The Colorado Rockies were baseball's worst team in May -- and it's got the worst ticket agents in baseball, according to a study conducted by IntelliShop, a company that sends anonymous consumers into businesses to grade employees. Professional shoppers made calls to the Rockies' season ticket office and the staff fared about as well as the team's offense of late.
"They scored last in almost every category," says Intellishop president Ron Welty of the Rockies season-ticket staff. "We measured attendance drives sales -- the theory being if there are more seats available, there would be more of a sales effort. They sold a decent amount of seats, but didn't try too hard to sell the available seats. In needs assessment, they were pretty well down the scale."
The San Diego Padres, currently playing a series against the Rockies, led the league with a score of 63 out of 100, while the Rockies brought up the rear with a 25.
"From the results of our study, there was a forty point difference, and you could possibly extrapolate that to a 40 percent difference in ticket sales," says Welty. "One season ticket is a big price, and using some of these techniques to sell more season tickets can make a big difference."
Gregory Feasel, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Rockies, said he first heard of the study when the SportsBusiness Journal reported on it.
"You always have a concern when you're not delivering on your customer-service promise," says Feasel. "We have gone back through and looked at our training, but until we get all the information, it will be tough to talk about it any further."
Feasel says he has not received the details of the survey from IntelliShop, only the final grade.
"We need the information, but with that being said, anyone would look at the information, vet it and look to improve," he notes. "When you think you don't have room to improve, that's when you're in trouble."
IntelliShop ran the study independently, judging each team based on over two dozen performance categories and between twenty and 25 calls. Results were shared with the organizations in a conference call in late May. Welty says he coached the callers not to reveal too much information initially and see what the agents pulled out. This is where the Rockies fell short.
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"It just wasn't a personalized experience," says Welty. "Very few agents asked for the callers' name or talked about the team. Having a personal experience is important for people looking to spend this kind of money. This isn't an insurance agent or someone selling you something you don't want. It's something people want to spend money on. Very few times did they make small talk, like asking who their favorite player is. It's a real opportunity, and they didn't take that. Asking a lot of questions about seating needs, like for families, is a real opportunity as well."
Welty also noted that few Rockies' employees invited prospective ticket buyers to the stadium to view the seats they were thinking of purchasing -- something all highly rated teams did.
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Despite finishing dead last, it wasn't all bad news for the Rockies' sales team. "A bright spot is we rated how quickly they were able to complete the inquiry," Welty says. "95 percent of the time, they completed the inquiry on first attempt. Once they did reach someone on that first attempt, that's where it went down hill. Callers were also on hold for 55 seconds on average, which is pretty good."
An important distinction is that calling the Rockies season ticket office is not necessarily a bad customer-service experience, according to Welty. He instructed callers to view the call from the perspective of a normal customer and not a professional shopper. But even with this distinction, buying Rockies season tickets ranked as average.
The players on the field would probably settle for that right now.
More from our Baseball archive: "The Colorado Rockies aren't worried about offense, but they should be."