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The Indiana Jones Method of Engaging Customer Experience

IndieIf you want to create a worthy customer experience, you have to be driven by experience. Your core purpose cannot be making money, climbing a ladder, or becoming famous. It has to be creating and giving away an experience that you yourself have had. Enter Indian Jones.

At the tender age of 9 years, I remember having a moment alone in the house. My father was in his hardhat a few miles away at Dow Chemical Company. My mother was perhaps outside with my little sister. Driven by an investigative personality, I sat down at the base of the china cabinet and opened the small double-doors that that I had never before seen open. Little did I know how that act would set the course of my life.

After a few moments of rummaging, I came across a thick but unusually heavy piece of blue cardboard, tri-folded, labeled “Mercury” Head Dimes. Opening that first-fold was to me what finding the Ark of the Covenant was for Indiana Jones.

In the moments that followed, several key pieces of my psyche developed. The old coins that I could see and touch moved me toward a love of history. The mysterious empty socket where the 1916-D Mercury Dime should have been ignited my desire to collect – to search for and obtain the elusive pieces that would make the series complete.

And, as the days followed, that moment would also prove to be the source of a growing bond between my father and me. That Mercury Dime collection was something that he had started long ago and abandoned. My newfound curiosity stirred up his own. Over the years before I moved out of the house, my father and I collected coins together. We talked about the hard-to-find pieces. We purchased a metal-detector and searched all over historic Brazoria County where I grew up, digging up hundreds of old, silver coins. Every mini-archeological dig was exciting.

I didn’t really think anyone but my father understood these important experiences of mine until I saw Indiana Jones on the big screen for the first time as a teenager in Raiders of the Lost Ark. That movie illustrated my introspective feelings perfectly. Watching it was an experience I will never forget.

Indie taught me an important lesson: customers, like me, are often driven by the quest to find and obtain significant objects. The search, the discovery, and the final acquisition are real adventures. My job is to give Indie, er, the customer, the clues and the map to make the adventure worthwhile.

I have moved on from using the technology of metal detection to find coins hidden underground to leveraging emerging technologies to help everyone in the world discover coins and other collectibles approaching the auction block.

My job is to recreate my 9-year-old experience in others through mini-archeological digs powered by technology. I love leading a team of software developers and technology experts to unearth these precious objects and allow others to experience them the way I once did – and still do. In a way, I feel like I am directing thousands of sequels to the Indiana Jones movies, one customer at a time.


Brian Shipman is the CIO of Heritage Auctions – a fantastically unique place to work. Heritage’s mission is to help people successfully acquire or pass on rare and significant objects that have both monetary and soul-stirring value. His job is to create a quality customer experience using the red carpet of technology.

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