On Saturday at a sold out O2 Arena, Dillian Whyte beat heavyweight rival Joseph Parker on points to boost his claim for a rematch with Anthony Joshua and a world title fight. The other brutal heavyweight collision of the night saw Dereck Chisora knock out veteran Carlos Takam in what many are already calling the fight of the year. During his post-fight interview, Chisora declared he always wants to “fight for the fans”, however nearly a quarter of the people in the arena missed his overhand right that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas due to poor customer service.
So, how exactly did the organisers get it so wrong when customers had spent anything between £45 and £500 of their hard-earned cash to be there? Here’s a quick run-down; starting with the good bits.
On arrival, we were asked if we had an O2 phone and our loyalty was rewarded with queue jump, meaning we slipped straight in
The fights themselves almost all ended with a knockout and proved that pay per view doesn’t need Anthony Joshua to be successful
Every vendor sold food and alcohol, which meant queues weren’t separated by demand, leading to multiple, snaking queues of up to 40 people
At an Amex sponsored venue, all the card machines went down, resulting in cash only bars in an increasingly cashless society
Put simply, there weren’t enough people behind the counters and they hadn’t been trained. At one point, with over 100 people waiting to be served, there were only three on a hot dog stand and none of them had been shown how to use the equipment
No communication – customers didn’t know when things weren’t working or had run out
No way to voice complaints – this led to people getting frustrated or being rude to staff
As a result of demand, all food had sold out by 9.30pm and all draught had gone by 10pm (even at £6.50 a hot dog and £7 a pint!)
In a particularly bad chain of events, I queued for food and two pints, only to find out at the front of the queue that both had run out. When I then asked for two bottles instead and tried to pay by card, they informed me the machine wasn’t working and I was £1 short, meaning I ended up queuing for 45 minutes with a net result of nothing and missed the best fight of the night
All of this could have been resolved if the customer had been put at the heart of the event rather than profit. Prices had been dramatically increased since the last event, obviously assuming that people would put more money behind the bar, but due to poor customer service it was almost impossible to spend anything. If some of that money had been spent on getting the right number of staff in and training them to serve, communicate and resolve problems then the return on investment would have been almost immediate. Customers were there in there thousands begging to spend cash (or card, as the case may be).
In contrast, I have to say that the organisation of TfL afterwards was absolutely fantastic to get nearly 20,000 fans quickly and safely away from the venue at the end. It’s almost like they were trained and prepared for a regular occurrence that was announced over two months ago.
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