Here at Cageside Seats, we've been following the updates from the company on their technical issues, have had folks chime in on their experience with tech support, and reported on rumors of the company's response to more traditional challenges such as the over-selling of tickets to NXT ArRIVAL.
A recent interaction I had with WWE Shop trying to get some shipping information on an order I placed got me thinking about a crucial area the Stamford-based company should be investing in at this critical time in their history. But first, a little story-time with Uncle Sean...
Back in the dark ages / my college years, I had an internship with General Motors. When you're a marketing major working for GM in Texas, that either means trucks or Cadillacs. From a private school in Dallas - we got Caddies.
Cadillac in Big D means Carl Sewell. Mr. Sewell turned his Dallas dealership into the second largest in the United States (and the Sewell Automotive Group) with a fanatical devotion to "the customer is always right", luxury-levels of service. He wrote a book on it that was a pretty big deal in business circles during the 90s called Customers for Life.
The basic idea is that it doesn't matter what you're selling, if you make your customers feel like they have a say and that their every interaction with the company is designed to take care of them, those customers will be devoted to you.
If you could use this model to grow a business selling the lemon-riffic GM cars of the 1980s, you can use it to sell just about anything.
Now obviously, WWE is in a unique position as an entertainment company. The culture of the pro wrestling business involves withholding information from customers - and almost all of their customers love that about pro wrestling. They should give us what we want from their stories, but maybe not right when we want it.
But most of what we discuss and debate on this website and others across the web are focused on what WWE should do with their characters and narratives. That's always going to subjective, opinions being like assholes and what not.
What can't be subjective is the experience that customers have with your company and services.
No one should call tech support and be told that resources have been "exhausted", especially after being disconnected twice. No one who spent two hours trying to purchase your product wants to hear how one of your partners wasn't ready for it to be so busy (it's not called The MLB Advanced Media Wrestling Network). No one affiliated with your company should be yelling at customers holding a ticket for an event to which they can't gain admission. And when someone calls for tracking information on a shipment, a representative shouldn't tell them "you should have it" without being able to provide further details.
There are going to be hiccups in a major technology launch. When the product being launched involves offering up a lot of new content, employees are going to be stretched thin and nerves will be frayed. When the content you provide is predicated on misdirecting your audience, your fans are sometimes going to view the company as an adversary.
For these reasons, it should have been apparent to WWE that a major internal effort to train employees company-wide on best practices of customer service be undertaken prior to the Network launch.
Customers, especially those as invested in the product as wrestling fans, will forgive a lot if they are being treated with understanding and respect. As Carl Sewell preaches, an irate consumer can be turned into a "customer for life" if the first person they raise their issue to listens and is empowered to address the problem, or at least follows up on matters they can't initially resolve.
No matter how exemplary a job WWE's technical, logistics, production and creative teams do over the next few months, there are going to be issues and unhappy customers. How every member of the organization relates to them will be crucial.
The McMahons and the public faces of their company are always telling us how important we in the "WWE Universe" are. When it comes to taking our money in exchange for goods and services, they need to be sure that all of their employees are showing us how important we are.