When hiring consultancies most organisations look for companies with a proven track record of success within the specific industry. This makes sense as it implies the consultancy is familiar with the business and can readily spot fixes, share best practices and provide appropriate solutions.

However, when it comes to customer experience management, thought leading companies are known to seek inspiration outside their own industry. In other words, they are looking to learn from other customer experiences, rather than “peers”. You have probably heard of hospitals visiting The Ritz hotels, credit card companies visiting Disney, pharmaceuticals visiting Zappos etc to learn and apply the principles in their own environment. Consequently, many of them seek customer experience experts, rather than industry experts to help them with their strategies.

This approach is favoured by aspiring companies, ready to advance and be market leaders. The later one is favoured by organisations who feel that they “need to get the basics right”. This is not to say that who you learn from is a differentiating characteristic or will predict your business success. Both are actually extremely beneficial ways of enriching your customer experience knowledge bank.

The benefits, as the disadvantages, are obvious to the approaches. Greater inspiration, greater ideas and more creativity come out of learning from outside the family group. At the same time, greater effort is required in adjusting the ideas in the specific environment. It may require research to better understand how to fit the solutions.

On the other hand, learning from “peers” limits your creativity and may potentially reduce you to “a second best only”.

My colleague Qaalfa Dibeehi, put it nicely: “If you learn within industry only, you are likely to be just a follower. If you only look outside of your industry, you are at the risk of being impractical.”

The trick, as with anything in life is a good balance. More importantly, however, the last point under “Cons” captures the crux of the matter. Regardless of where you learn from, the greatest challenge will come from attempting to apply the observed principles in practice…without bearing huge costs. And in fact, that is the only principle by which you should chose the consultancy to help you: the ability to translate learning’s into actions that staff are ready to implement. It is a collaborative process and an eventful journey, of which the ultimate goal is customer satisfaction for both sides.

Kalina Janevska , Kalina Janevska is a Consultant at Beyond Philosophy one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Kalina is a chief experience modeller and designer with deep applied knowledge of CE in healthcare, retail and developing economies. Beyond Philosophy provide consulting, specialised research & training from offices in Atlanta, Georgia and London, England.

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