Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Game Management = Good Customer Service

Before I graduated from college, I had worked as a cashier at a nearby McDonald's.  Since I graduated from college, I continued to work in capacities involving customer service from technical support (post sales service) to sales engineering (pre-sales service).

As I walked home a couple of Sundays ago from officiating some games, a random thought popped in my head regarding how managing a basketball game was similar to doing customer service.  In any customer service situation where a potential or existing customer has an issue, the service representative will do their best to make the customer happy.   It usually goes something like:  "I'm sorry that "XYZ" has occurred but I will do my best to address the situation".   For potential customers, maybe there will be concessions in terms of price to entice them to buy.  For existing customers, some form of credit is usually issued.

When it comes to officiating basketball, game management in terms of handling coaches (most of the time) and players (to a lesser extent) is vital.  The teams (players/coaches) are our customers.  The officials have a responsibility to officiate the game but also to address issues, concerns and complaints as they occur.

Just like customer service representatives, I know that officials generally don't like difficult coaches and players.  Alas, like the customer service representatives, we also have a responsibility to do our jobs.  Maybe we don't quite have to do our jobs with a "smile" but we still have to do it.

One thing I've learned recently is that even if a coach is irate, they are reasonable if you have an answer to their question.  I had two coaches upset a few weeks ago on the same play.  It was a 9 AM game so both teams were a little sluggish.  The offensive player drove to the hoop.  The defender slid her feet but fell down.  The offensive player (in my opinion anyway) stumbled as well.  On the way down, the offensive player tried to brace herself as she fell so accidentally hit the defensive player as well.  However, the offensive player also threw the ball away.

All in all, it was a no call in my opinion.  Neither coach was particularly thrilled.  The defensive coach was mildly annoyed but his team got the ball so he didn't say much.  The offensive coach was not happy but I gave him my explanation.  He disagreed but life went on from there.

I guess it's fortunate I have a customer service background.  Dealing with irate coaches and players can be a pain but in reality, it's not that bad.  I've learned to stay calm, let people vent, address the issue and then move on.  You can do the same.

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