‘Let’s talk about CEX, baby’

‘Let’s talk about CEX, baby’

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(Punch it, Hurb Yo, I don’t think we should talk about this. Come on, why not? People might misunderstand what we’re tryin’ to say, you know? No, but that’s a part of life)

So ,just like the lyrics from hip-hop group Salt-n-Pepa, what are people misunderstanding?

What are we talking about here?

And what’s not just a part of life, but a huge part of business?


The truth of the matter is that as we evolve, it’s a given that business evolves, and as both evolve, so does our lingo and lexicon.

On one hand we expand our vocabulary as a critical way to grow, communicate, and demonstrate our perceived level of intelligence. On the other hand, we abbreviate our business vocabulary to make sure they fit into 140 character messages and texted soundbites, by using a series of letters to capture a string of words – commonly referred to as acronyms. BTW, OMG! and CEX are EGs of acronyms!

Where it started

We started with UX (User Experience) and UX is, (according to the man who kick-started the acronym, cognitive science researcher Dr Don Norman), the idea that all product design decisions should be based on the needs and the wants of the user. UX is something that ‘encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products’

Ensuring a great UX makes sure our brand and reputation stays strong, and ends up generating a stack of loyalty and advocacy. And with commoditisation in full swing today, and not a lot separating one product from another, the features of our product really aren’t enough to cut it on their own. Many of us have been in situations where our product has been a ‘lemon’ and we have had to cut our losses, but it’s also important to realise that everything over and above our product, might also be the very thing that lets us down.

What came next…

Enter stage right…. CX, or Customer Experience.

I was fortunate to be a part of a TLQ (Total Leadership Quality) Program at Xerox where the work of Edward Deming was incorporated into our culture and when ‘Customer Delight’ became a focal point in the company’s rebirth. Customer Experience begins with a great User Experience, for sure. But it also relies on data, and as Deming said, ‘without data you’re just another person with an opinion’, or as I would prefer to say, ‘without data you’re just another salesperson without any value’.

Data, of course comes to us in all shapes and sizes from CRM’s (Customer Relationship Management), through VOC (Voice of the Customer), Surveys, NPS (Net Promoter Scores) or simply through F2F (face to face) conversations between a rep and a customer. We can never underestimate the power of those conversations and the gold that they deliver, when approached with the right intention.

This model, with attribution to Forrester and Tim Tyler from Ellipsis, shows us the simplicity behind a great CX methodology. Not dissimilar to Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs, we can take our customer from the most basic of emotional needs of simply being satisfied through UX and CX, to the height of advocacy and loyalty. As sales expert, Jeffrey Gitomer so eloquently asks, ‘would you prefer your partner to be satisfied or loyal?’ 🙂

As vendors, suppliers and salespeople, in order for us to reach a level of advocacy and loyalty, we must make things simple for our customers and really know what is important to them whether it be through formal feedback channels, needs analysis, or simply being curious enough to ask the important questions. To do that we need to also analyse our own levels of awareness and agility.

In this 3.49 minute interview I recently did with Guy Collison from Salesforce, at our inaugural ‘ITERATE! Sales Leadership Breakfast Series in Melbourne’, he mentions that we are no longer in an environment where it is ‘lead to cash’ but an environment where we are ‘lead to advocacy’ and explains to me below, how that advocacy leads to loyalty.

We are missing something….

‘Experiences’ aren’t just game-changing for an existing customer. What about the buyer? What about the prospect who has never dealt with us, experienced us or had any reason to be loyal toward us? BX, or the Buyer Experience, may be considered by some to be a subset of CX, but I really do think it stands on its own and ought to be given more airtime, especially from a sales enablement perspective.

  • Can a positive BX create great word of mouth before a buyer has actually purchased? Yes
  • Can a respected BX result in a recommendation that engages you with someone completely different? Yes
  • Can a professional BX build advocacy with a company with which no financial agreement has yet occurred? Yes

We are playing the long game today and not all business is going to go the way we expect it to go – through no fault of our own. The salesperson who does his or her job and for some reason doesn’t get the deal this time around, and is OK with that, is playing what I refer to as ‘the long sales game’. It may take another contract cycle until you partner up, but if you have created a great BX at the beginning and throughout that ‘waiting period’, with all things being equal, you will nail it next time around. That’s what happens when you healthily lose the attachment to getting a deal.

I think BX is something that all businesses should be measuring their salespeople on at any given stage because we cannot be our customers! Meaning we cannot just front up at the next round like they do and hope to do a deal. There’s work to be done to fill the void.

And that comes down to activity and alignment.

We have UX, (User Experience around our product), we have BX (Buyer Experience before they become a client or customer) and we then have CX (or Customer Experience, after the fact).

But we’re still not there…

Let’s talk about CEX, baby, Let’s talk about you and me, Let’s talk about all the good things, And the bad things that may be

When we talk about playing ‘the long game’, that means that the way we think about selling, per se, must change. It also means the way we think about CX must change.

  • It can’t just be up to the girls in customer service.
  • It can’t just be the technician’s responsibility to give them ‘fixed machines’
  • It can’t just be Marketing’s role to make sure what we say we do is done.
  • It can’t just be admin’s role to keep on top of billing

We all must play our part and flip the pyramid. Customer Centricity must be at the pointy end of all things business and it must begin with the leaders – listening to both your external and internal customers – and being humble, strong and vulnerable enough to do what you know to be right.

And the secret in doing what is right is in the execution. Tiffani Bova, Sales Futurist and Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, wrote in a recent Forbes article, ‘It matters less who owns CX and more who executes on it, and everyone in an organization executes on CX.’

One of my key messages is that, ‘Self Disruption precedes Self Destruction’and business and individuals alike need to realise that right now, the wheat is being sorted from the chaff and never has it been more important that we consider CEX in business. Yes, I am coining this: ‘CEX is the way we safeguard ourselves by putting our money where our mouth is and walking our talk. It is traditional Customer Experience disrupted by Customer Centric Execution’.

Question for you…

How will you position yourself for the long term to ensure you are around in the long term? With big data, analytics, artificial intelligence and economic expectations, it can no longer be BAU, nor can it be SAU, either.

Acronyms rock, and so must you!

Be Bold and Brilliant,
Bernadette McClelland
Bernadette McClelland
Bernadette McClelland is a Keynote and Sales Kick-Off Speaker, Executive Sales Leadership Coach, and published author. CEO of 3 Red Folders she ensures her clients create double digit, sustainable sales growth and marketplace differentiation through unique programs based on ‘The NeuroScience of Sales Leadership and Sales Process’

Image courtesy of Annie Spratt

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