The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) was founded in 2011 as a premier, global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and cultivation of the customer experience profession. The organization aims to increase both impact of visibility of customer experience professionals, facilitate effective member-to-member sharing, and establish respected industry standards.
CXPA elicits help from one full-time employee, three contractors and a management company. It’s a bustling organization that has exploded in growth over five years, with over 4,000 members worldwide.
This incredible growth brought with it new questions for how to elevate the member experience and offer a more cohesive space for learning and expanding the field. That’s where CXPA’s journey with community began.
The role of community was always a primary goal for CXPA. It used another platform vendor for both backend data collection and a member-facing online experience. There were capabilities for discussion forums and webinars, but the user experience was suboptimal and the discussions were not easy for members to use.
Before researching alternative community and website design options, CXPA started an Expert Panel to increase member engagement. The panel included 18 subject matter experts who would answer member questions in an email distribution list. Unfortunately, CXPA staff had to manually collect and disseminate these questions and answers. It was time to reevaluate the community experience.
"After the presentation, I called a colleague and said, 'This [platform] is wonderful, why haven't we had this all along?'" -Bruce Temkin, CXPA Co-Founder
After thorough research and discussions with several community vendors, CXPA met with Higher Logic to review its platform. After the presentation, CXPA’s co-founder called a colleague and said, “This [platform] is wonderful, why haven’t we had this all along?”
CXPA and Higher Logic launched the CXPA Community on May 13, 2014. A group of members beta-tested the community, and CXPA set to launch it alongside the annual conference, Insight Exchange, in May.
The community started with two major priorities: a bustling online discussion forum and strong online resources crowdsourced from members. CXPA recognized how important and useful it is to respond to discussions through both email and the community. It also wanted a more user-friendly resource section, where members could comment, rate content, vote for favorites that would rise to the top of a featured list, and generally have more flexibility with how content is listed and searched.
The discussion forum is the most impressive feature on the CXPA Community to date, if only for the winning combination of quantity and quality. The forum receives 2-3 posts daily, and members consistently respond to each other’s questions and comments – it’s rare for any question to go unanswered by a fellow member. The entire forum is member-driven and member-monitored. And as for the resource library, there are already hundreds of content items available for members to see and download.
CXPA's top community stats
- Over 11,500 logins within the first year
Nearly 100 discussions in the first month and over 1,000 total in the first year
Added over 1,200 new members in the last six months
Top 10 community blogs received almost 8,000 views to date
After the CXPA Community launched in 2014, CXPA continued to use another vendor for its corporate website. It quickly became clear that running two websites drastically different in appearance, design and experience was causing confusion for members. CXPA asked for member feedback on using the old website and decided it was time to update the user experience to be more in line with the community.
After finding there wasn’t any software in the right price range, CXPA saw Higher Logic and partner eConverse’s web design in action at the annual Super Forum conference in 2015. It was a good fit and a refreshing experience to complete the redesign in time for the Insight Exchange conference in May 2016.
Moving forward, CXPA plans to continue improving back-end data communications for a more seamless member experience throughout both the website and community. It also plans to start incorporating more automated workflows within the community platform, to improve communicating with members and streamline the member onboarding process.
Members new and old are more engaged and enthusiastic about the community and new website – the majority are logging in regularly to update information and participate. There is significantly more traffic to the site, which reflects members’ positive feedback on the layout, search functions, and the overall member experience.
The CXPA Community has seen success for its members in multiple areas – a few resources have stood out as especially useful and often member-driven initiatives: Mentor Match program, Community Blogging, CCXP Certification, and In-Person Networking.
One of the most successful components of CXPA’s community has been its Mentor Match program. Members had been clamoring for a mentoring program – CXPA was leery at first, since it didn’t have a lot of time to manage a large platform. The mentoring module from Higher Logic was a good solution that wouldn’t burden staff time – it was an easy sell for the leadership team.
"My two mentees have completely different CX maturity levels, questions, and challenges, which has allowed me to stretch my thinking on their specific topics, as well as we work together to define ideal approaches and solutions for their needs." -Annette Franz, CXPA, Compellon
Customer experience is a relatively new field, and there aren’t many options for continuing education and professional development. The professionals who do have the experience and expertise don’t always have a way to share that knowledge individually, aside from the CXPA community. Mentoring is a strong benefit to help members grow in this field, so the program helps establish how those members can move forward with their education.
CXPA structured its mentoring program in two, six-month cycles per year: the first in January and the second in July. The inaugural cycle had 50 unique matches – 100 members were successfully matched in mentor/mentee relationships. About 10 of those matches opted to extend the relationship into a second cycle. The second cycle saw another 50 unique matches, putting CXPA’s mentor relationship total at 100 for its first year.
“The mentor program is one of the most valuable things CXPA offers,” says Lisa Nance, CXPA Member and Treasury Client Experience Manager from Texas Capital Bank. “Whether you’re just beginning in your practice like me or you’ve been at it for a long time, you will absolutely benefit from the mentor program. [My mentor] has been a great sounding board, a resource, and really a friend. I cannot recommend it more highly – get involved.”
Overall, the program has been immensely popular for members, and matches cover a wide range of topics. Some members want help with industry certification, while others have issues getting leadership buy-in at their companies – mentors are helping to make a business case for customer experience. Others want professional development. A few mentees in the program did not have jobs at the time they signed up and were actively looking for new customer experience positions. Since this is a new field, they wanted help and guidance in areas like making connections and building a resume. The program included mentors who are already consultants in the customer experience space, and are helping mentees follow that same path.
One new mentor worked for a company that eliminated its customer experience department, and that member found themselves out of a job. But they had enough experience in the field to start their own consulting firm, and furthermore help others in the industry to seize upon new opportunities.
A lot of members that matched up in the first month of January were able to meet in person in May at CXPA’s annual event, the CXPA Insight Exchange, to further develop their relationships.
“The mentor program is one of the most valuable things CXPA offers. Whether you’re just beginning in your practice like me or you’ve been at it for a long time, you will absolutely benefit from the mentor program. [My mentor] has been a great sounding board, a resource, and really a friend. I cannot recommend it more highly – get involved.” -Lisa Nance, CXPA Member and Treasury Client Experience Manager, Texas Capital Bank
Originally, blogging was not a priority for the CXPA Community. It focused on discussions and resources, but the blog feature was automatically included upon launch. Members jumped on it and proactively posted and shared blogs through the community and social networks. CXPA also started using it for newsletter articles. The community blog very suddenly became an active feature for most members to contribute, read and share.
CXPA community blogs
The Top 10 community blog posts have received almost 8,000 views to date. Blog topics included anything about professional industry knowledge. The blog has a mix of member and consultant authors. Check it out here.
The Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) certification encompasses industry standards in a certification course for customer experience professionals. CXPA introduced the certification exam in 2012, but did not include any prep materials or courses. It does work with thought leaders in the field that participate as Authorized Resource and Training (ART) providers, offering workshops at a cost. Beyond those training providers, CXPA members met up in droves on the community to share best practices and study advice for the exam. The forum has become a critical place for those preparing for the exam, as well as matching up with mentors who are already certified. Members rely on these connections and the forum throughout the studying process, and the discussions are constantly updated.
Another initiative begun in 2012 that has greatly benefited from the connections made in the community is CXPA’s local meet-ups. It started a local meet-up program after members expressed interest in connecting on a local basis, in person. The program began with six pilot cities, and has grown to 43 cities across the country. The number of events that volunteer members are hosting has doubled in the first quarter of 2016, and the number of attendees has tripled since the program’s inception.
Originally, the project included a large manual subscription process, and relied on many members volunteering their time to stay connected and keep the meet-ups vibrant. Communications were shifting towards public social networks, so CXPA decided the community would be the perfect spot for meet-up members to gather online. There are micro-communities within the larger community for each participating city – every meet-up gets its own personalized real estate within the platform. All of the meet-up communities also have consolidated digests, where volunteer members can further personalize the emails and messaging.
Founded in 2011, the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) is the premier global non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and cultivation of the Customer Experience profession. The CXPA supports the professional development of its members and advances the field by providing shared best practices and education, developing standards, offering networking opportunities, promoting the industry, and creating a better understanding of the discipline of Customer Experience. Learn more at www.cxpa.org.