Stadiums / Technology / Trends


Robot value

Author Alexa M. Rivera, University of San Francisco

Posted: November 8, 2016

Tagged: value

A robot by the name of Pepper is delivering and creating value for its customers. I am going to look at three specific frameworks: acquisition value, design factors, and social factors as it relates to service quality and customer satisfaction. In the U.S Open Tennis Championships’ Arthur Ashe Stadium there is a 3 ½-foot white robot named Pepper (Kaplan, 2016). There have been many complaints made by fans at large events about the inability to get their questions answered by staff. This new robot will be able to handle questions such as where to get drinks and where to find the nearest bathroom (Kaplan, 2016). Larger events such as the U.S Open Tennis are looking to decrease their customer complaint list, which ultimately means they will be looking to increase customer satisfaction and enhance the appeal of these larger events. This little robot will be contributing to the overall acquisition value as well as the design and social factors that attract customers to an event.

One of the influencing drivers for creating a positive acquisition value for a customer is the delivery variable. The delivery variables are the obstacles or the negative things about an event that the customer encounters (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p.51). Fans go up to security guards at the events and ask where they can get a schedule and majority of the times do not get there questions answered because they are approaching the wrong people (Kaplan, 2016). IBM is creating a technology that will decrease the delivery variables and it seems to be a great strategy. “Resources that improve benefit/satisfaction or reduce cost/risk are thought to be valuable” (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p.51). In decreasing the fan complaints/delivery variables, large events will create a better acquisition value for their customers. “The goal is to help the clients find whatever they seek within the sport experience” (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p.53). Pepper’s answers to the customers questions are specific the where the customer is located at the time. If the customer is located at the south end of the venue and wants to know where to get something the answer will be a nearby spot rather than one clear across the venue.

Another driver of value creation is design factor of the event or facility. “The robot can use its arms to motion, and even mimic emotions” (Kaplan, 2016, p.2). “Design factors include stimuli that are salient or visual cues that make one think verbally of what is seen” (Hightower, 2014, p.145) More specifically, Pepper will contribute to the aesthetics of the environment. The style of the robot is very simple and the color white makes her appear to be very welcoming. “Aesthetic factors tend to have a stronger impact on the servicscape and the brand’s potential impact” (Hightower, 2014, p.145). By designing Pepper with a smile on her face and having her stand only 31/2 feet in height, it will make her more approachable. She is a crucial part of the aesthetics of the venue and will help to create more value for the customer.

The appearance, the behavior, and accessibility of service employees can affect the way a consumer perceives the sports entity (Hightower, 2014, p.146). Although the robot is not a human employee; it is still a technologically enhanced service tool that is to be considered a service “employee” and is meant to supplement people. By making a robot that is easily accessible to customers and able to answer questions, this creates an overall positive social factor in regards the servicescape. “The servicescape/service setting plays a critical role in shaping customer expectations and influences the nature of customer experience” (Hightower, 2014, p.142). As a customer, knowing exactly who to approach to get a question answered will affect my perception of the sports event in a positive way. By leveraging the servicescape with the consideration of design and social factors will help to effectively position these larger events. With Pepper events and venues will be able to deliver a higher service quality and therefore resulting in higher customer satisfaction. Organizations and teams are now emphasizing stadium enhancements as part of the value provided to spectators (McCarville & Stinson, 2014, p.55).



Hightower, R., (2014). Leveraging Sport Brands with the Servicescape. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 142-156). New York, NY: Routledge.

Kaplan, D. (2016, September 12). Nearest restroom? Ask Pepper. SportsBusiness Journal, 19(22), 1-2. Retrieved from

McCarville, R., & Stinson, J. L. (2014). Creating Value as Part of Sport Marketing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging Brands in Sport Business (pp. 51-65). New York, NY: Routledge.

About Alexa M. Rivera, University of San Francisco

Alexa Rivera graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Communications from University of the Pacific in 2012, while competing as a Division I Softball player. She works with Arrow Construction as an Accounts Payable Manager and is actively seeking new opportunities within the sport industry. This is an edited version of a paper prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by Edward C. Baig, accessed from USA Today,