Photo by sydney Rae / Unsplash

It’s 2006 and customer experience is an emerging idea

Sometimes it’s tricky being the ‘go-to’ customer experience (CX) person. I remember the excitement of creating a CX programme about 12 years ago. I had been invited, as Head of Marketing, to contribute to a CRM (customer database) project. Rather than look at this project as a ‘data’ opportunity, I saw this as a chance to enhance our customer experience as a whole. I thought it could be a catalyst for something more transformational, more beneficial for our customers.

I felt excited, optimistic and empowered to make a positive difference, but not qualified. How could I lead this project when I didn’t have "the badge, the qualification or the certificate" in customer experience – a type of accreditation which would give me the 'authority' to progress this work? What’s more, how could I give people in the organisation the confidence to invest resources in something I only understood part of, but I knew it was the right thing to do?

I realised that I needed to become a customer experience expert. Customer experience wasn’t marketing, nor was it customer services, or operations – this was something different. I decided to educate myself and spent a week learning about the discipline in a small classroom in New Jersey! There was nothing available locally or accessible on a short-haul flight at the time.

The course was what I needed back then. I met 8 other people in the same position; all of us wanting to understand this emerging discipline. We needed to be experts and the training gave us the authority to make recommendations for change. We learned a great deal from one another and from the course facilitators.

At that point I decided to design a customer experience course which would ensure that people like me felt qualified and had the confidence to lead change in their organisations. Then life took over, I got distracted and the course design idea was parked. Until now.

It’s 2018 and customer experience initiatives are springing up all over the place

A great deal has changed in the last 12 years. There are more CX jobs than ever, the brands that deliver and sometimes thoughtfully surprise are the ones rewarded with attention and amplification from their customers in an increasingly noisy world. 2020 is the year CX will become the key differentiator in the marketplace overtaking price and product as the tool to create competitive advantage.It's all going on.

So much new research and insight exists. Customer Experience is now recognised as a science. Brands are using psychology and behavioural science more than ever to influence their customer experiences and new methods to capture and measure customer experiences are evolving fast. The need for businesses to reorganise themselves so that they deliver the best value to customers is becoming more obvious.

And some things have not changed. Earlier this year I was chatting to delegates at a customer experience conference. Many of them had been assigned a customer experience role after their CEO had heard that businesses not focusing on customer experience would be left trailing behind those that did. They had come to the conference to work out what they needed to do as they felt that they didn’t know where to start. It’s my belief that a conference is a place for people to tell their specific stories, to share their lessons and it’s a great place to network. I don’t believe that conferences teach people how to be successful in their own business cultures and it worries me that delegates attend these events hoping to arrive at solutions for their specific business problems. Only a tailored CX course could achieve that!

In my role as business consultant, I have met people who are so passionate about customers they have championed a CX project in addition to their day job. They often work in marketing or customer service roles and their plan is to progress to a CX role in the future. They are often self-taught using a range of materials software vendors make available online and they subscribe to a range of CX publications. This content is a great aid to their learning, but it often doesn’t provide the answers this person is looking for because it's written for a wide ranging audience – it doesn’t consider the specifics of their organisation either. Personalised content has to be the best solution for these customer champions!

There is also a growing number of people who started out in CX roles about the same time as me, they have learned their trade through experience and they coach their teams to achieve huge customer experience successes. They are sometimes frustrated by the same circular conversations and they are looking for something to challenge their thinking, to advance their knowledge and to explore new approaches. I have great news for these people!

All of these people working on customer experience projects are trying to do the best they can for customers and for their businesses yet they often feel unsupported and undervalued.

I believe that we can change this.

We're on a mission to position CX as a discipline that's taught and taught well. We're working towards a time when people in customer experience roles will apply rigorous principles from psychology, behavioural science, strategy and economics (to name a few) to their work rather than modifying the work of others because there's a void of material tailored to help them.

We want people working in customer experience to feel qualified and confident, we want their colleagues to consider CX as a serious profession and we're aiming for people in these roles to be equipped to think for themselves.

Thinking CX for yourself
People in customer experience roles or anyone considering a career in customer experience should feel confident about the decisions they are making and the advice they are giving. I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed or unqualified to do the best thing for their organisation, that’s why I have developed the Applied Customer Experience course which will be held at Pearson Business School starting this autumn.

Taught over eight evenings and starting on 17th October 2018, we are taking 25 students through this part-time customer experience course where they will learn about the theories and models behind eight key topics. We’ve invited an acclaimed customer experience author, behavioural scientist, psychologist and senior customer experience professionals from Sky, Waitrose, Swisscom, Volvo, Coventry Building Society, Bang & Olufsen, BOC and RS components to share what they know about the eight topics. We’re providing every student with their own personality profile and we’ll be bringing in CX talent consultants to help students plot the next few years of their career. There will be bonus content and free books for students too!

This course is Applied which means that 20% of the course content will be created for each individual student. It’s essential for the course to deliver results for all of our students so we’ll be creating bespoke materials for every student based on the objectives they have set for themselves.

What’s more, this course will conclude with students being awarded a customer experience accreditation – Pearson Business School’s Professional qualification. We believe that this certificate will help people recognise customer experience as a discipline.

This course has been carefully crafted. It considers everything I have learned about customer experience over the last 12 years and it features brilliant speakers I have met on my own CX journey.

I’m super excited to be inviting you to join this course. Whether you have been assigned the CX role by your CEO, you’re the one who works ‘the day job’ and the ‘customer experience job’ or you recognise yourself as the person who wants fresh thinking and to be challenged, this course will make a difference to your life! Check out this link for more information.

Written by: Sandra Thompson, Course Leader - Applied Customer Experience