little girl dressed as wonder woman walking through grass
PHOTO: Gabriela Braga

What makes someone a standout customer experience (CX) professional?

Education and experience? Career accomplishments and accolades? The level of passion for their work? 

The answer may be different for everyone, but across the board, rockstar CX pros possess specific key qualities. Whether these attributes come naturally or are cultivated over time, CX professionals can step up their game and ensure they’re performing at a high level by adopting the practices below. 

They’re Endlessly Curious

Effective CX pros are constantly looking for opportunities to better understand their customers’ needs, behaviors and motivations. It’s this genuine curiosity that enables them to design products and services that hit the mark. 

Asking questions and seeking a specific answer, or inquiring just to close the loop and move forward doesn’t cut it. CX professionals need to think outside of the box and shouldn’t be afraid to wander a bit in their quest to understand customers. In fact, Jeff Bezos attributes this willingness to wander — and ask questions without too much focus on the end goal — to Amazon’s massive success. Creating innovative solutions is very rarely a linear process. 

Related Article: Why Curiosity Is the Key to Business Transformation

They Listen Openly

Once a question has been asked, listening openly and without bias is essential. It is also easier said than done. Confirmation bias — the tendency to favor evidence that confirms existing beliefs, while ignoring facts that refute it — is one of the most common proclivities in human nature

CX pros are aware of their preconceived notions and how they impact listening. They make a conscious effort not to categorize what they’re hearing or draw hasty conclusions. Instead, they look at the bigger picture and listen for the underlying needs and motivations behind what customers are saying. 

Related Article: B2B Customer Experience Fundamentals: Listening

They’re Exceptional Storytellers

Storytelling is an integral part of the human experience dating back nearly 30,000 years. Today, it looks different than the ancient cave drawings of Lascaux and Chavaux, but it remains just as important. CX pros know that people can relate to humans more than they can relate to data. 

Take the customer of a banking app, for example. This customer lives in a cold climate and winter is approaching. Between heating bills and other upcoming expenses, they won’t have enough money in their savings to purchase a new winter coat for their child. Then, imagine the data that reflects this person’s circumstances — for example, “60% of customers don’t have sufficient savings” — pasted into a pie chart. Which are you more likely to remember? 

Hearing about real, human experiences will always have a more significant impact than simply viewing data.

Related Article: The Power of Storytelling

They Don’t Silo Themselves

CX teams tend at times to be siloed from the rest of the company. This acts as a roadblock to building a truly customer-centric culture. 

CX pros understand the importance of collaboration and partnering with other teams to accomplish goals. They take an active interest in what other teams are working on, what they’re curious about, what they need help with, etc. By truly partnering with the  rest of the company, their knowledge and expertise can help other parts of the business and vice versa. 

Related Article: The Customer Experience Hierarchy

They’re Always Campaigning for Customers

Anytime CX pros learn something new and important about customers, they make a point to share it throughout the company. Since CX teams are working directly with customers (whereas other teams may be more removed) it’s their responsibility to educate others and campaign for customer needs. 

This can be accomplished by using storytelling versus presenting teams with raw data that may not be as easy to digest or remember. CX teams can also share new customer insights during all-hands meetings so that everyone within the organization walks away having learned something new. 

They Connect CX Back to the Business

Perhaps most importantly, CX pros can always tie their customer experience initiatives back to the business. They can show how what they’re working on positively impacts top-line growth, cost savings, efficiency, getting to market and innovation. 

Let’s revisit the example about the winter coat. Why does the finding that 60% of customers don’t have sufficient savings matter to the business? What does it reveal about customers? And how does it shape strategy? Connecting customer data and CX initiatives back to the company’s goals and bottom line is key. 

Customer expectations are at an all-time high, and the need to innovate and strengthen brand loyalty is ever growing. CX pros who embody these traits can expect to see positive outcomes for both customers and the business alike.