Transforming Fan Engagement at Leinster Rugby with BearingPoint

Niall Fitzmaurice

Niall Fitzmaurice

Former Business Applications Manager

Read Time, 5 min.

Leinster Rugby working with BearingPoint to radically transform how it engages with supporters using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power BI

Leinster is one of Europe’s most successful professional rugby union sides. Having won the Champions Cup four times and the PRO14 eight times in recent years, they now have attracted a legion of loyal supporters who regularly make the pilgrimage to their home in the heart of Dublin to watch them in action.

In September 2018, management and technology consulting firm BearingPoint, became Leinster Rugby’s Official Innovation Partner. As part of an ongoing programme of digital transformation, BearingPoint is providing expertise to revamp many of Leinster Rugby’s digital assets to help provide a best-in-class experience for Leinster rugby fans around the world. Leinster Rugby’s ultimate aim is to improve services for supporters and reward fans for their ongoing loyalty.

The innovative and interactive “BearingPoint Social Wall” as shown on the large screens in Dublin’s, RDS Arena at the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 1 Round 5 match between Leinster and Lyon.

One of the top priority projects identified by BearingPoint to date is the transformation of how Leinster Rugby engages with fans through its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Typically, Leinster Rugby supporters purchase match tickets via third party providers like Ticketmaster, with the related customer data housed across multiple 3rd party service providers. Thus, Leinster Rugby was not in a position to fully utilise or analyse its customer data to better understand its loyal fan base. In effect, it didn’t have a complete view of how its 100,000 plus fans interact with the club and was unable to develop new offerings based on customer insights. BearingPoint quickly identified that by centralising all of Leinster Rugby’s customer data in one single system, it would give the club a much greater understanding of its key supporter base.

BearingPoint conducted an in-depth benchmark study across other rugby clubs – in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere. The study also compared Leinster Rugby to other sports, including some of the bigger NFL franchises – like the Dallas Cowboys – to get a sense of how they engaged with their fans across their digital and social channels.

While Leinster Rugby was performing very well online compared to other clubs, BearingPoint identified some major growth opportunities in terms of both digital sales and improvements in how the club communicated and engaged with its supporters. Where Ticketmaster provided an excellent platform for ticket sales, a critical step would be to reclaim, centralise and own all related customer data, so Leinster Rugby could better understand how their supporters interacted with them beyond ticket sales and offer improved, personalised and more bespoke services.

Kevin Quinn, Head of Commercial and Marketing at Leinster Rugby and Gillian O Sullivan, Country Leader for BearingPoint Ireland

Identifying the data Leinster Rugby did not know they needed

The first phase of this project is now complete. And during this wave of work, BearingPoint migrated a sample customer data set from Ticketmaster and other sources into a new CRM Platform, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, which afforded flexibility, power and scale. It enabled BearingPoint to overlay any and all future customer data sets and generate new customer insights.

BearingPoint also implemented Microsoft’s Power BI analytics tools, to deliver accurate and real time data analysis. Leinster Rugby can now create its own customised reports and data dashboards, to better visualise customer data and immediately highlight new opportunities.

“The research we conducted across other clubs and sports really showed how Leinster Rugby could better optimise and utilise their fans data more effectively,” said Gillian O Sullivan, Country Leader for BearingPoint Ireland. “Leinster Rugby were already performing very well online. For the first time, bringing all of Leinster Rugby’s supporter’s data together under one roof, combined with the right data analytics tools and resources, has the potential to truly be transformative. The benefits will be significant.”

With a range of new supporter insights, Leinster Rugby will be able to classify fans into different stakeholder groups based on their loyalty for the first time, e.g. a one year first-time season ticket holder versus a 10-year season ticket holder. And by better understanding their supporters, Leinster Rugby will be able to offer more personalised and targeted communications.

“The rich supporter insights this phase delivered, were seen immediately,” according to Kevin Quinn, Head of Commercial and Marketing at Leinster Rugby. “Very quickly, we could identify key stakeholder groups amongst our season ticket holders and look at how to apply this new customer intelligence into our existing marketing activities to identify improvements and opportunities. This has only been possible through the insights and learnings gained from centralising our customer data and the application of Microsoft’s Power BI analytics tools. How BearingPoint’s project management and analytics teams handled the entire CRM integration has been very impressive.”

Longer term, it is expected that Leinster Rugby will generate a more complete picture of who its key supporters are and how to better engage with them. Other sources of data will be added to their new CRM platform to further enhance supporter insights, ranging from social media channels, merchandise, sales, and other partnership data. In the near future, this will enable Leinster Rugby to better understand how its supporters engage with the club, from the turnstile on match day at the stadium, from the club’s digital channels, and when they buy the latest Leinster Rugby jersey.

“BearingPoint’s CRM solution will completely transform how we interact and communicate with our supporters and ticket holders,” Kevin Quinn added. “We have always been very engaged and responsive, but this new level of rich customer intelligence will help us get a broader understanding of how and when they interact with us, and how we can improve to meet their requirements. Having this level of insight is also a major bonus for our partners and sponsors. Now our task is to deepen and enrich our communications with supporters to offer a more personalised engagement that previously was just not possible. BearingPoint and Microsoft’s services will not only accurately report on how and what we are doing now but help the Club to significantly improve supporter communications and drive stronger fan engagement in the future.”

 

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