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Werder Bremen's digital transformation and how it helped our community in the midst of COVID-19

Nico Hruby

Hello Everyone! Nico Hruby, Chief Digital Officer of Bundesliga’s Sportverein Werder Bremen, here at The Pico Mag as a first time guest poster. I felt it was the right time to share some type of insight during this crisis on how we kept, and are keeping our community and fans first throughout this ongoing ordeal and how this led us to delivering a fast, simple solution for our ticket-holding fans. Our fans are in the center of our activities, all processes aim to add value for them and it was essential that we continued to be there for them throughout this difficult time. It’s my hope that this will encourage and provide some guidance to those of us in the industry who want to find new, innovative ways of being there for their fans and providing simple solutions when it comes to their ticket holding fans. At a time when social distancing is the new norm and the future of game attendance is unknown, it’s time to use technology to provide more and more fan services in a digital way. 

COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it

COVD-19 has impacted and changed the entire world. Even the biggest sports leagues like the NBA and the NHL as well as the biggest sporting events like the EURO 2020 and the Olympic Games were forced to cancel and/or postpone their activities. Not only for the global sports movement these actions can be considered as eye-openers and solidified the “new normal”,  really putting into perspective what’s happening on a global level - without really having an idea of the overall impact and changes this situation will bring for all of us. 

The sports industry as a whole has been affected and was hit with quite a few challenges across many different angles. Our “product” was cancelled and prolonged, understandably so. Our fans were left without a team to cheer. Our partners were looking for an effective solution to recoup the value they receive during games. Our internal Werder Bremen family was facing the ambiguity of job security. Here in these moments, was when the strength of our fan community was really highlighted. During such trying times, our fans wanted to be there for us as much as we wanted to be there for them, which is a very fundamental part of what forms a valuable community. 

While we tried to, and continue to help our community with numerous activities to keep them engaged and even distracted for a few minutes, we also had to overcome some very practical issues - one of the most important being: what can we do for our fans that bought tickets? How can we make it easy and understandable for them and actually provide the fans with the security that they will be properly taken care of? Our fans' needs are always at the center of our endeavours and our number one priority, so finding a solution for them became our main focus. 

Waiving for a good cause

Untitled design (3)In coming to terms with the fact that games would not be held with fans in the stands, we needed to think fast on exactly what type of solution we could provide to our ticket-holding fans. We chose to work with Pico, in creating an automated service to guide our ticket-holding fans through the process of deciding what they want to do with their tickets. We asked them simple questions and provided them with the opportunity to decide what to do with their tickets - receive a full refund or donate the funds to Werder Bremen and a local charity project.  We put the decision directly into the hands of our fans.

The automated and easy-to-use service process reached the goals: With more than 20k+ fans completing the process and 96% of them rating it as “very good” or “good, it was both ours and our fans first experience using an automated service process at Werder Bremen, highlighting the importance for us to provide fans with choice and digital solutions as well as actually measure its performance and success in order to learn what our fans like or dislike for future activities.

What it looked like Werder Bremen - Chat

As a club with over 40,000 active members, and over 1.5 million+ fans across social media, both members and fans alike look to us to provide answers and even some comfort. It’s our responsibility to provide support to those who have supported us for years and years to come. It’s up to us to provide similar experiences that can still be shared within a huge fan base and between fans. It's important to the industry and those that support it, to still be there, as we have learned that being there digitally, is just as authentic and important.

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