CX in the NBA is More Than Just T-Shirt Cannons

Some of our staff in the Chicago office went to Milwaukee for a Bucks game last season. There were two major takeaways from the game. First, Giannis Antetokounmpo is an incredibly fun player to watch. Second, the t-shirt Gatling gun they wheel out onto the court during a TV timeout is absolutely amazing.

It was probably the t-shirt cannon that was talked about more after the game. Having read about the newer, larger, more powerful T-shirt cannon that debuted this year, we’re looking forward to going up the road to Milwaukee for a game next season. Have a look at it!

A recent article in Deadspin about the cannon and its inventor is a fascinating look at how a small market NBA franchise is working with local partners and innovating their customer experience.

They trace through some key history in sports customer experience starting with the inventor of the discipline - Bill Veeck. The Chicago White Sox owner’s 1986 obituary in the Chicago Tribune said he “fractured many of baseball’s stuffy rules in the belief that the fans came to the ballpark not only to see a game but to be entertained.”

But just thinking about the basketball experience as an arms race in T-shirt cannons doesn’t see the whole picture.

At the Qualtrics conference, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke at length about creating a customer experience for the 99.9999% of worldwide fans who will never set foot in an NBA arena. So for the league, it's about crafting ways to enhance the CX enough to keep you from changing the channel during free throws or stoppages without the benefit of a quad-cannon bazooka.

That’s a worthwhile lesson for many industries. If we look at the league and the team as different departments in the same company, it’s easy to see that the two have very different customers coming to the same end product. These two divisions need to understand their customers and maximize their experiences in very different ways.