A few years ago, The Mayo Clinic wanted to design separate consultation and exam rooms to reflect the reality that most appointments consist mainly of conversations between doctors and patients, with less examination time. But there wasn't enough floor space to accommodate the number of separate rooms that it envisioned. Then, inspiration struck from the least likely of places . . . The Brady Bunch. On the show, viewers may recall that the boys and girls of the blended family shared a bathroom with two doors connecting it to adjoining bedrooms (i.e., a Jack and Jill bathroom). Mayo borrowed the concept and now has two consultation rooms that share one inner exam room.

I love examples like this — finding the spark of creativity from unlikely sources. And in my latest report, "Finding the Right Inspiration To Transform Your Customer Experience," I provide more examples for CX professionals about how to get inspiration — from both likely and unlikely sources — to spark their CX initiatives.

What we found is that CX professionals benefited from three types of inspiration:

  • Starting a CX transformation. Some CX pros need to convince skeptical colleagues that transforming their organization’s culture to be more customer-centric is worthwhile. That’s when studying a customer experience leader is the right approach. The good news is that companies like Disney, Ritz-Carlton, and Zappos.com, which are known for great CX and their customer-obsessed cultures, will share their best practices through tours, training, and consulting. For example, Zappos offers a 90-minute behind-the-scenes tour at its headquarters in Las Vegas. The company shares insights about its corporate culture, and describes how it puts its 10 core values into practice.
  • Addressing a specific challenge. When CX teams are dealing with a specific challenge, reviewing how another company has overcome a similar challenge can help stimulate fresh thinking. In these instances, companies can mystery-shop similar service interactions or look at how a company implemented a new technology. For example, examine how two companies handle a similar customer journey: Buy and then return something at two different retailers. Evaluate how each store performs, and look for lessons in what does well or poorly.
  • Continuous inspiration. CX professionals should also strive to infuse inspiration into ongoing customer experience work on a regular basis. Popular culture is a great source of inspiration — just look at Mayo Clinic’s new consultation rooms. In particular, science fiction has often provided inspiration for new interfaces and devices. Think of the gesture-based interfaces foretold in the film Minority Report, or Star Trek’s communicator device that inspired Motorola’s StarTac flip phone.

I share many more examples and inspiration ideas in the full report. Please share your favorite sources of inspiration in the comments below.

And if you want to hear me talk about inspiration with Deanna Laufer, the latest episode of Forrester's CX cast is up. Subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcasting app, or listen here.