Customer experience study

Why you need more than just experience in CX


CX accreditations have come under fire recently. But is in-post experience alone really enough for customer experience professionals or is there a role that accreditations can play in their development?

8th Jun 2022

I recently tuned in for MyCustomer’s CX Leader Session, titled What’s gone wrong with the CX world?

It wasn’t a sales webinar, which was refreshing. But it was designed to be controversial, which was not. But, I make a point of listening to and reading material from people who I don’t always agree with – it gets my brain working and I always come away learning something – so I stayed tuned in.

In the session I learned a few things and have thought about many others since. The one I want to share with you is the panellists' position on what makes a qualified CX professional.

Both panellists – Alex Mead and Dr. Graham Hill – argued that it is time and experience with customers which validates whether or not you are a customer experience ‘leader’; not industry qualifications and accreditations which, with the exception of a couple of chosen degree programmes, both Mead and Hill were universally dismissive of.

Now, it is important to note at this juncture that I am not CCXP – the most common customer experience qualification available to current and aspiring CX professionals, providing by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA).

It’s also important to note that I agree with the hosts that in-post experience is essential, and you can only get the CX part of that experience by working closely with customers.

However, I disagree that CX experience is all you need and I definitely disagree that companies are foolish to set store by the CCXP qualification, which was a central argument made by both Hill and Mead during their debate.

It is true that CCXP is becoming a pre-cursor to holding a customer experience role in some organisations, and it is definitely US firms leading the charge. But the suggestion that CCXP can be obtained simply by doing 40 hours study and a multiple choice exam is just not true.

An anti-CCXP movement exists in the CX space online at present and while some of the rationale is valid, the fact remains that process of developing and evolving accreditations has to only be a good thing. And that is reflected in the acceptance as CCXP as an industry standard.

Let’s take a look at CCXP as an example:

  • To pass the exam you need to have worked in customer experience. To learn the curriculum, you can self-study or take a course.
  • Before you can take the exam you need a Bachelor’s degree and three years’ full-time CX experience (just over 5,000 hours) or a high school diploma and five years’ full-time experience (just over 9,000 hours).
  • Businesses don’t recruit on the basis of qualifications alone. Experience is a huge factor and businesses are starting to consider fit and approach as equally important criteria.
  • What is practice in any profession? Playing the same set of scores over and over is the kind of practice Malcolm Gladwell often refers to in his seminal book, Outliers via the ‘it takes 10,000 practice to become an expert’ theory. I relate this to the question ‘do you have one year’s experience repeated ten times or ten years’ experience?’ To overcome this flaw, professions measure practice or experience against competencies. The CCXP examination and continued professional development is measured against six competencies.
  • The CXPA is only 11 years old. When medical professions were that age, doctors (and barbers) still use leeches and bloodletting. You could argue CX is learning its way more quickly than they did!
  • The 70, 20 10 training model tells us that people learn 70% on the job, 20% from interactions with others and 10% from formal education. The 10,000 hours divide up as 7,000 hours on the job, 2,000 learning from others and 1,000 formal education.

Which takes us back to the thesis of this debate – between 5,000 and 9,000 hours before you can sit the exam, post exam Continue Professional Development includes contributing to our forum and to projects like the ‘Facilitating CX in large, multi-functional organisations’ Monograph series I am leading, and formal education – not just in CX, but in broader subjects that help build business acumen, leadership skills and the ability to get the job done.

As mentioned, 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. The fact remains that CCXP 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.   

As for my lack of CCXP? I have several good reasons for this:

  1. I haven’t worked in CX ‘full time’ for 3 years. Since my 1992-1994 VoC project my CX work has been an integral part of other activities whether that is introducing Customer Facing Processes, managing the resolution of customer issues, advocating for internal customers in IT projects, developing winning bids for engineering projects and many more.
  2. I am an intellectual magpie. I am currently studying a Customer Success Course and an accredited course with the New Scientist about thinking critically and creatively. I won’t be satisfied with a 40 hour course on the fundamentals of Customer Experience and simply don’t have the time right now to do some of the excellent trainings justice. BTW comparing the 10,000 hours suggested by Gladwell with the perceived 40 hours of a single course is called a false equivalency.
  3. I am a member of the APM, the UK’s only chartered body for Project Management. I believe the strength of the CX profession is in the variety of our backgrounds and I want to remain as someone who gets things done, through working experience and my share of learning, understanding and study.


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By Ricardo Saltz Gulko
09th Jun 2022 22:52

Regarding the dismissive discussion you referred, including Graham and Alex, you can not take those guys seriously. Both are on social media criticizing others, especially Hill, without any respect or knowledge about others. Often, people who need to put others down or prove others are wrong and instead they are right or have the need to show theirself ''above others'' have their own issues. However, Alex sometimes has some good points about the current situation of CX, where everyone is calling themselves an expert without even having implemented one CX large program.

Regarding CCXP and CXPA, I think you made a good point. I have the CCXP and for me was a waste of time knowledge-wise. It is like a test in primary school. Even though there are prerequisites, the value aggregation for my skill set and knowledge of 20-5 years in CX was close to none.
The CCXP can help people starting in CX a bit, even though there is nothing better than practice and experience. CCXP is a very American-oriented test-- focused on their needs, not other cultures and countries' needs. Every region in the world has different focused, habits, expectations, and conditions, and the test ignores the world's reality and differences. The CXPA probably would hope that one certification would feed all, but we all know that is not the case.

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