The Growth Equation

How MLSE is Driving Customer & Digital Transformation with Pansy Lee, MLSE Digital Labs

January 20, 2020 Rahul Goel & Greg Leach Season 1 Episode 6
The Growth Equation
How MLSE is Driving Customer & Digital Transformation with Pansy Lee, MLSE Digital Labs
Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever wondered how organizations disrupt themselves and create digital transformation?

Well In Today's episode of the Growth Equation we had the pleasure of bringing on Pansy Lee, Director of Product & Design at Maple Leaf Sport & Entertainment's Digital Labs. Pansy talks about how MLSE is leading the way in digital transformation within the sports & entertainment industry. She goes deep on how you make the customer the center of everything you do and focus on the problem and not the solution. 

So of the other things we covered: 

  • Understand how and what MLSE is doing to transform their fan experience 
  • How do you create a customer focused culture 
  • As a tech community how can we be more inclusive 

spk_0:   0:06
Have you ever wondered how companies trying to make digital transformation and get closer to the customer well in today's episode of the growth equation were super excited to bring on Pansy Lee, who's leading the digital labs initiatives at I'm Alesci May police support entertainment. She has an amazing experience about trying Thio think for customer centric and solve really big problems for user's and customers. And she's really leading the initiative right now that is, helping digitize the sporting entertainment industry. And jealousy is really at the forefront of that. In today's episode, we really get to hear all of the amazing things that she's trying to solve her and her team. And on top of that thinking about how you get closer to the customer, how do you think about being customer focused? You know, it's easy to hear how to be customer focus, but she really gets the heart of it of like how you actually execute and create a culture around that so super sent me to bring her on. She brings a really awesome perspective and really, really excited for everyone who will listen. So let's get started

spk_1:   1:15
a pansy. Welcome to the growth of equation podcast. Thanks for coming on today.

spk_2:   1:19
Thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here to try about what we're doing in MLS. See,

spk_1:   1:23
Yeah. Super exciting, I think. Just help our listeners That air this episode would love with Just, like, kind of kicking off would like to tell us a little bit about yourself. Like some intro. I think you have some really interesting experiences that would be great to talk about.

spk_2:   1:36
Thanks. So I've been in Tech for about 20 years, which, honestly, like it sounds crazy when I say that I still feel like I'm learning so much every day, and it still feels really new often. But I spoke 12 of those years marketing and then went back to school to do a master's and design. But it's not like a graphic design program. It's more like a masters in design thinking, so really thinking about, like how to make innovation a repeatable boat process. And then from there I went into product management, mostly leading product design teams out like software companies, and I've worked in like a mix of consumer products and for business, and in a bunch of different industries like Fintech, Healthtech gaining and now media and entertainment at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, where we're using a lot of technology to improve the fan experience for our sports san and also our concert fans.

spk_1:   2:28
That really great kind of just one thing I think on that is just as we think about, like, kind of you're kind of current experience that, like Emma, let's see like it's probably not something people probably think about, like digital innovation around, you know, sports teams and like in that entertainment space would love to, like, just here. Kind of What is that only he trying to do? And I'm like, What? The book, What's the end goal? And like like, what are some of the things you guys have been working on?

spk_2:   2:51
Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that. Like if you think about it, the fan experience really hasn't changed all that money and you buy a ticket, you print off your ticket, you show someone that ticket and then you stand in line, will get food and you stand in line to buy a T shirt and then you enjoy the game and you know everything is very much the same in events. So we've been really busy at MLS. See with this mandate of using technology to improve that fan experience because digital has really become like more and more of our experience. So we started to change like what it's like to come to a game, and even so, those who don't come to our games. So for those who do come to our games, we've introduced mobile tickets, which has really helped to reduce fraud because, you know, when you buy a paper ticket from someone or, you know, that paper ticket could have been printed multiple times, we've also introduced things like Wait times in the APP. So now you can see how long is that? The line? Which ticket? You know, entry is the shortest. We're like which Bars has the shortest line, and one of my favorites is actually in C ordering. You can order food right to your seat so you don't have to miss that like gold or that like that point and one of my favorites is a music lover is you can now pre order and pick up your concert merch because we all know that that concert T is something that you couldn't on Li get it the concert. So sometimes those last can wrap around the arena. I think the Travis Scott Concert It was like a two and 1/2 hour wait, which is insane. So, you know, some of these problems were just like, no brainers for us. And then for those who aren't actually able to come into the game or who aren't in the stadium, we also wanted to make it easier for fans to feel closer to the game and and to the players into the teens. And so we've launched a bunch of, like, really fun augmented reality. Things like we created a virtual Larry O'Brien N b A trophy and are absolutely could put it on your shelf. Or put the entire lease roster in your living room and take a picture with um, we also did like a partnership with uber last year, where we want to really bring surprise and delight to our fans. And so some people who had ordered uber eats at night would get like a rocker Strozzi in there, like in their order and We've also been a lot of fighting many video games in our laps,

spk_1:   5:04
just on there, like it does sound like just, like, amazing, like initiatives like How do you even like which ones you pick with, Like, this

spk_0:   5:11

spk_1:   5:11
like, God, you during this, like this, like industry that, you know, it may be a little bit archaic. I've been digitized like it just seemed like you probably have to be so many problems, like would even start with first?

spk_2:   5:22
I mean, I could say that we look at, like finding some of our problems. I think we're very fortunate. Our fans come to our stadium no more than 82 times a year, so we get loads of these opportunities to observe, like where the friction points are. So we've done really simple things, like just walk around and watch, like the lineups in the arena were really no brainers. You don't need to do customer interviews to know that that's an issue. But we use is a bunch of different ways of finding these problems. We do customer interviews. We also talk to our business stakeholders a lot in our frontline staff just because they're like right there every game. They see it for themselves, and they know what comes up the most often. And, you know, ultimately we are an experience company. And so our business is naturally very in tune with the fan experience and just quickly, tryingto bit all the time. But we have also started to use a lot of the data that we've just collected over the years to inform, like where we should focus our efforts and where to dig in more because the reality is like data is only going to tell you that something is happening, but it doesn't really tell you why it's happening. So we still rely on the other methods, like customer interviews and observations, to really understand what the problem is so that you know, we

spk_1:   6:37
so 10 1

spk_0:   6:38
of those

spk_1:   6:38
things that you often do, of course, is we talked to start up the smaller companies or organizations that are trying to scale and growth and running experiments, and building product is a fundamental part if it and oftentimes with limited resources, time or people, or cash, which is probably the most common one with an organization like Emily see being as large as it is and you having as many exciting problems you have. How do you select the things that you wanna work on then? More importantly, what are the limiting resources for you when you're actually implementing solutions and ideas that you come up with?

spk_2:   7:11
Yeah. I mean, even though we are relatively large company, I would say that, like, resources are always going to be a challenge no matter where you go at at any company. And we are not immune to that either. We have a pretty small team on the consumer. We've, you know, five product managers, five or six designers, and then, ah, pretty small in house step team. But, I mean, I think the way that we often look at, like what problems? That's all. First is we always rank our problems first by if you know, if we solve this problem isn't going to drive high customer value because that's number one for us at the end of the day. Like, you know, we are a family, Erian's company. And if we don't deliver on the fan experience, then what are we in business to do? So our very first question is ranking, you know, all the problems that we could be solved by the customer value for the fan value that we're going to drive by solving that problem. But obviously, you know, l s C is also a business. And so we have to also think about business value. And still, we put it on a bit of a to bite. So high customer value, high business value. That for us is like a no brainer, like we always start there. And then when we start thinking about like, how might we actually solve some of those problems? Then we start looking at like, Okay, there's the Shangri La version of the solution. And then there's, like, scrap your version of that solution. You know, we spent looking at, like, effort in order to prioritize, like how we're actually gonna go about solving

spk_1:   8:39
one question when you're talking about unless he is like an experienced company, you're trying to improve the customer experience when you're like implementing solutions like as an example you use, like improving, like the weight like that, having transparency around, like wait times like, what does success look like? Right, Just like, hey, we think this is a pain point. So we're gonna try to implement their like Is it trying to, like, improve like a net promoter score like MPs of Like that, after using like I've loved, understand? Like, what does success look like at the end of the day, when you're implementing some of these solutions to fix some of these problems?

spk_2:   9:11
So we've definitely done a lot of customer journey mapping to really understand, Like, what is that? And and customer experience? When someone comes to our arena, I think we're still tryingto piece together. What is that? What that I would ever read? You know, experiences based on some of the data and customer is that we've done. But we definitely have a lot more information on what the customer experiences inside the arena and in terms of like, how do we measure whether or not it's succeeding or not? We do have some, like secret shopper type like research that is done in the arena to help understand, like how that experiences for a fan. But it's different in the way that, like software, can measure in NPS because you can put that like MPs survey right at the end of your experience and people see it. But in physical experiences, you kind of have toe. Either try and reach them through email later, which the feedback loop is not as, like quick. So where we are working on ways to try and find a way to survey our fans in and way while they're still in the arena through some of our acts. That's actually something we're working on right now, another way of like us seeing if there's actually an improvement in our experiences. You know, our fans coming back to another game. That's like probably the easiest way to find out if people are in anything work.

spk_1:   10:32
One of it makes me really curious is because you know customers interested. He is important for a lot of organizations, and it's really great that you've been a

spk_0:   10:39

spk_1:   10:39
of many, that you have customers at the center of their business decisions. But Emily, Etc. And if you look at the branches it owns, like Detroit, a Raptor or the least or anything like that, they're not just customers like their fans there on the streets. If we're lucky enough when the championship last year and tens of thousands people just going crazy, you know, on the

spk_2:   10:58

spk_1:   10:59
and marinas and their fans. It feels like there's almost a least that's been taken from just being a regular paying customer for, you know, software products. Being raving fans. How does that change your perception of customers interested? Given your 20 years of experience in the tech industry, when you know that there's that kind of emotion involved with that brand and it's just a totally different customer experience, I would imagine

spk_2:   11:24
I actually don't think it changes very much because ultimately my role at M. L S C is to help improve the fan experience. I think a lot of that emotional experience that people have with the teams are actually created by the team's themselves and the brand around the teams roll Emma Digital Labs is to help enhance that experience and make it more frictionless and help people feel more emotionally connected to the teams. So we actually redesigned the Leafs up recently to bring some of the content that we create closer to the fans and making it easier to consume. We actually lost T T channel, which is like you could now stream a lot of the Leafs nation content that we create and the episodes that we create, you know, on your computer and on your TV. Where is before? The previously The fan experience was really like a TV experience, like the cable TV experience, and now we're helping with bringing some of that content. D'oh! An audience that is Yoon tree evening intent and creating that emotional connection through some of the content that we create. So we've redesigned a lot of the digital experiences to help bring those experiences toe life

spk_1:   12:42
and in general, like just like cult, uh, the entertainment sports entertainment industry, with a lot of these different. Do you think the industry's changing? Or do you think like analyst is just like at the forefront of like leading that change? I

spk_2:   12:55
am actually quite excited to say that analysts see in general is leading a lot of the change that's in sports and entertainment right now. Like we get, we're on calls a lot with other teams, like in the N. B. A. In any challenge, we share a lot of best practices. And since starting digital labs like, I'm really happy to say that like a lot of the other teams have been calling us and asking us, How did you launch and see ordering or how did you do wait times? And so there's definitely a lot of sharing that's happening industry right now

spk_1:   13:26
and then just kind of shape shifting gears a little bit on that to stalking, specific of the demo CD. And obviously, you know, you were mentioning, like, kind of a launch of like, the digital lab. They're like, What's it been like working for a company that obviously was in like, no intact but is trying to move into the digital innovation customer centric approach like, What do you think now? Like looking back now like are the keys for successor like the challenges that organization's base that wanted, like make that digital innovation but don't know howto like You don't have to get there right.

spk_2:   13:55
Transformation is a hard business to be a wee very fortunate with the business partners that, like stakeholders that we work with inside of our organization, they were so bought into wanting to improve the fan experience and but not only just for the fan experience. I think they also saw that it was gonna help their business and sorry what I say Business stakeholders. I mean, like the food and beverage team, the the retail team, the marketing of brand teen. So yeah, like working with the F B team in the retail team and marketing team and even our ticketing and membership seems to improve that fan experience. They saw that it was also gonna benefit their business lines, so it actually didn't take a lot. But it did require a lot of, like workshops like paint that fan experience so that they could understand, like how we could actually help with some of the pieces of their business.

spk_1:   14:47
What do you think? Organizations you do. And you could be mostly as an example, shifting their focus to be, like, more like customer centric. How do you think organizations like How do you How did that get there, right? It's like, Hey, I want to be customer focused. But like that, that's something you say it like, What do you actually have to do to actually start to create a culture around that I

spk_0:   15:04
feel like a

spk_2:   15:04
broken work record? When I say, you know, talk to your customers. It feels like such a no brainer. but I still think that a lot of companies don't do it enough. A lot of teams kind of sit in their offices and talk to each other about what they think the customer needs instead of talking to their customers again. I think we're very fortunate because consumers come to our arena, and so we get to see it. And we have a lot of people who work with our fans, you know, face to face. And so they get to hear how our customers were feeling like right there when they're interacting with our fans or with our season ticket holders. So I think observation is is such an incredible tool that isn't used enough. And I know that it may seem like we haven't been relatively easy because again like our fans come to us and we have the space where we, like, tracked them for three hours and observe them while they watch a game or concert. But I've also used this when I worked in health care where, you know, we would literally sit in the corner of there like a health care professionals office and, like watch them work for eight hours on you know we did it in fintech it into it. You know where it happens on this, like math scale, where every employee, including CEO, bows out to observe how people do their taxes or accounting. And I think there's not enough cos understand the value of like observing their customers and just, like, really understanding, like how their product or service fits into the lives of their like sand or customer.

spk_1:   16:31
If you were a project where had just started 2020 now for the next 10 years, imagine 2030 so far away. Where do you think the customer fan experience is gonna be? I mean, digital transformation seems like a central and most easy that default top because it creates exponential changes, often times and processes and products and experiences. But a digital transformation going to be what you feel the greatest difference maker over the next 10 years, And where do you feel the fan experience might, uh, end up landing? And over the next decade,

spk_2:   17:07
I think we're definitely gonna see way more personalization, and I know personalization has really we've seen it the most in digital experiences, like your Facebook feed or your instagram feed It's like we're your news feel like all of its so personalized to you now. And it's only a time before that experience becomes a physical experience. That personalized experience becomes a physical experience. And with the data that we're collecting, you know, through our phones and through even physical spaces collecting data through physical spaces, I think we're going to start seeing physical spaces become more personalized.

spk_1:   17:45
Are using a trend in your fans and customers where there are more people engaging in the physical experience or with more more digital channels on mobile and all kinds of other ways to engage with those brands and those teams coming to the forefront, do you think there's gonna be more engagement in virtual spaces? Or is that physical dimension going to continue to grow?

spk_2:   18:06
I definitely think there's going to be the most growth in our digital channels. The physical experiences only can only scale so much, you know, we fit about 1000 people in our arena, and either you put on more events or I don't know, you find more ways to squeeze people into that building. So I think the where we're definitely going to see the most growth is in our digital experiences and with more and more. I guess media and content with having to streaming and what I definitely see that space needing toe open up in order to expand the audience size and reach of sports and entertainment.

spk_1:   18:48
Are there any example

spk_0:   18:49

spk_1:   18:49
like technology or product ideas, your cameras kind of experimenting and playing around with on the topic of personalizing the fan experience?

spk_2:   18:58
Yeah, we're definitely working on making the app more personalized, just like understanding. 10th you enjoy watching about the teams and making sure that you don't miss those types of content when you're looking for, you know, to engage with the teams and the players. We're also looking ways to personalize the member experience. Our season ticket holders air, obviously one of the are most aged customer segments, And so we're always looking at ways to improve their experience, whether it's through a member portal or offering them promotions or offers on the retail products or the experiences that they're most interested in. I'm just making sure that people are getting the information that they want about their team and their layers Arab without having to like, constantly monitored all the time or not having to, like, search for the types of videos that they like and making it easier and surfacing enough for them.

spk_1:   19:57
Some of the lost you questions that we had here and just kind of a pivoting completely away from, like just seeing the fan experience and like talking specifically about some of your experiences. And, you know, some of the great volunteer experiences that you've done. You know, I know that you definitely have, like, a passion point, uh, spoke at, like different events and conferences specifically around, like, just like women in Tak and around my conclusiveness and we're creating that environment. I think it would just be really great toe like maybe highlight a little bit of that. And what do you think, Tex? How tech needs a change in order to create like that inclusive environment based on some of the experiences that you've seen? Because I know you have a perspective on that.

spk_2:   20:33
I definitely do speak about women in tech and specifically more around like male allies and like how they could help in creating some of these more inclusive cultures. I think in general there's a lot of challenges that women face in tech that that maybe people aren't really aware of, like women's self select. Because of how job postings air written, they'll under negotiate a lot on their salaries. I had one candidate who asked for 20 or 30,000 less than what men who were less qualified were asking me for. And I think the transgender community is also really shutting a lot of light into this era. There's a story about Stanford problem transition to mail and recounted a story where he gave a presentation at a conference and a scientist came up to him afterwards to say, You know, he loved the presentation, but that he always knew that his work was always better than his sister's, not realising it was the same person. So there's like all of these stories that people just aren't aware of, and so one and finding ways to become more aware of some of the bias or the challenges that people face in tech and then start thinking about like how you can build more inclusive cultures. So some of the tools that I or tips and tools that I've been sharing is one way to create job postings that are moved weren't inclusive. There's a tool called Texaco dot com t x T i o. It's a tool that helps with analyzing the language and job posting. So like words like Guru and Ninja tend to discourage women from applying and simple things like resume reviews where the names and pictures were removed and interviewing with a rubric. So you have a predetermined criteria and have a mix of people. You're doing that person and also things like inclusive socials that not everyone loves to drink and party. So you know, including other types of socials like board games, recycling or photography is another way of, like creating that social network without excluding certain groups. Are

spk_1:   22:41
there any other franchises or just a parent? Organizations like Kemalist be that you feel have gotten it right and you're always kind of. They're always kind of a source of inspiration for the rest of their respective leads. Or, you know, similar organizations

spk_2:   22:54
like sports related or not, sports related.

spk_1:   22:57
Yeah, largely sports related, I hope were at the forefront in Toronto.

spk_2:   23:01
You know, I think we are in a lot of cases where the forefront in a lot of other sports industry visas well, but I think there are a lot of sports organizations that are doing some really interesting things like I saw. I can't remember which stadium it was. But it was a stadium in the States was a baseball stadium where actually using clear, you know that it's kinda like nexus, but it's it's a good

spk_1:   23:26
Yeah, yeah,

spk_2:   23:28
yeah, so they're using clear as a way to, like, get People who have clear access can use this like access. Want to get into the stadium?

spk_1:   23:37
How about augmented reality? Is that ever a conversation or something that that's considered in your organization?

spk_2:   23:43
Yeah, I will use it a lot. And it's funny, cause, like some of these technologies, they don't really not that they don't have useful purposes. But the nice thing about entertainment is it doesn't always have to have utility like it can just be for fun and with augmented reality. That's something that useful, like we created the Larry O'Brien Trophy in an air format and so that you can put it on your table. You can pretend to put it in your hand, and we've just been able to experiment with a lot of technology that are more frivolous, I guess right now, yeah,

spk_1:   24:17
that's great. That's definitely really fun.

spk_2:   24:19
Because, like, what would you use for challenge for in like my Hanson's?

spk_1:   24:25
You know, the vision that, like, you know, you're sitting in the in the stadium and you have, like, an augmented reality had set and you see you're after taking a shot and you can trace the shot before even leaves their hand. And you know that there's clinging on like we're gonna have all kinds of other kids could have, like little monsters running across the floor and, like, who knows? You know, stuff like that, Yeah, but I love that I just the the purity of for that, like a good it just has to be for fun, like that's also success. That's really unique.

spk_2:   24:58
And cause, like, that is the problem that we're trying to solve. Rate is entertainment. So

spk_1:   25:03
that's a really great summary of so many different my tools that are out there that I think people just don't even realize so appreciate you kind

spk_2:   25:09

spk_1:   25:09
Ah, Betty might unlike that perspective there. So then I think just, uh, kind of wrap things up here. You know, the people are listening to this broadcast. How would someone go about trying to find you if they wanted to have more of a conversation on anything that you might have talked about?

spk_2:   25:21
Yeah. I'm always available on Lincoln. If you search for Pansy Lee, there aren't that many of us there. So you supply me on Lincoln.

spk_1:   25:30
Awesome. Awesome. Again, Just thanks again. So much for

spk_0:   25:32
taking the time to

spk_1:   25:33
donuts on the growth equation today. I hope you have a great rest of the day.

spk_2:   25:37
Great. Thanks. Okay.