Image courtesy of ccxp.org
The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) was established in 2011 to support and to advance the customer experience profession, to set standards for the profession, and to increase the visibility of these long-unsung heroes. I’ve been a member since 2012. I’m actively involved in the association in a variety of capacities, including as an executive officer of the Board of Directors.
The success of the Association rides on its members. Volunteering for event planning committees, mentoring fellow members, or participating in the community forum are only a few examples of how members can drive member engagement and overall association success. The voice of the member is heard and incorporated into all we do. We try to practice what we preach, so to speak.
The value that the CXPA offers resides in both education and networking. Quite frankly, the two go hand in hand. Again, the association is member-driven. Members work together to share, discuss, and learn with/from others who are experiencing the same challenges in their professional roles. Through events, webinars, member calls, community forums, mentor-mentee relationships, and experts, there’s no shortage of opportunities to learn from peers.
Two years ago, the Association launched its own certification program, the CCXP, i.e., Certified Customer Experience Professional. The certification was likened to the bar exam for lawyers, giving validation that customer experience professionals have earned their stripes by completing a rigorous exam about the fundamentals of customer experience, or, as the Association refers to them: the customer experience performance domains. There are six domains that comprise the certification exam and, quite frankly, encompass what we as customer experience professionals do, talk about, and fight for day in and day out in our roles as customer experience transformists.
The following is an overview of the six domains.
1. Customer-Centric Culture
A customer-centric culture is one that encourages employees to focus on the customer. It begins with executives who are committed to the cause and talk about the customer and the customer experience before sales and acquisition. The customer’s voice is incorporated into all business decisions, i.e., how will [product, service, change, decision, etc.] this impact the customer and his experience?
Employees understand how they impact the customer experience, and they have a clear line of sight to the customer. They are trained continuously on what delivering a great customer experience means for the organization. Best practices and customer stories are shared regularly with employees.
2. Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight, and Understanding
Critical to transforming the customer experience is understanding the customer, his journey, and how well you’re performing on, or how easy it is for the customer to complete, the journey. I always say, you can’t transform something you don’t understand.
In order to understand, you’ll need to listen, characterize, and empathize. Listening to the voice of the customer (and, really, the voice of all of your constituencies) will help you learn about customers’ expectations and how well you’re performing against them. Analyze the feedback and use it to make improvements. Research your customers, identify the jobs they are trying to do, and develop personas to help the organization understand who your customers are. And map their journeys; walk in your customers shoes to truly understand the current state of the experience and the effort involved in completing some task with your organization.
3. Organizational Adoption and Accountability
Without commitment from the entire organization, a customer experience transformation is not possible. Employees drive the experience; they deliver the experience. So we need to make sure they’re on board with the things they’ll be expected to do. All of those “things” must align with business goals and desired outcomes.
Develop programs and initiatives with employees rather than forcing change on them. And whatever they’re expected to do, give them ownership. Set them free to do what they know they need to do for the customer. Empower them, but hold them accountable. Provide feedback and help them stay on the right course, if needed.
4. Customer Experience Strategy
A customer experience strategy outlines how the organization will execute on the customer experience vision. The strategy helps you define, design, and, ultimately, deliver the desired customer experience (desired, of course, by your customers). Strategy is mainly about the how, but your CX strategy may also include details about the who, what, when, and the how much of experience design and helps everyone focus on those activities or improvements that will be most impactful to your customers. (It gets everyone on the same page, marching to the same beat.) It should be aligned with your corporate strategy.
5. Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation
We can’t do all of this work and not make improvements to the experience! This domain is where the rubber meets the road. You’ll take what you learned during listening and journey mapping and redesign the experience to meet your customers’ needs. Design thinking and customer co-creation sessions are often used to solidify the customer’s voice and place in this transformation. This domain also includes incorporating continuous improvement processes into your strategy to ensure that improvements aren’t viewed as “one and done.” Customers evolve. Needs change. Your business changes and grows. These factors must all be taken into account as you undertake any customer experience improvement efforts.
6. Metrics, Measurement, and ROI
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You can’t track success without identifying metrics that define and measure it. Be thoughtful in your selection of the metrics, and don’t rush to tie them to employee compensation.
Important to this domain is the ever-elusive, yet oft-sought-after, ROI of customer experience. And rightly so. But ROI is important to understanding and measuring success, not just for building the case for doing something. If, in the end, we make these improvements, and there are no benefits, financial or otherwise, then the effort was wasted. No executive wants to (or will) support that.
If this all sounds like a lot of work, it is; it’s hard work. Transforming the customer experience takes baby steps. And persistence. Unfortunately, a lot of companies are still failing at the basics (they might be listening to customers, but they aren’t acting on the feedback, for example), never mind attempting to build on all six domains, and it’s the reason you feel the pain when you interact with these companies.
Good luck in your endeavors! I wish you much success.
If you’ve got any questions about CXPA membership or certification, I’m happy to answer them for you.
Buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it. -Tory Burch.