This might start to sound like another sports story and candidly, it involves a sports team, the Chicago Cubs. But it is not a story about baseball, it is a story about loyalty. And let me tell you, being a Cubs fan since I was nine years old through thick and thin (OK, OK, through thin and thin) requires a LOT of loyalty.
There are a few theories as to why so many are loyal to a team that has been so unsuccessful (the Cubs have not won the World Series in over 100 years). The most common theories are the Cubs are loveable losers or have benefitted from the early nationwide broadcasts of Cubs games by WGN TV. I just heard a new theory about the real driver of loyalty to the Cubs — what really brings people to fill the stands whether they are in last place, next to last place or teasing us with conference leadership. The new theory supposes that people are not loyal to the team, they are loyal to the Friendly Confines, Wrigley Field.
I just returned from a three generation (my dad, my son, and me) trip to Wrigley, and as much as it hurts me to say so, I think this theory has legs. I have been to at least 30 top-level professional sports venues and never do I feel the way I feel when I walk out of the inner concourse and get my first glimpse of the green grass of the infield and celebrated ivy covering the outfield walls. My first trip to Wrigley Field was 40 years ago and there have been many since, yet I still get giddy just thinking about entering Major League Baseball’s second oldest stadium.
How is this related to loyalty? Well, the important question in this case is what drives loyalty? The Cubs team was recently purchased by the Ricketts family who will need to make many decisions about the future of the team. Wrigley Field is lacking in modern amenities for the players. Should they build a new stadium? Would that be meaningful in helping the Cubs win? What would it do to attendance? Would it change the experience that fans have enjoyed for so many years? What happens if fans really are loyal to the Wrigley Field experience and not to the team?
This is a pretty simple illustration of the shortcoming of minimal discussions with your customers. If you are going to reach out to your customers and ask them to take any time to answer questions, you had better make them count. They should help you make decisions, not post a number or keep a score. Simplicity is good but not if it leads to inaction or the wrong actions. There are no “silver bullets” in terms of understanding your customers. In order to make the right decisions in a customer-focused manner, your customer information must be predictive and prescriptive rather than short and simple.
One last caveat: I’m good with a new stadium if the Cubs would start winning World Series. But I really prefer them to win in good old Wrigley Field.