What Sydney Olympic Park Authority is doing to revitalise community engagement

Head of digital and IT shares the aggressive four-month transformation and technology rollout to lift customer service, marketing, reporting and acquisition strategies

An aggressive four-month transformation program has delivered Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) the streamlined systems, customer journey roadmap and data foundations vital to fulfilling its 2030 masterplan for a revitalised residential and events destination.

Speaking at this week’s Salesforce Connections to You event, SOPA head of digital and IT, Parth Gandhi, took attendees through efforts to build one-to-one engagement with the 14 million consumers passing through the precinct each year. The park encompasses 430 hectares and seven sporting venues and is the legacy site from the 2001 Sydney Olympic Games.

The three-phased approach has seen SOPA deploy a raft of Salesforce platforms including Marketing, Service, Sales and Social Studio, using Sqware Peg as its implementation partner.  

Gandhi described it very much as a customer-centric journey, which saw the group break down every touchpoint across its wide range of business, resident, program, partner and events customers in order to understand what visitors do and want and how they interact.

“We couldn’t do that in a day and we had to take a multi-phased approach,” he said.

The first phase was transforming the initial point of contact customers have with SOPA. This saw Gandhi and his team overhaul seven customer and partner-facing websites.

Phase two has been the more transformative journey around customer lifecycle, and involved deploying Salesforce Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Sales Cloud and Social Studio in four months. The ambition for Gandhi has been to improve dynamic communications out to customers, with key pillars being business events, marketing and customer service.

Phase 3 will then be about community, and creating a dynamic, two-way dialogue with customers.

As an example of work done to date, Gandhi said the group recognised the need to better deal with events engagements and partners. So it designed a new partner portal aimed at increasing efficiency, providing better customer service, and speeding up the sales cycle.

“We also wanted a single view for all our customers, which is very important for a business with so many different customers interacting with us in so many different ways,” he explained. The idea was to have one screen which shows how a particular customer interacts with SOPA at any given point, whether they booked parking, come to the aquatic centre, booked a site or done an event with us.”

Through all this, data was vital. “It is a NSW Government priority to use data in better ways, remove red tape and provide better citizen services,” Gandhi said.  

From a data standpoint, SOPA had numbers at its fingertips. But it was a gruelling four days of work to generate reports, send those to everyone, Gandhi said. Using the new platform it’s created a dashboard to make those numbers available in real time online or via mobile devices.

Customer service was another big piece of the puzzle, and amalgamating all channels. This now means SOPA can respond to customers in the same channel they contact the group through, from social to email, online website forms, paper forms onsite or phone. It’s also been integrated into the single customer view so staff can see how customers have contacted SOPA and how frequently.

Scale was a further consideration for Gandhi and his team. “We don’t run 70,000 people Taylor Swift concerts every day… but we do need to scale up at a moment’s notice. Now, the platform allows us to do that. Everything is set up, processes are there, workflows are build out,” he said.  

Reporting and data are vital to the service picture, and Gandhi said SOPA is able to track any spikes in social or Web traffic, with Social Studio fully integrated into the Service Cloud. The team is now investigating chatbots and other ways to automate.

On the marketing and social front, Gandhi stressed the emphasis on clean data, contact acquisition and customer journeys.

“It’s all about how we communicate out to the customer with customised messaging,” he continued. One of the first steps here was cleaning up the database.

“We had 11 different databases with 100,000 records, and we were using five platforms to do all the bits and pieces we’re now doing with essentially one platform and two pieces of software. We previously had MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Aprimo, HootSuite, plus Meltwater and a bunch of stuff to track what is largely trackable into single platform.”

Having a unified data platform allowed SOPA to put clearer strategies in place, a big one of which is contact acquisition. Since going live with Marketing Cloud, the group has grown its database by 15,000 customers.

“This was all around having opt-in to parking, which we didn’t have before. All those things became clearer as we went through this process,” Gandhi said. “Now we have the ability to put journey-based communications and engagement plans in place.

“It’s very manual at the moment. For example, with parking, we have someone loading the parking database every week when they’re sending reminders for parking. We’re looking to automate that.”  

Through Social Studio, the team can generate hourly, daily, weekly, month, yearly reports, drill down into key words and all social information in one spot.

“On days with major events running, have can look at this data in real time, so we can look at mentions and who’s talking about us, the context we’re in. The idea behind journeys is to further build that out to give you a more customised and personalised experience based on what we have heard,” Gandhi said.  “This process has really been a refinement of our communication.”

Gandhi’s big lesson is the importance of clean data. “If you’re going to do any transformation program that’s to do with marketing and digital, you need to make sure your data is clean,” he advised.

The other was the importance of bringing the business along the transformation path. “We didn’t do this to the business, we brought them with us. All area managers looking after a variety of different areas of the organisation were part of that process,” Gandhi said.

Measures of success

Outcomes for SOPA so far include a huge improvement in reporting. “You’ll never solve your reporting problem, it constantly needs to change as you learn more about your business,” Gandhi commented.

“We’ve also improved our customer service in single platform.”

Long term, it’s given SOPA an innovation roadmap. “As an organisation, we know where we are headed, where and how we need to improve.”

Success is relative to any organisation, Gandhi said. “For us, it’s currently measured through Net Promoter Score, and how many people talk about the park in a positive way,” he said. “There’s a difference between a measure and metric. The idea is we can measure a lot of things, but the metrics are what really tell the story. It’s about having a narrative. “

In this vein, Gandhi’s approach with management was to have a clear narrative about what success looks like. “It doesn’t need to be achieving everything tomorrow, it can be a step or iterative process,” he said.  

“When we went live with Marketing Cloud, we had basic measure like open rates and clickthrough rates. As an organisation, we weren’t mature enough to have high-level metrics to say that’s our measure of success. So we looked at basics – productivity, resource optimisation, clickthroughs.

“Where we want to end up is with smarter and more intelligent metrics, where we can talk about having 5 million people in the database, and how we facilitate the journey with customers.

“The key for us has been to start small and build from there.”

The next big cab off the rank for SOPA is community engagement. The group is working to a 2030 masterplan, which states it will have close to 30,000 residents, lightrail services, and more.

“We’re ideally physically placed to become a vibrant urban and parkland hub,” Gandhi concluded. “The big bang is to provide that great customer experience for everyone coming or going through the park for any event.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu     
 

 

 

 

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