This post is part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association’s Blog Carnival celebrating customer experience. It’s part of a broader celebration of Customer Experience Day 2017. Check out posts from other bloggers at the blog carnival. And learn more about CX Day at: http://cxday.org
On the 3rd October 2017, the world will once again celebrate CX Day. I say ‘the world’, but mean this in the loosest sense. Yes, there will be thousands of professionals on every continent holding events, attending networking meetings, writing blogs, sharing stories, and celebrating successes about the continuing development of the Customer Experience Profession. However, in relative terms, they will represent a miniscule fraction of the global working population.
The term ‘Customer Experience’ should not be considered ‘new’. Many have been working officially as Customer Experience Professionals for over 15 years. Ironically, when people understand exactly what Customer Experience is for the first time, they are struck with the reality that it should be the oldest profession of them all. It was only the drive and enthusiasm of Jeanne Bliss and Bruce Temkin, that led to Customer Experience (CX) finally being established as a profession in 2011. The formation of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) was truly a watershed moment for those of us who actually possess the skills and competencies to embed a sustainable focus on managing and improving the experiences customers have with organisations.
The profession went one step further in 2014, with the launch of its first ever global qualification – the Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) accreditation, is hugely significant in actually recognising the skills and competencies of CX Professionals. No longer can those of us who care about customers and employees be accused of being ‘soft and fluffy’ – we now have the ability to validate our knowledge and expertise with a credible professional qualification.
However – there is that word again – as I write this article in October 2017, there are 616 CCXPs globally. further confirmation that in reality, CX as an established profession still has a very long way to go. I do not want this article to come across as all ‘doom and gloom’ though – much to the contrary.
That brings me to the title of this post – is it time to have a 2017 CX reality check? I will often describe CX as an ‘evolving’ profession. If we look at how far the profession has come since Jeanne and Bruce turned it into one only 6 years ago, it is hard to argue that it is evolving. There may only be 4,000+ members of the CXPA, but those numbers have been growing on a steady basis. There may only be 616 CCXPs, but that number increases weekly as well. For something to evolve, it means that it ‘develops gradually’ – a good description of the CX profession.
Yet what I want to ask is this – in the world of CX, is evolution enough? Whilst the profession may be evolving in general, is CX actually evolving at the same rate ‘on the ground’? Although many CEOs and other senior leaders ‘talk’ about CX, are they actually putting their money where their mouths are? Are organisations really changing the way they treat customers and employees? Are the experiences we have in 2017, really radically different to the experiences we had in 2007? Or even 1997?
Of course, CX is radically different from a ‘User Experience’ perspective. Advancing technology has meant that we are able to do many things far quicker, more easily and more efficiently than in the past. Yet despite the march of technological/digital evolution, most customers still have to endure RANDOM and UNEXPECTED experiences on a daily basis. This is why it is critical we do not confuse digital evolution with Customer Experience. They are inextricably linked, yet not evolving at the same rate.
In too many cases, the evolution of CX is still reliant on REVOLUTION. If you look up the origins of the word ‘revolution’, it is rather strong:
“(from the Latin revolution, a turn around”) is a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities
Although the definition is strong, it is an accurate reflection of what many professionals continue to experience on a regular basis around the world. The CX Profession is not a political one, yet for it to establish itself as a sustainable ‘way of working’, it relies on determined, competent, and willing professionals to do what it takes to ride against political ‘norms’. All too often, CX Professionals continue to do what they do without the overarching support of organisational leaders. All too often, CX Professionals are still not taken seriously enough. All too often, CX is only existing as a focus in organisations due to the will of the CX Professional. As a result, the only thing I disagree with in this definition of the word ‘revolution’ is the fact it takes place over a short period of time. In reality, it is likely and possible that the revolution will never end.
If many organisations take a long, hard look in the mirror, what they will see looking back at themselves are businesses that continue to put the needs of shareholders above and beyond the needs of customers and employees. If CX continues to evolve at the same pace it currently is, I fear that we will still be living in a world of the largely RANDOM and UNINTENTIONAL in 2027. That is why we are still reliant on the continuing REVOLUTION; and the courageous, committed and capable professionals who are leading it. Without the CX Profession, the experiences that BOTH customers and employees currently have, would be significantly worse. Without the growing numbers of qualified CX specialists around the world, we would not be seeing the innovation and inspiration behind customer centricity that we are.
I have and will continue to be part of the CX Revolution – it is what I do. It is my vocation. Whilst in relative terms there are only a small number of others who also consider CX to be their vocation, together, we can continue to evolve CX to become the way that more and more organisations work – now and sustainably in the future.