John Pricci this morning talks about customer service being important in racing, and he cites some of the things Gulfstream Park did this meet in helping that cause. I have a slightly different take on it, kind of like I explored below.
I don't believe racing has to do as much with customer service as it does with CRM - Customer Relationship Management.
CRM, defined by Wikipedia below is this:
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service. Customer relationship management describes a company-wide business strategy including customer-interface departments as well as other departments.
If a person comes to your racetrack to watch the races and have some decent food, it is more customer service. Keeneland is a good example, as are various Ontario harness tracks in small towns.
For bettors, those who may play daily or frequent your track to bet, it is much more than that. They are clients, not unlike a client of a lawyer, marketing firm, or financial advisor. Those clients need more than a seat and a good burger, they need to be cultivated. Here are a few examples:
If you were a Pharma sales rep, and a client who buys $100k worth of product from you each month suddenly does not place an order, you are on the phone with that person asking why, and addressing their needs.
If a client of a financial advisor asks for fewer and fewer trades in a month, and is not as responsive, something might be up, so you call.
If you are a horse trainer and your client, who usually have ten owners to buy yearlings in September, but hasn't been in contact, you are opening the lines of communication.
In all those instances, CRM is employed. The Pharma sales rep might learn that another company stole his business because they were not offering a certain set of drugs. He can report that to corporate and they can start studying what people are demanding and map the future.
The financial advisor might learn that this person got $5 trades at an online broker and was doing it him/herself. He might make a plan to still manage the persons retirement savings and offer some free advice on hot stocks.
The horse trainer might learn that the yearling game is not for this customer, but adding him to a partnership, or offering to claim a horse instead might do the trick.
It's all about communication, fostering the customer, addressing needs and cultivating him or her to come back, or spend more time and money with you.
In racing, this does not seem to occur. Our customers do not seem to be cultivated.
A couple examples:
About five years ago a friend left a racetrack where he played serious money via their "player card". He bet over $200,000 a year for years, but he just stopped. He found an ADW that would give him better rates, so he switched. He did not even receive a call from the track asking why he left. He is betting 10 times as much now.
I spoke with Jeff Platt (of Jcapper and HANA) recently and he told a story about the post parades at one track. The pony and rider was blocking the horse's view in post parades and customers were complaining to him. Could he ask them to change their post parade so the 90%+ people who are betting the track via simo can see the horses better to make a good betting decision? He called and spoke to them - the answer was no, the horsemen did not want to change.
We have a long way to go to be that pharma rep, trainer or financial advisor because I believe we lack proper CRM skills in our business.