Author's note: The below essay was published by CXPA member Edwin Best in a whitepaper that featured a series of reflections by CX professionals around the globe focused on the steps they've taken in their career journey. You can download the full whitepaper here.
My journey into CX began in 2007, though I didn’t know it at the time. As a straight-out-of-college customer service agent at the American Cancer Society, I took pride in my day-to-day work, but was challenged by my lack of authority and influence to solve root-cause issues affecting customers and donors. As part of my responsibility within the contact center, I had the opportunity to partner with a newly-formed CX team on a project, and my eyes were opened to the ability of a small, mighty team to affect transformational, customer-centric change. I wanted in!
When a role opened on the team in 2014, I jumped in with both feet—but found that I was out of my depth at first. I had the desire and the support from my team to learn and grow, but lacked a broader community and context to my work. I became a part of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) community and was buoyed to learn that not only were there people like me and my team members, but there were concrete tools and methodologies that successful practitioners had employed to drive real change in their organizations.
In many ways, I track my own growth as a CX professional with the growth of CXPA and the CX profession as a whole. In the beginning, there was a thirst among CX professionals to connect and to experience a sense of camaraderie with others doing the same work; it is, after all, a lonely profession. That desire for connection and a safe space to learn and grow still remains (the CXPA open forum remains a source for fast, insightful answers to difficult questions), but it’s also evolved into something more: a discipline with independent, consensus-based definitions and certification. A respected profession that is practiced by some of the world’s most recognized and profitable companies—Microsoft. Apple. Amazon. An integral part of modern business success.
As the CX discipline continues to grow and expand, particularly outside of the United States, it is more critical than ever that CX professionals continue to connect and share to advance the work of CX in their organizations. During my time with the American Cancer Society, I’d often tell our staff that for us, customer experience was not just a financial imperative, but a moral one, too. After all, didn’t we have a responsibility to create easy, successful, emotionally connected experiences for people going through some of the most challenging moments of their lives? At the time, I thought this edict was unique to our non-profit work. But as time has passed, I believe it applies to all organizations, because we all have the ability and the responsibility to make our customers’ lives a bit better through our work.
I’m still up for the challenge, and have never been more excited for the future of CX. I hope you are, too.
Gabe Smith, CCXP
Content Manager & Associate Director, Customer Experience Professionals Association