Throughout my career as a Professional Footballer the quality of experience I had varied tremendously. I can remember the unity under the management of Gary Megson at Sheffield Wednesday, at Stoke City under Tony Pulis and at Portsmouth under Graham Rix but I also experienced very disjointed football clubs where the culture was immediately noticeable. A series of interactions gave away the culture, expectations and performance demands in various departments of the club in just a single day.
Post-Season performance analysis is a process which will have started months ago at professional football clubs around the country at various levels and to varying degrees. I'd be interested to know how many of the clubs will be monitoring the Customer Experience (supporters, sponsors etc) and Employee Experience (Leadership Team, Support Staff, Playing Staff) from top to bottom.
With massive companies in various industry's across the world elevating the attention they place on experience data, from Volkswagen to Allianz, I see a big opportunity for even smaller clubs to follow suit. The best leadership teams in the country already understand the experience dynamic between, a kit man and player, media and head coach, away fan and steward, all carry value. Collating this data is relatively simple with patterns of behaviour and persistent performance problems being highlighted quickly through digital feedback questionnaires. This is something that is being done across the globe. 'Customer Experience Leaders' are growing 2x faster and maintaining operations that are 15% leaner than the average company. The question is then how do you impact the systemic problems that reduce the quality of both Customer and Employee Experience to improve bottom-line performance?
It is something that is delivered across the world by combining intelligent leadership teams and data analysis. In some cases there is no Experience Management software but still a big impact is being made by leadership intelligence alone. Management that inherently recognise the power of both Customer and Employee Experience. They are utilising their capability to unite both sides with intelligent leadership and management, manually taking feedback from all departments and then executing on that information. The changes can be subtle like slight adjustments to their scouting strategy or more revolutionary like big changes to their coaching drills but the cycle of experience information is valued and monitored successfully to improve results.
A couple of season ago I went on trial at a club who had been recently been relegated from the Championship to League One. Immediately, the interactions I experienced told me the quality of experience the support staff were having was poor, they criticised the organisation and leadership at the club regularly. The players were equally disgruntled as they criticised parts of the leadership team, fans and each other regularly. The attendance was down significantly as the Employee Experience seeped into the Customer Experience.
Several players had aspirations to leave the club and many had no desire to drive the club forward through developing or prolonging their career. They unsurprisingly achieved very little that year and underperformed as a squad of players in my opinion.
The appointment of a manager who began his playing career at the club last season saw a shift in fortunes. A manager who grew up at the club and had an affiliation with the supporters and club in general much like Chris Wilder at Sheffield United. As a player he was sold by the club for £2.8 million which was a record for a British Teenager at the time. It was a manager who valued experience and set out to impact both Customer and Employee Experience, inviting the fans '"to come on this journey" at the start of the season. With his first full season in charge concluded, he reflected on what had been a successful season as they delivered on his pre-season intention to change the culture of the club and gain promotion, stating.. "the togetherness of the group is unreal, they're a unique group of players, it's a pleasure to work with them".
Their achievement saw dejected players I remember from a couple of seasons ago becoming influential in their promotion to the Championship.
Congratulations to Everyone at Charlton!