The NBA and Transit; more in common than one might think…

As part of TransPro’s APTA experience, the TransPro team had an opportunity to meet with key members of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Orlando Magic customer service team to learn more about how the NBA is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and what they are doing to drive fans back into the stands. As a big basketball fan, I went into the meeting with my own preconceived answers. I thought that’s easy – it’s all about the wins and losses and the final score of each game, how can there be any other metric that matters? Boy was I wrong! It turns out the Orlando Magic’s number one consideration in recovering from the pandemic is understanding their customers and what they value.

The Magic staff go out of their way to consider their customer’s perspectives and their experiences. These include fans experience with ticketing, facilities, COVID-19 comfort levels, and other measures of value beyond just the 4 quarters where fans are in the stands. The techniques they use are almost identical to those that the transit industry uses. The Magic use multiple customer satisfaction survey mediums, focus group meetings with season ticket holders, assignment of ambassadors to own customer relationships, and are purposeful to collect data around what is influencing a 360-degree fan experience. These data points are then loaded in a performance metric dashboard, monitored closely and tracked by not only the Magic and the NBA but also other NBA teams. This “national metric” allows the Magic to better understand how they rank against their league peers.

You still might be wondering why all this matters more than the final score. “Very simple,” replied the Director of Magic’s Customer Experience, because “what happens in the customer experience department is 100% in our control and we can purposely manage the fan experience using performance driven metrics and tactics; while what happens between the lines is often unpredictable and uncontrollable (i.e., injuries, trades, poor calls, and other bad breaks). Or to look at it another way, the final score is not the only single metric that matters to Orlando Magic fans. Yes, it’s important just like transit ridership, but it is clear to the Orlando Magic that to bring fans back into the stands game over game, year after year; they must consider all the values of their customers and not just the final score.


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