In 2010, recognition of customer-centricity began to take hold in the business world. Inspired by the growing success of companies like Amazon (#4 2010 Forrester Customer Experience Ranking; #1 2011 2011 Temkin Loyalty Ranking), businesses began to adopt the idea that customer obsession – truly focusing on customer wants and needs – could drive better business results. This recognition spurred new corporate commitments and job responsibilities, united by a common interest in understanding how an organization could best implement the idea of customer obsession. While there were published books and articles introducing some customer experience concepts as well as ideas from the fields of customer relationship management, quality management, consumer affairs, and customer service upon which to draw, there was an emerging clarity that a more structured, holistic systematic approach was necessary.
In 2011, a visionary group of thought leaders spearheaded by Jeanne Bliss and Bruce Temkin ignited the Customer Experience revolution movement by forming CXPA, a global association for professionals leading customer experience for their organizations. What began as a small community of informal information exchange has developed into a global community committed to convening diverse CX stakeholder groups to develop consensus-based guidance on CX free from undue commercial interest. The CXPA movement has inspired thousands of companies to pursue CX as a strategy, engaged tens of thousands of individuals, recognized individuals and companies for CX excellence, and facilitated countless conversations about the practice of CX.
The word “revolution” is a bit of a conundrum. In one definition. It means departure from what has been done before to establish a new system of operations; in another, it means completing a full rotation to return to the place that you began. In both terms of the definition, CXPA believes we are at a critical CX revolution moment.
Like 2010, organizations are again asking how they can achieve better business results by focusing on customer wants and needs. The question is both more urgent and complex as globalization, digital transformation, and customer expectations have grown exponentially during the past decade (and perhaps exponentially again in the past year). Different companies are at different stages of customer experience maturity, but all are united by the same question: how can I reliably improve business results through better meeting customer wants and needs? Fortunately, we are in a stronger position to confidently answer that question. The answer begins with a few key definitions developed by the CXPA through consensus of knowledgeable experts across the globe:
- Customer Experience (CX) is the perception that customers have of an organization - one that is formed based on interactions across all touchpoints, people, and technology over time.
- CX Management is the set of practices that an organization employs to meet (or exceed) customers’ expectations.
- A CX Professional is a catalyst who enhances an organization's results by understanding, designing, and improving experiences across the entire customer relationship.
We are especially heartened to see the alignment and support for these concepts from leading advisory companies:
- Alvarez & Marsal (A&M): “Customer experience starts with understanding the root causes of customer contacts, anticipating pain points and minimizing them before they happen.”
- Bain & Co: “Creating outstanding customer experiences means seeing your company through the eyes of your customers--and understanding what they encounter as they attempt to satisfy their needs.”
- EY: “We believe that delighting your future customers lies in being client-centric. This has become only more important in today’s digital world. It's not about implementing technology to improve customer experience — it's about running a business like a digital leader. This means creating a culture that seeks to continuously improve customer experience.”
- Forrester: Customer Experience is: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.”
- Gartner: “CXM is the discipline of understanding customers and deploying strategic plans that enable cross-functional efforts and customer-centric culture to improve satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.”
- KPMG: “Everything from your brand messaging to your marketing and sales and servicing journey counts. The overall experience will decide if a customer is going to choose your product or service, purchase it again or recommend it to a friend.”
- McKinsey: “Our experience teaches us that the best customer-experience efforts begin with a “customer back” perspective driven by the customer’s wants, not a company’s traditional organizational structure. That makes the task of organizing and governing customer experience unique even among organizational designs that rely on cross-functional collaboration. The articles in this volume explore the critical elements of an effective customer-centric strategy, which can deliver benefits to customers, employees, and the bottom line. These include the central role of customer journeys, rather than touchpoints, in organizing and measuring improvement efforts; the importance of establishing a vision to bridge the gap between board direction and front- line engagement; the key role of measurement systems that allow a company to hear the voice of its customers; and the essential link between customer experience and value creation that can elude even the best-intentioned efforts.”
- “Customer experience (CX) — Customers’ perception of their experience with a brand or organization over time, which results from every interaction they have from the website to customer service to purchasing a product or service, etc. This allows companies to drive loyalty at every point along the customer life cycle by capturing and analyzing signals to predict behavior, take action and create experiences that lead to customer loyalty.
- Customer experience management (CEM) — This is the practice or discipline of how a company takes control of how it designs and optimizes interactions with its customers. CEM is about understanding key journeys from the customer’s perspective, and then engaging all relevant internal teams to improve these journeys and interactions.”
- Qualtrics: “Customer experience (CX) refers to how a customer perceives your brand based on their exposure to it. Customer experience is the sum total of someone’s perception of your organization. Unlike customer service or customer relationship management, customer experience does not map neatly to a single area of your business.”
These perspectives and definitions support CXPA’s belief that true CX requires a holistic approach that mobilizes the entire organization in business practice evolution rooted in commitments to business performance grounded in customer-centricity. The resurgence in interest in better CX business outcomes has also sparked a rise in new “experience management” paradigms looking to replace “customer experience” with another X term. While CXPA encourages thoughtful engagement to advance the practice of CX, we caution executives to carefully consider the self-interest profit motives of proposals and to consider whether these new paradigms truly offer anything different than the key points agreed by CX experts in CXPA and leading advisory firms.
Rather than attempt to “change the conversation”, we believe that it is critical to come together now as we did in 2011 to work as an independent association to unify CX professionals, increase understanding of CX, and advance the practice of CX through more holistic implementation. Here are some ways you can support this next stage of the CX revolution:
The past ten years have been amazing for CX and CXPA. I can’t wait to see the future we create together!
Together in advancing CX,
Greg Melia, CAE
P.S. Looking to start a CX revolution in your organization? Check out the recorded sponsored CXPA webinar Evolution or Revolution? The Journey to CX Rock Stardom presented by Confirmit.