Don’t Let Digital Data Trump the Human Touch

in Jun 07, 2019

Businesses large and small use data to learn and then make decisions about their customer’s behavior. However, be warned, as decisions based solely on data alone can sometimes not be the best… as was the case with a Denver Broncos season ticket holder.

In a LinkedIn article penned by the fan, he told the story of how his family was on a waiting list for 7 years to buy season tickets to the Denver Broncos. When they were finally offered tickets, they were ecstatic. However, just as is the case with most of us, sometimes life intervenes and this fan’s family had a new child and, in that NFL season, could not attend any games.

The NFL actually provides an authorized outlet for fans to resell tickets to games they can’t attend and promote this Ticket Exchange pretty heavily. Visit any NFL team’s website and there will be mention of it. The fan sold his family’s tickets for every game on the NFL Ticket Exchange and the Denver Broncos noticed – and literally revoked the family’s right to renew their season tickets. Even though the family appealed, they could not persuade the organization to change its mind. To make matters worse, according to the family, the whole process of revoking their tickets, along with the appeal decision, was all done via automated e-mails.

Perhaps this whole scenario would make sense if a person were reselling tickets just to resell them — with no intent to ever attend a game. However, the issue at hand here is that the Broncos are essentially penalizing a person for following their instructions on how to resell tickets – and, in the end, used data to penalize this longtime fan.

Data can be a goldmine of information if correctly used. It can improve a company’s policies, processes and customer experience, leading to increased loyalty and retention. Businesses, however, should not rely on data alone to make decisions. There will always be a human factor involved that data just cannot interpret.

In this case, there was no way to know that these season ticket holders just had a life event (a baby), or that they intended to resume paying for their tickets and attending games eventually. If the fan’s (author of the article) theory is true, the data from the Ticket Exchange is the only determining factor in the Denver Broncos decision to revoke their season ticket rights. Of course, as you can see, this fan took to social media to tell his story – and is getting plenty of responses, including posts from other fans that have had the same thing happen to them.

This data “misinterpretation” problem – or using data without any human interpretation, exists in many industries. In our automotive industry, OEMs make decisions and penalize dealers solely based on data from survey results. There is no pleading or arguing their case. The data is what it is and dealerships can suffer greatly in allocation, bonuses or loss of incentives.

The problem goes both ways, however. There are dealers who make decisions NOT to deal with customers based on data and, sometimes, don’t consider the human side of the data. Either way, bad decisions can be made that hurt a business — despite the fact that the INTENT of the business was to use the data to help itself.

Hopefully, this fan’s story gets heard by someone in the Denver Broncos organization who is willing to listen, and he receives, at the very least, true consideration for his circumstances from a sympathetic real-life person — not a decision solely based on data collected digitally.

Remember, in today’s digital world, the human touch is still incredibly important. Its humans — not data, — that keep businesses… well, in business.

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