeople. My salespeople are better salespeople, our service people are better service people, and our revenue is up."

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