Introducing the Intermedia Business Innovators series – where Intermedia honors business and civic leaders who are improving customer care, employee engagement, and operations through innovative thinking and decisive action.
Professional sports teams need operations in their back office to be as agile as their skilled players. In the current work environment, the right technology tools make all the difference in enabling agile, reliable, and secure business communications and collaboration to take place from wherever work happens – be it in the office, the road, or anywhere in between.
MLS’s (Major League Soccer) San Jose Earthquakes earned its charter in 1994. Since then, they’ve won the MLS Cup twice and, while fans focus on the players and the matches, hundreds of other employees are responsible for operations, ticket sales, fan engagement, securing sponsorships, and more.
To keep all areas of the Quakes organization running smoothly, no matter the environment, the business needed a platform that enabled productivity and efficiency to happen from wherever, whenever.
I had the opportunity to speak with Jared Shawlee, president of the San Jose Earthquakes, about how our products made communication and collaboration seamless, easy, and accessible within the Quakes organization, as well as with their fans.
Transitioning to a Remote Business Overnight
By pure coincidence, the Quakes deployed Intermedia’s suite of cloud communications solutions about a month before COVID-19 forced lockdowns. That meant employees had to suddenly switch to working from home, which was contrary to their culture of being an office-centric organization. “We transitioned from a business that was in the front office every day to a mobile one overnight. Without Intermedia, I don’t know how our group gets through COVID and rebounds,” said Mr. Shawlee.
The shift was much easier than Shawlee imagined, and, to his surprise, employee productivity actually increased. As a result, he said, “Remote operations are going to be part of our culture going forward and Intermedia helped make that happen.”
Contact Center Software Enables High-Level Service at Scale
At the onset of the pandemic, fans rightfully had lots of questions and concerns about how the season would be impacted and what, for example, would happen to tickets for canceled matches. To handle this sudden and large influx in fan call volume, Intermedia Contact Center proved to be an effective solution that the organization fully embraced. In such a time of unknowns, fans and customers needed constant communication.
Intermedia Contact Center allows fans to conveniently communicate with the Quakes based on their preferred method of communication – including voice, chat, and email. And because the contact center software combines all of these avenues of communication into one queue, agents are able to move back and forth between the channels easily and without delay. More informed, responsive communication is the result which helps the Quakes to deliver the level of service that Earthquakes fans are accustomed to.
Intermedia Contact Center also enables personalized customer interactions, which was very important to the team. “We want to make sure we have that one-on-one relationship with fans. Intermedia Contact Center gives our sales reps a better understanding who they’re speaking with, including access to historical conversations for better interaction context,” Mr. Shawlee explained.
And because Intermedia Contact Center is cloud based, the Quakes staff can deliver responsive customer care from wherever they may be working. Plus, thanks to real-time and historical analytical tools and reporting features, the organization gains critical insights into the quality of customer service being provided, areas for improvement, as well as call volume level patterns to aid in representative scheduling.
“We used Intermedia Contact Center for ticketing, and it ended up being a lifesaver. We were able to retain 95 percent of season ticket holders,” Mr. Shawlee commented. “A much higher number than we initially anticipated.”
An Always on the Go Team Needs Always-On Communication Tools
While Intermedia Contact Center helped to facilitate top-notch fan communications, the organization needed tools to keep employees connected at the same time, too. That was already a challenge pre-pandemic since the nature of professional sports is that coaches and players are always on the go.
Mobility and the ability to stay connected and collaborating from anywhere soon became a thing of the past once the Quakes implemented Intermedia Unite, the all-in-one communications solution that combines a business phone, video conferencing, chat, file sync and share, , and much more all on a single, tightly integrated, highly reliable, and secure platform. Mr. Shawlee said, “The Unite platform is an incredible tool to keep the management team and all Quakes employees aligned in their workstreams and communications. It has a great user interface that the staff still raves about to this day.”
That always-on communication is ideal for staying in the loop. With busy and complex schedules, connecting with colleagues needs to be easy. “The best part is if you miss a conversation, you can go back and pick up where you left off,” Mr. Shawlee described.
Some communication can be handled over a chat, sometimes a call is in order, or there are times when a video conference is needed to bring the team together face-to-face. Unite handles it all, all on the same platform, all working together so you can move from communication channel to communication channel all without ever leaving the same app. And thanks to Unite’s integrated desktop and mobile apps, Unite can be accessed from anywhere at any time.
Quakes and Community: Video Conferencing Enables a New Kind of Connection
Along with internal communication, Unite and its video conferencing capability gave the Quakes a new and engaging way to interact with fans when stadium attendance was still restricted.
One of the pillars of the Quakes core values is to be a community organization that creates relationships with fans. That became difficult during COVID, but AnyMeeting Video Conferencing was the key to keeping the team and fans connected. “We used the video platform to bring players and fans together. We had players do cooking classes and Q&As with our fans. We hosted viewing parties on the platform and even had alumni players join to take the experience to the next level. The positive feedback we received was amazing and created an even deeper sense of community,” Mr. Shawlee shared.
Mr. Shawlee ended the conversation with advice for others. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I learned so much, opening up a new world of productivity for us. Intermedia and its cloud allowed us to be incredibly nimble, and keeps us that way at scale.”
Learn more from my interview with Mr. Shawlee here.