Complaints have often come in from supporters who are disappointed with the communication from the club or ease at which they can contact them – including access to the ticket office over the phone or by email.
Wolves, who have admitted their services have been below par, have now launched Fan Services, which will streamline enquires into one department.
The dedicated group of staff will deal with all fan enquiries, including ticketing, retail, museum and tour, hospitality, matchdays and parking, which will allow issues to be dealt with quicker and more efficiently.
Wolves general manager for commercial operations Vinny Clark said: “Having been working on the implementation of a dedicated Fan Services team for some time, I’m delighted to see the introduction so we can improve our fan experience and remove much of the frustration that people have endured in recent times when trying to contact the club.
“I acknowledge that our service levels have been below the required standard for some time and apologise sincerely to those who have been unable to contact us, cut off or left frustrated at the lack of progress in their enquiry. Fixing these issues has been the very top priority for our team internally and our commitment to launching a centralised hub which is better equipped to handle a higher volume and broader range of queries is now realised.
"By means of explanation, there have been a number of key factors that have created service level issues across the last 18 months or so. The first is the growth journey that the club is on off the field. As an example, our global ecommerce business is now five times the size it was just three years ago, so instead of shipping around 30,000 orders in a year as we did in 2018, we are now shipping over 160,000.
“With that rapid growth comes inevitable growing pains and it has taken us some time to catch up in coping with demand. We continue to strengthen and invest into our retail operations team so that they are better able to cope with continued increase in demand – they have been truly incredible in their efforts and have gone above and beyond for the club and its fans throughout a challenging period but unlike much bigger operators, the resource is finite and our obligation to them and our fans is to keep growing the team to an optimal level.
“Also, we have undoubtedly felt the effects of Covid-19 across our various commercial operations. There have been supply chain, delivery and shipping issues which have been widely reported with pain being experienced across many industries. From a ticketing perspective, an ever-changing landscape has seen us have to adapt how we work with shorter sales windows for games and changes to how fans access Molineux just two examples of enforced changes that we appreciate can, and do, cause frustration.”
In their statement, the club has said they feel the high quality of support from supporters and with the response levels causing frustration, the Fan Services team will be bolstered by improvements to technology.
Clark added: “Whilst growth is a positive thing that we should embrace, and Covid-19 is ultimately outside of our control, the two other key factors that have affected service levels are very much within our control and these are the areas where we have invested to make the necessary improvements.
“Firstly, our systems and technology have not allowed us to be able to deal with fans in the way we would have liked. For example, many would have experienced long holds on the phone with no information as to how long the wait might be, culminating in a frustrating instance of being cut off or the line going dead. This is purely because our systems weren’t geared up to cope with a greater volume of calls than we used to receive several years ago.
“We have been working hard with our great partners at Silverbug to implement a much-improved new phone system and better systems for those who contact us by email which I’m certain will offer a much more satisfying experience to our fans. With the integration of new systems comes better ability to capture and analyse data so that we can further improve our service levels in the future.
“The final factor that we had to address was the internal structure that the club has had for many years to deal with fan queries and complaints. Historically we have operated in silos meaning that each department has its own small team of people, some teams having just one person, answering queries. Each department doesn’t operate with a sustained flat level of sales per year and are all affected by seasonal peaks. For example, season ticket sales are a big peak for the ticket office whereas kit launch is obviously a big event for the retail team.
“What that meant was that in each of those departmental peaks, you have a very small team dealing with a very large volume of queries whilst other teams were relatively quiet. This didn’t make sense and we took a view that centralising one large team and training them across all departments was the best way to ensure we are contactable across the calendar. Again, whilst the previous structure has been a source of frustration for fans which is entirely justified, I must place on record my thanks to those across the teams who have done their best to get through an unenviable amount of work, often within strict time pressures.”
The club has said that the department has been 'carefully assembled with committed members of staff' who have been trained in all facets of the department.
Fan liaison officer Dave Wood has also been appointed as the new Fan Services manager.
He said: “The team is made up of existing staff already within the club, who now specialise in all areas. We’ve put a team together to create a central knowledge base and every member of staff will be tasked to have strong knowledge across all departments of the club, so we can deal with enquiries a lot more quickly – the whole team will be able to assist you. Every person on the team is a Wolves supporter, so understands what it means for supporters to get in touch in an efficient manner.
“I think most fans would agree that when they do manage to speak to a member of staff, they do get appropriate help, to a high standard. The issue has been not being able to speak to people, either due to long queues on the phones, going to the incorrect person or emails taking a long time to be replied to. In the short-term, we’ll alleviate that, with a dedicated team that can answer all enquiries, which will hopefully get the fans’ confidence back, knowing they get a solution to their enquiry in a fair amount of time.”
Clark added: “We’d have liked to introduce Fan Services earlier as it has been something that we’ve been working on for a while, but there was no pause button on what has been an incredibly busy time and onboarding new systems and technology in the current climate has taken a little longer than it may have done pre-Covid. Watching people continue to struggle without the ability to fix things immediately has been a huge frustration for me personally.
“With all that being said, I hope this is a big positive for the club and its fans as we look forward to offering the service levels that our incredible supporters deserve. We know that the introduction of Fan Services doesn’t mean that we will never get anything wrong or that we will put an end to the issues that fans of all clubs face from time to time, but what we want is to be available as I believe that is our first and most important obligation.
“If we’re honest, we haven’t been easily available to our fans who have needed our support and we are committed to improving that – the structure, team and systems that are now in place are a hugely positive step forward.”
Fan Services is now live and can be contacted in the following ways. Fan Services phone: 01902 810485. Sales phone: 0371 222 1877. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter direct message: @WolvesHelp.