Surprise—You’re in Charge of CX!

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Consider this scenario: You check your email first thing and quickly notice a calendar invitation from your supervisor announcing an unscheduled meeting. The meeting time arrives and you are informed of a reorganization, and amid the shifting positions, you have been placed in charge of customer experience (CX) initiatives.

What’s your reaction?

You may be elated. Maybe this is a discipline that you have discovered and aspired to. Or you may be surprised by the way things sorted and that CX landed in your job description. Or maybe you are confused, scratching your head, thinking, “What’s CX?”


The scenario presented is not uncommon. Companies are quickly realizing that understanding and anticipating customer needs has become vital, and executives are placing a higher value on leveraging customer experience to stand out from competitors. So it is no surprise that more leaders are being asked or assigned to take on CX roles within their companies.

The emergence of these roles prompted me to wonder, “How did CX leaders land in their current positions?” With that question nagging me, I gathered input from more than 30 CX professionals, asking each one about their background and the path that led them to CX. I received a number of interesting stories. Here is a quick summary of what I learned:

No one plans on it. Suffice it to say that no one said they majored in CX in college and always dreamed of being a customer experience professional. Instead, most had never heard of the position until they arrived in the business world.

Some end up seeking it out. While no one started their career as a CX professional, a number of my contacts indicated they were exposed to CX and compelled to pursue it. Maria, a CX leader in the beverage industry, felt her company would not achieve its aggressive growth goals without “bringing customers to the center of everything we do.” Determined, she worked with the CEO to create her new CX role.

Some drift into CX. Probably most common are those who were in somewhat related roles when they took on CX responsibilities. Valerie states, “My role developed into customer experience.” She was responsible for customer service and sales support centers in a manufacturing organization when it began collecting insights from customers. Another example is Karen, who had customer-facing roles in the airline, retail, and hotel industries. This prepared her well for her current CX role in healthcare. She says, “I have been able to put to good use my years of other industry experience while learning how to engage hearts and minds to drive a customer-focused mind-set.”

Others are assigned CX roles. Some can easily identify with the scenario at the beginning of this article – one day CX was just assigned to them! Chris, a CX leader for a workspace facilities firm, says, “A little over three and a half years ago, the CEO called and asked me to accelerate change designed to enhance customer experiences. That was the start, and I had absolutely no experience in CX.” Regardless, Chris now expresses his newfound passion for the discipline.

Clearly, every person has their own unique story. Some emerged from marketing, sales, and product management roles. Others had experience in quality control, process improvement, and technology. Still others came from the customer support side of the business. Regardless of the path, they bring distinct skills and one additional, incredibly valuable characteristic—a customer-focused approach to how they view their business.


We all take twists and turns on our career paths. And maybe, just maybe, yours has led to a role as a customer experience leader. What do you do now?

Here’s my advice: Embrace it!

Drink the Kool-Aid—immerse yourself in the profession, join the CXPA association, attend one of the many conferences available. In short, learn your profession and leverage it to make a difference for yourself and your company.

It doesn’t really matter how you got there. Just realize that you have a terrific opportunity right in front of you. You can be the catalyst to help your company reap the many benefits of CX—improving customer retention, making your company easier to work with, providing superior service, accelerating innovation, improving quality, strengthening your competitive advantage, and more.

Patrick Gibbons is a principal at Walker, a leading customer experience consulting firm. He can be reached at pgibbons@walkerinfo.com.

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