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S3 E4: Diane Magers - How the CXPA Created a Collaborative CX Community

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Diane Magers is CEO of the CXPA-- The Customer Experience Professionals Association. Known as an innovative and creative strategist, Diane has over 25 years of proven ability to identify opportunities in customer interactions. Her strengths include designing and launching services and solutions based on enterprise, customer and associate needs through various market channels.

Diane has demonstrated competence in startups, mid-size and Fortune 100 companies. Outstanding reputation for partnering, mentoring, promoting collaboration, and resolving complex business issues.

In this episode of Voices of Customer Experience, Diane talks about her role as CEO of the CXPA, its the mission, and how she intends to continue to help Customer Experience thrive as a competence of its own.


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Transcript: 

Mary Drumond: (00:05)
This is Voices of Customer Experience, a podcast where we bring you the very best thought leaders and practitioners of customer experience and its overlapping verticals such as marketing, analytics, behavior economics, journey mapping and design. Our goal is to help you be better at your job by listening to the experiences and leadership of others who like you have dedicated their careers to improving the dialogue between companies and customers. Voices of Customer Experience Podcast is brought to you by Worthix, the first and only self adaptive survey for measuring customer experience. Discover your worth at worthix.com.

MD: (00:42Diane Magers is the CEO of the CXPA, the Customer Experience Professionals Association, nonprofit organization built to provide the CX community with a place to share knowledge, ideas, and establish the profession on the market. Diane took a moment between her hectic appointments to get on a call with me while in transit to the UK for a conference.

MD: (01:07)
How are you today, Diane?

Diane Magers: (01:09)
I'm doing wonderfully. Thank you.

MD: (01:12)
Thanks for coming on. I know that we've been scheduling this for a while since we were last together. That was what, October? My idea to have you here today, Diane, was just to kind of share with our listeners a bit about what you do, what the CXPA does and how it can be beneficial to CX practitioners all over. What is the CXPA and why does it exist in the first place?

DM: (01:37)
Well, the CXPA is actually a nonprofit association established in 2011 and it was founded by Jeanne Bliss and Bruce Temkin, two thought leaders in this space who had been doing the work for quite some time, both in research and actually being, Chief Customer Officers. And once we recognized that there were a lot of people out there building their skill sets and working in this discipline and organizations, but they really didn't have any place to go to learn and share with other practitioners. So establishing this association was a way for people to come together and you know, don't make it up as you go, but there are frameworks and best practices and sharing. So that's really the crux of why it was started. Our real goal is to bring this kind of member to member sharing. We talk about establishing standards and just really building a community and the awareness of customer experience as a business discipline.

MD: (02:30)
Now was this you think a way for, for both Jean and Bruce to kind of give back to the customer experience community that sort of formed around them?

DM: (02:40)
Absolutely, because I think it was born out of people kind of saying, I don't know where to go. They would get lots of calls and say, you know, I'd love to talk to you, but can I talk to somebody in my insurance vertical or it, can I talk to somebody who's trying to engage employees. And so they were, they were able to take those requests and say, okay, we can establish something where people can share. So they really felt like there was power and the number of specific people asking questions of folks maybe who are more mature than they were, maybe in that same vertical or struggling with the same opportunities that they were.

MD: (03:13)
How many members does the CXPA have nowadays? This was, I mean it was founded in 2011 right? So we're eight years in now, how many members do you actively have? Do you know that number off the top of your head?

DM: (03:27)
We have a little over 4,000, that makes up those individual members. So single disciplines, sometimes they're in organizations and sometimes they're consultants in this space, then we have corporate members and that would be Adobe, Microsoft, you know, large organizations who join as a corporation so that their practitioners within the organization have access to the great resources that we have. Those members are in 70 countries.

MD: (03:51)
Yeah. That's how many countries are you present in? Well, I think it's a lot of growth for a short period of time. When was it that it really took off?

DM: (04:03)
I would say it was totally two years in when we had annual events and we also have a lot of educational, but it took a couple of years for the word to get out. But once I got out it was, gosh, you mean there's a place I can go where it's not just can I get information, but I can actually find out the how. Oh. One of our differentiators is there's a lot of information out there about customer and employee experience, but our practitioners really share the tactical, here's how I did that. That's what's really differentiated us. So once people kind of figure it out, oh I can actually talk to somebody who's done it and they'll share their tool and their resource really can be a body of knowledge for me. That's where it took off.

MD: (04:44)
Hmm. How much more of the market do you think you can conquer? So if you're at 4,000 members, do you know like what sort of percentage that is of actual CX practitioners and how much you can still grow as an organization or am I stretching here?

DM: (04:58)
I think it's kind of unlimited. Yeah. Cause there's so many different practitioners now you think about employee experience and product experience. It's grown as the profession itself. So we kind of have a hard time keeping track of all. Exactly. What does that mean? Cause there's people who are doing the work and they might be in a care center, they might be in employee experience. So it's very difficult to get a judgment. I think our approach has been, hey, we'll welcome anybody. You don't even have to be a member. We have lots of resources online. We have a lot of events that are public. So really our goal, again, is to raise the awareness of the profession. So while we drive toward membership, you know, obviously right as an association, we just love making sure everybody feels welcome and they know that there's a resource that they can join and be part of this community. 

MD: (05:46)
I mean I think at some point you guys realized that okay, there's this whole industry in this industry needs maybe a leading force behind it. Something that can, you know, centralize information validation as well. And then at some point, the certification was born, right?

DM: (06:02)
Yes. In 2014 it became apparent to us that there were lots of people out there. But when you're in a discipline that requires a very extensive knowledge and a lot of different skill sets, how do you know you're hiring somebody that has the right skills and knowledge and capabilities to do what you need them to do. So we created the Customer Experience Professional Certification, CCXP, and this was an exam as experienced based exam. So first of all, you have to have three years of experience. So it's not just about, hey, I think a study for this and take it. You really have to demonstrate that you have knowledge about how you would walk into an organization and build this discipline out. We can do the work there. We just hit over a thousand CCXP.

MD: (06:43)
And it's become more recognized, hasn't it? Have you noticed that inside corporations, executives are requiring a certification for people to work the discipline?

DM: (06:53)
Yes. I think it's probably both the executives, while they might not know about that, we've had a lot of conversations with recruiters and HR teams and some of the other associations that are for HR professionals. Really trying to help them be aware of that. If you're hiring for this efficient first, what is it, what does it do in an organization, what are the benefits, and then what are the skills that you're looking for, including the certification or training or education is definitely part of our helping pave the way for people in this field and who are certified or not even I have a space where their organization understands one, what to expect of them. And two, the benefit that this is for their organization.

MD: (07:33)
Well, you know, one thing that's interesting, I'm, I'm a CFP, a member myself and I take part in a lot of the events that happen here in, in my city, which is Atlanta. And I go to the events and everything. And one thing that's interesting is that last year on CX Day, I got a letter, a card in the mail from the CXPA thanking me for being a member and congratulating me for the day. And that for me was really interesting because as a CX practitioner, I understand how customer centric that is. So it got me thinking of how interesting it is when a company, you know, the CXPA or you know, the Customer Experience Professional Association, how you make use of customer centricity and how you maintain internal customer experience. 

DM: (08:22)
We are serving, you know, the expectation level for people with our association. We love doing everything we can if it were a nonprofit. And so we, you know, we rely on our memberships in our, our wonderful sponsors to really help us do those things. We really strive to do as much as we can to support the profession. And that means volunteer recognition and the events are driven by volunteers within, like in Atlanta, there's people who volunteer their time to get other professionals together so that everybody can grow. I mean, how cool is that? We tried to do as much as we can, you know, based on where we are. It is such a fun if association too, I'll share with you one of the things that I, I often at our annual conference for ever since it started and there's kind of two themes. One people say, I'm not crazy and I'm not alone. That they recognize that they have a group of people they can go to. I forget their tribe, if you will, and then the second piece is everything and I've done in my profession has led me to this profession so they see it. It's really a elevation and an aggregation and the ability to really be more then the task that they've done up to this point. Yeah. And feel like this is where they belong. So it's really a pretty cool profession to be in. It just attracts that type of person.

MD: (09:35)
This is something that I bring up all the time, you know, the welcoming and that warm feeling that this community brings and it really inspires me. I got to say, one of the things that keeps me a part of it is what I get back from the community. It really is exciting.

MD: (09:53)
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MD: (10:23)
Let me ask you something. I mean that was, you know, the positive side, the best part. What's the difficult side? What are the biggest challenges that you face? 

DM: (10:33)
Oh gosh. Ensuring that our content, like we're just, I would say that one of the challenges, there's just a confusion about what it is. It's such a broad discipline that sometimes people say, when I tell people what I do for living, you still have to explain it because it doesn't have context for people. So really trying to help the industry, the marketplace executives understand what it is that's a challenge because then if they don't, then people don't stay in the field or they try quote on quote customer experience. They can't hire the right people is, as you said before. So that's a challenge. I think the second challenge is just the amount of change in the industry. I've been in this a long time and I remember when they first started the association, I had to explain what it was to people well now know very well recognized what the word is, but the work that we do is also people just don't understand the work that we do. Sometimes they think it's just, yeah, oh, you're just the people who do surveys or you do design thinking. Right. They don't understand the holistic discipline that this is. Overcoming some of those misperceptions I think is one of the challenges that we have. That's why we're out there doing more blogging and working with other associations and other events and other organizations to really help. It does now myth busters, right? Yeah.

MD: (11:45)
Yeah. I share that. One of the things that inspired me to start this podcast was the fact that every single event I went to, every time I heard, you know, a group of CX practitioners together and the association and you know, and the events and the meetups and the conferences, it was always the same complaints. It's always the same grievances. It's always the same pain points and it seems like somehow the one area that we're failing in his getting the message across, not only the importance of customer experience but the value, the monetary value that comes along with it. Do you agree? Is that something that you have seen as well? 

DM: (12:25)
Yes, very much so. We do a lot of education and a lot of talking to this executive teams. A lot of our content is around this area because people I think have said, you know, it's not moving the score. Yeah, that's great. What's it driving and why do you need an organization and what can I do? So even things like design, because design thinking is a huge part of what we do. And in designing new experiences, how do you prove the value of that and you know, better product adoption or people stay longer or use the product more or tell people about the product or service. So we spend a lot of time thinking about if you're changing an organization to be more collaborative and innovative and agile, there's tangible and intangible benefits to that. There's also benefits out of the projects and initiatives that we set forth to say we're going to drive more low key or more cross sell up sell or reduced cost or increased productivity of our sales team. There's hard dollars behind a lot of this and it's really a skill set and a muscle that our practitioners have to develop. And so we think about how do we help them develop them so they can be telling that story to their executives and their brands?

MD: (13:31)
Well I think that one thing that, I mean at least I have noticed is that it, you know, like you said, the discipline itself is very holistic and it touches so many different verticals within organizations. And what ends up happening is for you to have any results, so many areas of a business have to be on board. So when customer experience comes in to try to change something, we can't really change customer experience. We have to change every single step where the customer interacts with the company, whether it's before their purchase to all the way after. It is hard to put a price tag on it because what you'd have to do is you'd have to add up every single one of those departments that has any sort of interaction or touches the customer's life in any way. And that's very, very broad. 

MD: (14:17)
if it's done properly, it's basically impossible to quantify.

DM: (14:22)
It is. But I think that's an exciting part of it. Into two things you kind of bring up, right? There's this additive effect of not just fixing, you know, one thing and putting a bandaid on something, but looking really upstream and downstream for additive business impact. And so that's a great story to be able to tell. Well not only did we, you know, increased the time that they could tell, but we also increased the number of referrals that we can out of this, which drove revenue or we increase productivity, which, you know, cost there's of ways to take a project and really put that hard dollar against it. But you mentioned something when you kind of talk about this whole end to end and you know, entire stack, I call it, of what's happening. One of the things that I know a lot of people, especially new to it, get really overwhelmed with this.

DM: (15:06)
Oh my gosh, I have to tackle everything. You know, eventually you do touch everything and something you're going to influence, some things you're going to impact directly, but it's more getting the organization to take the onus and learn and know there's a different way to approach how you think about opportunities and how you think about issues they're having. You kind of have to teach the organization to fish. So it's a lot of this knowledge transfer of, it shouldn't be just me thinking about it and driving it. Everybody should be kind of have that same mindset. So that's the fun and challenging part of saying how do I get an organization to think and work differently so that you don't have to be there. Kind of helping them discover and helping them redefine, thinking about the business value they're doing. It organically takes time but also don't try to blow the ocean, don't try to tackle all the problems, find the two or three things that customer really care about that they really want you to fix and get aligned around those and only focus on those because those are going to be your biggest benefits.

DM: (16:03)
You can change that behavior and bring customers back or have them refer you more often. Things like pieces of advice to my younger self if I was starting over again.

MD: (16:12)
I've got an interesting question which you may or may not be able to answer. Do you feel like customer experience initiatives are more successful when they come from the insight in or or the outside in? Like when it's an actual customer experience department that works internally inside an organization or when it's a consultant or an exterior company that comes into a designer suggest improvements in an organization?

DM: (16:37)
I think there can be a lot of catalysts for change, so I would say I don't think it really matters where the cattle are comes from as long as it's coming from really two places of understanding. One is understanding what the customer needs and wants are that you're trying to fulfill because we know if we do that, we create better value for them. And the second is internally in the organization, you've got employees and the business goals, you have to balance with that. So if you consider those two things, I think it's, you know, I love that when providers come in and help you out, they can bring that expertise in that outside view and an industry best practice, right? Your institution, your brand or institution, you know, knows what it's like. They know the room of the organization. It's, it's of shaking them of that hole. I see. Get off the durable wheel. Think about a new way to bring things to bear. To me, it's again had cabinets in the catalyst. It should be your customers and your employees about how can they make a brand attractive and engaging and fulfilling the needs of customers, members, patients, whoever it is targeting.

MD: (17:43)
My issue is always like if somebody on this podcast at some point said that customer managers are the new compliance agents within the organization, they're always nagging and they're always getting on you about what you should not be doing with the processes in the company. That's kind of something that I think about like, okay, there's maybe too much familiarity or the the customer experience professional within the organization tends to be taken for granted by the executive board or by the decision makers because they're always there and they're always kind of saying the same thing. So when you bring someone in externally to kind of give you that birds eye view of the mistakes that you're making as a company, it's more impactful.

DM: (18:23)
It's what I call borrowed authority. I mean I think there's good things for our authority, but then their organizations often say, well, we don't know what you're referring to it when you talk about a practitioner. They haven't set themselves up for success. If they're seen as the police in the organization, then they haven't defined their role clearly enough. Their role is to facilitate and orchestrate how the organization develop. And engage as its most important asset and that's its customers and its employees. And if anybody's going to argue with that and say you're coming in and being the police, then they, as I said, haven't set themselves up for success. Oftentimes when people over-rotate on a score or here's the pain point or their, you know, find in fix mode, I call it, where they're just kind of pointing out issues, but they're not helping your organization develop, understanding, develop the insights, putting action in place, supporting them, giving them tools and resources to design thinking and all of those things that can help them achieve their business goals within the organization.

DM: (19:17)
Then why wouldn't you see them in a, so they haven't set themselves up for success. If that's the role that they're in, they need to get a broader scope. They need to be influencing the organization and really educating them about why it's important and yes, it might be a pain point, but the pain point is causing customers to leave or if it's bad reviews or things that impact, why ain't it her bear? Why are you in the first place? You're in business just because a product or services needed by human beings, figure out what you got to do well to make that happen. I kind of put the onus back on the practitioner,

MD: (19:50)
Changing the focus a little bit to Diane and what motivates you to wake up in the morning and get this job done?

DM: (19:57)
You mean as a CX professional or as a CEO? 

MD: (20:03)
Both.

DM: (20:05)
Okay. I think as you know, what I, what I love about this, so I started in as a clinical psychologist, you know, that and then went back and got my MBA because when I got into psychology I, I was taking a break and I got into the business world was just loved the ability it was in marketing and sales when I love the ability to understand and really deliver what customers are looking for. And so as that kind of grew, it was, you know, I think about it, I was just, I was really still servicing human needs. I'm just doing it in a different way through a brand with the product or service. And that to me it was important. And then as I became more experienced in this space, I found real joy and sharing, here's what worked for me, getting light bulb to come on for both organizations and new practitioners are we sharing and to kind of pay it forward. And so that's what gets me up everyday is really helping people and how the light bulb come on for both practitioners just in general, how can we going to sound really corny but you know, make the world a better place. We're all trying to do, make lives easier, you know, make people happier. I mean, what greater job was in its match other than being Santa Claus. Right.

MD: (21:14)
What do you think your mission is as a CEO and where do you want to leave the association?

DM: (21:21)
I take direction from our awesome board of directors and our executive committee and one of the things that we've recently been focused on, there's kind of four things we have here is beginning to change our online experience. You know, as we said at the beginning of this, there's lots of things that we have to do really well. So we're going to be changing our online experience, but one of the major focuses for us this year is just really getting to that very valuable content. As I said before, you can find a lot of content out there, but it's kind of broad and general and a lot of theory we really want to give people, how do I do this? What should I avoid doing? What ideas do you have that I can go leverage tomorrow? We're really gonna focus on that member to member content and the expertise that we can bring to the home. They are members that the people who are wanting to learn about this as a profession.

MD: (22:08)
Well, there are lots of really, there are eight members. I mean, I, I speak to them, I mean, you know, what the best part about doing this podcast is that right? It's blown me away how many smart people there are out there that have so much knowledge to share. So, you know, I think I positioned myself more as a curator of knowledge than a provider of knowledge because I'm just kind of gathering that and redistributing it. So somehow, you know,

DM: (22:33)
always, always, ever done. Nobody's really made this stuff up. I mean, you know, when I first started it was like 1994 we're kind of making it up as we went, but even that was built on top of things that hey, that worked in this situation. What if we did this? So we're all exploring are all building, we're all pulling together things from different disciplines that will really help us do our work. And that's what's so cool is you said about having them brilliant brains of the people that are not only in our association but my providers and our other partners that we work with. It's really bringing, you know, what all the best things we can bring to someone where they can go to one place, one community and tap into all that. How cool is that?

MD: (23:09)
It's amazing. It really is. And I really appreciate the work that you do as a CXPA member myself, I, I really do enjoy having this community. Like you said, having my tribe and the folks that I can vibe off of. Let me ask you something because we're all out of time. What can people do if they want to hear more from you? If they want to connect with you, if they want to even, you know, become a part of the CXPA and work more closely with the association.

DM: (23:36)
Oh goodness. If you go on cxpa.org you can get information or you can just send us an email. There's something you're interested in. We also have volunteer opportunities you can find there or you know what, send me an email, Diana Ga, ga.org and the hey, let's have a conversation. If there's something you really want to do or know about, we can, we can point you in the right direction or we'd love to have anybody, no great brain coming in and not only helping out but contributing to our awesome content. You're welcome. I'm so glad you came on. We'll talk to you soon. Thank you.

MD: (24:20)
Thank you for joining us on one more episode of Voices of Customer Experience. This podcast is hosted and produced by Mary Drumond edited and coproduced by Nic Gomes and Steve Berry. This podcast was brought to you by Worthix, discover your worth at worthix.com.

 

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