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Defining #CX: 3 important themes from CXPA

#CustomerExperience, #ExperienceDesign, #Innovation

The CXPA is a young, professional community, populated by people with backgrounds in marketing, customer support, customer service, digital design and usability. The interdisciplinary composition of this community is fueling a vibrancy and a sense of promise around the topic of customer experience (CX).

While a concise and broadly accepted definition has yet to be fully achieved, there are 3 themes we’ve observed through our participation in the CXPA that help trace an outline of what a definition of CX might include.

Theme #1: The customer journey is foundational to great CX

It has become widely accepted that CX-related efforts today should be grounded on an integrated framework of assumptions about the customer journey, including:

  1. There is a customer journey
  2. The journey advances in a predictable and finite sequence of steps
  3. The sequence can be discovered and mapped
  4. The steps in the sequence can be examined to diagnose CX problems
  5. The map provides a logical planning framework for designing and delivering customer experience.

Within the CX field, the “customer journey” has become a framing assumption. So far, that’s proving helpful. There is meaningful work being done that is measurably improving business results and customer outcomes, using journey maps as a key tool. What remains to be resolved is whether a highly sequential approach to mapping buying journeys will be sufficient in the long-term or whether a model of the buying journey that reflects a more free-form journey by buyers will be more appropriate and valuable for creating meaningful CX.

Theme #2: The customer’s voice is what matters

The “Voice of the Customer” has a significant presence in the planning and execution work of the CX practitioner. The concept is referenced frequently enough that the community has broadly adopted an acronym (VOC) to express it.

Being a CX professional means including and attending to a specific set of topics under the category of VOC. VOC includes anything expressed by customers—whether good or bad—about their relationship with the company, about a product or service, or really about anything related to their experience, perception, memory and expectations of the company and its brands. VOC feedback may be structured or unstructured, prompted or unprompted, explicit or implicit, in official or unofficial channels—it all matters.

We deeply appreciate that organizations need this kind of feedback to prune and maintain a realistic perspective about their impact on customers and the world. But as we truncate the Voice of the Customer to VOC, it will be important for us not to truncate our perception of what customers actually care about to only that set of things that they share with companies about companies. More than one innovation in customer experience has come from attention to unarticulated customer needs. The best VOC technology does not solve for that.

Theme #3: Empathy is in everyone’s best interest

The CX profession has arrived at a time when the power of corporations relative to other institutions has been in ascent. Whether consciously or not, the community has internalized the idea that with this growing power comes greater responsibility for the experience of others.

Empathy is the one human emotion that is so hard-wired that it can counter the many extrinsic incentives for humans to behave badly. Getting corporations to act more empathetically, for their own good, is clearly a source of personal meaning for a good number of CX professionals.

Not surprisingly then, within the CXPA community, there is a productive conversation afoot regarding the ethical theme of empathy and about how things work—as well as how we should behave. The current definitely seems headed in a productive direction with the community embracing the idea that creating meaningful and positive customer experiences—ones that are relevant and emotionally resonant—will nurture goodwill for brands and result, ultimately, in helping to drive the positive results that matter to shareholders and business owners.

It’s a pleasure to be part of this flourishing community. And, if there’s another lesson that we’ve learned from our participation in the CXPA community thus far, it’s that achieving buy-in is the key obstacle for CX to overcome. There is a discernible pattern observed in the obstacles to CX: the buy-in of executives, the buy-in of middle management, the buy-in of the customer service front-line employees.

While the profession appears to be in a missionary stage—and persuading others to see the world through the lens of CX appears to be the greatest challenge and threat to the profession—our interactions with the CXPA and its members provide convincing evidence that CX will be more than a passing trend, but rather a movement that results in raising the bar for all companies who seek to attract customers to their brand, products and services.