Transformational Leadership – the key to unlocking the competencies of Customer Experience Professionals

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If you have followed my writing for a while, you will be very much aware that I am very proud and passionate Customer Experience Professional (CXP). One of a growing number of ‘specialists’ in the newly recognised professional field, this group of skilled, experienced practitioners is growing in number on a weekly basis.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with a large number of CXPs. A little like the profession in which we specialise, CXPs come in all shapes and sizes. There is no pre-defined background education required to be a CXP – tools, techniques and methodologies can be learned.  What is necessary is that to be an effective CXP you must have one very important attribute – BELIEF. You must absolutely believe that enabling an organisation to be more customer centric is the ‘right thing to do’ – right for the customer; right for the employee; and right for the shareholder.

It is not about money; or personal gain; or political skulduggery – it is about BELIEF in doing what is right. I am always at the risk of sounding evangelical when I mention the word BELIEF in a business context – I do not intend to preach – I can only state what I believe to be true. If you do not BELIEVE in the significance that Customer Experience can have on every stakeholder involved in an organisation, you are unlikely to cut it as a CXP.

Now I would be foolish to claim that belief combined with tools, techniques and methodologies alone can enable a CXP to be truly effective in helping an organisation to become more customer centric. No one person has the ability to transform a business. Not only that, the Customer Experience is not the responsibility of a CXP – it is the responsibility of the WHOLE ORGANISATION. However, for a business to most effectively leverage the competencies of CXPs, it is vital that they are supported by a critical and powerful ingredient – transformational leadership.

An organisations approach to Customer Experience will live or die on the strength of transformational leadership. A CXP, or even a team of CXPs, operating in isolation of strong, committed, transformational leadership will only be able to take Customer Experience transformation so far. I have worked with amazing CXPs who have worked day and night to influence their business, only to be thwarted by a lack of commitment from above.

Here is a definition for you – from the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia – the definition of ‘transformational leadership’:

“Transformational leadership is a style of leadership where the leader is charged with identifying the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with committed members of the group. It also serves to enhance the motivation, morale, and job performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms; these include connecting the follower’s sense of identity and self to the project and the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers in order to inspire them and raise their interest in the project; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, allowing the leader to align followers with tasks that enhance their performance.”

Sounds good doesn’t it?! I am not sure many leaders of this ilk exist though. A transformational leader would recognise that change is constant – that change is inevitable. Being able to inspire others to understand the need for change and align everyone behind a clear vision is without doubt a skill not seen as often as we would like. A transformational leader would recognise the significance of people (followers) and the need to inspire and develop people in an understanding, empathetic way. A transformational leader would BELIEVE in the effect a focus on customer centricity can have on a business.

In many respects, CXPs are great examples of what transformational leaders look like. Although many do not have the positional authority to drive change, their practical delivery of a variety of core competencies aligns nicely with the Wikipedia definition.

So when it comes to Customer Experience, the big question is – are YOU a transformational leader? To help you answer this question, I have provided you with some prompts. Below you will find details of the six Customer Experience competencies that make up the professional accreditation – CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional). If you work in the field of Customer Experience, you can self-assess your level of competence and that of the organisation you work in by answering the questions at the end of each competency description. The lower your scores, the greater your level of understanding will be in the need to create a development plan:


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Section C 1 – Customer-centric Culture

A customer-centric organisation

  • Drives employee engagement and involvement — from the front lines to the executive suite
  • Develops and delivers ongoing CX (Customer Experience) interaction training to employees
  • Develop communication strategies and tactics to share the importance of CX with employees, customers, and the company
  • Collect and share stories of CX excellence at your company

This is supported by having the following skills and abilities

  • Problem solving skills
  • Relationship building skills
  • Ability to coordinate diverse resources to create value
  • Ability to engage “hearts and minds” of an organization across employee groups
  • Ability to align employee behaviour with customer-focused culture

Question 1 – Based on this information, on a score of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how embedded is a customer-centric culture in your business unit?

Question 2 – On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how engrossed are you in a customer-centric culture?

COMPETENCY 2 – Organisational adoption and accountability

An organisation is able to adopt customer-centricity and be accountable if it

  • Aligns business goals with customer-focused culture
  • Maintains a dedicated list of top customer experience improvements, including which senior executive is accountable for resolution
  • Embeds customer experience impact as a criterion for all business and investment decisions
  • Introduces new processes and tools to improve customer experience
  • Works across departments and organizations to improve customer experience
  • Regularly reviews CX metrics and feeds back at all levels of the organisation

This is supported by having the following skills and abilities

  • Ability to communicate the importance of customer experience and corresponding strategy
  • Ability to recommend initiatives based on customer experience data
  • Ability to report CX data to different audiences in an understandable manner
  • Ability to plan, implement, and manage change
  • Ability to lead cross-functional efforts
  • Collaboration, influencing, and relationship skills

Question 3 – Based on this information, on a score of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well does your business unit adopt customer-centricity and how accountable is it?

Question 4 – On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well do you adopt customer-centricity and how accountable are you?

COMPETENCY 3 – VOC, Customer Insight and understanding

An organisation that has customer insights and a deep understanding of the Voice Of the Customer (VOC)

  • Designs and implements voice of customer programs (solicited through surveys, focus groups, communities, etc.)
  • Collects unsolicited experience feedback from customers (by mining calls, web data, emails, etc.)
  • Gathers input from employees about customer experiences and opportunities for improvement
  • Analyses VOC feedback drawn across sources to identify customer pain points and opportunities to improve and differentiate
  • Identifies and maps major customer touchpoints in the customer experience

This is supported by having the following skills and abilities

  • Ability to conduct root cause analysis
  • Ability to conduct predictive analysis
  • Ability to analyze and redesign processes

Question 5 – Based on this information, on a score of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well does your business unit understand VOC and how deep is its Customer Insight?

Question 6 – On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well do you understand VOC and how deep is your understanding of Customer Insight?

COMPETENCY 4 – Experience design and improvement

An organisation that effectively designs and improves its customer experience

  • Establishes and follows a well-defined design process each time an experience is created or changed
  • Uses customer insights to define and prioritize experience requirements and opportunities for improvement
  • Uses journey mapping to improve most relevant moments of truth
  • Assesses, documents, tracks, and reports resolution of experience gaps across touch points
  • Identifies interdependencies across people, process and technology that impact design of the customer experience
  • Uses iterative ideation and prototyping (e.g., design thinking) to engage customers and employees in the co-creation of enhanced or innovative experiences

This is supported by having the following skills and abilities

  • Ability to identify key moments of truth affecting customer perceptions
  • Ability to conduct experience gap analysis and prioritize recommended improvements
  • Ability to drive customer centered design and innovation
  • Ability to accurately map and depict customer touch points
  • Ability to drive action and execution of key CX improvements

Question 7 – Based on this information, on a score of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how effectively does your business unit design and improve customer experience?

Question 8 – On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well do you design and improve customer experience?

COMPETENCY 5 – Metrics, measurements and ROI

An organisation that utilises metrics, measurements and ROI (return on investment) effectively

  • Identifies key CX metrics for tracking experience quality, satisfaction, and loyalty
  • Develops framework and linkage of improved experiences to business outcomes (growth, attrition, profitability, etc.)
  • Develops infrastructure and mechanisms to capture CX data (surveys, operational data, customer behavior, word of mouth, financial performance, etc.)
  • Analyses and interprets results to derive customer insights and performance trends
  • Reports results, insights, and recommended actions to improve

This is supported by having the following skills and abilities

  • Ability to create measurement strategy in support of broader CX strategy
  • Ability to quantify business value and ROI of investing in customer experience
  • Ability to illustrate ROI of CX investments
  • Ability to assess effectiveness of metrics platform design
  • Ability to translate data into clear communication of results, progress and actions
  • Ability to drive executive support and engagement in CX metrics and results

Question 9 – Based on this information, on a score of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how effectively does your business unit utilise metrics, measurements and ROI?

Question 10 – On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well do you utilise metrics, measurements and ROI?

COMPETENCY 6 – Customer Experience Strategy

An organisation that has an effective customer exerience strategy

  • Defines a customer experience strategy that describes the intended customer experience, its linkage to overall corporate objectives, and its alignment with the organization’s brand values and attributes
  • Develops experience principles and specific employee behaviours and interactions that reflect brand values and organizational mission
  • Articulates the operating plan, investments, and tactics for programmatic components of the CX strategy
  • Communicates and engages employees at all levels of the organization in the elements of the CX strategy

This is supported by having the following skills and abilities

  • Ability to translate corporate strategy into well-defined customer experience strategies and programmatic efforts
  • Ability to engage executive suite in CX strategy design and execution
  • Ability to take branded experience strategy and engage all functional business areas (product, marketing, operations, etc.) in creation of action plans
  • Ability to clearly communicate the importance of the customer experience strategy to deliver the organization’s business goals

Question 9 – Based on this information, on a score of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how effective is your Business Units customer experience strategy?

Question 10 – On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being not at all and 10 being extremely), how well can you define, develop and communicate customer experience strategies?


If you want to create a deeper understanding of your own personal development plan, or are interested in validating whether or not you are ready to take the CCXP exam, join the CX Academy Fast Track workshop on the 9th July in London in partnership with the CCMA. Depending on numbers, it is also likely that we will be able to arrange for you to take your CCXP exam for real at the end of the day. So….are you ready?!!!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ian Golding, CCXP
A highly influential freelance CX consultant, Ian advises leading companies on CX strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. Ian has worked globally across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, telecoms and pharmaceuticals deploying CX tools and methodologies. An internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of CX, Ian was also the first to become a CCXP (Certified Customer Experience Professional) Authorised Resource & Training Provider.

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