Last week I was afforded the undeniable pleasure of spending two whole days with Diane Magers, CEO of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). A career Customer Experience (CX) Professional, Diane recently spent three years with responsibility for the ‘Office of the Customer and Customer Experience Strategy’ at telco giant, AT&T. One passionate CX Professional in a room can be imposing; two together is a formidable combination!
Although we have both worked in different parts of the world, our many experiences developed whilst working on the inside and outside of multiple organisations in varying industries, means that we have many things in common! Aside from the fact that Diane and I were founder members of the CXPA, like most CX Specialists, we share an almost indestructible bond in our belief, desire and passion for our profession.
Sharing my passion for CX as a profession is something I have done before and will continue to do on a regular basis. Almost a year ago, I wrote an article describing CX as a vocation – in the article I referred to a question I was asked in an interview – “How did you become so passionate about customer experience management?” – this was my response:
In reality, I think I must have been born with a passion for CX! Apart from it being in my genes…. my very makeup, my evolution into the CX Specialist that I am now started at the end of the 90s. I was working as a process improvement specialist for General Electric – I was bowled over by the power of Jack Welch and his ideas. Using tools and methodologies to improve the ability of a business to meet and exceed customer expectation just made so much sense to me. I took a role as a Six Sigma Black Belt…. the rest is history!
Whilst discussing the current state of CX around the world, Diane asked me the same question, along with my thoughts on the CX profession in general, the benefits of being a member of the CXPA and the value of having the CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) qualification. As you can imagine, my responses to all of these questions were detailed and positive. The CXPA is my extended work family – it is my global network and support system of like-minded professionals, who continually help me to learn, believe in what I am doing and better help others to achieve their customer centric goals. The CCXP qualification has also provided me with the invaluable recognition and authority of the skills and competencies I possess – something so critical to the sustainability and advancement of the profession.
It is sometimes difficult to describe what I feel about Customer Experience without appearing to be evangelical! I am a self-confessed CX fanatic – I am sure Diane will not mind me describing her in the same way! I am also sure that there are a lot of other CX Professionals who would also be comfortable with this characterisation. So what is it that makes us ‘fanatical’? In exploring this question, Diane and I concluded that our minds are roughly divided into thirds:
I hope I am not doing my fellow CX Professionals a disservice with this rather unscientific portrayal of our inner workings! I do believe it effectively brings to life the essence of what drives us. So much of what we do is underpinned by our ability to INSPIRE – ourselves; people at all levels of the organisations we work in and with; and each other. Although there is an increasing desire to improve Customer Experience in businesses around the world, all too often other ‘priorities’ can easily get in the way. A CX Professionals competence in enabling people to sustain their focus on CX, despite everything that may block the way, is critical in defining the strength of our specialist line of work.
However, the ability to inspire and keep inspiring in often very challenging environments, is tough. I regularly describe the CX profession as a metaphorical rollercoaster. Throughout my career, there have been an equal balance of days where I have wanted to jump off the highest building, with days that have felt as though I have conquered Mount Everest! That is why all CX Professionals have an overriding sense of DEDICATION to and for, all things customer. Again, a word that is defined as being ‘devoted’ to our career, sounds a little evangelical, yet I cannot stress how true it is.
CX Professionals are hard-wired to work in the interests of the customer, the employee and the shareholder – and to keep doing what is right, despite any challenge or resistance that might be put in their path. Very often, ‘doing what is right’ can be a lonely and unpopular phenomenon. That is why our dedication is critical to keep us focused and moving forward, whilst our ability to inspire generates support and backing to achieve what is required.
Which leads me to the final ‘third’ of the make up of the mind of a CX Professional – the third that Diane and I agree is best summed up by the word, PERSPIRATION! Hard work is definitely not the exclusivity of the CX Profession, yet it is absolutely evident that to succeed in this newly recognised specialism, anyone working in a CX role will need to expect to exert as much effort and sweat as any other person in their respective organisations. Whether it be 4 o’clock in the morning, the middle of the working day, or 10 o’clock at night, CX Professionals the world over, are constantly striving to create, sustain and maintain momentum. Transforming the way people think, behave and act is a monumental aspiration – to stand any chance, our profession and anyone working in it has to be prepared to do whatever it takes.
Great Customer Experience Professionals know that their reward comes as a result of doing the right thing – not putting ourselves first. Putting the needs of customers and employees at the forefront of everyone’s thinking is our motivation – to make it happen, requires a bucket load of inspiration, dedication and perspiration!
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Great article Ian! And great to see you and Diane working together to promote CX around the world. Looking forward to seeing you both again soon down under or in Silicon Valley!
Here’s to more inspiration, dedication and perspiration in 2017!