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How CX is evolving into XM

Release Date: June 2, 2020 • Episode #119

The customer experience space has experienced a “renaissance” in recent years but now there’s a new practice that seems to be taking the spotlight: experience management. Host Steve Walker welcomes guest Drew Hall, vice president of advisory services and certified customer experience professional, for a discussion on how experience management – or “XM” – is a more holistic way to view how the customer experience is affected by the experiences of ALL aspects of the organization. 

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Steve:
There are a lot of terms being thrown around in the customer experience space these days: EX, DX, EX, DCX… what does this all mean?

Drew:
Experience management includes any experience that any stakeholder has with an organization. So these stakeholders now aren't just customers. They're also employees. They're also partners, they're vendors. What are those experiences and how do they all interact with each other?

Steve:
The evolution of customer experience into the bigger picture that is experience management on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is a production of Walker, an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their CX success. Find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, host The CX Leader Podcast and thank you for listening. On the CX Leader Podcast, we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of your customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. If you're a veteran customer experience professional, then I think you would agree with me when I say that CX has gone through, shall we say, a renaissance in the last few years. Companies are realizing how important it is to base their strategic thinking around the customer, and those same companies are seeing the return on those efforts. But now the CX space is witnessing the evolution of customer experience into the more holistic practice of experience management. Drew Hall is a vice president of advisory services here at Walker, a certified customer experience professional, and he's joining me today for a conversation on this evolution that we are a part of and witnessing as we record this. Drew, thanks for being on The CX Leader Podcast.

Drew:
It's an absolute pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Steve:
Drew, just for a background, you know, you're a relatively new teammate here at Walker, but you've been around the industry for quite some time. Why don't you just give the fans out there a little background on yourself and your experience just to set the context for everybody.

Drew:
Yeah, sure. You know, I think what led me to CX was a bit fate and then a bit luck. As a kid growing up when I would come home from school, my mom wouldn't ask me, hey, what happened in school today? She would say, how do you feel about what happened today? And so early on, I had this connection with the emotions that our experiences engender over the course of my career was interested in exploring how emotions play an important role in business decision making. Flash forward maybe 20 years, I was in an MBA program down at University of San Diego – go Toreros – and my summer internship I was placed on the customer experience team at Cisco Systems up in Mountain View. And believe it or not, Walker was the partner for Cisco. And so I got my first introduction to how businesses can leverage emotion through an engagement with Walker. And since then, I've always dreamed of joining the team. And quite frankly, it's a privilege and an honor to now be on the team.

Steve:
Awesome. Well, we're really happy to have you on our team. And it's nice that you mentioned Cisco Systems, one of the most strategic clients that our company has had in its entire history. And clearly a really a leading company – not not just only in the CX space, but really in this whole concept of what we're talking about XM. In fact, I'd say that, you know, they were a company that was thinking across stakeholder groups and, you know, using it early on as a predictive metric, and a lot of the things that we're talking about in today's language. You know, our podcast is called The CX Leader Podcast and I would say that most of our listeners are CX pros, but I think we also have some just general management business folks who subscribe to this line of thinking, but why don't you just give our listeners for baseline how you would define CX. And then we'll get into a conversation about how it's morphing into XM.

Drew:
Yeah. And I think you're right that it does require some definitional reminders. What what is CX given so many players are now in the space? You know, having that early experience with Cisco exposed me to the broadness of thinking and how CX is not just one moment in time a customer has at the cash register or a customer has with a sales rep. It's this aggregate sum. It's the combination of all of those experiences a customer will have across their journey that really creates this idea of customer experience as a practice area. So there is no one moment. It's an aggregation of moments and a customer experience practitioner's job is to find those moments of truth that really mean something to the customer. And those moments of truth can be positive moments of truth, things that your brand does better than everyone else that we want to ensure every customer has that experience with, as well as those negative experiences which linger in the mind that turn into detracting comments out in the marketplace and really do a disservice for the business and the brand.

Steve:
Yeah. You threw out a lot of words that we use in a traditional CX space, you know, moments of truth, the customer journey, the difference between transactions and how they aggregate into a total relationship, use detractor of a lot of people use NPS. And then you also talked about whether experiences are good or bad. We also have like service recovery. You know, there's some been some interesting work on service recovery. What are the emerging aspects of CX today? Why is it that we're having this renaissance, if you will.

Drew:
I think that's a great question and it's probably a multitude of factors coming together at the same time. I think fundamentally, technology is the enabler that allows practitioners like us to listen better to pinpoint those moments and fire out an email after a purchase. Right? Write with POS systems being in the cloud connected to a central CRM, it's just a lot easier to ask, "How are you doing? How is that experience?" At the same time, though, we see e-commerce growth. We're watching consumerism move out of physical spaces into digital spaces. And so this idea of an aggregate sum of a customer's experiences, they don't just happen in a physical place or with people, they're happening with technologies in the Internet. So what defines a customer's end to end journey is expanding. And it's including more than what we might typically see or historically have seen as sales use and support. There are now social media experiences. There are in app experiences that we wouldn't think, as you know, prior to that we wouldn't be able to include those as another point of light in this aggregation of experiences. But with consumers now interacting with companies online. How does that play into how a customer experience manager thinks about the overall customer experience?

Steve:
And they have to do it across many channels of communication to. You mentioned digital, but how many customers are looking online, but then going to the store, ordering online, returning at the store? And then you expand that into the B2B world and it just goes exponential from there.

Drew:
Yeah. And that expansion of where the customers interact begs the question for a CX practitioner, what is the scope of my responsibility? Where do I lean in and where are my empowered to say, hey, let's work on this experience? Is the call center manager the the leading advocate for improving call center experiences, or is it customer experience manager, the leading advocate for call center experiences? And I've even seen in many cases call center managers taking on this concept of customer experience and calling their teams customer experience teams. So from an idea of the power of language and what do words mean, customer experience itself has stretched to encompass a number of functional roles that might not have historically seen themselves as experienced managers, but they now do because of how powerful experiences as a value proposition to customers.

Steve:
That's a great point, Drew. In fact, I'll just put a plug in for one of our previous episodes of the podcast. It was with a guy named Ted Bernard who really came out of the customer service call center space. He gave a really interesting perspective on how that whole function has emerged. I'm also thinking, like of the CX pro, the historical I think best barometer in my mind has been marketing, you know, because it it has to be pervasive across the organization. CX cannot be a silo. We talk about CX staffs and chief customer officers, but in order to do CX right, you have to be pervasive throughout all aspects of the organization or it doesn't work. Any thoughts along those lines?

Drew:
Well, again, it comes down to what we… how we brand ourselves as practitioners. If we say our role is customer experience, well, then what group worries about the customer? That's not a marketing issue. That's not an H.R. department issue. It, in effect, puts the practice in its own silo just by the nature of what we call it. You know, I think back to the days where CX wasn't a term and it was EFM: Enterprise Feedback Management. And I actually liked that term because it's all encompassing that, hey, the enterprise needs a system to manage the feedback we're collecting. The problem with that moniker is it was very inside out. It wasn't an outside in concept. So the enterprise has feedback we have to manage as opposed to the customer has experiences. So now we're putting the subject of that as the customer. And I think that in and of itself was a great evolution for how we think about what the enterprise does and and now seeing the customer's journey, really, everyone in an organization thinking about that experience. It begs the question, has C… is CX as a practice limiting itself by calling itself CX?

Steve:
Yeah. And, you know, we tend at Walker focused more on B2B. And I think it's not either B2B or B2C, it's kind of a spectrum of how intense the relationship piece of it is versus transactional. And, you know, there are B2C businesses that are very relationship driven. But increasingly, as businesses have evolved their value propositions, they've become more complex and they tend to involve both product and service and service tends to involve human beings. So you almost can't have a relevant discussion about XM without including the employees. Certainly the employees that interact directly with the customers. But really, all the employees in the organization that are there basically to support the mission of the organization.

Drew:
I couldn't agree more. And by not listening to employees, you lose the other side of the coin. The customers tell us one thing about an experience, but the employees are having that same experience. It's just the mirror reflecting. And so in that light, knowing that the employee experience is equally as valuable to an end customer experience, we have to start listening to employees. And we have started listening to employees. And this is where the power of language can be exclusive or can start to become inclusive. And this is why I'm a big fan of XM, not CX.

Steve:
My guest on The CX Leader Podcast this week has been my friend and colleague Drew Hall, who's a vice president of advisory services here at Walker and also a certified customer experience professional. And we've been having a fascinating discussion about how CX is evolving into a broader concept we call Experience Management or XM. Drew, why don't you go ahead and take a shot at defining XM today?

Drew:
I'll do my best. "Experience management" is a much broader and inclusive term. It includes any experience that any stakeholder has with an organization. So these stakeholders now aren't just customers. They're also employees. They're also partners. They're vendors. Right? What are those experiences and how do they all interact with each other? Of course, to deliver a perfect outcome for a customer free of pain and full of joy. But you can't just measure that by only listening to customers. More broadly when we think about products and the new digital experiences consumers and customers have, and even in the B2B space, with customer portals being a new way to engage on a much more deep level, there has to be the broadening of CX into a concept of XM. It almost goes back to enterprise feedback management where we're thinking holistically again, except we've changed the name to be outside in and focused on those stakeholders whose experience we want to manage. So it's almost come full circle. And I'm very excited by the fact that more people are now talking about experience. It's not just customer experience practitioners by themselves. We're talking with UX. We're talking with product designers. We're talking with H.R. teams. And that combination of skill sets and those approaches and tools which may be new and different and even scary to CX professionals, I think we need to embrace them. And I think we need to open our minds and look for those best practices that we haven't been exposed to yet, but will improve the entire delivery of experience management for all of our stakeholders.

Steve:
Earlier in our conversation, you alluded to the fact that a lot of this is being driven by technology and certainly the platforms that have emerged out of EFM and now would go by different names. But then the players who have come into this space are huge, with lots of reach into the C-suite of organizations and bringing lots of resources. And full disclosure, you know, everybody knows that we're pretty good partners with Qualtrics, which was acquired by SAP. But you have, you know, a handful of players out there that have really changed the game for leveraging technology, for how you can listen to these various stakeholder groups, aggregate that data across all these different channels and different groups, and then really start to bring out insights and analysis that can turn your customer experience, your experience management into a competitive advantage. And I think that's one of the things that we're seeing out of XM, is that more and more companies, that's their differentiation in the marketplace. It's experience based.

Drew:
And it should be. And for those companies that do embrace the methodology, they do win. And by calling it XM as a group, we effectively become cross-functional. This is one of the hardest challenges CX practitioners have inside their organizations is breaking down silos. So if we all woke up tomorrow and said, let's stop calling ourselves customer experience managers and just call ourselves experienced managers, we open the door to conversations with different groups. We break down those silos and we start working together in the ways that mature cultures do. Right? The C-Suite doesn't think about silos. The C-Suite thinks about all of the dimensions of their business and what's healthy and what's unhealthy. And not to mention asking someone how they're doing, it's the same thing regardless of the tool you use. So we've had software designed for H.R. professionals, software designed for customer experience professionals, software designed for user experience professionals. At the end of the day, it's the same exact practice. We're asking, how are you doing? Or we're observing and trying to infer how they're doing. So to have a centralized system that allows us to not just think cross-functionally, but actually measure and analyze cross functionally, we're in a better position now as an industry than we've ever been.

Steve:
What are some of the implications? I sense that you are an advocate and supportive of us moving to XM as the moniker for our profession. What are some of the implications, particularly for those folks that have been more rooted in CX? And I think to some of our more general manager audiences, this will make a lot of sense. But, you know, if I've really trained hard to be a CX pro, what what are some of the implications?

Drew:
You know, so I'm a CCXP and I have been for years and I don't think there's anything but positivity for us. I think we have an opportunity to coach and to train and to share the practices and knowledge as we… the knowledge we have. So customer journey mapping, listening architecture. These are things that everyone can benefit from. I think in addition to that, there's no such thing as a challenge. A challenge is an opportunity in disguise. So I can see a potential challenge slash opportunity wherein we now have to interact with more stakeholders and interact with more folks internally. It's very easy. You know, we complain about being on an island, but it's easy to be on an island. You don't have to collaborate. You don't have to compromise. You kind of get to do what you want. So the future of CX has to be more engaged. It has to be more inclusive. It has to be more open to learning. I mean, you UX designers, the tools our digital colleagues have to observe and to understand a user's journey, are impressive. And we as CX practitioners have a little bit of learning to do. But I don't think that means what we bring to the table is any less valuable. You know, the synergy created by two different groups coming together will be better than these groups independently.

Steve:
You know, thanks to our great producer, Chris Higgins, I know that this is episode 119 of the CX Leader Podcast. So congratulations, Drew. You're a guest on the big milestone of 119. But…

Drew:
There you go.

Steve:
…I think back to the early days. One of the first series we did was "The Top 10 Characteristics of the CX Pro," and this concept of being a collaborator within their organization is something that we talked about over two years ago. And it's a constant theme. You're actually, you know, of a generation that you really came up in the world of CX. But a lot of the people who are practitioners kind of got there by accident. It probably had something to do with their ability to think cross functionally and to build these bridges and not create silos within organizations. So in essence, we really are doing it at a new level today. And the time is really right. Sometimes I like to say there's never been a bad time to be a CX pro. But but right now is a pretty darn good time to be a CX, pro.

Drew:
Yeah. And, you know, I have to say thank you to everyone who who leveraged those collaboration and influencing skills to get this concept up the hill. And it's almost like we're now coming down the hill. And those of us who stay collaborative and have those skills in place, it's less now about convincing executives that we should invest. Now it's about realizing the investment from a strategic perspective. Executive teams know that this is valuable. Now it's up to us as practitioners to do the work. We don't have to break down the doors anymore. They're broken down. Now we just have to get around the table and make it work.

Steve:
Yeah. So in some ways, that puts a little more pressure on us, right?

Drew:
Yeah. Well, hey, we're getting what we asked for. That's right.

Steve:
You know, be careful what you ask for. You might get it.

Drew:
That's exactly right.

Steve:
You know, I do think this concept of change in our language, around our profession is is powerful. But, you know, as I listen to you, I don't think in a lot of ways the mission has really changed. Would you concur with that?

Drew:
I 100 percent agree.

Steve:
Or would you want to modify that comment?

Drew:
No, I completely agree. I think we're doing what we've always done. We're just doing it with more folks. And whether you call it EFM, CX, XM… it brings me back to that Shakespeare quote: "would a rose by any other name smell as sweet." And it would because it's a rose. So what we do is not changing, but who we do it with is changing. So. So the lesson in the message is to open up, be inclusive. Connect with your colleagues. Talk about experience management, not just customer experience, because you'll get everyone around the table and together we're more powerful than apart.

Steve:
Well, I got to hand it to you, Drew, I think that's the first time a guest has pulled out Shakespeare on The CX Leader Podcast. So "good on ya, man" as our Australian listeners would say.

Drew:
Yeah, thanks.

Steve:
We've reached that signature moment in our podcast, Drew, where I ask all of our guests for take home value. This is your best tip that a CX leader pro can use based on the content you've shared today. How can they go action this in their organization? What's the one take home value thing that they can do to improve their professionalism?

Drew:
You know, it's a great question and, you know, I prepared for it. Honestly, it's tough to come up with the one… the one take home value. What I would encourage CX professionals to do starting right away is think of themselves as part of a bigger team. We're no longer on an island. We have the runway to connect with our colleagues across the organization and focus on delivering outstanding experiences to our customers, our partners, our employees, all of them. So now, more than ever before, is the pressure on for us to be team builders, for us to be leaders, and for us to be champions of a future where experienced management is the strategic direction that brings business value.

Steve:
Wise words, Drew, even you may even give Shakespeare a run for his money here.

Drew:
[Laughing]

Steve:
Our guest on the podcast this week was Drew Hall, who's the vice president of advisory services here at Walker, a real innovative thinker in the CX world and really proud to call on my colleague, Drew. Thanks for joining us on the podcast this week.

Drew:
Thank you, Steve. It's been a pleasure.

Steve:
And if any of our listeners would want to try to connect with you or continue the dialog, how might they find you?

Drew:
I think LinkedIn is the best place for us to stay connected. Drew Hall is where you're gonna find me. I've got a pretty fresh Walker banner up at the top so you'll know it's me. And I'm looking forward to connecting with you all and perhaps continuing this conversation online.

Steve:
And if you want to hear about anything else at Walker or anything you heard on this podcast or previous podcasts, I hope you'll feel free to reach out to me. You can find me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com. And be sure to check out the website, cxleaderpodcast.com to subscribe to the show and find all of our previous episodes, podcast series, and our contact information so you can let us know how we're doing or suggest ideas for future podcasts. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, we're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at Walkerinfo.com. And thanks for listening. We'll see again next time.

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