An early attempt to automate a process at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games provided a life lesson in the importance of applying empathy and human intelligence to customer engagements. It is even more pertinent in today’s world of marketing technology.
John O’Neill, the founder and principal of consulting firm Komosion - a Corporate Traveller partner, managed ticketing communications for the Sydney Games which ultimately raised $640 million in ticket sales.
Knowing they would be swamped by demand, the ticket marketing team had a clever idea to automate handing out tickets to alternative events if customers missed out on the ballot they’d applied for.
John explains, “For instance, the 1500-metre swimming final in the Olympic Stadium is so popular that we could have sold it five times over.
“We realised we'd have people's money and we wouldn't be able to give them the ticket they wanted. So we thought, we’ll have a look at what tickets they've actually secured and write back to them, saying ‘Hey, we noticed that you're going to be in Sydney Olympic Park on a certain day. Sorry, you didn't get the ticket to the swimming, but we can offer you this other ticket at an adjacent session.”
While the team thought it was a great idea, it didn’t hit the mark with sports fans.
“What we didn't realise is how much frustration and disappointment people would have for missing out in the 1500-metre swimming finals. To be offered a ticket to handball didn't exactly surprise and delight them in the way we expected,” said John.
John advises that you understand and remember the mood and environment that you’re marketing into. It’s more crucial than ever now. Especially given that every business can easily set up automated emails and other “nurturing” prompts to progress relationships with prospective customers who visit them online.
John O’Neill was a panellist in a recent online seminar run by Corporate Traveller and Komosion to provide insights into Digital Sales and Marketing Strategies, post-Covid. The “on demand” webinar of the live event can be viewed here.