CX Team Sport Lessons from Baseball

By Lynn Hunsaker posted 04-23-2022 07:33 PM

CX Team SportIn baseball, every player is essential to winning a game. Poor performance in any team role can reverse previous gains in a game. This is true in customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX), and partner experience (PX). Poor performance in any role within a company can reverse previous gains in your brand's reputation, attractiveness, retention, profitability, and growth.

Do you remember the movie, Moneyball? It's the true story about how the Oakland A's baseball team discovered a predictable method to win games by optimizing players. It revealed outdated (medieval), subjective thinking that was prevalent in baseball management. What we can borrow from Moneyball for customer experience ROI is not about how we acquire talent, but rather, how every player uses CX insights (and EX and PX insights) to guide their performance. It's radical thinking that's long overdue.

A baseball team is a metaphor for superior CX, EX, PX across 16 essential roles:

  1. CX Team SportGeneral Manager: oversees all aspects of on-field team strategy, lineup selection, training and instruction. This is like your C-suite (e.g. determining mission, structure, resource allocation, policies). Ideally, your C-suite bases their decisions on CX+EX+PX expectations -- especially these 3 stakeholders' intended outcomes from their relationship with your brand. In the best-performing businesses for CX+EX+PX, this defines their North Star for guiding every decision.

  2. Runners: when players are in offense mode they each get a turn to hit the ball and run the bases. The opposing team tries to limit runners' progress. This is like Sales to customers (e.g. filling the funnel (bases are loaded) and closing the deals (crossing home base)). It's also like recruiting and onboarding employees and partners, who help you "hit the ball and run the bases". Runners in baseball know that a home run translates to 4 points when the bases are loaded. Similarly, alifetime value mindsetamong Sales, HR, Partner Management -- and everyone else in your company -- is key to generating highly profitable customers, employees, and partners.

  3. Hitting Coach: guides players in offense mode about batting mechanics, plate discipline, and preparation for opposing pitchers' techniques. This is like Marketing (e.g. market intelligence, segmentation, lead generation). Ideally, Marketing uses their prowess not only for external success, but also to help the whole company tune-in to evolving marketplace dynamics.

  4. Base Coaches: when players are in offense mode the first base coach guides runners from the time they exit the batter's box until they commit themselves to second base. In offense mode, the third base coach guides runners after they leave first base until they leave third base to score. This is like Supervisors delivering what's promised to employees and it's like Engineering and Manufacturing (e.g. product/service/solution development and deployment) developing what's sold to customers. Ideally, customer insights are the basis for solution development and approval gates.

  5. Team Physician: addresses the physical and psychological needs of players. This is like HR (e.g. talent acquisition, development and compensation). Accordingly, HR should ensure that all talent is well poised for every CX+EX+PX opportunity. This means recognition and advancement criteria, etc., stimulate cross-functional collaboration for superior end-to-end experience of customers (as the source of salaries and budgets) and employees and partners.

  6. Pitching Coach: makes decisions about the starting pitcher, relief pitchers, and closing pitcher, and also instructs the pitcher on mechanics, pitch selection (fast ball, curve ball, etc.), with insights into weaknesses of opposing hitters. This is like Strategic Planning (e.g. SWOT, long-range and short-range plans, acquisitions, mergers, divestitures). What if SWOT analysis started with core-growth customers' views, followed by your own views? This nuance in starting every strategy with customer insights is likely to have far-reaching implications toward customer-centricity and the ultimate strategy of almost-automatic experience excellence.

  7. Pitcher: delivers the ball to home plate, catches pop flies, sends dribbles and bunts to basemen, and backs up the catcher. This is like Operations (e.g. coordinating and deploying resources and workflows). For optimal efficiency and effectiveness, Operations embraces CX+EX+PX insights and rallies resources accordingly.

  8. Catcher: catches pitches, relays pre-play signs to the pitcher, and gets the ball to or from the other players as needed. This is like your Experience Management Team (CX, EX, PX) (e.g. radar for the company's movements via VoX, closing gaps in a pinch via Support, inspiring experience design and engagement internally and externally).

Every player knows that their performance -- both individually and collectively -- is what wins the game. Standards for performance are not "someone else is handling that" or "that's what we've always done" or "it's what every team/business in our league/industry is doing", nor based on a personal agenda. Stellar performance is based on (CX+EX+PX) insights.

Managing CX, EX, or PX as an individual sport allows huge waste. It creates unnecessary silos. It encourages "throwing things over the wall" and disrespecting interdependencies. It's focused more on value-rescuing and short-term gains rather than value-creating and relationship strength that withstands tough times for lifetime value that sustains your growth.

Individual sport mentality for CX+EX+PX is evident when you manage these areas as "programs". It exists when everyone else in your company excuses themselves from absorbing adopting, and applying CX+EX+PX insights in their strategies and daily decisions.

Wins mean stronger relationships with fans, whose enthusiasm generates sponsorships and sales of tickets and memorabilia, etc. The same is true in business: "CX wins" mean stronger relationships with customers -- which generates more predictable, profitable sales growth -- which generates stronger relationships with employees and investors.

Your growth at every level -- financially, reputationally, professionally, and personally -- is superior when customer, employee, and partner experience are managed as a team sport.

See the rest of this article in my LinkedIn newsletter: How CX is Like Baseball