Upgrading Your Study for the Updated CCXP Exam

By Lynn Hunsaker posted 10-19-2021 02:48 PM

CCXPWhat's new in the exam for Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP)? Here are my personal thoughts about it, after reworking my prep course for much of this past year.

The most obvious shift is the new Culture & Accountability category, which combines the former two categories, Customer-Centric Culture and Organizational Adoption and Accountability. This is a good thing in two ways:

  1. Culture is a group's way of thinking and doing. Adoption of customer experience performance is the degree to which a group's thinking is customer-centric. Accountability for customer experience performance is the degree to which a group's doing is customer-centric. So, these 2 former categories are actually the same topic. With the definition I've provided here, "& Accountability" is redundant. However, there is a tendency in business to think of culture as passive, so the addition of "accountability" emphasizes the importance of walking the talk.

  2. The former two categories were 33% of the (a) former exam (14% Culture + 19% Adoption/Accountability + 14% VoC + 17% Design/Improvement + 20% Metrics + 16% Strategy), whereas the (b) updated exam is better balanced: 22% VoC/Insights + 20% Strategy + 20% Metrics + 19% Design/Improvement + 19% Culture/Accountability.

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study: make sure you balance your efforts to be equally well-informed about each of the five topics.

Here's what I like most about each competency:

1) Customer Insights & Understanding
The new criteria for "knowledge of behavioral science" introduces empathy, psychology, and humanness in learning where you stand with customers. This is much-needed as some voice of customer approaches in practice today have overlooked this. Colin Shaw is one of the most frequent CX writers about buyer psychology: understanding why and how people make decisions.

I applaud the new inclusion of this job task: "determine gaps and research strategies to address deficiencies". The need to be creative in customer research underscores that this competency is much more than collecting recommendation ratings.

One job task remained the same, except for the addition of "and employee": "identify customer and employee touchpoints in the customer experience". I like to take this a step further in identifying their moments of truth, not just touchpoints. Moments of truth are keys to ease of doing business, ease of work, and retention of both customers and employees. 

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study: while you look up definitions and read examples about these topics, make sure you spend some time stepping back to think about how the pieces fit together. What resonates with what you know about how business runs and what makes people tick?

2) Customer Experience Strategy
While there's nothing new to report in this category, I appreciate the clearer call-out for "knowledge of intended customer experience". Last year I was surprised to see so many CX jobs shuffled for DX/UX/EX/Success/Sales. There was a precious time in the first 90 days of the global pandemic when managers from any group were saying "What's going on with our customers? How should we adapt to best serve them?" At the same time, managers were revising policies, processes, mindsets, and handoffs for work-at-home and other needs.

This openness to CX insights and opportunity to inject CX insights into the massive revisions underway were pure gold for CX leaders. If "intended customer experience" was really figured out as part of CX strategies, wouldn't we have been able to minimize CX job shuffling and maximize CX as companies' north star?  I wrote about the possibility of CX as the 2021 North Star, but I got the feeling it was a premature hope. Perhaps this clearer call-out will help us as we move forward.

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study: put the CCXP blueprint into action in your company. Take your current CX maturity roadmap and plot the blueprint items thoughtfully along the timeline. This is an excellent habit to build and a great way to remember what you're studying on the hot seat in an exam as well as the hot seat on the job.

3) Metrics, Measurements, & ROI
I like two criteria in particular in the Metrics category: "knowledge of CX data mining and analysis" and "ability to quantify business value and ROI of investing in customer experience". These two items are pretty much second in the listings within the new blueprint.

Data mining is instrumental to our future, I believe. There's an avalanche of unstructured data -- hence, the phrase big data and the popularity of AI. Analyzing unstructured data takes us out of the fray of survey response rates; every time we engage customers we're inadvertently setting expectations. Unstructured customer data is almost-free VoC, because it's already on-hand in most cases, waiting to be harvested. I'm a big fan of using almost-free sources as the foundation for managers' self-service for understanding and acting on CX insights. Making good use of unstructured data means we can adapt surveys to ask only what we don't already know, possibly making the VoC experience so much more interesting for everyone involved.

Ability to quantify business value and ROI of investing in customer experience is the Number One challenge of CX managers, according to the last 3 reports from Pointillist's State of Customer Journey Management & CX Measurement study. What this tells me is that despite the daily real-time NPS scores, effort scores, predictive analytics, AI, and everything else that's current best practice, we haven't cracked the code from the senior leadership team's perspective. We went through this quandary in the marketing discipline as well. What I learned is it's vital to get beyond CX-speak and marketing-speak of click-throughs, cookies, engagement rates, promoters, FCR, and so forth. We need to get to business-speak of ROA, CAGR, EPS, and so on (ROA = return on assets, CAGR = cumulative average growth rate, EPS = earnings per share). My new workbooks show how to do this!
Quantifying CX ROI
Have you ever wondered what's the difference between metrics and measurements? I did when the CCXP was first rolled out, so I discovered CXPA's typical use of the word "measurement" was about customers' thoughts and actions: survey findings, UPC barcode data, attrition, cookies, upsell, etc.  And CXPA's typical use of the word "metrics" was management's progress toward strategic objectives: closed loop, FCR, defect rate, responsiveness, share of budget, etc.

This category may be the most frustrating for me, as the delineation between it and "Customer Insights & Understanding" (aka "measurement") is blurred. While there will always be a lot of overlap between VoC and Metrics, I've found it useful to refer to these categories a bit differently: (a) VoC & Intelligence is the phrase I like to use for Customer Insights & Understanding, and (b) Metrics & Analytics is the phrase I like to use for Metrics, Measurements & ROI. In this way, it's clearer that one is gathering and synthesizing to actionable intelligence for managers to use (measurement), and the other is tracking performance of managers' use and course-correcting (metrics).

The new criteria for "knowledge of self-service access to data and analytics" and "knowledge of perception, descriptive, and outcome metrics" are interesting to me. These criteria refer to ways managers across your company access and interpret CX insights. But I have a different view of lagging and leading indicators (lagging means customers know before you do (aka measurement), while leading means you know/adjust before customers know (aka metrics)) and taking a very active approach to facilitating managers' access to data, analytics, and actioning instead of a passive self-service approach. 

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study: make sure you know as much about metrics as you do about measurement.

4) Design, Implementation, & Innovation
I like the call-out of this job task: "integrate processes and tools for continuous customer experience improvements". CX enthusiasts with career background in lean/six sigma may appreciate the findings of an Advocacy Drives Growth study (pdf) by the London School of Economics that 3X more revenue is gained by reducing negative word of mouth by 1% versus increasing positive word of mouth by 1%. This finding may have something to do with the quandary featured in Pointillist's study.

The biggest change in this category seems to be the replacement of the word "Improvement" with "Implementation". That's certainly at-odds with the study findings mentioned above. This category doesn't call out essentials like Pareto analysis to sort out the vital few contributors to a key driver of loyalty versus the useful many contributors. This may be one of the most egregious gaps in current best practices: quick wins are usually among the useful many. This is probably at the heart of the CX ROI quandary. There is a specific sequence and science to CX improvement on par with that of design.

I've never been sure what "Innovation" is representing that's different from "Design" in the minds of the committee members, as these knowledge elements are also missing in the knowledge list. Luckily, I've written an e-handbook called Innovating Superior Customer Experience, so that's what I teach in my course as a bonus.

There is more specificity in the new blueprint about human-centered design, control and response plans, operating plan and capabilities, and future-state mapping.

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study: make sure not to overlook improvement tools, sequences, and examples while you're deep-diving in experience design tools, sequences, and examples.

5) Culture & Accountability 
I appreciate the rephrased criteria for "knowledge of sponsorship and engagement" and "knowledge of stakeholder and change management practices". In the former blueprint, these were described as collaboration, influencing, leadership, and manage change. 

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study:  take note of what you've experienced in your career about initiative successes and failures. What kind of executive sponsorship was in-play for the positive situation versus the weak situation? What kind of stakeholder engagement, stakeholder analysis, and change management efforts were in-play for those situations?

It may be surprising that the early report from CXPA's 2020 job analysis caused me to spend a few hundred hours overhauling my CCXP learning resources. The early report called out some key findings before they were integrated into the CCXP blueprint. (Recognized Training Providers could sign an NDA for the  early report.) I was already nearly set to re-launch my prep course, but I noticed that a lot of the job analysis findings matched the tactical vibe of 2020. This caused me to sort the foundational/tactical aspects of each competency from the strategic aspects. Accordingly, I created a brush-up / level-setting slide deck and workbook for pre-work before diving into the strategic deck and workbook, which is much more interesting for group discussions and real-life examples.  

What this means for upgrading your CCXP study is that the CX body of knowledge should be understood on several levels for true mastery. What does each phrase mean, how is it being done in mainstream practice, and what might be better ways? What have you noticed from other business fields and life lessons that sheds light on these topics? How would a customer describe each topic? 

Avoid the temptation to be formulaic, or to worry about test-taking advice. You've had hundreds of tests in the school system, and this one isn't any more mysterious than those. In the first couple years after the CCXP was rolled out, hundreds of people passed the CCXP exam before there were any readings or quizzes or classes for it. And now that there are wonderful resources, get the most for your time investment by absorbing what you can put into action in your career, beyond the exam. 

Customer experience is a dynamic field which one speaker on CX Day observed is "in startup phase". I think that's right: organizations around the globe have made inroads, yet there is still much to be learned and applied by managers in any company. My first reaction to her comment was "how could that be, since I was VoC Manager 29 years ago?" CX practices and CX managers have ebbed and flowed in companies in the recent decades. But the actual content of VoC and CX practices was largely the same in the '90s, even if it was labeled differently. In fact, numerous precious practices have gone by the wayside, to the chagrin of many a CX team that's undervalued. It could be that your company was giving an awesome presentation in one of the same '90s conferences where I was presenting.

So, remember that CX isn't a recent invention. The first CX happened when the first people on earth bartered. CX is a customer's assessment of what they got versus what they expected. CXM is our attempt in organizations to react to or be proactive in CX. We're continually learning about that.




03-18-2022 11:33 AM

Thanks for this suggestion, Heather. When this blog was published, it was set to be announced to the peer-to-peer study community, but that might have gotten sidetracked. One thing that my article could make clearer is that the early list of potential changes to the exam that RTPs received under NDA was much more specific than what people see as differences between the old and new blueprints. Those specifics may be part of the hurdle expressed by recent exam candidates. Adding all those specifics is why my course upgrades were more extensive than originally anticipated.

03-18-2022 10:50 AM

It would be great if this would be cross-posted to the CCXP Exam prep community.  (Not everyone reads the mass emails the same way they do the traffic for groups where they are active.)