CX Moneyball, Game-Changing Analytics

I met Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, last year when we both spoke at the same event. He enjoyed making fun of me as one of the few Red Sox fans in attendance. Even with the ribbing, I’m still a big fan of Beane.

Beane is the main character in the book, and now movie, Moneyball. It’s a great story, portraying Beane as a game-changer in baseball. He recognized that his small-market team could not compete with big-market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox if they operated in the same way. Those other teams would always have dramatically more money to spend on players.

So he found a new way to compete: using data. Beane recognized that teams were incorrectly valuing players. By examining the data, he found that baseball teams overvalue things like defense and closers, but undervalue other areas like how often players get on base (measured by a stat called OPS, or “on base percentage”). This analysis allowed the Athletics to more effectively spend its limited budget on player salaries.

Seeing the movie made me think about how to apply Moneyball to customer experience. What data or analysis would Beane use if he were a customer experience leader? Here are some that I came up with:

  • Experience Elasticity. It would be very valuable to understand how much impact every interaction had on the long-term loyalty of each customer. With that data, we could identify the specific interactions that have the most impact on our business. This would allow us to invest in improvements to customer experience that have the highest business value for the company.
  • Predictive Feedback. Customers are getting more and more surveys, because companies recognize the importance of this outside-in feedback. But it’s very hard to get this data on every interaction. It would be extremely valuable to predict the feedback that customers would give based on an analysis of their interactions. With this type of data, a company could evaluate every call center agent on every call and the experience for every online interaction — without any survey fatigue.
  • Word of Mouth Value. Lots of people talk about the value of word of mouth, but there’s little understanding of what it really means for a business. How many customers or prospects change their behavior based on what someone else has said about a company? And what role does social media play in those decisions? If we really understood this information, then we could better align our social media strategy.
  • Employee Engagement Elasticity. One of my 6 Laws Of Customer Experience is that unengaged employees don’t create engaged customers. But what does it take to truly engage employees? It would be vary valuable to understand which things create the most engaged employees so that we could target our spending on HR, training, hiring, communications etc.
  • Brand Value Elasticity. Every interaction can reinforce or refute a brand. But which elements of a brand truly affect the behaviors of customers and prospects? This information will allow us to understand which brand elements we really make sure are reinforced during interactions.

What analysis would you point to as CX Moneyball?

The bottom line: There are many disruptive opportunities for CX analytics

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

2 thoughts on “CX Moneyball, Game-Changing Analytics”

  1. Great post, Bruce. I’ve been a big fan of Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” and the way Beane turned statistics sideways. I think one of the challenges of applying statistics to CX is that you’re probably going to capture extremes. With time such a precious commodity, customers are more likely to fill out surveys (and give you measurement) when they’re either ecstatic or unhappy, yet the real goal would be to reach as many as possible.

    I just had a great customer experience (at Sears, of all places) this weekend, and because it exceeded expectation so far, I filled out the survey on the receipt. If it had been so-so, I would have never have given them the data.If we can find quick and easy ways to collect the CX data, then yes, it’s going to be extremely valuable. BTW, the experience was great because the employee was engaged, aware and thorough – and the price value sealed the deal.

  2. The survey is an excellent method for validation of your assumptions, but not for learning the customer experience from customer’s point of view. I also agree with Scott’s observation about correlation between the timing of survey is responded to and the bias of the respondent at that time. I’ve read a study about motivation of consumers who publish online product/service reviews and comments, and the primary two factors are desire to share their experience with other consumers to help them make better choices, and with the manufacturers of products or providers of services to help them improve their offerings. In my opinion and experience the deep analysis of this form of customer feedback offers a lot more valuable and actionable insights into CX than any form except ethnographic study, but often has a benefit of large number of subjects and much lower cost.

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