A customer experience lesson learned from supporting a team at the lower end of the Premier League

BHAFC The Amex Stadium

I’m a fan of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club and we have just finished playing our second season in the English Premier League (EPL), one of the most competitive football (soccer) leagues in the world.

This season started pretty well and, at the end of December, we were in a good position to comfortably secure another season in the Premier League.

However, in the second half of the season, we experienced a slump in form and saw ourselves edge closer and closer to the relegation places towards the bottom end of the league.

This situation became even more acute in the final few weeks of the season as we lost a couple of crucial games. These were games that we should have won and those defeats really put us on the brink of relegation.

But, let me be clear: I know who we are.

I don’t have delusions of grandeur about my team. I know that we are scrappers and not in the league of teams like Liverpool or Man City etc.

But, the thing that was the most galling about those two home defeats was the manner of our defeats.

We were beaten without even uttering a whimper of protest on the playing field. We were beaten by teams that we should be competing and winning against.

During those games we seemed to be devoid of ideas, heart, passion, responsibility and commitment. When put under pressure we seemed to suffer a crisis of confidence and we just capitulated.

As a fan, that is just not acceptable. Every fan that I have spoken to would have liked to see us show, at the very minimum, some fight and, if we were to go down, then we would rather go down fighting and, thus, with a bit of pride.

The reality is is that this is the rollercoaster of what it means to be a fan of a smaller team in a top league.

And, luckily enough we turned it around (just) in the following few games and we survived for another season in the Premier League.

But, despite my travails as an Albion fan, I believe, there is a lesson here for all companies trying to deliver a great experience for their customers.

When people make choices about brands or companies to do business with they don’t always choose the biggest and the best.

People make choices for many different reasons. They choose based on price, quality, location, size, fit, identity, values, approach etc etc.

Whoever they choose and for whatever reason, fans or customers want to see their chosen brand and team fight for their patronage, fight for themselves, fight to be the best that they can be.

This is particularly true when things go wrong or don’t go as planned.

But, it is this fight that we show when things do go wrong that goes a long way towards earning our trust and our loyalty.

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This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Forbes.com.

Thanks to Jonathan Rolande for the image.

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