Drinking the CX Kool-Aid?

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An article came out last week entitled “Customer Experience is the New Competitive Battleground in B2B.” Perhaps it was just a title thing, but the premise of the title bugged me.

Why?

I think it’s because while it’s TRUE that Customer Experience is a competitive battleground, this is not really a NEW idea, at all…

..but maybe that wasn’t exactly why.

The irritation stuck with me.  I pondered on it:  The balance of the article was relatively benign, and it included some stats reinforcing the importance of CX that were not necessarily B2B focused.

It was because it was nothing controversial or new.  

I’m tired of articles like this.  It was a representation of many other articles on CX that are being published today; little more than a regurgitation of 5-10 year old ideas and concepts, repurposed with a few updated stats.

This is why I hate reading MOST of the stuff written about CX today.

By and large, I find the themes, advice, steps and counsel to be basically the same ideas we’ve been talking about for years – only slightly recycled – with varying results.

Have you noticed this, too?

Now, if you are a newbie, you might not recognize this pattern, which means this post isn’t intended for you. However, if you’ve been in the industry say, 6+ years… keep reading!

Why?  Do articles like this really do us any good?

Perhaps we have swallowed the counsel of content marketers and branding experts who tell us that we must prove our worth by producing more “stuff” and pushing it incessantly through every possible channel?   Is it possible we’ve accepted the notion that doing this might actually trump client delivery as our best marketing asset as well as the measure of our success?

Are we posting stuff just to post stuff?!

Perhaps I’m just cranky. I will admit to being equally crabby about the “experts” that are spewing out diatribes on the following topics:

  • The crowd economy
  • The sharing economy
  • Social media
  • Personal branding
  • Influencer marketing
  • Community management
  • Content Marketing

Are CX practitioners now guilty of the same thing? 

Looking back, I started writing about customer experience management in 2005, after pioneering for years in eCommerce, building startups and working with leading companies and a big-5 consultancy. I was full of insight and passion about applying my rather unique background to help define and shape customer experience.

Back then, “CX” wasn’t “a thing.”

There weren’t customer experience-related titles or job postings. There were no Chief Experience Officers. Few people really understood the work I did, and while it wasn’t initially an easy sell for clients, I was blessed to be busy enough. I spent the balance of my time pouring my soul into thought pieces on the topic.

However, by 2009, I had grown weary of writing about CX.

As I’d predicted in my early posts, the shine eventually wore off the CRM industry, and when it did, the terms CEM and CX became the new industry darlings. By this time, the CX chum was in the water and there was a hot, somewhat competitive rush to brand oneself as an “expert”, author, industry group leader, certification provider… etc. I had a number of colleagues in the space and enjoyed some of my interaction with other practitioners on social media. Over time, though, I began to withdraw, as the entire CX landscape began to feel like an increasingly cavernous echo chamber that has only grown exponentially since then.  I got to a point where, instead of being inspired and excited by the dialog it made me tired.

This was the catalyst for some significant change.

Against the counsel of my colleagues, a cadre of social media experts, “influencers” and marketing celebrities, instead of writing more, instead of promoting myself and my company more, I decided to refocus in a manner that cut entirely against the popular grain. I determined that I would direct our energies differently and determined to:

  • Stop giving away our IP in blog posts
  • Spend substantially less time creating promotional material, graphics & content
  • Ratchet back significantly on all social media channels
  • Refuse to engage in silly debates and echo chamber discussions
  • Discontinue attendance at conferences that would not produce serious growth
  • Let the work justify itself

I spent some time thinking about where I wanted myself and my company to be and decided from then on that we would:

  • Spend 80% of our time actually doing *remarkable client work
  • Work for world changers, technology makers and excellence junkies
  • Do projects that scare us, stretch us and drive our growth
  • Keep people squarely at the center of everything we do
  • Focus on driving meaningful and measurable transformations

**Note: Remarkable for us means that we do the kind of work our clients are inspired to share with others, and praise it based on merit. This, combined with repeat business is how we exclusively measure our success.

This not only paid off for the clients we serve, resulting in 100% client word-of-mouth — it has tripled our annual revenue.

This experience has taught me that dancing to the beat of my own drum doesn’t necessitate tooting my own horn in an echo chamber.

Solomon once said “There is nothing new under the sun.” A lot of the stuff we’re putting out there, branded as “fresh” is well past its expiration date on a sniff test. The problem is, some of us are too drunk on our own Kool-Aid to know it. The litmus test is the value we’re adding with our contributions.

Now might be a good time to ask whether your company is making echoes or helping raise the bar. Your clients know the answer.

When we lose touch of our true purpose and mission as CX, UX practitioners, business and/or marketing consultants, strategists, etc. — we become a shadow of what we’re meant to be – and faceless in the crowd. However, if we can stay humble – and in touch with our purpose – we can drive the kinds of meaningful transformations that help change minds, hearts and the experiences of the people we serve – and business as we know it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Leigh Durst
Leigh (Duncan) Durst is the principal of Live Path. She is a 19 year veteran in business, operations and customer strategy, ecommerce, digital and social media. As an active consultant, writer, speaker and teacher, she is an advocate for creating remarkable customer experiences that harness digital media and improving business outcomes.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Leigh. Wow! Thanks so much for writing this because you’re singing from my hymn book. I saw this very same article (well I saw the headline and couldn’t stomach reading it) and had the EXACT same response. I’ve been absorbing all things customer service/cx since the early-mid 90s and have first-hand seen the recycling by those who think it’s all new when you and I both know it’s not. Just 1 example, My specialty is direct contact channels (i.e. how to have a proper conversation) and what worked 20 years ago, works the same today. This has been bugging me quite a while now and you’ve managed to articulate the crux of the issue in a way I haven’t been brave enough or articulate enough to do myself. Thank-you.

    Simon Blair.

  2. After reading this post, i’ll admit to some confusion about how to react. As a kneejerk response, apart from the omphaloskepsis (Greek for navel-gazing) over what’s being written and read about CX, and the expression of a personal professional dedication to greater focus and innovation, the blog seems principally to be a rant. And, I can understand why, feeling this way about CX, the expenditure of so much energy on the subject over an extended period might make someone tired and reflective, and also serve as a catalyst for new direction.

    From my perspective, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with a good, healthy, even subjective rant. It can be therapeutic. That said, however, there’s also nothing wrong with good, healthy, even subjective discussion and investigation of issues within CX that are continually emerging and/or morphing., Not so much swilling Kool-Aid as quaffing, with enthusiasm, a vitamin and protein drink. Personally and professionally, this activity is stimulating and useful, to myself as well as clients served.

  3. Leigh

    Methinks thou doth protest too much! Far too much.

    Most articles, posts and comments contain nothing new. They are, as philosophers would point out, part of the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Your own post is merely part of the antithesis challenging other Customer Experience (CEx) authors. Except that you haven’t set out anything useful about CEx for readers.

    I have watched CEx change over the 15 years I have been involved in it. Although Pine & Gilmore’s book ‘The Experience Economy’ was probably the start of the CEx growth period, a lot has changed in the intervening years. One of the biggest changes was the arrival of professional service designers trained at D-School. They brought a focus on customers that hitherto had largely been missing from the business-focused CEx consultants. Today, I would only hire a D-School trained service designers, such as Ben Reason’s LiveWork, Sarah Ronald’s Nile or Erik Abbing’s Zilver Innovation for client CEx work.

    Professional service designers trained at D-School also brought something else. They brought an open attitude towards sharing the techniques that they use to such effect. Websites such Service Design Tools (http://www.servicedesigntools.org) provide a structured guide, with examples, of a wide range of service design tools and when to use them. And service design tools such as Experience Fellow (http://www.experiencefellow.com) and Smaply (https://www.smaply.com) enable the customer experience to be captured in an unprecedented level of detail prior to root and branch redesign.

    Rather than criticise others who give up their time, knowledge and experience to help others still struggling with CEx, why not step up to the plate and do so yourself. In the dialectic, synthesis is so much more useful than antithesis.

    Graham Hill
    @grahamhill

  4. Nice points, Leigh. Maybe I will follow your redirection of energies. I’m always surprised when I attend an event/conference and lots of people are familiar with me and say they’ve benefited from my writing, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see/hear their comments/thoughts about it, and I’m spending a lot of precious time without payback.

    Regarding the koolaid, that has happened primarily from the CX tech-buying craze that took off after the 2008 downturn. I’ve come to realize that CXers have gotten their definition of what their job is from the CX tech providers, and from studies that regurgitate what everyone is doing:

    Micro management of customer issues via desktop dashboards of real-time VoC, focusing on scores from transaction surveys about friendly/effective reps rather than prevention of the reason a customer needed service in the first place, over-focus on the simple rallying index.

    What’s rare these days is the standout who has stepped back to see what would really make the dent they want to see in sustainable growth. You have to go back to the concepts in play prior to the crazes around social media engagement, NPS, experiential marketing, word of mouth, customer/enterprise feedback management systems, and CRM. All of those things have been wonderful developments, but at the same time, they have weakened the CX field. Sure, the CX label has only been used for the past 15 years or less, but most companies woke up to this label after the downturn, and the efforts underway in CX today were already being pursued in the late 80s and early 90s when Reicheld et al and Hauser et al published about the value of retained customers and the house of quality (QFD).

    What we had going for us at that time was TQM: emphasis on employee engagement in a concerted way to resolve big customer issues. We weren’t as wise then as we are now, and TQM also got a black eye due to overzealous efforts that weren’t well rooted in what’s best for customer, but most of the pain/bewilderment I’m seeing now among CX practitioners seems to stem from the lobotomy that companies gave themselves by abandoning a holistic view and practice, complete with 5-why’s root cause analysis, systems thinking (no, not IT!), organizational learning, purposeful employee engagement, and change/outcomes management.

    One thing that’s great: all the CXers I’ve met are wonderful people, well-meaning and hard-working, and keen to see customers succeed and their companies grow.

    One thing about B2B is it’s typically looked down upon by B2Cers and anyone who’s never worked in a B2B manufacturing environment. There are a lot of CX labels for things that B2Bers in fact are doing, but it’s called something else. And not every CX craze is equally needed in B2B in the same way it’s needed in B2C. Journey mapping is an example. Just because more B2C firms are mapping does not mean B2B firms are lagging, or new to CX. In B2B, there are typically dedicated sales teams who have a great deal of the journey well documented but not accessible to a CXer. My State of B2B article explains these nuances.

    As much as it’s tempting to sit back and say nothing, it’s unnerving to sit back when so much good could be done for customer well-being worldwide by shifting out of the koolaid. Let’s do lunch when you’re in Silicon Valley. Would love to discuss!

  5. Simon – Thanks for getting the crux of this article. I hesitated about whether to post it. It’s not an attack on anyone, but a mere observation and I figured it would draw some fire.

    Michael – I totally agree that there’s nothing wrong with good, healthy, even subjective discussion and investigation of issues within CX that are continually emerging and/or morphing. That isn’t the kind of content I’m referring to! 🙂

    Graham – I feel the article stands on it’s own and I’ve done nothing to attack any individuals in this post. I don’t have anything against people who are adding value to the field . I am stretching to understand what your extensive comments about D-School trained service designers has to do with this particular post. However, I’m not attacking anyone who is adding value. I’m merely challenging those who post content that doesn’t add value. Further, I agree that service design has helped drive terrific gains in the industry … and I’m saying this as someone with an extensive background in both interaction and service design.

    Lynne, You’ve said a lot and i don’t particularly disagree but little time to respond. Yes, maybe sometime we can meet up.

    –> As a general follow up statement to the post:

    I’m not saying nothing has changed over the past 15 years. That would be ludicrous. What I’m specifically challenging is the notion that many in the field are publishing soft pieces that add very little value – just to publish content – raise their SEO rankings, look relevant, etc. This does nothing but add static and noise in an already noisy space. While responding to a post like this with a comment that suggests that instead of complaining, I should be contributing and providing value may be a natural knee-jerk response, it negates the point I’m trying to make above, about how I’ve shifted my approach to my work and this field. This doesn’t mean I have no intention of contributing value now, or in the future — and does nothing to undermine the respect and appreciation I have for many of my hard-working colleagues who avoid the Kool-Aid and make valuable contributions to the space.

  6. Leigh

    I have to admit that I struggle with your expectation that articles about CEx should contain extraordinary and exciting revelations rather than run-of-the-mill regurgitations of others’ ideas. As John Hagel points out in a 2007 post on ‘The Power of Power Laws’, we live in a long-tail world where only a tiny fraction of posts, articles, papers, etc are extraordinary, the rest are relegated to being more or less run-of-the-mill. This is a side-effect of the nature of networks that dominate society, markets and even the natural world. That means most posts about CEx will, by definition, be run-of-the-mill. It also means that you have to read a lot of dross to find the few nuggets of wisdom that make it all worthwhile.

    Interestingly, I ran your last 28 posts on CustomerThink through a simple exploratory data analysis. There should no surprises to know that your own posts follow an approximate long-tail distribution. Your top five posts were read just over 1,000 times in total, accounting for 65% of your total readership. In stark contrast, your worst five posts were only read 67 times in total, accounting for only 3% of your total readership.

    I also ran No1 author Bob Thompson’s last 28 posts on CustomerThink through the same analysis. Bob’s posts also follow the same approximate long-tail distribution. However Bob’s top five posts were read almost 14,000 times in total, accounting for 62% of his total readership. His best post was read almost 8,000 times. His worst five posts were only read 500 times in total, accounting for only 2% of his total readership.

    Readership is of course, only a crude proxy for quality of content. But it does raise some interesting questions. What is it about Bob’s posts that make them such high quality? Why can’t us mere mortals, yourself included, write like Bob? And knowing that we can’t, why do we write at all, knowing that our posts are to quote your own words, just ‘soft pieces that add very little value’ ?

    Graham Hill
    @grahamhill

    Further Reading:

    John Hagel
    The Power of Power Laws
    http://edgeperspectives.typepad.com/edge_perspectives/2007/05/the_power_of_po.html

  7. Graham,

    blah, blah, blah. You’ve taken an overly agressive and over complicated stance in your response to a pretty cut-through straightforward piece. The main point Leigh was making is her issue with those who regurgitate old stuff as if it is brand new revelation when it’s clearly not. No issue with rehashing old ground when it reinforces what is still needed as I do it constantly, but don’t for a second pretend it’s anything groundbreaking when mainly its rebadging.

    Your data analyis efforts is also a little disturbing. Leigh’s piece is a valuable and refreshingly honest opinion. She’s allowed to have it of course even if you disagree with it.

    cheers

    Simon.

  8. Leigh –

    Per your own words, perhaps you’re just cranky. Though, as Graham notes, the world of CX is truly long-tail; and the subjects you identify where diatribes are being spewed forth are, in fact, continually evolving. They, and many other impactful components of CX are worth both discussion and written expression. Your individual right to be crabby is respected, as is your right to go in a different professional direction. However, merely complaining about what is being written, telling everyone about the new path you’ve chosen for your work, and not offering anything of CX substance (which, from my perspective, is what Graham is saying in his response) as an alternative, is still just a rant.

    Michael

  9. Simon. Thank you very much.

    Michael – Thanks for your input. As I have ALREADY mentioned, I have nothing against pieces that add value – but many these days, do not. I am openly challenging the idea that any practitioner should “publish just to publish” these days. That does make me — and many other people cranky in an information-saturated world. I made a distinct attempt to be open and transparent about the direction I chose to take with my business — and the incredible impact of that redirection on my bottom line. I’m very sorry if you feel that’s not relevant or adding value but it sure has benefitted me.

    Graham, I’m not going to attack you or the quality of your work, or take the time to compare my syndicated articles (work, recency, placement, timing, topics etc.) with Bob, who is the CEO of Customer Think, a respected friend and colleague who personally recruited me as an author on this site.

    I have no interest in doing a data analysis on *your* last 28 articles … or to launch into a commentary about the ample amount of time spend leaving commentary on this site. I do, however, find it disturbing that you used this very benign article as a catalyst for a reactionary bent that seems disproportionate to the simple admonitions in this article and seeks to put words in my mouth.

    Fortunately, I have faith that the folks here are intelligent enough to read between the lines. Regardless, your response does nothing but reinforce the convictions I laid out in the article above – as well as my dedication to focus my time on client delivery, letting my work stand on its own merit and avoiding silly echo chamber debates.

  10. I think Leigh is right… there is a lot of recycled ideas and content. Some of it in the name of ‘content marketing’ which is a craze right up there with CX.

    Let’s be honest, much of what the CX community is saying about customer loyalty was being said 15-20 years ago. I know, because I said it along with many who have commented on this post.

    CRM and loyalty experts, along with customer service, digital marketers and more have all piled on the CXM train. It shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a flood of content and not a lot of new ideas.

    Ed Thompson of Gartner once told me that CRM became the ‘flag of convenience’ when talking about a customer-related initiative. Now CXM is the flag that people are flying, and many vendors selling the same thing they did 10 years ago are now CXM vendors (although some have already moved on to ‘customer engagement’).

    That said, just because ‘manufacturing’ is not a new idea doesn’t mean that the understanding and practice of it doesn’t evolve. The same is true of this customer stuff we preach and practice, regardless of how it’s labeled.

    There are many different reasons for posting content. I tend to write less often, and try to find a provocative topic that will stimulate thinking and discussion. That’s my role as the CustomerThink community leader. Like my recent post about whether CXM has jumped the shark. No new ideas in the post, just a question and some observations about what I see happening.

    Others post to increase awareness, vent and just express themselves. If an idea is truly original IP and the source of competitive advantage, I don’t think blogging is the right outlet for it.

    On CustomerThink we have tightened our post approval process in recent months to try to reduce the amount of short, low value and repetitive posts. We did so in part because an analysis of post views found these posts did not attract many readers. Longer posts with more in-depth commentary, statistics, how-to advice and examples do very well.

    So let’s not get too hung up on the latest buzzword, because based on past experience the hype will fade and a new term will emerge. Instead, let’s see if we can actually make a “dent in the universe” — to borrow a quote from the late Steve Jobs — and make a difference in how companies treat customers.

  11. Leigh: I enjoyed your blog, and appreciate your taking the time to share your aggravation. A lot of what’s posted online isn’t new. Or particularly thoughtful. Or helpful, for that matter. It’s just stuff, recycled and patched together from older, now-unremarkable ideas. Maybe the ideas were never remarkable to begin with. And business development blogs are, quite literally, full of it.

    I’m constantly amazed how “Lead Nurturing” ever became a thing. And now, we’re told,”CX is the new competitive battleground.” The alarmist mentality also works in reverse. Proclaiming [fill in name of strategy or tactic that you seek to replace with your own service] “dead” has been a popular motif.

    I get especially annoyed when I read inscrutable statistics, and marvel at the downstream assertions, as you have pointed out. e.g. “89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago.” What does that even mean? It’s hard to extract insight when the words are blurry to begin with.

    But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps a large number of people find some writing insightful, even when I don’t.

    Some people post online because for them, sharing knowledge that could be helpful to readers is a powerful motivator. Others, because it’s a way to learn and it provides the discipline to develop a complex, difficult topic. Others, because they read a “how to” that admonished them to post frequently – regardless of quality. It’s all out there, and reality bites – we still have to filter it.

    Mostly, if an article doesn’t grab my interest, I just don’t read it.

  12. On reflection, it seems to me that CX writing – blogs, articles, white papers, studies, and even books – has a lot in common with TV. Like TV’s abundance of channels and shows, there is almost too much to try and absorb. That’s why the remote was invented, so we can have greater freedom of choice and select material to our own, individual taste. From the French, for each of us it’s chacon a son gout, i.e. whatever floats your boat, where CX content is concerned. Rather than get frustrated and complain about the daily tsunami of CX material that, admittedly, is available, most of us just pick and choose what is contemporary, relevant, interesting, and well done. The rest deserves, and gets, little attention.

    When reading all of this bland CX content seems overwhelming, suggest you more assertively use your internal remote. It may make you less cranky. You won’t get as annoyed. You can just change the channel.

  13. Hi Leigh

    I am not criticising you personally, merely your post. There is a big difference; with a long track record in literary criticism. One that Simon seems to have misunderstood. And my criticism is not reactionary; it merely criticises your post for not containing any useful content for CustomerThink’s readers. Does that mean you should not have posted it? Far from it. I am very keen on people expressing their opinions. As Voltaire rather dramatically said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” But that doesn’t mean that I and others are not equally free to criticise your post and to create our own synthesis from it.

    As Michael, Bob, Andrew and others have commented, most articles, posts and comments are derivative. They are merely repetition of others work and do not advance our understanding of CEx or anything else. Information overload like this is the bane of our working lives today. But most of us have developed simple approaches to manage it. Does that mean they should not publish their thoughts? Again, far from it. As I wrote, I am very keen on people expressing their opinions. It is up to me to decide whether they are worth reading or not.

    My plaidoyer to you and others authors is the same. Think about your audience and what they are going to take away from your posts? Are they going to be enlightened? Are they going to learn something new? Are they going to go away motivated to do something different? If they are not then perhaps the post is for you rather than your readers. Your other 27 posts were interesting, educational and motivating. It was just the last one that didn’t help advance our understanding of CEx. I look forward to your next informative blog post. I am sure it will be much better than the last one.

    Graham Hill
    @grahamhill

    PS. Out of interest, I ran my own last 28 posts on CustomerThink through the same analysis as your and Bob’s posts. Again, there should no surprises to know that my own posts follow an even stronger approximate long-tail distribution. My top five posts were read almost 40,000 times in total, accounting for 82% of my total readership. This was heavily influenced by one post that was read almost 20,000 times. In stark contrast, my worst five posts were only read 422 times in total, accounting for only 1% of my total readership.

  14. Hi Leigh – what I love about your post is it’s honesty and authenticity – two attributes that sit at the heart of the very principles of CX. There is much in your post that I completely agree with. CX is absolutely not new – in fact, people have been having customer experiences since the beginning of time – neither they or the organisations delivering the experiences have been conscious of it though!!

    I also agree that there are far too many people using the term ‘expert’ in the world today. I always describe myself as a Specialist – never an expert – I personally do not think anyone is. Doing what I do, I find myself remarkably fortunate to be able to develop my specialism on a daily basis. I like to share ‘stories’ that bring my specialism to life.

    What is clear from my experience is that although Customer Experience is not new, there are still thousands……millions of people still coming to terms with it. There are still a plethora of business leaders who are still trying to resist it. There are substantial numbers of companies who think they are doing it…..but are not doing so very well.

    As a result, I feel that the more people who write about CX, the more it brings my, our, specialism to the fore. The wonderful thing about CX and the profession that it has become, is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. It is not a black or white science. Every business, every scenario is different. It is the collective expertise, passion and desire to share knowledge and experiences of the ever growing CX community that is helping those who want to transform their businesses see that they can succeed.

    I will therefore continue to tell my stories and hope that others continue to do so as well.

  15. I also want to thank Leigh for her post which stimulated a useful discussion.

    What indeed is “valuable” to the reader? Yes, we’re each entitled to our opinions, but who among us can decide what is or isn’t valuable for everyone else? Some people are early in their customer-centric journey, and want more basic content. Others are looking for how-to advice. Some want the latest thinking and future trends.

    Readership is certainly one possible indicator of value. But there are plenty of sites full of click-inducing listicles, a publishing strategy to increase eyeballs and sell ads.

    Other indicators that I use to determine our author rankings are:
    * engagement (average number of views per post) — which values authors that write infrequently, but when they do, attract a lot of readers
    * discussion (average number of comments per post) — which values posts like this one which spark discussion

    I also feature as Editor’s Picks content that might not be all that popular in terms of clicks, but offers something useful to our readers/visitors. These posts are featured on our home page and in our weekly Advisor newsletter (40,000 subscribers worldwide).

    So you see, editors and publishers are part of the solution to help people find “good” content. Google and other search engines also do a decent job prioritizing better content.

    A few years ago “Social CRM” was all the rage. It was the next big thing, yada yada. One big echo chamber developed with lots of happy talk and few new ideas. Which is not to say there wasn’t anything new happening, just that it got drowned out in the rebranding of CRM and social media to be SCRM.

    Nobody is talking about SCRM now. Maybe it’s because there’s wasn’t enough “there” there. Maybe it’s because new ideas get acquired by the old ones in the same way the big companies swallow the upstarts.

    My point is that if CEM/CXM is not to follow the same path, we do need to show what is really new about it, or business leaders will just chalk it to another buzzword phase and move on to the next one.

  16. Thanks everyone for your comments. I am on a deadline so this is will either be super quick or a potentially rambling response. Apologies in advance as I am less likely to err on the side of brevity. ☺

    Bob — Thanks so much. I appreciate and agree completely with what you have said. Also, I think you were reading my mind with the CXM Has Jumped the Shark post. GREAT stuff, really. I SO agree.

    Many of us have ridden this surf together for years and tend to think alike — and those with dissenting positions are certainly welcome in the water.

    Again, this article was NOT about positioning myself as an authority for what’s relevant or “valuable” – nor did I assign any judgments on others. As almost ALL of you have pointed out “relevant” is subjective to the state of the target audience. Heck, if I didn’t know that, I’d be a pretty lousy CX practitioner. Still, MOST of us can discern the difference between a piece of unoriginal linkbait and an article we’d readily share with a colleague or client (at various stages of understanding or depth in the field). 😉

    We don’t really need to debate that… do we?

    This article WAS about me — challenging the popular notion that to contribute value as a CX practitioner, I must push out content like poop through a goose on the web and social media. I shifted my business focus and it has driven great results. Ultimately, the awakening for me was not about what value is – it’s about HOW I am called to provide value.

    DEFINING “Value” is also a subjective thing. We all agree about that, so we don’t need to debate what’s valuable and what’s not….

    HOW each of us provide value also takes any number of forms. For example, we may write, speak, teach, consult, influence change from within a corporation. We may producing research, analysis, best practices and thought pieces → OR focusing on contributing to client transformations → OR embracing learning as a new practitioner or someone who wants to make a difference. Or any combination thereof… etc.

    My admonition was really simple: While value itself may be subjective, and HOW we provide value may be different – we should most certainly all strive to contribute value and occasionally stop to question whether we are, indeed providing value.

    How do we know what we’re doing IS truly valuable? Again – it’s subjective. Off the top of my head, I measure value as doing something that:

    – Resonates
    – Challenges
    – Drives response / dialog
    – Makes people think
    – Creates shift
    – Drives desired outcome(s)
    – Makes life better for people
    – Solves a problem
    – Lets people know they aren’t alone
    – Makes people happier
    – Explains something complicated
    – Presents an angle we may not have considered
    – Teaches something
    – Pushes the envelope
    – Illuminates
    – Motivates
    – Inspires

    However, I personally think that “providing value” is a two-way thing, in that everything we produce must also GIVE BACK to us! I personally measure this five ways (I did not plan this – it is off the top of my head and in no specific order);

    – Pleasure (Loving the work, Making people happy, Enjoying fruit of labor)
    – Profit (Stable and growing bottom line for everyone)
    – People (Happy staff, clients and customers; Time for family; Improving lives)
    – Praise (Word of Mouth, Testimonials, Referrals)
    – Patronage (New clients and repeat business)

    As @Ian thoughtfully pointed out — there’s no cookie cutter way to pursue this work. CX has never been about straight lines. It’s been freeing for me to have shifted things – and to know that what I’m doing is enough while I constantly push myself to do better.

    Bob, I loved your comment how our “reality hasn’t caught up with our rhetoric.” Maybe that’s why I am just MORE in love with the client work more than writing about CX right now … because maybe by doing good work, I can help make that dent you (and Steve) referenced (along with all of you, I hope!)

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