Thursday 19 September 2013
Four Barclays Premier League clubs are to receive awards for the quality of their customer care as part of a national scheme that is improving standards of fan experience at football stadia.
A panel of industry experts from the tourism, football and customer service industries voted Manchester United the VisitFootball Club of the Year for their "stand-out customer experience".
Liverpool received the Best Fan Innovation for their Family Park "which makes a day at the football much more than the 90 minutes in the pitch", and Fulham's staff won the Warmest Welcome award for being "a club where all departments are working towards a common goal of improving every supporters day out". The fourth award, Unsung Hero, went to steward Jo Roberts of Wigan Athletic for her dedicated work with disabled supporters.
"Not only do our clubs take looking after their fans very seriously but they are extremely good at it"
"Premier League clubs are working harder than ever to ensure that when supporters come to a match they receive excellent service. Last season Premier League grounds were 95.3% full and we saw record adult and junior season ticket sales," said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore. "That was down to some great deals but also because clubs are being more welcoming and listening to what fans want from their matchday.
"The passion and commitment of the fans is an integral part of the Premier League's success and English football culture. The VisitFootball Awards won by Manchester United, Liverpool, Fulham, and Wigan Athletic demonstrate that not only do our clubs take looking after their fans very seriously but they are extremely good at it."
VisitFootball, a joint venture between the Premier League and the national tourism board VisitEngland, has been assessing the care that customers receive at football grounds since August 2010 and gives out annual awards for those who deliver outstanding customer service.
VisitFootball has adapted VisitEngland's 'Visitor Attraction Quality Assurance Scheme', which is used to assess other tourist attractions such as theatres and museums, specifically for football stadia. All 20 clubs in the Barclays Premier League were judged by a professional tourism assessor across eight areas of the supporter match experience, such as ticketing, stewarding, catering, toilets and the club shop.
For the Awards the panel brought together the marks and comments of the assessors from Live Tourism to determine which clubs and personnel offered the highest quality for Premier League football fans. The award winners and judges comments for the 2012/13 season are:
"Champions on the pitch and now champions off it. Previous VisitFootball inspections showed that Manchester United already provided a superb supporter journey, but last season they really raised the bar.
"This is a stand-out customer experience"
"From the introduction of a 'Supporter Assistance Team' who provide additional help and advice for supporters on their arrival at Old Trafford, through to all their staff who provide excellent service at every turn, this is a stand-out customer experience.
"Not only are their people well-trained, efficient and friendly, there is a sense of safety and security that all adds up to a journey you want to go on again and again."
"Liverpool has been very clever with the introduction of their Family Park: what was a disused piece of land next to their stand is now a key match-day activity for children and parents alike. Friends and families can meet up to three hours before the match in a safe and secure environment that is a hub of activity.
"The Liverpool Family Park is a fantastic facility"
"There is ball juggling, target practice, an inflatable 5-a-side pitch, face painting. All this is all delivered by some excellent and enthusiastic Liverpool community coaches.
"On average there are 1,000 home and away fans making use of the facilities, and we are sure there will be far more now that the club have expanded the area into the adjacent food village and they have created stage for local musicians to showcase their skills. The Liverpool Family Park is a fantastic facility which makes a day at the football much more than the 90 minutes on the pitch."
"The Warmest Welcome Award is about how supporters are treated across every aspect of a football club, from the moment they arrive to the final minute when they leave. What is abundantly clear at Fulham is that this is a club where all departments are working towards a common goal of improving every supporters day out.
"Staff at Craven Cottage have a friendly can do attitude"
"Staff at Craven Cottage have a friendly can do attitude, balancing hope with reality in managing expectations. Their stewarding is often outstanding, and we loved the team of stewards who have access to an iPad, ensuring that not only fans can get the right information but that they can support their fellow stewards who may not know or have all the answers.
"Add in reduced catering service times, two new giant video screens and family stand branding and you can see why Fulham provide the warmest of welcomes.”
"The great thing about the VisitFootball inspections is that they are done without anyone from the clubs knowing, so we will always be seeing people as they genuinely are in their workplace.
"The level of service Jo provided was exemplary"
"We saw no-one better than Jo Roberts last season. She provided an outstanding service, assisting disabled fans at the DW Stadium, frequently checking if fans required assistance and worked in an efficient, friendly and courteous manner.
"The level of service Jo provided was exemplary, and she went above and beyond to ensure that fans had an enjoyable experience. Jo may think she’s only doing her job but excellent service deserves to be recognised."
The VisitFootball scheme covers eight areas of the match experience for the 13 million plus fans that come through Premier League turnstiles every season.
1. Pre-arrival: telephone and email enquiries, website content and ticket purchasing
2. Arrival: signage, approach to stadium, parking, stadium appearance
3. Pre-match experience - stadium layout, stewarding, pre-match entertainment, programme content
4. Match experience - quality of seating, information, stewarding, atmosphere, half-time entertainment
5. Catering - appearance, food quality, service, food range, cleanliness
6. Toilets - layout and numbers, maintenance, fixtures and fittings, ventilation, cleanliness
7. Post-match - ease of exit, signage, crowd control
8. Club shop - layout, range of merchandise, presentation, cleanliness.
For the VisitFootball initiative every club received two home visits during the 2012/13 season. Additionally there were pilot schemes looking at away support, accessibility for disabled people and hospitality. These pilots will now become permanent parts of the scheme.