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Customer Service Experience Lessons from a Baseball Underdog

Ritika Puri
May 04, 2018

3 minute read

From customer service experience to baseball, underdog stories are powerful.

Take the story of Jim Morris from the movie, The Rookie, as an example. A draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1983 and the New York Yankees in 1982, Morris failed to advance. He left his career as a professional athlete to become a high school teacher and baseball coach. In 1999, he made a bet with his students that if they won a championship, he would try out for a Major League team.

Customer service experience lesson 1

The team won. Morris kept his side of the agreement: he went through a series of tryouts that led him to the minor league. He worked his way up and landed a contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and in 1999, he joined the major leagues at age 35. In 2001, he was training with the Los Angeles Dodgers when he ended his career due to an injury.

Customer service experience lesson 2

What can businesses learn from this story?

The business climate is undergoing dramatic changes. There are more companies dropping off United States stock exchanges than going through IPOs. Retail and consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors are facing market fragmentation. It’s not enough to be a “name” company or brand: customer conversations control the story.

That’s why customer service teams can seem like the underdog of American business. Meeting the needs of buyers 1:1, these individuals go through the tough experience of collective feedback, troubleshooting problems, and serving on the front-lines of disagreements.

Once thought of as a cost-sink, customer service experience roles went through a period of offshoring. But companies are now realizing that success teams are a strategic advantage. In the United States, companies lose $1.6T due to customers making switches due to poor customer service experience, according to Accenture.

“A customer service experience team member needs to constantly search for what provides the client base the best value for their spend—and set up each buyer for success, too,” says Bill Fish, an entrepreneur who is building a comprehensive resource for sleep health information called Tuck, in an interview for this article. “On a baseball team, you constantly have to prove your value to the coach as well as the team to show that you should be on the field leading your team.”

customer service experience lesson 3

How to empower the underdog

Morris’s story is a reminder that humans are vulnerable—we get hurt and make mistakes. What if there were a way to focus on these unpredictable moments as opportunities to improve?

Fanatics, a company that sells sports merchandise, makes the most of these unpredictable moments through its Jersey Assurance program. If an athlete switches teams, buyers can choose to return the jersey for either (1) another player on the team or (2) the athlete’s new team. Fans can stay loyal to the athlete or the team, while Fanatics builds customer loyalty.

“Customer needs and preferences are going to change, so how do you keep connecting with them?” points out Carolyne Crawford, VP of Fan Experience at Fanatics in a recent customer-experience focused keynote speech. Fanatics also uses customer experience technologies to reduce time required to solve fans’ questions, and analyze fan behavior across devices, according to Retail Touch Points.

Human connections are the heart of business. One way to empower customer service teams is to help them do what they do best—build relationships with customers in creative ways. Technology and automation give people the tools to make more of an impact in their roles. Companies can make buyers happier as a result.

Ritika Puri
Ritika Puri
Ritika Puri is a business writer who enjoys making complex topics digestible and fun. She regularly consults for companies in the marketing technology, IT, analytics, financial services, and healthcare space and enjoys leveraging this knowledge in her writing.
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