A unique look at producing great customer service through the eyes of a professional baseball team guest manager

Travis Roberts is the Guest Experience Manager for the Angels baseball team in Anaheim, CA. He incorporates mystery shopping into aggressive, on-going customer service training for a group of employees that play a critical role in delivering a great experience, whether the team is winning or losing.

“We see our fans as guests.”

Travis Roberts brings a lifetime of working in his family’s construction company as well as an MBA in Sports Management to the high-energy job of managing every facet of guest experience for the Angels baseball team.

Customer service is so important to Roberts that he sits in on interviews with Human Resources for every single job across each department within guest services. By the time someone gets hired, the chances are very good that the person is a good fit.

While Roberts spends many hours in the hiring process, he spends double that time in the onboarding and overall training of each person.

“Our sole focus is on customer service and how to provide the best experience for our guests,” says Roberts.

Angels take the “halo” higher.

Each year Roberts and his employees pick a theme. In 2016, it was “Taking the Halo High Road.” The halo is part of the Angels logo. The theme became about understanding that many times it’s not what you say, but how you say it to a customer.

Wrong perceptions about how instructions or answers to questions were presented came up in mystery shops. Roberts went to work on it and found the issue easy to correct.

First impressions mean a lot when people are coming to the game for the first time or as a regular.

The game experience begins in the parking lot. Southern California often gets a bad rap as being self-absorbed. That’s not what people get at an Angel’s game, according to Roberts.

Everyone on staff is ready to greet guests with the same plan:

1. Upbeat, friendly smile
2. Solid eye contact
3. Courteous, polite in every situation
4. Treat everyone how we want to be treated
5. Our guests are like family, part of the team

Secret Shops reflect morale and offer chances to pump each other up.

“When the team is not playing well, we get down just like the fans,” said Roberts.

The secret shop results almost always track with rough patches in the season, but Roberts uses it as a rallying point to remind his team that they can’t control what’s happening on the field, but no matter what they represent the Angels.

Each mystery shop question is designed to gauge whether or not every team member is living up to expectations based on the perceptions of an average fan. “What I like most is that secret shop data gives us better feedback in a non-biased way. The shopper is truly looking for what matters to us most.”

Each department gets a grade. This allows department managers to reinforce the strengths and correct the weaknesses. Names are not posted but outcomes from secret shops are posted so employees can see where they need to pay closer attention.

“Everyone knows me. It’s priceless for me to get unbiased 3rd party feedback. The data gives me a realistic snapshot of how we are doing. Honestly, most of the organic feedback we get from fans is only about what we’ve done wrong, and I know there’s two sides to every story.”

A month’s worth of secret shop data gives us a realistic look at how we are doing across all departments on many important but varied measures, from uniforms and eye contact to up selling products and helping people find alternative seats.”

“Caught being good” awards generate enthusiasm.

The Angels give a lot of rewards to employees. The “poker chip program” helps morale because prizes are given all year long for people noticed for doing something good.

Prizes include gift cards, Angel baseball bats, tickets to games, player signed memorabilia, and more.

The favorite among employees is a mystery promotional bag full of all the Angels swag. Roberts keeps extra items for staff giveaways.

Being great is hard work.

“I say there’s nothing wrong with failing because being great is hard work,” notes Roberts.

Roberts personally believes that valuing the Angels brand goes hand in hand with the personal brand of every person that works for the franchise.

“I want our people to value themselves, their friends, family, and coworkers in addition to the Angels brand. We invest in our people because if they care about their personal brand, we know they’ll appreciate the Angels’ brand.”