To no-one’s great surprise the results of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust’s results click here are damning.
There were 5394 responses to the NUST survey amongst members and non-members so the sample size of more than 10% of an average home attendance is unarguably representative of the general experience of supporters who rely upon the Box Office.
I’d really encourage anyone who cares about this stuff to go through the survey but I believe the survey results have now been passed to Sarah Medcalf, Head of Supporter Services at United and I would hope she, Yvette Thompson (Marketing & Box Office), Matt Willis (SLO) and Steven Tickle (Box Office) can take this seriously and react accordingly.
I would strongly urge those above at the club to work closely with the NUST on a workable plan to improve a basic service to supporters. While I’m referring to the Trust I’ll name check Lisa Mole and Paul Karter from the board who have been acting as a de-facto customer service function via social media while Supporters Services at United have been completely AWOL.
My hope is for Darren Eales (Ch Executive) and Peter Silverstone (Chief Commercial Officer) to be across this and direct the response to something which is fast becoming a festering sore amongst supporters.
There have to be some quick wins within all of this but before we get into all of that there are some basic questions to ask:
- why did United allow unlimited memberships to be sold in the close season?
- how many home tickets go on sale to this new increased memberships via ballots?
- why were no gift packs sent to members and season ticket holders as they have been in previous seasons?
- how many tickets are set aside for international fans, sponsors, corporate and club staff?
- why has the club decided to ignore previous member buying history within the ballots and ignore the loyalty of supporters to the club over a long period?
- what safe-guards did the Box office put in place to prevent match-tickets falling into the hands of secondary ticket sale sites and rival supporters as has occurred across the two PL home games this season?
- why has the club implemented the new digital season ticket system in one moment as opposed to a more phased and managed approach?
The Box Office is systematically failing against its own supporters charter click here
Resolving all of this when the season is underway is going to be difficult but it does beg the question why we kicked off one of our biggest seasons in years so ill-prepared for it at the Box Office.
There are more questions:
- why doesn’t the Box Office employ more staff to respond to supporters’ queries either via by e-mail, in person and by telephone?
- why are membership ballots for tickets taking place so close to match-days and so far removed from the FSA’s recommended six-week period?
- how was it assessed there was sufficient staffing resource to respond to the inevitable increase in demand from a massively increased club membership?
- what value for money are members getting from their memberships outside of a chance in a ballot to buy a ticket?
- why isn’t there greater visibility from Supporters Services online?
- what action is being undertaken to improve the NUFC website?
- does the club believe that the current organisational structure is the correct one and have its talented people deployed correctly?
Obviously, this is all about tickets for home games and doesn’t cover the controversies of away games which brings its own myriad mysteries of course.
In the meantime, let’s await the club’s response to the survey which I’d hope would be made public with a plan to improve everything so we can get beyond the current problems which exasperate so many of us.
We have NUST to thank for picking up the baton on this for us and to give the people who are the only democratic, accountable and members-led organisation we have an even stronger hand in dealings with the club you should seriously think about joining if you aren’t already a member.
We’d miss NUST if they weren’t there – join up here
It’s a quid for a year.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
Michael Martin, @TFMick1892