The Utah Jazz membership and services team uses Podium to streamline communication with leads and clients through one-to-one text messaging, Webchat, and Payments. While the Jazz used to have a long sales cycle of lost emails and phone tag, they now provide an experience that’s more efficient, convenient, and engaging for both clients and sales reps. With Podium, the Utah Jazz team has seen incredible results. An estimated 70% of their sales now involve some level of texting, they’ve seen record-breaking revenue in a single game night using a textable number, and they’ve reduced their sales team’s response times to under five minutes. And, with a single inbox for all incoming messages and comprehensive reporting, the team has complete visibility into their most valuable asset–the customer experience.


About the Utah Jazz


The Utah Jazz—an American professional basketball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah—was founded in 1974 as an expansion team. The team moved from New Orleans to Salt Lake City in 1979. Well-known players include John Stockton, Karl Malone, Deron Williams, Donovan Mitchell, and Rudy Gobert. Seven Utah Jazz players are in the Hall of Fame and the team holds two conference titles—1997 and 1998—and nine division titles—from 1984 to 2017. All of the Utah Jazz home games are played in the Vivint Arena, boasting 18,603 seats. At the time of the case study, the Utah Jazz are ranked #1 (44 – 15) in the Western Conference and in their 2020 – 2021 season.


The Challenge


The Utah Jazz aren’t just leading the NBA’s Western Conference. They’re showing the sports world how professional teams can use technology to transform how they run their programs, pack their arenas, and stay in touch with fans.


Challenge #1: Limited inventory means they must find ways to maximize revenue


“It’s interesting working in sports where you have such a high payroll on the other side of the building,” Jeff Heaton, Director of Membership Sales & Service at the Utah Jazz, said. “We have a limited amount of inventory. There are 18,603 seats in the building. And so we’ve got to find ways to be creative in making sure we’re bringing value to our fans, but also maximizing the revenue that we can out of each one of those seats.”


Challenge #2: Ineffective and inefficient sales communication


Capitalizing on ticket sales at the right moments is a big part of maximizing revenue for the Jazz. Prior to Podium, in-game sales required fans to call a phone number displayed on the jumbotron. Meanwhile, in daily sales efforts, phone and email tactics were proving inefficient and ineffective.


“We’d get a couple of voicemails or a few people calling in every game. And maybe our rep that’s on the phones is busy, so he doesn’t get that call. It was turning the sales process into a couple of weeks,” explained Jeff.


If customers did call in to the number on the jumbotron, they were routed through a phone tree, adding friction into the buying process. Additionally, any time a customer was ready to make a payment, the sales team had to call them to run the payment through.


Challenge #3: Missed sales opportunities


The asynchronous nature of email and voicemail was causing the Jazz to miss these sales opportunities. Often, by the time they would get ahold of fans, the excitement of the game was over. A day, or maybe just an hour had passed, and so had that fan’s impulse to buy season tickets.


“The impulse part of it is so big for us. When Donovan is going off and Rudy’s doing his thing with blocks, people are like, ‘I need to get tickets.’ In that moment, they’re feeling that desire to buy another ticket,” said Cameron Coughlan, another Director of Membership Sales and Service for the Utah Jazz.


Challenge #4: Lack of visibility due to sales reps using personal phones to text


Stuck in longer-than-necessary sales cycles, lost emails, and phone tag, the sales organization at the Utah Jazz needed a platform to improve their communication with leads and existing clients. For decades they had relied on the consistency of sitting at a desk, answering incoming inquiries via phone, and sending follow up emails to interested leads.


The sales reps, recognizing that they needed a more personal, one-to-one communication strategy, turned to texting customers and leads from their own personal cell phones. And while the response was positive, the internal team had no way to track those conversations in their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.


The Podium Solution


In 2020, the newly created Smith Entertainment Group purchased the Utah Jazz. With new management, the organization was ready to lead out in the league from a technology and customer experience standpoint. They partnered with Podium to help them achieve just that.


Podium Inbox


With SMS messaging through the Podium Inbox, the Utah Jazz have a more personalized, engaging customer experience with increased conversion rates. Customers are familiar with texting and sales reps are finding that clients are more direct with text messaging than they are on the phone. It’s saving the team valuable time as they streamline conversations. What once took 30 minutes is now resolved in two minutes via text.


“With texting, you get instant access that’s needed, but you also get a quick response back,” said Ty Wardle, Vice President of Membership Sales and Service for the Jazz. “People are more direct via text than they are on the phone. People shorten their conversations to exactly what they need and that saves so much time. A conversation that might take 30 minutes on the phone could take only 2 minutes via text. Texts create a lot of opportunities for us in that way.”


Podium Webchat


Before Webchat, if a customer wanted to make a ticket purchase, they would have to call or email or figure out another route to purchase a ticket. The general phone line, accessible from the main website, was the most popular way to purchase a ticket.


When customers dialed into the main phone number, it took multiple steps and five to ten minutes to get a human on the line. “In the past, customers had to take five steps to get an answer. And now, they can text in, and in one step, they get the answer they need,” said Cameron.


“Webchat has made everything more efficient,” said Cameron. “Not just for answering customer questions and not just for us on the phone side, but for clients getting the information they need.”


It’s so efficient, the team sees up to 10 organic leads coming through Webchat every day. And the number just increases on game nights when more customers visit the website for information or future ticket inquiries.


“We have anywhere from 5 to 10 leads coming through every day on Webchat. And even more on game nights,” Jeff added.


Podium Payments


Prior to payments, even with a sale done via text, a phone call had to happen to complete the transaction. With Podium, the Jazz team now has the ability to send text-to-pay links directly in their text conversations with customers, saving time and adding convenience to the process.


“Payments have made transactions possible without having to carve out time for a phone call,” said Jeff. “The client is able to securely pay when it’s convenient for them after receiving the invoice.”


Results and ROI


Result #1: Reduced response times to incoming messages to under 5 minutes


Before Podium, the Utah Jazz team wasn’t able to track response times. All communication was on the phone, in email, or through personal text conversations that didn’t route to the larger group. The team had little visibility into how quickly reps were getting back to customer questions and purchase inquiries.


“Since we adopted Podium, we’re able to get back to customers so much faster,” said Cameron. “And for us, that’s very important to make sure people know we are servicing their accounts. Regardless of how much they spend, whether they’re in the front row or in the upper bowl, we want our customers to feel like VIPs. And so much of that is in the communication with each customer.”


Podium allows reps to get back to incoming messages quickly as customers text in about ticket purchases and other questions. As response times have improved, customers experience a personalized conversation in a timely manner rather than a bot-like experience. The team’s goal is promptness. And with Podium, they’re achieving it. Response times to incoming messages are down to under five minutes.


“Podium allows us as leaders to see all of the incoming texts that come to our reps,” Cameron continued. “We can see how quickly they are responding. We can set expectations about those response times. And now we have reps responding within five minutes to each text.”


And when text conversations turn to topics that require a phone call, it’s easy to set up. It allows the customer service rep to keep the text conversation personalized–and adjust to a different platform when needed.


As Cameron put it, “Podium has enabled us to be so much more efficient. We can handle multiple text conversations with more accounts–so many more than we could if we were still only emailing or texting out of personal accounts.”


The team agrees that by shifting to a text-first strategy, they meet the needs of today’s consumers.


Result #2: 300% increase in revenue for in-game season ticket sales in one night


In the past, customer reps would call during or after games to prompt next season sales and deposits. Now, they send an in-game text and get back what they call “in-game reads.” With Podium messaging, what once resulted in only a few voicemails during a game turned into 100 texts and a record-breaking amount of season ticket sales in just one game night.


“We set a record for the number of season tickets sold in one night,” said Jeff. “Before it was a phone call and only a few voicemails. That process turned into multiple weeks. Now with Podium Inbox and Podium Payments, we can sell season tickets in just five minutes.”


In one example, the team used messaging in Podium to sell new season tickets during a game and a return customer spent $52,000.


“People feel comfortable texting and buying something via text now,” Jeff explained. “Before they often felt like they needed to be on the phone to spend that kind of money. But now, people are fine with it.”


Result #3: Increase in email open rates


The team still uses daily and weekly emails, but they now use them in parallel with their text strategy to create an omnichannel experience. Whenever they send an accompanying text message, they see an increase in their email open rates.


“We still have service reps sending daily and weekly emails, but we also send texts through Podium,” said Cameron. “We send follow-ups like, ‘Hey, I just sent you an email about renewals. Please check it as soon as you can.’ And just that process has improved our email open rates. It’s another good example of how Podium has been so valuable to communicate with our clients.”


Result #4: Estimated 70% of sales now involve text messaging


The Jazz now have a modern, more efficient sales process that is better suited to meeting the needs of their customer base. The team estimates that at least 70% of sales include some type of text conversation. Whether the initial interaction with a lead starts over the phone or on a website, a text conversation will be involved at some point in the sale.


70% of our sales have some kind of text involved at some point,” said Cameron. “Whether it’s start to finish or in the middle, they’re utilizing Podium at some point in the majority of our sales.”


An example of a Podium text is as simple as, “Hey, can I call you this afternoon to talk about those seats?” The rep and customer can coordinate on a meeting time. It’s saving time that was spent emailing back and forth or playing phone tag.


“The text conversations are so valuable,” continued Cameron. “It’s something nearly all of our sellers have used at some point in the process–beginning, middle, or end–they’re all utilizing Podium for that.”


Result #5: A more personalized customer experience


With Podium, the Jazz now offer a personalized customer experience through one-to-one, two-way communication. By offering a communication option that their clients already use–text messaging–the conversations build relationships instead of getting lost in overflowing email or voicemail inboxes.


“Overall, Podium offers easier communication,” said Jeff. “There’s more frequent communication with our clients instead of once every three months with an email or a phone conversation. Now we have text going back and forth building a relationship with our customers.”


Result #6: A more personalized customer experience


With Podium, the Jazz now offer a personalized customer experience through one-to-one, two-way communication. By offering a communication option that their clients already use–text messaging–the conversations build relationships instead of getting lost in overflowing email or voicemail inboxes.


Before Podium, a sales rep’s relationship with a customer was more formal–checking in at specific times via email or phone call. It was all centered around the professional aspect of selling seats. Now, with one-to-one texting, Podium is helping each sales rep build deeper connections to their clients. So much so that reps often receive texts from customers during a game with messages like, “Did you see that shot? How awesome was that?”


“Podium has allowed us to personalize those client relationships more,” added Cameron. “The relationship starts when they purchase their tickets, but it doesn’t end there. And with texting, we can establish that communication and continue to build the relationship even more.”


Result #7: 200+ text transactions and 20+ hours saved in one month


In the last month alone, the Jazz team processed our 200 transactions through Podium Payments, eliminating the need for just as many phone calls and saving 20+ hours for the team.


“Sending payment requests directly in our text message conversations has been a huge time saver for us,” said Jeff. “Podium Payments saves our teams at least 20 hours a month just from eliminating those payment phone calls.”


Result #8: Doing more with fewer resources


The impact of downsizing the sales team from 20 to 4 during the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing the service team from 12 to 6 has increased the workload of each team member. But Podium has helped ease the burden.


The team ran a campaign late into 2020, offering a rollover credit from last year to the current season. Before Podium, they would have overwhelmed their sales reps with the number of responses they received from customers. But with their messaging platform in place, the sales reps were able to answer every question, respond to every comment, and address every need. And the management team had full visibility throughout the entire process.


“We could see our reps communicating with clients and when they needed extra help, management was able to step in and take a few conversations to push things along. But we could see it all through Podium,” said Cameron.


The campaign helped the team realize they could do more work with fewer resources. With more effective communication through Podium Messaging, Webchat, and more, the team is able to keep up with the inflow of conversations while also ensuring each interaction is personal and responded to quickly.


“To see that fewer people can do the work because we’re able to communicate in a different way with customers–that incredibly effective and it’s saving us a good amount of money each year,” said Cameron.




For the Utah Jazz, the impact of Podium is clear–it’s breaking down communication barriers for customers interested in purchasing tickets. It’s removing the friction in the purchase process. It’s creating more operational efficiency and speed for the sales team. And now, the Jazz are leaders in their league when it comes to leveraging technology to modernize and simplify the entire customer journey.


“Podium has enhanced and improved our client experience. It’s provided efficiency–making us much more efficient in all aspects of communication with our clients,” says Cameron.


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