When it comes to marketing, no brand likes to come in last place. And it’s listening to customer feedback that separates the winners from the losers. Auto racing sports authority NASCAR has had an ongoing voice-of-the-customer (VoC) strategy since it teamed with community insight technologies provider Vision Critical in 2008 to launch the Official Fan Council. Since then, its mature VoC program has been blasting along. Here’s how it works: Vision Critical provides a platform through which NASCAR gets instant access to its diehard fans and allows the company to gather the voices of its best customers for market research.
Brian Moyer, director of market and media research for NASCAR, says the captured feedback has allowed NASCAR to cut back on its field research time and quantify and address needs for various NASCAR business units and individual stakeholders. In addition, the Fan Council gives racing fans the opportunity to play an active role in the sport and in the brand.
Moyer spoke to Direct Marketing News about how NASCAR uses its Fan Council to stay on the customer insights fast track.
What did NASCAR learn about its customers that it hadn’t known before?
The Official NASCAR Fan Council provides NASCAR the opportunity to gain valuable insights in a timely manner (i.e. hours or days vs. weeks or months). Additionally, NASCAR has enabled our most avid fans to have a voice, and more important, be heard. The Official NASCAR Fan Council has become a badge of honor, with many members feeling a sense of ownership that they’re part of a special community helping to make the sport of NASCAR the best it can be. The best wins are when NASCAR is able to take immediate action with insights from the Official NASCAR Fan Council and make the appropriate enhancements; many fans accurately interpret this as “NASCAR is listening.”
Which channels–for example, Web surveys, email, social media comments–provide the most interesting customer insights?
Most communications are via a fun and engaging Web survey, optimized for the device they’re [using] through Vision Critical’s technology. While quantifying the results is important to the decision making process, the rich feedback in the form of open-ended comments from the members is valuable in gaining an even greater understanding of our fan base. NASCAR analyzes thousands of responses each week, primarily related to a question on each and every survey, “Is there anything on your mind about NASCAR that you want to share with us?” Members are eager to provide feedback and even seek out opportunities to share their thoughts beyond the standard surveys.
What is NASCAR’s strategy for holistically analyzing and taking action from all of its different customer interaction channels?
The success of the Official NASCAR Fan Council is an outstanding achievement for NASCAR when it comes to listening to fans. The next step is the NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center, located in Charlotte, which is a real-time listening tool. The NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center is a revolutionary resource that enables NASCAR to analyze what’s discussed and written about the sport in social, traditional, and broadcast media. The facility is part “broadcast control room,” part “NASA Command Center,” powered by a sophisticated media monitoring and measurement system custom built by HP. NASCAR uses it to monitor real-time conversation and media coverage around the sport and provide measurement to the industry – both inside NASCAR and externally to teams, tracks, and corporate partners. The Official NASCAR Fan Council works closely with the Fan and Media Engagement Center to provide a “big picture” understanding of fans’ perceptions of the sport.