/ How ESPN Uses Data to Score with Sports Fans

In an era when TV watchers have more options than ever, programmers that can tap into viewer sentiment have a distinct advantage.

That’s a realization that Doug Kramon came to a while ago, when it became clear to ESPN’s senior director of fan support and customer care that live game attendance was on the decline and more people were choosing to take in the action from the comfort of their couches.

“The viewing experience from home has evolved into a ‘virtually there’ experience,” Kramon said during the digital breakout session he co-hosted with RXA CEO Jason Harper during Domopalooza LIVE & On-Demand. “But great commentary and beautiful camera angles are not enough for our fans if we want to see them again.”

In an effort to retain eyeballs and make each fan ESPN’s “VIP,” Kramon turned to Domo and RXA, a leading applied artificial intelligence and data science company. What they’ve given him are real-time insights into how ESPN broadcasts—and especially UFC pay-per-view fight nights—are being received.

“We now have this clear window into the issues viewers have”—which typically stem from confusion caused by all the promotional noise—”and what the severity is of those issues,” said Kramon. “(Domo and RXA) have enabled us to manage the firehose of data coming in so we can provide fans with the help they need, when they need it, without making them wait in a queue.”

To get to that stage, Domo and RXA developed and deployed a solution capable of extracting key words and information, analyzing sentiment, and summarizing everything that’s been pulled from various channels for sharing with ESPN’s customer care teams—or, what Kramon calls “customized pit crews.”

To further aid viewers, ESPN pushes out notifications through AI chat bots, FAQ alerts, and live-site announcements. The result of all of these efforts? Over the 12-month period ending March 7, 2020, customer satisfaction was up by 9%, and customer self-service by 200%.

“This matters, because it shows anyone who values or works in customer experience what’s possible,” said Kramon. “And none of this is anecdotal; it’s exactly what customers are saying on social media and to our care team.”

Here’s what else is true: While Kramon is in the huddle on what Domo and RXA are doing, he’s not required to be a data expert. He gets to leave all the heavy lifting to his partners, which allows him to focus on adding value to the business in other ways.

“Do I know SQL? Do I know Python? Do I know R?” Kramon asked, rhetorically. “I know none of those coding languages. But I don’t need to know them. And you don’t need to, either.”

To watch the breakout session, click here. To learn how Domo can help you create better customer experiences, go here.

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