Want to Improve Your Customer Experience? Act Like A Shark!

Sharks swimming - want to improve your CX? Act like a Shark! By Brittany Hodak

Let’s add some bite to your CX

In case you haven’t heard, it’s Shark Week!🦈

The annual phenomenon was first introduced by Discovery Channel in 1988 (long before I had cable TV) and has, of course, become a cultural juggernaut in the decades since. There are lots of CX-adjacent lessons we could dive into (ha, ha) around the fascinating and successful history of Shark Week. 

We could discuss the importance of consistency (reliability builds trust!), storytelling (start with your story!), or even innovation (the Internet! Cell phones! Social media! It’s definitely not 1988 anymore). We could talk about the importance of anticipation (hype-building for months!) or engagement (Shark superfans? Yes, please!)

Those are all alluring, indeed. But instead, this week, I’m writing about the sharks themselves. After all, it’s Shark Week, not Shark Week Week. Learning about sharks and CX at the same time? Talk about a win-win! And, as it turns out, embracing some shark-like characteristics may be exactly what you need to make your CX truly fin-tastic. 

Here are the top five:

1. Adaptability

Because I have two young sons, I have several books about sharks and know there are more than 500 species of sharks in the oceans currently. And, because I’ve watched the shark 4D movie at the Nashville Zoo at least a zillion times, I know that one of those species — the epaulette shark — can walk on land. Yes, it’s as terrifying as it sounds. The shark has adapted to low tide conditions by using its fins as rudimentary legs, just as other shark species have adapted in crazy ways to survive in various aquatic environments. 

“Adapt or die” is applicable in many places in life, and CX is no exception. What was good enough three years ago won’t cut it today, and what’s good enough today won’t be good enough in three years. And what works in one location may not work quite as well in others. Sharks have thrived for hundreds of millions of years by adapting to changing conditions. Do the same, always keeping your customers at the center of your attention, and you’ll thrive, too.

TL;dr: be like sharks, not dinosaurs!

2. Sharp Senses

Sharks possess a superpower called “electroreception,” which is the ability to perceive natural electrical stimuli. It’s a bit like an underwater “Spidey sense” that allows them to detect the slightest movements and changes in their surroundings. It’s great for hunting and a great model for businesses to emulate.

How perceptive are you to your customers’ nonverbal cues? Paying attention to customer feedback goes way beyond reading what customers write on surveys or taking their one-word responses at face value. A fully-developed system of managing customer feedback tracks ~vibes~, too. 

Utilize data analytics and real-world conversations to glean deeper insights into customer needs, preferences, and pain points. Combining high-tech and high-touch mechanisms gives you a more complete picture and will allow you to make better decisions than either method alone.

3. Persistence

Sharks are known for their relentless nature. They never give up until they catch their prey. They demonstrate extraordinary perseverance, often traveling great distances and enduring challenging conditions in pursuit of a meal.

How determined are you when it comes to enhancing customer experience? Relentlessly pursue excellence by constantly seeking ways to improve and innovate your products and your services. And, more importantly, focus on the experiences those products and services are wrapped in. Don’t settle for good enough; strive for greatness by regularly refining your processes, products, and services. Keep pushing forward, and your persistence will pay off in customer loyalty and satisfaction. 

4. Speed and Agility

The mako shark can swim at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. I assume it gets its name from, “I’m going to mak-o any fish I want my lunch today.” (It does not, surprisingly.)

How quickly can your business respond to customer needs? Speed and agility are crucial for meeting and exceeding customer expectations, as my friend Jay Baer talks about in his brilliant (and quick!) read, The Time To Win

Implement efficient communication channels, such as live chat and social media, and empower your team to make quick decisions that leadership will stand by. Whether an employee is in a call center or behind a register, they should be able to give real-time advice and support. By being responsive and agile, you will enhance overall satisfaction and experience for your customers and your employees.

5. Fearlessness

Sharks have earned a reputation as fearless predators — and not just the TV venture capital ones, although I know a bit about those, too

Sharks aren’t afraid to explore new territories in search of prey. Businesses can learn from this by being fearless in their approach to innovation… both as it relates to CX, and more generally. Don’t be afraid to try new things, take calculated risks, and push the boundaries of what’s possible in customer experience. For your business, it might mean being fearless in experimenting with AI (with guardrails!) or fearless in launching new limited-time products. Embrace your inner shark and try something new ~fearlessly~ this week.

And for anyone asking, “Wait, didn’t you tell us a few weeks ago that cicadas could teach us about CX?” Yes. Yes, I did. It turns out that lots of things in nature are rooting for a more customer-centric world. But my money’s on sharks if these two ever go head to head. 🙂 

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