Your No-Nonsense Game Plan for CX Career Growth

By Stephanie Thum, CCXP


Want to score your next big CX role? Chris Rios has a no-nonsense game plan for you.

Last year just before global Customer Experience Day, I had a chance to sit down with Chris Rios and talk about career paths for CX pros in this CXPA webinar. Chris is the CX practice leader and founding partner of Blue Rock Search. He’s a former Executive Chef who joined the world of executive recruiting 11 years ago, and he has quickly become one of the most sought-after and admired executive recruiters for the profession.

Last year’s webinar and my follow-up blog post got a lot of attention in the CX community, so I thought I’d nudge Chris for an update chat this year. Unfortunately, our schedules wouldn’t allow for a webinar recording, but I did get to engage with Chris via e-mail for some updates on what career opportunities are looking like these days for CX pros. Here are some highlights from our e-mails.


Stephanie: Chris, last year in the lead-up to CX Day, we talked in a webinar about the changing landscape in the availability of senior-level roles for customer experience (CX) pros. How have things changed since we last spoke?

Chris: There’s bad news and not-so-good news. The bad news is Chief Experience Officer roles—the ones that could have transformative power for an organization—aren’t as plentiful as one might hope. The not-so-good news is, we’re seeing an upswing in the number of roles that touch parts of the discipline of CX, but don’t carry the name. That includes roles like user experience, customer success, innovation, and business intelligence.

I call this “not-so-good news” because it means companies are still shying away from comprehensive customer experience transformation. Job descriptions have become less focused on pure customer experience and more focused on non-CX focused agendas–they are hybrid roles that incorporate another functional need. One example is customer service versus customer experience. Customer service, as important as it may be in some companies, is still just one aspect of a comprehensive CX strategy.

Stephanie: CX pros are always looking for tips on how to be better. What are your top tips to new CX folks when it comes to being a top performer?

Chris: That’s an important question. I find that there is a definite discrepancy between those who have been doing the CX work for a long time, and the up-and-comers who simply love the discipline of CX but aren’t seasoned enough yet to make an impact at the highest levels. Some of my recommendations:

  1. Brush up on your empathy. Over time, frustration sets in when budgets are cut, you lose your job when your primary champion quits or retires, or you didn’t anticipate the downturn in the economy. How strong are you to weather difficult times? How confident are you to inspire a continuous focus on customer-centricity even when the revenue doesn’t support your efforts yet?
  2. Get an MBA degree, or some continuous education in business. You need to have demonstrable business skills and knowledge to support your efforts.
  3. Get your Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) credential. The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) has become the true beacon for the CX profession. Eventually, the CCXP will become a requirement for CX jobs that hold any level of seniority.
  4. Become more tech savvy. Technology is changing rapidly. With faster technology comes faster customer feedback. How will you keep up? Think about taking classes on agile business methodologies.
  5. Brush up your resume and LinkedIn profile. Of course, these should reflect who you are. But they should also include language that will be understood by internal CRMs. We are in a highly technological society. Internal talent acquisition teams are relying more and more on artificial intelligence.
  6. Get a mentor and/or coach–not only in CX, but also a career coach. They can help you navigate what to expect in the coming years.

Stephanie: Now, let’s zero in on the career mature CX professional—the folks who have been around for 10-15 years blazing trails, creating “firsts,” and really helping to transform businesses and government entities via the discipline of CX. How can the career mature CX professional continue to grow? What types of roles should they be open to?

Chris: Hybrid operations and/or HR roles are really coming into vogue now. These other functions help solidify CX as a function. Learn what it takes to be in those functions and master it. As a CX professional, this shouldn’t be too difficult. In HR, your focus is about the employee experience. Learn about employee engagement, performance management, succession planning, and learning and development.

Stephanie: Last question. What superpower is most in demand now?

Hmm…this is an interesting one. I would say your ability to help others achieve their goals. After all, we are in the customer business. View your internal colleagues as low-hanging fruit. Build relationships, find out how you can help them achieve their goals, make it easier for them to do their jobs, and ultimately they will remember how you made them feel. Empathy without action is nothing. Helping people achieve their goals is the superpower in demand now.

Thanks to Chris, as always, for his generous insights and time.

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