By Shane A. Jackson

As a young baseball player, I was obsessed with learning the game. I studied – and then worked to mimic – greats such as Nolan Ryan and Tom Sever. I dissected their approaches to the game and analyzed their thought processes and strategies. My knuckle ball (which was no slouch back in the day) came from watching Phil Niekro, and I learned the importance of starting your engine at bat from Pete Rose.

As a consultant for contact centers, I work with a myriad of businesses, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. The most successful ones have several things in common, and countless books have been dedicated to understanding what sets them apart. At the risk of oversimplifying, however, I think the most important predictor of success is a willingness to learn by example. While I may not have parlayed this knowledge into a professional baseball career, I can attest to its effectiveness in business.

At this point, everyone knows customer experience is a make-it-or-break-it enterprise. Those who get it right will thrive, those who don’t will simply disappear. Therefore, it makes sense to understand CX, and one of the best ways to do this is by studying – and mimicking – the greats.

While it focused on government agencies, a 2018 McKinsey report  found three things businesses across sectors can learn from those who excel at CX:

  • Know your customer
  • Understand the customer journey
  • Pinpoint defining moments

Who’s REALLY Your Customer?
I’m going to stop you before you answer, “everyone.” I understand you want to appeal to “everyone” in order to get more sales, but that mindset is outdated. Instead, think about your IDEAL customer, the one who buys repeatedly and recommends you to friends and family. That’s not everyone. That’s someone with unique challenges, goals, preferences, etc. I recommend developing customer profiles, or “personas.” This exercise effectively puts you in the shoes of your ideal customer, so you can then design an experience tailored to his/her needs.

Would You Do Business with You?
We wrote about customer journey maps, visual tools that outline the steps a customer takes while interacting with your brand, back in January. They remain an integral step in designing, implementing and measuring customer experience. I recommend leaders not only call their businesses on a regular basis, but do so with an understanding of their customers’ perspectives. For example, rather than calling the IVR from your desk during lunch break, call when you get home and are juggling the tasks your customer is likely experiencing: family meal time, homework, carpooling to soccer, etc. Chances are, it’s tougher than you may think to easily fulfill your goal for the call, whether it’s checking on an order, changing your address or rescheduling an appointment.

Using the Data
Mapping the customer journey is only one leg of the stool. According to the Aberdeen Group, 95% of organizations are challenged by the ability to use customer data to drive contact center activities. That stat doesn’t really surprise me. Resources are tight in any organization, from time and tools, to experience and funding. What does surprise me is how many leaders ignore this. It’s like having a crystal ball and refusing to look at it.

Companies excelling at customer experience dedicate resources to understanding their customers and how they interact with the brand and leverage the resulting data to not only guide decisions, but also spark change. Like learning to throw a curve ball by studying the big-leaguers, mimicking successful companies’ CX practices just makes good sense.

If you’d like to chat more about any of this, including my killer knuckle ball, I’m available via email or on LinkedIn.