Pleased to see this morning’s initiative by Celtic to provide people with a more visible and accessible complaints procedure, including an “Our commitment to you” section. I know it’s almost blasphemous to use the word ‘customer’ in a football context, but when it comes to levels of service, it is useful to benchmark the ‘customer experience’ at Celtic Park, which is patchy and often disappointing.
I’ve been meaning to pick up this topic for a while but there is a Supporters’ Forum coming up next month, where various supporters’ groups will be given a chance to put issues of concern to the club, and I planned to raise it directly with the club before writing about it here.
Celtic have a great brand (if you indulge me with another blasphemous but useful term), born to feed the hungry, champion of the underdog, fundraiser for the poor and needy in Scotland and across the globe. We still have the unique Seville legacy – which is 11 years old today – and on Saturday, 47 years after their own crowning moment, the remaining Lisbon Lions will cast their considerable shadow over European football, but a great deal of the ‘customer contact’ reflects a club weary from more recent skirmishes. It needed be this way.
We are one of the world’s unique brand properties, like Disney, but a lot smaller, of course. Every customer contact, every public-facing decision, should reflect this. Disney understand this. They make you pay ridiculous amounts for their tat, but you pay willingly, because every customer contact reflects the highest service levels achievable. None of this comes on minimum wage, you need to select, train and retain good staff, who remain in place irrespective of available alternatives.
Legendary customer service is expensive, but if you own a uniquely ethical brand, paying that expense can be profitable.
Look around at brand management elsewhere. BP throw an environmentally responsible ‘better use of energy’ message at you straight from their home page, and they are one of the world’s most notorious polluters. Barcelona give their ‘More than a club’ message the prime spot (top left) on their home page, without a notion of irony around their tax or Qatar cash transactions. Apple have “Apple and the environment” prominently on their home page. They have little to do with the environmental movement, but they know how important to their business it is to maintain their unique brand.
Ethically, Celtic are miles ahead of any of these outfits but you need to go hunt for our considerable ethical works on the club website.
What should Celtic do when training, match day stewards, or kiosk staff (don’t start me)? What should we do when faced with an expensive business decision? Consult the brand values. Brand values are absolutely sacrosanct and the cost of maintaining them should be looked on as an opportunity to invest in them. At the moment lots of areas are under-invested in, reflecting completely different values to those who rush into the ground on match day.
Our values are to build a great football club which improves Health, promotes Equality, encourages Learning and tackles Poverty. Celtic do this through the very real help they give to thousands of people through Celtic FC Foundation. This is where we are today but all of this should have a higher profile.
When you visit the Celtic web site two days before season ticket renewal deadline day (today), you should be smacked around the senses with our work on Health, Equality, Learning and Poverty. Do that and the drag-through to renewals or merchandise sales will follow, ask Apple or Disney.
We need confidence in this strategy. I know it’s expensive, things are tight and demands enormous, but these values, this unique brand, is why we will flourish for another century.
If you want to raise a question at the Supporters’ Forum leave a note below.
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