The moment I heard that the theme of this year’s CX Day was “CX is a team sport,” I knew that I would have no choice but to look at customer experience through the prism of Ted Lasso.
For those that haven’t watched the Emmy award-winning hit comedy from Apple TV, Ted Lasso stars Jason Sudeikis as an American amateur sports coach who gets recruited to help turn around the fortunes of a professional British football team.
At no point does the show mention the team “CX.”
As the first two seasons have unfolded, however, Lasso has come to embody what might be the archetypical challenges and traits of the best chief customer officers.
I should pause here to point out that Ted Lasso has already inspired a growing number of articles in which his approach to managing his team have been compared to what can or should happen within a business. When I think of the situations CX leaders often get parachuted into, however, I’m convinced they deserve the right to consider Lasso their peer, if not always their role model.
Here’s my argument:
1. He’s willing to go in blind: You may have started in marketing, customer service or even sales before landing a CX job, but your first task often involves a steep learning curve. This can involve a lot of investigation into the typical customer journey, the key business processes and of course the areas of friction.
I hope the skepticism and outright ridicule Lasso receives without any background in soccer (sorry, football) is the extreme end of what CX leaders ensure, but I wonder . . .
2. Making alliances is Job 1: From the earliest episodes, Ted decides to launch “Biscuits with the boss” and brings cookies he bakes himself to the owner of the team. Every. Single. Morning. This gesture is not immediately welcomed, but he persists, and takes similar actions with the players and staff.
CX leaders may not go quite that far, but the ones that succeed are those who know how to achieve buy-in, which usually means understanding what will appeal to individual stakeholders.
3. He’s ready to face the feedback: There’s the “voice of the customer” and then there’s an entire stadium filled with paying fans who chant a nasty British cuss word at you the moment you step on the field. Lasso not only endures that but responds to hostile encounters from people on the street with amiability and, ultimately, professionalism. This is a guy would crush his numbers in the contact centre.
4. He focuses on getting EX right first: The players, naturally, are demoralized and disgruntled after a history of losses.
It’s hard to inherit a losing team, but instead of driving home the importance of winning, Ted strives to create an environment where players respect each other, recognize the values of the team he wants them to embody and to have fun playing again. This improved employee experience bodes well for delivering what the fans want.
5. He makes the vision visible: It sounds cheesy, even cringe-worthy, but one of Ted’s first acts upon becoming coach is to put up a sign in the team’s locker room with one word: “BELIEVE.”
Working in CX is often about describing a desired future that may still be a long way away. People have to be able to really see it and develop a faith in it if you’re ever going to bring it about.
I’m not going to offer any spoilers about whether any of this works for Ted Lasso, but CX Day 2021 might be a good occasion to give his techniques a try.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.