The Customer Experience Professionals Association and the CCXP Exam with Gabe Smith – E14

CX Goalkeeper with Gabe Smith – S1E14 is about the CXPA and the CCXP certification Customer Experience Goals with the CX Goalkeeper

The CX goalkeeper had a smart discussion with Gabe Smith

After more than 11 years at the American Cancer Society with his last role as Senior Consultant – Customer Experience, he moved to the CXPA – Customer Experience Professional Association as content manager in 2019. He creates and curates non-biased content that connects CX professionals around the world, empowers them to overcome obstacles and drive customer-focused change within their organisations, and elevates the CX discipline in the marketplace.

My key learnings:

  • The mission of the CXPA is “We support CX professionals to share, learn, inspire, and grow throughout their entire career”
  • The CXPA has more than 4’000 members from 70 different countries
  • The volunteers play an important role in the community
  • Gabe Smith is the CX wikipedia 🙂
  • The CCXP is one of the most important certification in the CX world It’s more than only an exam. It’s also about continuous learning

Gabe’s golden nugget:

“…So we’re working on customer experience, because we want to make more money. But we are also doing it because it’s the right thing to do. I think regardless of the work that you’re doing, regardless of if you’re at a nonprofit like I was, or you’re at a bank: you do it because it’s the right thing to do financially, but it’s also the right thing to do morally.

Customer Experience is the right thing to do financially, and the right thing to do morally” Gabe Smith on the CX Goalkeeper Podcast @CXPA_Assoc

How to contact Gabe:

Thank you Gabe!

click here to subscribe
my YouTube channel


Gregorio Uglioni 0:03
Ladies and gentlemen, extremely happy to be here again with Gabe Smith.The CX goalkeeper will have a smart discussion with Gabe! Hi, Gabe.

Gabe Smith 0:10
Gregorio thanks for having me.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:13
It’s a great pleasure to have you on my side. And it’s really somebody from the CXPA, the customer experience professional associations, here with me and we are going to discuss a bit what it’s doing the customer experience professional association, and so on. But let’s start really with important thing. Could you please introduce yourself Gabe?

Gabe Smith 0:34
Absolutely, I am Gabe Smith CCXP. I am the Content Manager for the customer experience Professionals Association. And in my role, my job is to create and curate content that is going to help CX professionals around the world move their careers forward, as well as move the discipline of CX forward within their organizations.

Gregorio Uglioni 0:59
I would say the best job: helping other people to grow what for our mission that you have. That’s really I’m really delighted!

Gabe Smith 1:09
thank you.

Gregorio Uglioni 1:10
Thank you very much keep. But let’s let’s really start and deep dive in in our discussion. And for me, it’s clear what they CXPA and CCXP means because I am CCXP. And I’m also part of this, let’s say great community. Let’s start with explaining what is the cxpa?

Gabe Smith 1:30
Yeah, the cxpa is a an association comprised of members around the globe, we have over 4000 members in more than 70 countries globally. The mission of the cxpa is really to support CX professionals to share, learn, inspire and grow throughout their entire career. And with an ultimate vision of creating exceptional outcomes that are inspired by empowered CX professionals. So that’s everything that we do every bit of content that we create every LinkedIn live broadcast, every vblog post, everything that we do on our website is really in service to that mission and that vision.

Gregorio Uglioni 2:16
Thank you Gabe, I think that that’s really, really interesting. And if somebody goes to the cxpa webpage, these are the two information that are there. The mission and and, and the vision and I think that’s that’s really interesting. How big is this organization?

Gabe Smith 2:33
Yeah, so we have eight professional staff. And then we have so those are those of us. Some of us are in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the US. We have staff in Ohio, South Carolina, and Florida as well. So we’re geographically dispersed, small, but mighty staff team, led by our CEO, Greg Melia, CAE. We also have Derek Iverson and Molly Perrin, who are membership community managers. We have Joy wedge in marketing. We have Adrian Bryan, who runs our CCXP program, and some great staff Lilly supporting us as well. So we’re a small staff team. But the real lifeblood of the organization is in the volunteers. So the volunteers who run our local cxpa networks. So we have local networks throughout the globe. So if someone wants to get involved and you know, meet professionals who are right there in their geographic area, or who share who shares a special affinity. So, you know, we have, you know, b2b groups, that communities that people can join on our website. So it’s really there’s something for everyone who wants to be involved with cxpa

Gregorio Uglioni 3:55
Okay, and it’s something that you can share with us with the audience, our many associates or participants to do the CXPA have in this in this community?

Gabe Smith 4:07
Yeah, yeah. So we have over 4000 global members. In addition to that, we have over 70,000 followers on social media, and over 40,000 followers on LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is we quickly kind of becoming a, an extension of the cxpa community, and a way for people to to meet us and to hear from us and to get involved.

Gregorio Uglioni 4:35
And I think it makes also completely sense to be on LinkedIn, because on LinkedIn, we are creating we are sharing business relationship. And and there you have all the experts about about this topic and on this topic, and therefore it’s clear to be there. I’m also part of this great community, I see the quality of the content that it’s shared. And I think that’s that’s really, really key. Please go ahead.

Gabe Smith 5:02
Yeah, yeah, no, it’s such a great way to, to reach people who have an affinity for CX, you know, and it’s not always just a CX professional. It’s, it’s the people who, you know, are in customer service or customer success, or some operational role, who maybe are interested in CX as a career path, or who want to learn more. And so the LinkedIn is a great channel to reach those folks as well.

Gregorio Uglioni 5:33
Sure, and, and I think if we really look at on what happened on the market, all the changes, also we’d covered it’s really important to think about customer experience. And perhaps, before we go to the, the exam that everybody’s thinking about, as nightmare about it, and so on. Could you please share with us, what’s your daily job? How are you able to create such great content? And we had also one discussion some months ago about one one interview for the CXPA blog. And perhaps could you please share how you select people? What’s your daily job?

Gabe Smith 6:11
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I get to play in a lot of different sandboxes. And what I mean by that is, you know, sometimes the content medium is the blog. So I’m doing some writing, writing member profiles, I’m interviewing fascinating CX professionals like yourself, Gregorio to better understand, you know, what brought you into the CX space, what propels you forward? What are you trying to learn, so, I do a lot of profiling of cxpa members, written profiles. Sometimes I’m doing video editing. So I’m collecting videos for our insight exchange video series, these are short form videos that our members submit on key CX topics, and I’m some doing some editing to kind of edit those down. And a lot of planning, a lot of looking at the calendar and figuring out, you know, what, what are some LinkedIn live broadcasts that we can do topically that are going to inspire folks in their roles? It’s, you know, it’s 2021 is cxpa, 10th anniversary year. So there’s a lot of planning, we have some exciting plans for, you know, a webinar series, that is going to be kind of a celebration and a look back at the the last decade of cxpa. And also look ahead into the next decade. So yeah, it’s really a combination of strategy and execution. And I love that because, you know, I love I love working on strategy, but I also like getting to do the work to,

Gregorio Uglioni 7:49
then we share the same because I like to work on strategy. But it’s also nice to make, let’s say, the ends 30, to create content and to share that or to create something, perhaps you mentioned already, but I wanted to quickly elaborate a bit on that. And you’re really spreading passion about customer experience and what you’re doing. What do you like most from your job?

Gabe Smith 8:16
I think what I like most about my job is that it breaks down geographic barriers, and really helps me to understand that, you know, we share a CX professionals, we’re regardless of where we are in the globe, regardless of the resources that our organization has, regardless of the level of CX maturity in the organization, or in the in the region, we all share the same goals. And I think in a time when, you know, so, so much of you know, our country here in the United States, as well as globally, there’s so many divisions, my job is reminder that we have so much in common. And when we are connected, we can do so much more together. So I think that’s what I love so much about my job. That’s what gets me excited to get up every day and come and do this work.

Gregorio Uglioni 9:13
That’s really, really nice. And I think what you said it would be also a great tweet that we’d get quite a lot of likes.

Gabe Smith 9:21
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. You know, we we’ve got to come together and I love getting a chance to do that.

Gregorio Uglioni 9:29
That’s great. And perhaps we spoke about what you really like about your job. What it’s a bit more difficult in your job. Let’s let’s phrase it like that.

Gabe Smith 9:38
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, one of the one of the things that I do each week so each week we put out a weekly newsletter called The cxpa engine content to fuel your CX success. And the newsletter is a kind of a combination of content that cxpa is created, as well as content that we’ve curated from a variety of sources. And that curation process really involves me sitting down and reading probably dozens of articles 60 to 70 articles each week on CX. And so, you know, one of the things that I think can be a little bit frustrating is that, you know, cxpa has defined customer experience, and we’ve defined the role of a customer experience professional, you can actually go to www dot what is, to see cxpa His definition of what customer experience is, but what I see when I, when I read through a lot of these articles is there’s still an effort by some to define customer experience in ways that are unique to, you know, the the newest software platform or technology. And so I’m always seeing brand new acronyms for customer experience concepts that, you know, I’m not sure serve CX professionals in in the best way. And so just sort of cutting through all the noise that can be out there, and really drilling down into the idea that, you know, a CX professional is a catalyst, who enhances an organization’s results by understanding designing and improving experiences across the entire customer relationship, and letting the focus of CX be on making sure that your organization hires outstanding CX professionals, and putting less emphasis on, you know, how exactly what sort of definition we’re going with or what sort of the, you know, kind of the flavor of the week, as we would say, I think that will serve the CX community well, so that’s a small point of just something that I’ve noticed, that I think continues to be a challenge for this, this discipline.

Gregorio Uglioni 12:00
And, and I think this is really key to have such an association, such a great opportunity to have somebody looking at the content and also judging that. But before we continue, you said you’re reading 70 to 80 articles a week about customer experience, it means you are the customer experience Wikipedia.

Gabe Smith 12:25
Yeah, something like that. I like that though. Maybe I can put that into my title, somehow. CX walking CX Wikipedia, I like it.

Gregorio Uglioni 12:35
Sorry, joke aside. You’re really doing a great job. And we see also how many followers you have also on your personal LinkedIn profile. And therefore it’s quite clear the value added that you’re creating, sorry for the joke and going, Oh, you’re good, you’re good. And going back to what you mentioned, and you said something like two are outstanding customer experience professionals. And this is my link to the to the exam, the CCXP exam, certified customer experience professional, you will elaborate a bit on that. And I think on the market, there are really quite a lot of opportunities. And these are really growing and growing on a daily basis to get a certification on customer experience. You can be the customer experience super guru, you can be the customer experience God, you can be the customer experience pool. I don’t know it’s a joke. I know. Basically, what I really see on the market in the international, if you’re saying that your CCXP, people understand what you did understand what you achieved, and they understand that you are a professional, if you say I did this and that other Accreditation certificates, sure, and so on. Perhaps they don’t understand but they and they really understand on an international folks understand what CCXP is, I think in Europe, a bit less, but it’s coming. And in Switzerland, we are not so many certified customer experience professionals, I would say 10 / 12. That’s my feeling. And let’s start with really discussing about about that. What is this exam about?

Gabe Smith 14:22
Sure. Yeah, as you said that Gregorio CCXP stands for Certified customer experience professional. This is a professional certification that to be eligible to take the CCXP exam, one has to have at least a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of focused CX experience. If an individual does not have a bachelor’s degree, they could have a an associate’s degree or high school diploma along with five years of focused CX experience. So The exam assesses not just an individual’s knowledge, or an individual’s ability to, you know, sit for a brief training course. And then and then take it that’s not what this is. This is for those professionals who’ve already been doing the work, and who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to really lead or significantly contribute to the growth of an organization’s CX program. So again, unlike a certificate or a weekend course, this is really an independent, you know, exam that is based on the consensus driven cxpa competency framework. So it’s based on, you know, the, you know, the six competencies, CX strategy, customer centric culture, Voice of the Customer and customer understanding, metrics, measurement, and ROI, experience, design, improvement, and organizational adoption and accountability. So those who take the exam, take a 100 question, multiple choice test that assesses their understanding and their ability, and their experience, really, in each of those six competency areas. So once an individual has the CCXP certification, you know, again, unlike other programs, the journey then is just beginning. So the Once an individual has the credential, it’s good for two years. And during that two year period, individuals must continue their education and gain at least 20 hours of continuing education that they can submit in order to be recertified at the conclusion of that two year period. So, you know, this is not a cert, something that they have for life, there’s ongoing requirements and education that is tied to that. And that really demonstrates to organizations that, you know, hey, if you hire a CCXP, you’re getting someone who is committed to this discipline, and committed to deepening their understanding of it to help your organization.

Gregorio Uglioni 16:59
Thank you, okay. And I can confirm, it’s not a weekend course, that we can do during the weekend, right. But what I really like and I also understand is that you need to really to have these competencies to six competencies that you mentioned, and you need to cover all of them, and not only one being an expert in, in journey mapping, and then you say, I will take the exam because I will do 100% In these competencies, and all the others, I will some something, something, I will Yeah, do that. But it’s really important to understand everything. And it shows our to the magnitude of what is really customer experience. It’s not about only Voice of the Customer designer design thinking or something like that. And, and this is key. And I am also preparing now for the recertification. As you mentioned, this number of hours, I am putting everything together to fill that in on the on the website. And I think this is the key success factor and why it’s so important. It’s not only about taking a big exam and learning everything by hours, and then you forget everything. But yeah, it’s something that you need to be a practitioner.

Gabe Smith 18:12
Well, you’re absolutely right. And I mean, if you think about something that you know, is awarded to you for life, on in customer experience, that that would be outdated fairly quickly, right, because this discipline is changing. So the pace of change is so rapid. So in order to to demonstrate that, you know, you’re keeping up with the latest trends in the CX space, it’s really vital to have that continuing education component in place.

Gregorio Uglioni 18:41
And and exactly this is this is one of the big advantages of being part of this community. And the second one is what I’m really seeing, but I would say feeling everyday being part of such a great community, it gives you the opportunity to meet other people to discuss it other people to get quite a lot of learnings and the older people also now speaking with you get you’re not expecting expecting something back from me now or tomorrow, we’re doing because you want to share the learnings and for example, are also you can put some question on the cxpa groups discussion. And then you get massively feedback on new ideas what you can do and solve your issue. It’s really outstanding to be part of such a community. Also having the for me the example is also airing this webcast this podcast with with great people like you, I had the chance to speak with Nate brown with with quite a lot of other people and they are willing to share. This is for me. Yeah. Different.

Gabe Smith 19:48
It’s one of the most supportive communities that I’ve ever been a part of. And I say that, you know, even as someone who is a member of cxpa Prior to joining as staff you You know, anytime there was, you know, we’re look, we’re facing this challenge in my organization with voc. And we have this problem with response rate, or, you know, I’m having trouble getting this senior leader to buy in to CX or we’re not, you know, we’re not gelling with this particular group over here. How has anyone else dealt with that? And just getting those responses? Like you said, there’s, there’s no, you know, withholding of information, people are more than willing to help. And I think that’s such a great part of of, of the work that we do here.

Gregorio Uglioni 20:37
Yes, I fully agree. And I think this is also the best way to conclude the first part of this of this discussion. Now it’s time to learn a bit more about about you gape? And perhaps I ask all always similar questions. The first question is, we are during COVID, it’s pandemic, it’s quite difficult time. How are you balancing your life work? Balance?

Gabe Smith 21:03
Yeah, it’s really hard, right? I mean, you know, you, you you have, you have a family as well. And so, you know, my family right now is upstairs, I’m in my, I’m in my basement, my way, you got the virtual background going here. But my wife and my five year old daughter and my four month old daughter are upstairs. And so getting used to frequent interruptions. That’s, that’s the norm now. And, you know, we all have to give each other some grace for those kinds of things. In some ways, I feel like, you know, COVID has really allowed us to see one another and see the common humanity that we share and the common challenges that we’re going through related to this, this reality. So, you know, I make it a point to go upstairs, frequently, hold my baby, give her a lot of love. And you know, that that kind of keeps me grounded, because I love my job, but I love my family more. So you know that that’s how I always think about that equation of balance.

Gregorio Uglioni 22:10
And I can only say that I fully agree with with what you’re saying. And that’s exactly what’s my view on that. I really love my job I really like to work out. But at some point in time, it’s time to go out from this room to be with my family. And what I really enjoy is also for example, to having lunch together with my family.

Gabe Smith 22:30
Yes, absolutely. It’s a blessing, right?

Gregorio Uglioni 22:34
Correct. Yes, that’s, that’s, it’s really, it’s, it’s value added in my life. And, and I like it really won’t worry much. Yeah. The next question and you are quite exposed, therefore, I will phrase my my question in a properly way. And I always ask about what’s the book that you’re reading? Or that you want to suggest to the audience? And in this case, I’m not speaking about you should advertise the book of one person or from the other? Sure, but about the book that you say, this is something that I would like to suggest to one of my best friends?

Gabe Smith 23:11
Sure, yeah, no? Great question. Um, the cxpa team right now is actually reading a book together. And it’s called leading without authority. And it’s by believe the author’s name is Keith Ferrazzi. And it is really about how to create what the author calls co elevating relationships to drive your business performance. In essentially, the the kind of the thesis of the book is that the old work rules of top down authority no longer work, and that to drive change, and to drive success. And to really be agile, you have to co elevate with your co workers. And that that involves conscious efforts to, to praise and elevate, but also to have a high degree of trust within your team. And so the book is all about strategies for how to how to achieve that. And so I’ve been thinking a lot about it, because there’s, there’s, you know, this is all about what CX professionals tries to do, right? We try to work across functions in an organization to make sure that everyone achieves success for the customer. And so, just been thinking about how applicable it is to the CX world. So any CX professionals listening would definitely encourage you to pick up this book.

Gregorio Uglioni 24:34
motivating people, engaging with people, empowering people, is one of the key success factor of customer experience strategy, customer experience transformation.

Gabe Smith 24:45

Gregorio Uglioni 24:46
And perhaps my last question, and this is the golden nugget. Gabe, we had a really great discussion. Do you want to share your last golden nugget with us? It’s something that you already mentioned or something new Did you want to leave to the audience?

Gabe Smith 25:01
Yeah, yeah, no. Absolutely. You know, I would say, so before I joined cxpa, a little bit about my background. And you know why I have the CCXP. Before joining cxpa, I was a CX consultant, an internal consultant for the American Cancer Society. So the American Cancer Society is here in the United States, the largest non governmental funder of cancer research. And so, you know, we, they, I should say, Now, had, you know, fundraising events that, primarily, the funding came from individuals, small donors, very small percentage of the organization’s funding came from government. And so, we had fundraising events, and then those fundraising events funded cancer research, as well as patient programs that improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families. So my role was traditionally CX role in that, you know, we had a voice of the customer program, we had a, you know, derived insights from that voice of the customer program, that then were translated into projects and programs that were aimed at you to improving the experience at fundraising events, or our patient programs. So that, you know, people were more likely to spread positive word of mouth, returned to the event next year, donate more, etc, all those those goals, that would be the same as in a for profit organization. So I always like to say the reason I share all this is I always like to say, when I was talking to staff in that organization, or talking about CX, I said, Look, CX is a financial imperative. But for us, it’s also a moral imperative. Because, you know, these are, these are customers who are going through some of the biggest challenges in their lives. So we’re absolutely doing this, and we have this team, because we want to make more money. But we’re also doing it because it’s the right thing to do. And so, you know, I think regardless of the work that you’re doing, regardless of you know, if you’re at a nonprofit like me, like I was, or you’re, you’re at a bank, you do it because it’s the right thing to do financially, but it’s also the right thing to do morally.

Gregorio Uglioni 27:20
great. As usual, I am not commenting your golden nuggets, because it’s your golden nugget. The only thing that I wanted to say is thank you very much for your time Gabe. It was great to have you on.

Gabe Smith 27:31
Thank you, Gregorio and thank you for all you are doing to advance the discipline of CX you’re awesome at this work, and so glad to have you among the cxpa membership.

Gregorio Uglioni 27:43
Thank you very much Gabe and also thank you to the audience. It was great to have you here with us. And I hope you enjoyed this discussion as I enjoyed it. Thank you very much and have a nice day. Bye bye.

Gabe Smith 27:56
Take care

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