Win Raving Fans Even If You’re Losing Games: How the Arizona Diamondbacks Create Great Customer Experiences

By Tema Frank posted 05-11-2015 12:12 AM


More thoughts from the Insight Exchange in San Diego. Jeannie Walters already did a great summary the strategies discussed by Arizona Diamondbacks CEO, Derrick Hall in his opening keynote, and I urge you to read it. This blog post focuses on some of the tactics he outlined. 

Derrick Hall, President & CEO of the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team talked about the many ways in which their organization has built amazing fan loyalty by forging strong connections to the community.

It starts with values, he said.

His team’s values: people, relationships, integrity, learning, results.


Whether in sports or in business, you can’t control everything. By focusing on doing what you can control really well, you can build loyalty though, regardless of results. In the Diamondbacks’ case, they focus on being great in their relationships with the community, and doing things that make it proud of the team, even when they aren’t winning games.

Great CX Starts With Corporate Culture

Employees are key. Treating them right is crucial, so they all feel part of the “team” whether on the field or off. Here are just a few of the programs that help the Diamondbacks build and maintain this spirit:

  • (My favourite) They have arrival parties instead of going away parties. “Why would we want to have a party when you tell us you are going to leave?” He’s got a great point; let’s celebrate those who are joining us! Way better than having them just wander aimlessly around the office trying to figure out where HR and the restrooms are on their first day!
  • President’s Council – When someone is selected as employee of the month they join the Council for a year to help with the organizational culture; they also get to go on a trip to Disneyland
  • Presidents Roundtable – once a month 15 randomly selected employees come for lunch with the CEO (Derrick) and can ask anything they want.
  • Quarterly outings – Golf, bowling…. a variety of activities are chosen. The point is to have an activity that helps employees get to know each other across divisions.
  • First Friday meetings with all staff. They set it up like a late night talk show, with the CEO as host, and guests can range from people on the President’s council, to the city’s mayor, oranyone else who might be fun for the staff to hear from.
  • Bagel Wednesday (across the organization)
  • When the team has a  “sweep” they do a giveaway of free housekeeping for a month
  • They hold a monthly health and wellness fair
  • When they had an all-star he got all-star rings for every employee because they are all part of that success
  • The players come shake hands with all the employees
  • On the walls they have pictures of the players, but also of the staff. Again, everybody is part of the team. Let’s recognize them all.

Help Employees Help The Community

One thing that struck me in Derrick’s comments was the realization that most people want to give back to their community. They want to help others. So his organization has made it easy for them to do so.

They set up an “Elf program” where they give random employees $100 to give money to whoever they want. Then at the seasonal holiday party employees can share what they did (if they want to tell. Nobody is pressured to.)

The have a “Give Back League” that has done things like building a diner inside a homeless shelter, which is open to the public. Now the shelter residents can work there and it creates a revenue stream for the shelter.

Clever Ways to Give Customers A Great Experience

  • The have a mobile app that lets fans do things like order food during the show, look up player stats, and even report a problem if they are sitting near fans who are being difficult. Security will immediately come deal with it.

  • They give praise cards to season ticket holders: if the ticket holder sees a staff member doing something good, they can give the staffer a card, which the employee can then turn in to be entered in a prize draw.

  • They have a sandlot for little kids who are getting bored during the games. It encourages parents to bring young children to the games, and builds long-term loyalty because those children will have great memories, even from when they were too young to appreciate the game itself.

  • There’s a Diamond Club singles-type bar. A way to keep another demographic coming to the games.

  • They take pride in being the most affordable team in the league when it comes to ticket prices, food, drinks, and parking.

  • Although they keep food and drink prices reasonable, they also let people bring in their own food and water. They would rather have more of the community attend the games than eke out a few more dollars on food and drink sales. It’s all about building community.


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