Indiana Pacers trust data to deliver best customer experience

Attending NBA games in the 21st Century is more than simply watching professional basketball. It’s about which team can offer the best fan experience.

For the Indiana Pacers, it boils down to one clear directive: trust the data to offer top-notch fan engagement.

Taylor Bloom, associate director of customer engagement, and Sydney Lesko, marketing cloud manager, both with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, kicked off a full-day of sessions at the Interactive Customer Experience Summit with “How the Indiana Pacers Scored Big with Automation and Data-Driven Decision-Making” on June 2 at the Hilton Easton hotel in Columbus, Ohio.

In recent months, the Pacers upgraded its KPIs by using digital lead generation. Bloom and Lesko talked about how the team integrated customer forms, optimized automation processes, and analyzed the results from visual dashboards. Through measuring KPIs, the Pacers marketing and fan engagement team could determine “time to first touch” to see how quickly they were conversing with potential customers after contact is established.

“We knew we had to take advantage of that initial reach out as quickly as possible,” Bloom said.

Automation and data tracking is vital

Bloom and Lesko knew the Pacers had to build a strong customer experience online, especially to attract and retain season-ticket holders. An automated service has made it easier for fans to purchase tickets, secure the latest deals and find out about new promotions at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Pacers’ home arena.

“Through automation, our customer sales reps can follow up with those customers right away,” Bloom said. “All of these steps are happening at the same time, which is awesome.”

Through data tracking, the Pacers can see which months perform best for digital customer engagement. For instance, with the NBA Draft coming up in late June, Lesko said activity on their digital platforms tends to increase. The Pacers’ marketing and engagement team responded by creating a fan-centric campaign based around the draft.

“With something like the draft coming up, we want to get people excited,” Lesko said.

The Pacers also use automation to host a draft sweepstakes. Winners get tickets to the draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

With the digital upgrades, the Pacers have reduced time to first touch with customers by 40%, according to Bloom.

“With the automated service, our sales directors have all the information they need, right then and there,” Lesko said.

On the other end, Lesko and Bloom are working to make the platforms simple to use for their staff.

Additionally, the team has spent time making it easier for individuals and businesses to apply for funding through the Pacers Foundation, the team’s grant program. Through Salesforce, a software platform for customer engagement, the Pacers can correspond to grant applicants through email, letting them know if they’ve been approved and how much funding they’ll receive.

“We’re really trying to build relationships to make sure the customer feels connected,” Lesko said. “We’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘What makes this simple for the customer?'”

Bloom said her team’s biggest pain point was trying to reduce the lag time after first touch. To cut response times with customers, the Pacers began using Formstack software to collect real-time data. The marketing and engagement team sends surveys to fans and clients often to gauge their interest in team promotions. Lesko said using Formstack to track and file new contacts is simple because it doesn’t make duplicates of files.

Do it in-house

Bloom said the team is trying to do as much customer experience work in-house instead of hiring an outside firm. While that does bring about challenges and learning curves, employees get to know the platforms and are better trained to help customers.

“We’re trying to empower our team,” Bloom said. “We want to be more knowledgeable to do the things we know we can. Now we’ve become really good at it.”

Lesko said the team has also improved in documenting processes, tracking what works and what needs to be improved or scraped. All data is measured and scrutinized.

“Internally, we use Base Camp (web application development software) to track everything,” Lesko said. “We have the ability to always show people what we’re doing.”

In a brief Q&A session with the audience, Bloom was asked about using artificial intelligence and social media marketing to remove bottlenecks in the customer experience pipeline. Bloom said the Pacers can no longer rely simply on email to connect and engage with consumers.

“Now it’s really about trying to reach customers on the channel that they want,” she said.

The engagement and marketing team, in recent years, have found new ways to use social media to grow its customer base — especially prospective Pacers season-ticket holders.

(2022, June 10). Kevin Damask. Retrieved from