Business leader

This blog post is an article I have written for the April edition of the Customer Experience Magazine – you can read the article via this link as well as some other great content –

Whenever I am asked the question – ‘what do you do then?’ – I always describe myself as a CXP – a Customer Experience Professional. I have been doing this for the last few years. As someone who has had a career steeped in the world of acronyms (I am also an MBB – or Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt), it seems to make perfect sense.

According to Wikipedia, a ‘professional’ is ‘a person who is engaged in a certain activity, or occupation, for gain or compensation as means of livelihood; such as a permanent career, not as an amateur or pastime’ That confirms it then – I can legitimately call myself a CXP.

Calling myself a CXP is further supported by the fact that an association, focussed solely on developing professionals working in the field of customer experience management, was created a couple of years ago. The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) provides its members – individuals looking to make their mark on the profession, and companies that are leaders in their industries – with valuable professional development and networking opportunities. Members collaborate to establish best practices and promote a better appreciation of the discipline of customer experience to both consumers (B2C) and to business (B2B) customers.

CXPA Founders, Bruce Temkin and Jeanne Bliss

All sounds great…….doesn’t it? Or does it? There is absolutely no doubt that in the last five years, organisations all around the world have started to change the way they treat their customers. Businesses who previously took customers for granted are now starting to re-consider whether or not their existing strategies are appropriate. Many businesses never had a strategy that incorporated ‘customer’ anywhere in it – business is all about lining our own pockets isn’t it?

Supported by the global economic downturn, as businesses have started to incorporate the customer into their strategies, they have also started to recruit people with a ‘customer experience’ remit. Ten years ago, the CCO (or Chief Customer Officer) did not exist. Today, more and more CCO’s are appearing on the scene. Customer Experience Directors; Heads of Customer Experience; Customer Experience Transformists; Customer Experience Futurologists; are all job titles that have started to become commonplace.

So why is it that I am still not sure if the CXP really exists? Why is it that I find more people who have no idea what ‘customer experience’ actually is, than those who do? Why is it that I still come across many companies who think that ‘customer experience management’ is not a unique role, but the collective responsibility of everyone in the organisation?

As someone who considers to be a CXP (as per the Wikipedia definition!), there are positive and negative answers to all of those questions. Organisational understanding of the customer experience as a discipline is still in its fledgling state. It may seem obvious to people who ‘get’ customer, but many still do not. This is why (in my opinion) the CXP has been born. This is why more and more CXPs are being created on a regular basis. This is why groups such as the CXPA are so vital to the development of a new industry.

In an ever-changing technological world, consumer and customer behaviour changes quicker than ever before. As a six sigma practitioner, I always had to explain to businesses the importance of continuous improvement – what the customer wants today will be different tomorrow. That has always been the case – the difference is that what the customers wants now will be different in two minutes time!!

Improving the customer experience has become a specialist discipline – it combines strategic marketing skills, with analytical measurement techniques, with journey and process mapping, and people engagement methods. All of this is supplemented by an unerring enthusiasm and passion to do what is right for the customer. It is an exciting discipline that seeks to find the truth, and then address it in a way that prioritises and delivers maximum benefit to the customer, the employee and the shareholder. It is a discipline that is not as easy to apply as I may be making it sound – delivering the harsh reality of customer perception is not what every Board member wants to hear – especially if they perceive themselves to be the cause of the problem!!

So as you sit reading this article, what do you think? Does the CXP exist? I think it does – well over two thousand members of the CXPA spread all over the globe can testify to that. BUT…..there is always a but – it is still very early days for one of the newest professions on the block. It is vital that as the community of CXPs grows, they collaborate together, learning from each others experiences, and building the specialist skill set. The CXPA is developing an accreditation programme for the profession as we speak – yet another step in a very positive direction. Working together, it will not be long before the letters ‘CXP’ after your name are seen in the same light as ‘ACCA’ or ‘LLB’.

This article was written for the April edition of Customer Experience Magazine –