On the 3rd October 2017, in celebration of Global CX Day, I wrote an article entitled, ‘What Does it Take to be a Customer Experience Professional’. It is not the first time and will most certainly not be the last time I write about the significance of the profession that has become my vocation AND one that continues to grow at a rapid rate.
I have had the pleasure of meeting many amazing Customer Experience Professionals (CXPs) over the years – amazing for a whole variety of reasons. No two CXPs are the same. Among many things we do have in common, is the desire to support, counsel and share with each other. As we are all at differing stages of our own personal journeys, the support and guidance we naturally exude is one of the things that makes the profession so rewarding.
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a man who had not yet started his CX journey. Carlton Gajadhar has an infectious passion for all things Customer Experience – yet his career as a CXP is still only just beginning. It is with great pleasure that I am able to share, in Carlton’s own words, his CX journey so far…
Every morning when you wake up to you have a passion that continually eats in you, and you can’t shake off, well, I experience this every day, so let me explain. Customer experience (CX) has changed the way I think about customers, staff and operations within organisations and I wanted to share my story so far on how as a new CX professional let myself, with the struggles, achievements and inspirational moments I have encountered over the last four years.
I never heard about the concepts of CX until I attended University when doing my Masters in International Tourism Management in 2013, prior to that, I have worked in several different industries but mainly the tourist attractions industry, which is a fun and exciting one to work in, for the past 19 years.
At University, there was no mention about CX in any of my classes which meant I accidentally came across this concept when writing my dissertation on getting tourist attractions to become more focused on building personalised relationships with their guests before they arrive on site. This dissertation has given me opportunities that I never thought I would have had; from presenting my concepts at the IAAPA European Attractions Show in Gothenburg which is the largest event of its type in Europe. One of my highlights was having a representative of Euro Disney praising my research, which gave me the drive to continue learning as much as I could in this field. So, I started on a high and continued this journey and wanted to do more. The natural step for me was to get involved in promoting CX within my place of work to become more customer-centric, but this was my first negative hurdle. Profits, revenue, up-selling and anything financial base was a priority which had a massive impact in their way they delivered their customer experience. It felt like pushing water uphill, but this did not stop me from continuing sharing this burning passion of CX to the world.
After attending several conferences which were organised by CXPA, tourist attractions industry led events and enrolling for a mentoring programme by CXPA, (thanks Jim Tincher for all your support) I had a fire in me that couldn’t be put out. I was so excited of how I could use my experiences and new knowledge base to shape businesses to make them more customer focused. However, my internal Fire Brigade started to win the fight, and my fire started to get smaller and smaller from getting constant rejections from jobs who wanted superior customer experience individuals to come into change organisations. So, the big question I had is how junior customer experience individuals can get into this field? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this as a lot of the industries around the world don’t have the same understanding of customer experience concepts and disciplines as we do, so job titles were very random and misleading.
I decided to find another route in. So, applied for several marketing roles, but this led to a dead end. Then I got an opportunity to teach a university class about my experiences which led to me teaching several classes at two different universities on customer experience which was a fantastic way for me to give back and promote the CX concepts to the next generation who currently have no idea of the positive power of CX.
This inspired me to work towards becoming an inspirational leader in providing customer experience solutions and become an educator within my industry and needed to find out how I could penetrate and transform this very old school attitude, dry and dusty sector. So, I buddied up with some colleagues to create a forum which dedicates on education and peer-to-peer information sharing for visitor experience professionals within the tourist attractions industry in London, UK called the Visitor Experience Forum (http://vedf.weebly.com). This led to creating dedicated and tailored events for these professionals and networking opportunities which didn’t exist before the organisation was set up. I got a fantastic insight on how I could help organisations become more customer focused. This has let me in creating a targeted database of individuals that I can help as well as sharing my knowledge and expertise to them which they would never have opportunity’s if this weren’t set up. This has been one of my favourite achievements which have given me the confidence to make a positive difference.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, but what I do know is no one could take this fire way which I have nurtured and protected.
If you’re starting in this fantastic field, it’s not going to be the most comfortable road to follow. You will have some extreme highs but also some catastrophic lows, but it’s your attitude towards these events which will make you a better and stronger individual. One thing that I’ve learnt is to be patient, but not complacent. Continue to learn as much as you can and get practical experiences where possible. One day I will have the opportunity of running a CX department or even my own practice. If you are a senior CX practitioner, I encourage you to spend some time to develop and create opportunities for the new CX generation who are going to fight the fight for us for positive changes within our industries.
Excited to see what the next four years creates.
Thank you so much for sharing Carlton Gajadhar journey. After spending two decades in customer service, I have decided to start sharing my experiences so others can learn from my failures and triumphs.
That is fantastic Hannah, the more information support we give each other, the better the industry will get so we can make differences for everyone. Keep up the good work and keep sharing!