Delivering a great customer experience has evolved from a nice-to-have to a business imperative. As more and more businesses have realized the value of a comprehensive customer experience (CX) program, investments in CX initiatives are on the rise—as is the role of CX leader.
To ensure they’re hiring top talent for the job, some companies look for formal certifications and credentials that set experienced CX professionals apart from the rest. One such certification is the CCXP. The CCXP was created to allow top customer experience professionals to receive a formal credential showing they have the expertise and accomplishments to be at the top of their industry.
Receiving a CCXP certification is no small task—but it’s highly valuable for CX employees. It can lead to additional job opportunities, open up leadership roles down the road, and provide a deeper base of knowledge in the customer experience field.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about becoming a CCXP—what it is, how it works, and how to pass your exam and maintain your certification once you’ve received it. Read on for all the details.
What is CCXP?
The Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) program is a customer experience certification program that lets the industry know you have high levels of knowledge and skills in the customer experience world. The CCXP program tests potential certification candidates on their knowledge of the six core customer experience (CX) competencies, which we’ll cover in more depth later in the article.
Basically, receiving the CCXP designation is a way of showing that you’re serious about customer experience and ready for a role that allows you to contribute to, or lead, improvements in the customer journey. The CCXP program is internationally recognized and puts you in an elite group of CX professionals.
If you’re working in the CX space, having this certification of your professional skills is very valuable. It can open up job opportunities at a leadership level and ready you to take on more responsibility at a higher level, with a deeper understanding of the customer experience.
While many organizations offer a certification when you complete their customer experience trainings, none are as unbiased or rigorous as the CCXP. It’s the only certification that not only attests you’ve completed the program, but also independently evaluates the skills and competencies you have in the CX field.
The Customer Experience Professionals Organization (CXPA) is a non-profit founded in 2011 for the advancement and cultivation of the CX profession and professionals. The customer experience strategy and management field is still relatively young, and the CXPA was founded to help it mature and to organize a system of professional accreditation.
Roles in the CX field are growing every year, and there are more professionals than ever who are responsible for improving various areas of the customer experience. The CXPA wants to help CX professionals ensure that customer experience management is a vital part of how their organizations operate. They also want to help CX pros develop and expand their customer experience skill set. And they also create networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities so everyone in the CX field can come together and get better at serving customers.
In creating the CCXP designation, the CXPA has set the standard for professional credentials in the customer experience world. They administer the CCXP exam, manage the recertification and continuing education process, and maintain the official online record of CCXPs worldwide.
The CCXP certification process is offered by the CXPA. The certification lasts for two years, and you pay to receive it ($495 for CXPA members and $645 for non-members). You need to apply to receive the CCXP credential, pass a rigorous exam, and maintain your certification by regularly attending CX events and continuing education.
The CCXP certification process is selective and thorough—it requires much more than just taking a couple easy online courses and printing your certificate. But if you’re wondering if the CCXP certification is worth it—all the studying and fees and time spent preparing—the resulting industry respect and recognition are certainly more than a just reward.
The CCXP process begins with your application to the program. As the first step of the application process, you’ll learn all about the CCXP program so you can ensure it’s a good fit for you. Next up comes the process of actually submitting the application to the program.
Not everyone is eligible for the CCXP designation. You must meet both education and experience requirements to apply for the program. To be eligible, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree (or postsecondary) and three years full-time CX experience with primary responsibilities that include engagement and experience in each of the following categories:
Organizational adoption and accountability
VoC, customer insight & understanding
Experience design & improvement
Metrics, measurement & ROI
Customer experience strategy
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can still apply for the program. You just need a high school diploma and five years of relevant CX experience.
Submitting the application and associated fees
To be considered for acceptance in the CCXP program, you must complete and submit an online application. It costs $150 to apply, and the application fee is non-refundable even if you are not accepted into the program. You also must pay the examination fee ($495 for CXPA members and $645 for non-members) when you submit your application.
Applications are reviewed and decisions are made within 7 to 15 days of submitting your application.
Scheduling the exam
If your application is approved, you’ll receive an email with instructions on registering for the CCXP exam. Then you can go select the date, time, and place you’d like to take your exam. Once your application is approved, you have six months to take the exam.
You can retake the exam two more times within the six-month period if you don’t pass it on the first try, but you’ll need to pay an exam retake fee ($199 for CXPA members, $349 for non-members). If you fail three times, you’ll need to resubmit your application and pay the fees again to have another chance at taking the exam.
Once you’ve scheduled your exam date, you’ll receive an emailed letter from the CXPA with all the information you need, like your examinee ID and passcode. You need to bring a printed copy of this letter to your exam, so don’t forget that the day of.
The CCXP exam is quite rigorous. It is only offered in English, and you must complete it within three hours. In order to pass, you need a score of 80% or above. You’ll get your score as well as a diagnostic performance report right at the exam site, which will highlight areas for improvement if you didn’t pass so you can study better the next time.
The exam consists of 100 questions, all related to the six core CX competencies (covered in much more detail below). It’s a closed-book test, meaning that no outside materials or help are allowed. You must rely entirely on your own knowledge. There is a brief tutorial at the beginning of the exam to get you comfortable with the exam software, and you can also take a tutorial before the test to get accustomed to it.
The CCXP exam is taken on a computer, but you can’t take it on your personal computer because of security concerns. Instead, you’ll need to head to a Prometric or ISO-Quality Testing site to take the exam. They have over 900 locations across the US, Canada, and across the globe, so finding a location for the exam shouldn’t be too challenging. You can also take the exam at some CXPA events as well.
If you pass your exam, you’ll get an official electronic certificate of your CCXP designation within two weeks. Once you’ve received it, you can start using the title and everything else that goes along with your new certificate. And you can certainly celebrate as well—passing this exam is no small feat!
Preparing for the CCXP exam
With a test as challenging as this one, CCXP exam preparation is absolutely vital. However, finding study materials for the exam can be difficult. Since this isn’t a widely-taken test (there are only about 700 CCXPs worldwide), it can be tough to know exactly how to prepare.
First, you should know about the six competencies that the CCXP exam tests for. Each area encompasses job tasks that you should be educated about, and skills, abilities, and knowledge in each area as well.
This competency is all about creating a culture that centers around customers and their needs, instead of business priorities. You’ll need to know about how to create and nurture a customer-centric culture, as well as behaviors, best practices, and standards that encourage every employee to deliver excellent customer experiences.
Some of the job tasks include increasing employee engagement, developing communication strategies about the importance of CX for employees, and collecting and sharing stories of CX excellence. And the performance domain for customer-centricity includes competencies such as internal and external communication, reward and recognition strategies, and the ability to align employee behavior with a customer-focused culture.
Organizational adoption & accountability
Shifting an organization from a focus on business priorities to one centered around the customer requires a big shift. This competency area tests your ability to drive adoption of new culture and standards, as well as how to hold everyone accountable for the results from the executive suite to front-line employees.
The job tasks you’ll be tested on here include how to align business goals with a customer-focused culture, introducing new processes and tools to improve the customer experience, and reviewing CX metrics and feedback at all organizational levels. Competencies include leadership and change management, collaboration and influencing skills, and the ability to recommend initiatives based on customer data.
VoC, customer insight & understanding
A critical part of customer centricity is building a strong Voice of the Customer (VoC) program created around understanding and gaining insight from your customers. Capturing and analyzing VOC feedback will help you and your organization understand customers’ desires, needs, perceptions, pain points, and preferences.
Job tasks to be tested here include designing and implementing VoC feedback programs, identifying and mapping customer touchpoints, and gathering feedback from employees about the customer experience and the places where improvement is possible. The competencies to be tested include VoC analytical methods and tools, qualitative and quantitative research methods, and the different approaches to measuring customer experience metrics like Net Promoter Score.
Experience design & improvement
Knowing about customer experiences and gathering feedback is just where the CX magic begins—you also need to know how to design great customer experiences and improve ones that are lacking. This competency area tests you on implementing practices and approaches to continuously design, improve, and differentiate your customer experiences.
Job tasks to be tested include using design thinking to engage customers and employees in creating improved or enhanced experiences, using customer journey mapping, and using customer insights to understand and prioritize opportunities for improvements. Competencies include process improvement methods, driving action and execution on key CX improvements, and driving customer-centered design and innovation.
Metrics, measurement & ROI
Once your customer-centric activities and changes are in place, you’ll need to regularly review how those changes are performing and identify what’s working well and what’s not. This portion of the exam tests creation and reporting of CX measures, including their use in key business cases to provide the ROI and business value of CX.
Tested job tasks include identifying key CX metrics for tracking CX, developing infrastructure and mechanisms to gather CX data, and analyzing and interpreting results to identify trends and customer insights. Competencies include Net Promoter Score and methodology, CX data mining and analysis, and strategies to communicate metrics and ROI with employees and stakeholders.
Customer experience strategy
An exceptional customer experience is driven by a strong CX strategy. The final part of the exam tests if you’re ready to develop a strategy that articulates a clear vision of the customer experience you’re seeking to create, and how closely it aligns to brand values and linkage to CX activities.
Job tasks include defining a CX strategy that accurately describes the intended experience and communicating with and engaging employees at every level of the organization in the elements of CX strategy. Competencies include the development of branded customer experiences, CX best practices across industries, and the ability to engage the executives at your organization in CX design strategy and execution.
CCXP exam prep
The categories above are just a taste of everything that’s included on the test. As part of your exam prep, you should carefully review the job tasks and competencies in the CCXP Candidate Handbook for a thorough overview of testing areas and categories.
Maintaining your CCXP status
Once you have passed your CCXP exam and received your certification, it’s good for two years. In order to maintain your active certification, you need to complete at least 20 hours of professional development units (also known as CEUs) every two years.
There are several different options for getting these CEUs to maintain your certification. You can choose which ones you prefer, but you can’t submit more than 10 CEUs from one category. CEUs can be accumulated any time within the two years after you receive your certification, but you can’t roll them over into the following certificate maintenance period.
Attending programs directly related to the CCXP exam materials, such as webinars, training courses, and seminars counts towards your CEUs. You will need to present a letter of attendance, certificate, or agenda for the event to qualify.
Speaking or presenting at webinars, training courses, and conferences on topics related to developing CX knowledge and competencies will also earn you CEUs. You will need to present a letter of attendance, certificate, or agenda for the event to qualify.
Completing an academic course related to CX is another way to get your CEUs, as long as the course is taken for degree credit. You can also get credit for teaching a college course related to CX. One hour of degree credit in a typical 15-week semester earns 15 CEUs, while a 10-week quarter earns you 10 CEUs.
Contributing your knowledge and time to the CXPA network also counts towards your CEUs. You can get credit for participating on CXPA committees, preparing CX white papers, and presenting educational webinars.
If you want to prove that you’re a highly experienced, knowledgeable, passionate customer experience expert, getting your CCXP certification is a powerful way to show your organization and the CX industry what you know.
If you’re interested in learning more about customer experience best practices or need help studying for the CCXP exam, don’t miss the extensive free resources from GetFeedback on everything CX-related.