1. FC Köln is the flagship of its hometown. The tradition-conscious football club now relies on digitalization for its fans. In order to control sales, marketing and fan communication via a central platform, the “FC” introduced Customer 360 from Salesforce.

When you think of Cologne, you automatically have carnival, Cologne Cathedral and of course 1. FC Köln in mind. The well-known and popular football club stands for pure emotion. No wonder that the increasing number of fans and members has ensured that 1. FC Köln, like all Bundesliga clubs, is about more than sporting success and emotional moments. Economic goals are also in focus.

The loyal customer base has high standards: the fans want contact with their club and their stars – and they want to find out about the club and news about transfers quickly. Of course, they also expect an easy-to-use ticket system. In short: These are people with the highest emotional connection to their “product”.

In order to strengthen this bond even further, 1. FC Köln has sought support. With its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, Salesforce now enables holistic contact with the fan base at all levels. Just like the up-to-date communication within all departments and commercial areas of the association.

Before the introduction of Salesforce, there was a historically grown IT system made up of isolated solutions. Member support, customer service, ticketing, merchandising – each area used its own tools. The fans needed their own access data for each area. This caused problems, especially at the start of the season. “We regularly received around 500 e-mail inquiries about forgotten access data, which we also had to deal with in the hot phase of the run for tickets,” remembers Philipp Deipenbrock, Head of Service and Sales Management at 1. FC Köln.

Since then, Salesforce has changed the IT landscape at 1. FC Köln with Customer 360: Customer 360 connects sales, marketing and customer service on one platform, optimizes all customer relationships and enables interaction with fans across all channels.

“Our goal was to create a single gateway into the world of 1. FC Köln for the fans,” says Valentin Dotzauer, Project Manager Service at FC. In other words: Every fan should be able to use every offer from their favorite club with a single log-in. In order to master the challenge, service and sales were first centralized. But when the communication channels telephone and e-mail were to be merged, support was needed. The solution: Introducing Salesforce. Digital communication with the fans, which is indispensable today, is now also guaranteed.

How important it is to maintain contacts with fans digitally was particularly evident during the corona pandemic. 150 to 200 events a year – that’s usually the effort that the club puts in just for its youngest fans, children and young people, for example the FC Kids Club. But during the lockdown, many offers could only run digitally, from training videos to join in to entertaining club quizzes. This should also continue after Corona. Service communication has also been digitized. As a result, many processes were automated with Salesforce – and the personal addressing of fans was maintained even without physical contact.

And what about sales in the online shop? Here, too, fans were served individually. Online store sales also gained momentum with the help of Salesforce technology. The fans’ longing for their favorite club increased. More intensive communication with customers, more digital offers – the shop recorded one sales record after the other.

Tradition and modernity form an interesting combination at this club: FC was the first Bundesliga club to invest in an e-sports company. Today it has its own e-sports team, which is very popular with fans. This gives 1. FC Köln access to an exciting young target group. “Typically, between the ages of nine and 13, they decide which club someone will become a fan of,” says Philipp Liesenfeld, head of corporate development and e-sports at 1. FC Köln. The clubs must therefore be present where the youngsters are out and about.

These modern approaches can certainly be combined with the sense of tradition at 1. FC Köln. Because despite all the relevance of phenomena such as e-sports, the club and its team are still more important than success on the console. Or, as Philipp Liesenfeld puts it: “The controller will never replace football.”

Salesforce is the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM) and brings companies and customers closer together in the digital age. Since its founding in 1999, Salesforce has enabled companies of all sizes and industries to achieve a 360-degree view of their customers through pioneering technologies such as cloud, mobile, social, voice control and AI. Salesforce promotes equal access to digital skills through its free online learning platform, Trailhead; More than 3.7 million people have acquired digital skills through Trailhead.