As a Preston North End fan, I’m painfully aware that the football club doesn’t have a great recent track record – and when I say ‘recent’, I mean the past 60 years or so at least!

There’s one area where PNE does excel, though. The club’s police liaison officer, PC Paul Elliott (see @PNEPolice on Twitter), is a leader in developing positive relationships with visiting teams’ fans. As a result, in a sport where there can still, unfortunately be problems with opposing sets of fans, PNE enjoy very few incidents and the feedback from visiting fans is uniformly excellent.

Ahead of each game, Paul builds relationships with each away team’s fan groups and is on hand every match day to ensure that any potential problems are rapidly sorted out.

Last year, for instance, I saw a video of Paul dealing with some ‘lively’ Leeds United fans who had formed a rowing team in the middle of the street (think of dancing to Oops Upside Your Head by The Gap Band if you’re aged 50 or over!). Rather than confronting the group directly, Paul sat on the road with them and joined in. After a little while, the fans simply got up, shook Paul’s hand and moved on.

Many businesses talk about delivering a great customer experience and create complex systems to achieve this. The principles are often much simpler, though. I’ve recently seen detailed research into a major UK retailer showing that customers’ overall satisfaction was driven by three factors: a warm welcome, being treated with integrity and having any problems resolved rapidly.

Paul understands these principles instinctively, which is why he is respected by fans across the league. But how well do you understand the key drivers of your customer experience? And how have you turned those principles into real-life experiences that are enjoyed by both your fans and your casual supporters?


Off The Record: I Fought The Law by The Bobby Fuller Four

Robbin’ people with a six-gun

I fought the law and the law won

I fought the law and the law won

I lost my girl and I lost my fun

I fought the law and the law won

I fought the law and the law won


© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.