What are the top CX accreditations and what do you gain from them?by
There are a growing number of customer experience accreditation and certification programmes available to CX professionals. So what accreditations are currently the most popular, how rigorous are they and what value do they offer prospective students?
In MyCustomer’s 2022 research into the evolution of CX leadership, respondents were asked the question, ‘What CX qualification do you have?’
64% stated they had no CX qualification to speak of, while 10% of respondents had the Customer Experience Professional Association’s (CXPA's) CCXP certification and 26% were in possession of a range of other industry accreditations.
The fact that almost two-thirds of the CX leaders surveyed said they had no industry qualification tells a story in itself, but with 36% of respondents stating to have such a wide-ranging, disparate selection of accreditations between them, another narrative emerges – what prospective students can actually glean from the certifications’ respective undertaking.
The validity of many customer experience qualifications has been called into question in recent times. In a CX Leader Session for MyCustomer, global customer service experience director and industry influencer Alex Mead said that accreditations were now being unjustly prioritised in senior CX job vacancies, despite many being introductory in their nature:
“Accreditations have a place, but they are more often than not foundation courses. Most teach you the fundamental, theoretical basics about how to start going about learning about CX… but rarely do they talk about how to go about fixing real-life customer-based events, or how to actually make life better for customers.”
However, in a rebuttal piece, DeltaSwan’s Michelle Spaul argued that accreditations such as that provided by the CXPA were too often being downgraded by a certain faction of the customer service and experience community, and that more credit should be given to those undertaking them:
“Gladwell posits that it takes 10,000 of practice to become an expert. Of course, since then many people have pulled and poked at the idea and while the principles are interesting the science now has many critiques. But 10,000 hours also appears to be a stick to beat many people and, in this case, learning bodies with.
“CCXP [as an example] requires a combination of rigorous experience and study that can only stand CX professionals in good stead for their future careers. We should be celebrating and supporting those involved.”
With this in mind, which accreditations are currently the most popular, how rigorous are they and what value do they offer prospective students?
The Customer Experience Professional Association (CXPA) has been running the CCXP certification for over a decade and is the original CX industry accreditation.
According to the CXPA website, the certification includes a 100 question computer-based exam covers the following “core competencies” that the CXPA has identified as required knowledge in the customer experience space:
- Customer insights and understanding
- Customer experience strategy
- Metrics, measurements, and ROI
- Design, implementation, and innovation
- Culture and accountability
The cost of the course is between $450 and $720 (US) and incorporates CXPA membership. Courses are offered online and are flexible in nature, as is the exam process.
A comparison of MyCustomer’s 2022 customer experience leadership research vs the same study in 2020 saw 10% of respondents in possession of CCXP, compared with 18% two years ago.
Despite the arguments against CCXP’s entry requirements, sitting the exam requires between 5,000 and 9,000 hours of field work or personal study.
Forrester CX Certification
The Forrester CX Certification states it helps “build CX proficiency to drive business growth. Course completion gives teams the confidence to execute their CX vision, with optional professional recognition for their unique expertise.”
Comprising between 5-7 competency-based units divided into levels for core and advanced knowledge, the central course takes 8 weeks to complete and is facilitated by a Forrester instructor. The advanced courses are more flexible, letting users pick and choose how they want to learn.
Their cohort-based session is facilitated online over a strict 8 weeks, incorporating a number of external deadlines. The cost of the courses are priced individually, beginning at $2099.
CX Academy offers two online courses, a Professional Diploma and a Professional Certificate. There are 6 modules in the Professional Certificate syllabus covering key principles, understanding the impact of CX, the customer journey and more.
Whilst the Certificate offers an introductory take on customer experience – covering just 12 to 16 hours of online learning via “video lectures, best practice ‘real world’ studies and regular self-assessment opportunities”, the Diploma is more advanced. Backed by a number of advisory boards and pitched as a university credit-rated qualification, the Diploma offers:
- 40 hours of direct learning
- 10 modules
- Self-paced learning
- Graded & mentored by CX course cirectors
- Downloadable toolkits, templates and resources
- Best practice case studies
The Diploma course costs prospective students £2495.
CX University offers introductory courses for those starting out in the CX field or those working on professional development, alongside its flagship ‘Customer Experience Specialist (CXS)’ certification which riffs off the CCXP by covering off the same 6 core competencies and a final exam for accreditation.
This teaching platform offers numerous “accredited CX courses” that can fulfill academic needs including a ’90 day roadmap to CCXP’ course. Costs vary from $495 up to $1600 depending on the focus and are all delivered online.
LinkedIn has ramped up its learning and development offering in recent years and now offers a wealth of online courses in customer management.
Its Customer Experience Leadership course, delivered via video tuition by industry expert Brad Cleveland, offers a whistle-stop tour of the entire CX landscape, dangling the carrot of a Certificate of Completion at the end. However, at just 48 minutes in length from start to finish, it’s hard to ascertain how much learning can be obtained for prospective students.
Courses are included with the monthly LinkedIn membership fee. The cost is approximately $35 per month or $25 per month if you pay for a 12-month membership upfront.
CX Master’s degree
Officially announced in December 2021, the Michigan State University is currently enrolling for its first cohort of students for a Masters in Customer Experience.
Offered through the Broad College of Business, the MS-CXM will provide learners with a skills related to design, implementation and management of the CX function in any given organisation. Designed for working professionals, the degree can be completed in 20 months on a part-time basis and is organized into 15 five-week modules.
Degree courses that specialise in customer experience are few and far between, however some industry experts, including Dr. Graham Hill, believe related degrees – such as those in service design and business management – may serve future customer experience professionals better in the field than some accreditations and certificates.
“All learning is good - practice is better and practice in the workplace is better,” said Hill, in a MyCustomer webinar in May.
“Do these accreditations offer that? If I want to go and do a Masters in Service Design at the University of the Arts in London, taught by world-class educators like Lucy Kimble, it’s going to cost a fair bit of money but it’s 1,600 hours of study, including practice and working in business and government. In comparison…what you really going to learn from a private practitioner in 40 hours? That’s what you have to ask yourself.”
Chris was an Editor at MyCustomer from 2014 to 2022. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News.