CX FAQ: straight forward answers to common questions
Welcome to our Customer Experience CX FAQ. We field a lot of questions each day and we love them. Some are complicated, others are funny but they’re always great no matter the question. If you want to contact us, please hit the contact form.
What do Customer Experience / CX Consultants do?
Customer Experience or CX consultants help companies manage the way they plan for, serve and support their customers. They typically help develop CX management programs also known as CXM or CEM. We, at CX Pilots are Customer Experience consultants in Raleigh, NC and Iowa City, IA. We consult professional services companies (we call the firms) such as Engineering firms, Architecture firms, Construction/Contracting firms, Accounting firms, Legal firms, Consulting firms and Insurance companies manage their CX programs.
What is CX or Customer Experience?
Customer Experience or CX, as its called, is what a person senses and remembers about their interactions in seeking an outcome over time, largely in a commercial context. We don’t use the conventional description or definition that most of our industry uses because a customer experience is far larger and more encompassing than the company or brand. Customer experience is different than ‘Client Experience’ in that client experience is generally referring to clients of professional services firms. Customer Experience or CX is often conflated or confused with Customer Experience Management (CXM or CEM). CX is about the experience while CXM or CEM is about a company managing inputs and outcomes surrounding that experience. Wikipedia definition.
What is a CX Center of Excellence or CX COE?
A CX Center of Excellence is a team, a shared facility or an entity that provides leadership, leading practices, data/insights, research, support and/or training for the company’s Customer Experience efforts. We develop CX Centers of Excellence for many of our larger clients with offices distributed across many offices, cities, states and/or countries. We wrote more about their benefits here and recorded a podcast about CX COEs here.
What is a Customer Experience or CX Maturity Assessment?
A CX maturity assessment is an audit that helps a company know where they stand (also called a Maturity Baseline) with their CX. Most CX Consultants and CX VOC platforms offer varying levels of CX assessments. These assessments are also sometimes called CX readiness assessments.
Companies that use these assessments are typically looking for the specific stage of maturity their CX efforts or initiative in so they know where to apply resources to make necessary improvements to become more customer-centric.
CX Pilots has built one of the most comprehensive CX Readiness and Maturity Assessments in the industry. An article on their effectiveness can be found here and a far more detailed white paper on our assessment can be found here.
Is it Difficult to Be a CX Consultant?
This is hard to answer. Most people on our team at CX Pilots have been working on Customer Experience consulting and have been Customer Experience Consultants for a lot of years. Each of us has a different answer. To be a CX consultant, in my view, you have to know:
- leadership because you have to be able to speak their language.
- complex business models because ‘doing CX’ requires a deep understanding of your client’s business.
- math—we are using a lot more algebra, calculus and economic models than any of us thought we would.
- people in depth, including a fair level of psychology and sociology because 90% of the problems you’ll be confronted with are people problems masquerading in technology clothing.
- vision, mission, values, purpose because everything you do will need to be tightly aligned to the deliberate trajectory your complex clients have set.
- strategy development because everything you need to do must cascade from a smart plan of attack and be bolstered by a very purposeful set of tactics that serve the right means and ends. Getting this wrong is a really bad situation to be in, so having a few years (or decades) of experience in setting and deconstructing strategy is a significant advantage.
- CX program design or organizational development experience is a must. If you lack the capabilities of designing a CX program and embedding it into a company’s culture, and you don’t understand at least intermediate principles of change management, you will have a very hard time in CX. We make sure our CX consultants have an abundance of experience in these areas. If you’re going to grad school to learn to become a CX Consultant, you’ll likely be taking an abundance of organizational development classes.
- culture is one of the big ones. Almost everything we have to do as CX consultants revolves around the culture of the company. You have to have many years experience getting acquainted with how cultures work (or don’t work) in order to hope to positively impact them through CX.
- employee engagement is key to CX. We believe it all starts with employees. As the front line and sensory organ of any company, you have to be able to make sure employees are engaged in their work and have an experience that makes them want to be part of continually serving customers.
- governance structures help us know how to design sustainability and accountability so the hard work of CX is measured, managed and improved by the organization over time.
- feedback collection is about finding the company’s best way of systematically closing loops in Voice of Customer (VOC) programs and using that data to address the things customers care about most.
- data science is really important. We didn’t believe we would need data science capabilities until about 2015 when there was so much data that needed to be captured, routed, sampled, analyzed, reported and operationalized.
- operations knowledge is critical. Knowing how companies operate is key to understanding how your CX strategies and tactics will (or will not) take hold in the day-to-day operations of the company.
- sales, marketing, brand, communications is important because effective CX get internalized and externalized strategically in alignment with the company’s stream of brand, marketing, sales and corporate communications. If managed CX is being planned without these components it will likely fail.
- service design is helpful for us because we are focused heavily on client experience for service providers in the professional services verticals.
- technology and platforms are very important as more and more tools are emerging to help consultants and companies manage the customer experience. Most of the larger and more established CX platform companies offer consulting services along with their software platforms.
Who Are the ‘Top’ Customer Experience Consultants?
This is a hard one—even being a competitor and finding this question awkward on the surface, it’s still difficult to know: “top” can mean; most employees, most revenue, most innovative, most clients, most tenure, strongest brand, who spends the most on google ads, and so on, and so on. What I can share is who CX Pilots runs into most in RFPs and prospective client interview for the work we do. They are:
- MCorp CX
- North Highland
When we think ‘Top’ we think most effective. We’ve studied how CX is managed inside of organizations and how it succeeds or fails. To that end, we have designed programs that are both risk and cost managed and delivered in phases (early stage, middle stage, and later stage) and modular pilots. This has proven to make all organizations more successful in implementing their CX/EX programs. Given this, we place CX Pilots in the ‘Top’ category in terms of effectiveness.
What are Customer Experience / CX Workshops?
Customer Experience or CX workshops are sessions where people learn more about various tenets of CX or customer experience or customer experience management (CXM or CEM). They are offered by universities, colleges, top customer experience CX consultants and top customer experience advisors. Common CX workshops are:
- Customer Journey Mapping
- Customer Empathy Training
- CX Foundations
- Customer Experience Management
- CX Metrics and Measurements
At CX Pilots, we offer all the above CX workshops in Raleigh, NC on demand. We also teach our customer journey mapping workshops internationally.
How do Customer Experience Consulting Firms Make Money?
Different CX consultants and customer experience consultants make money in different ways. The top customer experience consulting firms charge for comprehensive CX or customer experience transformations over many years. In some cases, top CX consultants and customer experience consulting firms charge their clients $150,000 per week while others may charge as little as $75,000 over the course of a year. Typically, the larger the top CX consultants overheard, the more they will charge. The principle cost for CX consultants is the time and materials of the customer experience consultants, technologist, data scientist, account and project managers. The average hourly cost of a CX consultant in New York City is $245/hour. Their firm charges a margin between 20% and 50% on each hour charged and bills it to the client.
With a significantly lower headcount and overhead, we make money in three ways.
- We charge value-based fees for the solutions we as CX consultants bring to our clients across 1) Early Stage CX, 2) Middle Stage CX, 3) Late Stage CX and 4) Employee Engagement Programs.
- Training and Workshops. These are either open enrollment workshops where anyone can register and join us or closed enrollment where we are commissioned by a company to offer training for their leadership and employees.
- We charge a performance-based fee on some of our projects which means, we contractually tie our fees to the performance of the outcomes we help our clients achieve. If we exceed the performance goal, we get paid a percentage of the overage, if we underperform, we get paid a percentage less than our projected fee.
What is Customer Journey Mapping ?
Customer Journey Mapping, or CJM, is the practice of illustrating or describing the emotions, expectations, intent, and individual interactions between a customer and an organization that wishes to interact with them. The work of customer experience management (CXM or CEM) and service design, includes customer journey maps to detail touchpoint, interactions and areas where a company can improve the way they offer value (i.e.: sell, support a product or service) to a customer over time. CX Pilots offers an immersive three-day outcome-oriented customer journey mapping course to train organizations how to facilitate their own customer journey mapping.
What is CX Training?
CX Training is the process of teaching people about the tenets of customer experience. Mostly an activity that a company would commission, it seeks to help employees understand deeper and broader contexts in which the company serves customers in an attempt to increase empathy, skillsets and functional capabilities toward some measurable end. At CX Pilots, we conduct CX Training for our clients on two levels;
- Leadership Training: to supply decision-makers with the information that can make their customer experience more effective. Typically, this level of training is focused on strategy, economics of CX, resource planning, change management, capital-intensive decisions, and HR-related issues.
- Team Training: to help company teams organize around ways to improve the experiences they provide to customers, new ways to collaborate around shared accountabilities, how to use CX platforms and technologies, etc.
What is CX Pilots, the CX Consulting Firm, Like?
CX Pilots is a boutique customer experience consulting firm that is different than others in many ways. We are change management, organizational development, and digital transformation professionals that began to focus on the customer experience in 2008. Using disciplines of service design innovation, design thinking and value stream analysis, we trained ourselves to innovate around the complex way in which professional services firms exchanged value with their clients. In 2016, we made it official and stopped doing work with larger consumer (B2C) companies so that we could focus on being the best at CX for professional services.
Our team is smaller than many other firms in that we have 12 people and scale up as necessary to handle spikes in demand. We try to focus on no more than 6 clients at any one time.
We practice modularity in the way we work. This means we take a stepped and staged approach to embedding CX into our client’s firms. This allows CX Pilots and its clients to understand and share risk, drive higher levels of manageability, predictability, and repeatability into the change or CX transformations.
We are pretty obsessed with innovation. Our people strive to stay on the leading edge of CX so at any one time, we are in the process of researching and redeveloping our tools, frameworks and methodologies to make them more effective.
What is Client Experience Strategy?
Client Experience Strategy, similar to “Customer” Experience Strategy, is a plan and approach to address the needs of clients’ experiences in business. It refers mostly to Professional Services organizations who serve “clients” rather than “customers.” In experience consulting, Client Experience Strategy will more than likely reference the way the organization manages its business marketing, sales, operations, and support functions to ensure the best possible outcomes for its clients in a manageable, repeatable and predictable cycle.
What Does Your Firm Do For Professional Services Firms?
CX Pilots is a premier professional services consultancy focused on helping professional services firms maximize the value they get from their client relationships through managed client experience initiatives.
We help firms in: accounting, legal, architecture, engineering, construction, IT/technology, consulting, simplify their path to experience led business. To help our client firms become more competitive we zero in on critical moments of truth that impact the client relationship over the long term. We do this through a collaborative methodology to map discreet interactions that can adversely impact the course of a professional relationship.
Over the last two decades we’ve developed proprietary tools to examine staged interactions that help firms pinpoint underdeveloped opportunities and overlooked areas of service friction. We then use methodologies to embed deeper relationship dynamics into the culture of client service management. This creates consistency in experience led competitiveness that firms can use to differentiate.
The outcomes and deliverables are typically in the form of training, immersive workshops, CX assessments, journey/interaction maps and other resources and relationship design tools that are embedded into workflows and client facing staff.
There are peripheral activities – essentially we help firms identify opportunities to differentiate by the experiences they share with clients. At CX Pilots we provide a framework that finely tunes fifteen functions of our client’s organization from CX Vision through all aspects of the employee and client journey through governance and the automatic continuation of the firm’s externalized CX Brand.
What is a Good Model for Digital Transformation?
We believe it depends on who you ask. Ask a technologist this question, you’re going to get a tech-centric answer. Ask a consultant this question, you’re going to get a process-centric answer. Ask a marketer this question, you’re going to get a content-centric answer. Ask a business person this question, you’re going to get an economic-centric answer.
There aren’t likely any good answers to this question because it depends so much on what is being transformed, who’s transforming and what levels of resistance there are.
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REALIZE IN DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION ARE:
1) the success of the org during the transformation effort lies in its ability to orchestrate the simultaneous transformation of all its systems in a unified pursuit of common goals.
2) if you think of the company/org/corp/enterprise like a living organism, the more successful your transformation will probably be. Transformation is a people issue.
Here are the model’s crude steps:
I. REFRAMING: addressing the corporate mind by shifting the conception of what it is and what it can be//can achieve.
- Achieve Mobilization: the process of mustering up the energy (mental, operational, executive) needed to feed the transformation.
- Create the Vision: provide a shared mental framework that gives form to a new future.
- Build a Measurement System: once mobilized and working toward an inspiring vision, leadership must translate it into a set of measures and targets
II. RESTRUCTURING: change that allows the organization to achieve a competitive level of performance.
- Construct an Economic Model: gives the org a detailed view of where and how the value is created. The economic model transports resources to where they’re needed most.
- Align the Physical Infrastructure: this is where the assets are most fices an rigid and likely to resist change. When out of alignment (like a spine) they pinch nerves and cause pain and partial paralysis.
- Redesign the Work Architectures: This is about processes and why, who, when, how people meet workflow and prioritization.
III. REVITALIZATION: ignites growth by linking the corp genome to its environment
- Achieve Market Focus: Refocusing on customers allows orgs to realize often hidden forms of value delivery and is where most orgs growth comes from.
- Invent New Business: this requires cross-fertilization of capabilities scattered through an org’s solutions portfolio. Exploit the convergence of two predominant lines of business.
- Change Rules Through Tech, Process, Networks: simply explore and understand the role your rules/standards play in setting limitations to thinking, approach, possibilities.
IV. RENEWAL: deals with the people inside of transformation and is about investing in new skills and purposes. It’s about regeneration and rebuilding the org’s reflexes.
- Create Reward Structure: reward risks and link the rewards to org performance. Know that people are really driven by autonomy, mastery and purpose.
- Build Individual Learning: transformation applies most critically to employees and their beliefs, willingness, and engagement.
- Develop the Organization: organize to ensure perpetual adaption to new business (strategic, creative) environments.
How is CX Pilots Distinct or Different in its Approach?
We understand the pressure associated with remaining competitive in our client’s marketplace and the role that client experience can/should/will play in distinguishing leaders from laggards in the future. We are the premier consultancy for full-life-cycle Client Experience transformation in professional services—thus we focus on how firms can leverage CX for specific advantage in our client’s markets.
Many firms deal with the creation and implementation of feedback tools, detailed methodologies for obtaining feedback through the use of software programs and personal client interviews. Our approach has the flexibility to meet clients where ever they are on their CX Journey, however, we believe strongly that the CX journey has critical early stages that need to be foundational prior to feedback generation.
Another distinction is that we are a consultancy and a Design Thinking lab that is persistently focused on designing and developing innovative (oftentimes disruptive) relationship design tools to help our clients outflank their competition.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
We believe we have professional service industry’s most comprehensive and modern approach to client experience. Through our innovative relationship design tools we are able to help every firm we work with become the best version of themselves through increasing the value that is exchanged between their employees and their clients. That’s is enormously satisfying.
We are focused 100% on professional services firms which means we have the rare opportunity to get to know how these firms operate really well and help them find more productive ways to evolve the way they think about their relationships.
Bottom Line: We are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and want to help these firms become more experience-led. It makes us happy.