By Paul Cole, Published by Marketing News Magazine, USA.
A quick trip down memory lane: It’s 1980, and I’m a freshly minted college graduate entering the workforce during a period of 7.5% unemployment, 13.5% inflation, and interest rates hovering around 20%. With unbridled enthusiasm, I head out with my new marketing degree and brand new résumé in search of a position in the advertising industry. It’s been said that “timing is everything,” and believe me, it was really bad timing. At that time, a young college grad couldn’t even get a credit card! So, somewhat disillusioned but still eager, I returned to my part-time college employer, a market research company. As a 21-year-old field director running a third-shift telephone research center open seven days a week, I worked closely with clients from all industries to capture the voice of the customer. This data informed decisions on everything from advertising/ positioning strategy to product feature optimization, pricing and customer service strategy. Hence, my entry into the world of what was to become known as customer experience (CX) management.
Fast forward to 2015. After a couple of decades building, managing and leading a number of different businesses, I decided to return to my first love: the world of the customer. I quickly learned that the more things change, the more they stay the same. That included many of the principles of customer management that I had been espousing and trying to inculcate, such as knowing your customer; treating different customers differently based on need and value; utilizing technology to better connect to them; and taking an end-to-end process view rather than functional view. These are, in large part, still eluding many of today’s companies. And, while the ratio of rhetoric to reality in achieving customer centricity is still too high, there has been demonstrable progress. Many organizations have rebounded from their CRM hangover and come to realize the huge competitive and financial advantage that can be generated through a more effective and efficient orchestration of the entire customer experience.
This is, in large part, due to a vast and growing community that has been galvanized to drive real change, share best practices, professionalize the industry with certifications, and ensure that we do not fall into the trap of simply thinking that applying the latest and greatest technology will truly change anything.
Furthering the point that the customer experience movement is no flash in the pan is the recent creation of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA), of which I am a member. The organization was founded in 2011 by Bruce Temkin, Karen Temkin and Jeanne Bliss, and seeks to “increase the impact and visibility of customer experience professionals.”
As practical evidence to what a CX professional accomplishes, consider some of the highlights that an unnamed CXPA member has listed on his LinkedIn profile: Cut the number of negative review sites in half on the first page of search without SEO; converted 5% of negative Yelp reviews from 1 to 5 stars through service recovery, and; rewrote 42 letters that confused customers.
On Oct. 6, the CXPA celebrated its third annual “CX day.” It took place across 24 locations on four continents, and involved 1,200 professionals at local events. The #CXDay hashtag generated almost 15 million social media impressions.
As marketers, we are the tip of the CX spear, setting expectations for what the experience should be via a compelling brand promise and developing an enticing value proposition to convert prospects into customers. So, if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to join the CX crusade.