7 tips to obtain your CCXP from the first round

12.01.21 12:42 PM By Hans Vanderwegen

Leading life science actors are preparing to deploy customer experience management at global level, from the pharma industry to hospitals, pharmacy chains and patients. Journeys are being optimised by leveraging the latest innovations across many touch points. CX in life sciences includes the implementations of technologies such as: marketing automation, campaign management, HCP engagement platforms, patient review platforms, listening surveys, content marketing, social media, omni-channel management, IVRS, CPQ, AI, conference management, to just name a few.

Building patient and customer centric organisations is much more than just implementing new technologies. In fact, technology is the easy part of CXM if you really intend to put patients first. As many life science leaders working in the field of customer experience start to understand this, organisations have a strong interest to ensure their teams obtain CCXP certification. This post shares some lessons learned and tips from the process I have followed. 

This article is for those that are planning to take the exam in 2021. I personally lacked a good overview of the steps to follow, and therefore decided to share my experiences with you. Maybe you can learn from them and also pass in the first round? Let me know your feedback ! All new tips are welcome.

There is a whole list of people that I would like to thank for coaching me, and I refer them in my tips below. For those that missed my introduction to this, click here for more background on the Customer Experience Professionals Association and the Certified Customer Experience Professional.

#1-Don’t underestimate CCXP and re-set your expectations

Let's be clear upfront: obtaining your CCXP is difficult. You might need several runs to pass the exam. Do not underestimate the efforts required to pass the exam. First of all, the CXPA needs to accept your application file. This requires you to demonstrate your current experience in this field and requires you to be active in CX for a number of years. Before you consider to submit your application, take the time to read more on the areas covered by the CCXP and use this information during your application. Show to the evaluators what you have accomplished with some real solid business examples and link the examples to the CCXP categories. Take this application as a formal step and reflect what you have done during your career.

When your application is accepted, I advice you to become a member of CXPA. Start networking with those that have already obtained their certification. Network hard. Reach out. Ask for tips. You pick up something from everyone, and you have a great network to help you, so use it. You could attempt to take on the CCXP without membership, but I don't recommend this. Take the time and re-set your expectations on the efforts required to successfully obtain your certification. Assuming that you are able to quickly do this without, is a no-go and might lead to failing your first round.

#2-Re-master your CX basics and recap key concepts

Once you have mentally accepted the efforts required to succeed, start to assemble and re-collect what you have learned during your career in CX. You will need to master the following 6 areas: Customer-Centric Culture; Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight, and Understanding; Organizational Adoption and Accountability; Customer Experience Strategy; Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation; Measurements and ROI. Keep this structure in mind and link your content to these 6 areas. As most of you are already active in the field and or have obtained their master in marketing, I recommend to re-study again what you have learned. Make sure you re-master your basis. 

Personally, I obtained an MBA in marketing and innovation, with some fundamental CX courses included from some leaders in the field. So I did a refreshment of most of these courses. Another good source is study.com, the online learning platform. This platform contains 4 or 5 courses on the CX fundamentals, with some new concepts being explained in the form of easy to watch, educational videos. This platform allows you to nail down some basics when running the multiple practise exams that offer immediate feedback. The good thing is that it learns you that you need to achieve 80% to pas the exam as it follows the same approach after each module. The content is too light to succeed the exam, on the other hand some latest models are introduced. A good to fair basis to re-drill all basics, and definitely very efficient for a low cost. CXPA also has some master classes in the form of videos, but I didn't test out that option. I am sure it will prepare you well.

If you have no educational background on CX, another option is to take a master class with some CCXP professionals or recognised trainers. A great example is Ms. Nienke Bloem based in The Netherlands, and certified CXPA trainer. I personally did go back to my teachers from KU Leuven. In fact, I got really engaged in CX and digital marketing transformation, thanks to my professors, Mr. Yves Van Vaerenbergh, and Dr. Alea Fairchild. Yves also happens to set up his business in this area. For those in the Benelux, these are great sources to help you with re-mastering your basis and all CX concepts. There are many other CX master trainings out there, but my advice is to check on training credentials and certificates first before signing up on them. 

Of course, if you want specific life science oriented trainings, you can contact me and my company 4XSCIENCE as well :-) Happy to help.

#3-Conduct a deep dive on easy available content

When you believe to master the basics, I do recommend the following deep dive. Read two books: Outside In from Manning, Harley and Bodine, Kerry; and read the CCXP Exam Preparation from Bartlett, Michael. These books are key sources for the exam: they push you to get into the CCXP exam thinking modus and they ensure you to master the CX content in a more business oriented manner. 

If you are still assuming your basis to be strong enough and kind of neglected my first recommendation, this might be your first wake up call. I am sure you will get your first signal when filling in the 40 questions in Mike's book. You will not score as expected, and it is a warning on where you need to land during your preparations. Even with my quite recent marketing MBA and experience in CX, the thoroughness was simply not strong enough. How can companies and organisations really successfully adapt; how to lead organisations to embed CX; are elements you simple don't learn at college or in master courses.

You will now re-read Mike's book and be able to figure our the correct answers to his 40 questions, checking if your base is strong enough.

#4-Run the simulator and please don't quit

Your next step will be to run the CCXP Exam Simulator. You find the link here.

If you have well followed the previous 3 steps, you will run kind of "ok" on the simulator scoring. You might pass this exam. If you jumped into the simulator right away, you will come out a bit broken :-) To succeed the real exam you need to obtain a score of 80%. I personally passed and failed one exam in the simulator. I thought to be smarter, on top of it, and so just started with it. The tool brought me into the game of getting ready.

This exam simulator really learns you on how the questions in the CCXP exam are phrased, and more importantly how the CXPA approaches certain aspects e.g. strategy before operations, culture before processes. These are elements you can only learn by practising the exams and running over 200 questions under stress. Mike did find a way to set up some business leveraging from his experience from getting CCXP certified. Regardless of the score, this is the phase in which you need to continue. Running this simulation will tell you in which areas you have little or much work to do. Another website that I used, with some useful (but limited) questions is from Daniel Ord, from OmniTouch in Germany. You need to email him for details on the answers. 

Now, plan and book your assessment date in a period of 2-3 weeks and continue to prepare. Don't quit. Fix your gaps and work focussed to close out.

#5-Complement your deep dive

Your major achievement from tip 4 is on "how" the CXPA is asking questions - their style - their way of importance - their details - the verbs used - the reasoning behind. You also get used to the 3 hour exam sessions. Looks like a long time, but you need to learn that you have about 15 minutes for each row of 10 questions. Find your rhythm of success. And since you have now confirmed your exam date, there is no way back. 

Complement your deep dive with following actions: re-read the books Inside out, and the CCXP exam simulator. Two times. Next, complement these readings with Chief Customer Officer from Bliss, Jeanne; the Net Promotor System (several books), and then go back to some basics on CXM and CX from Smith and Wheeler. As CXPA member, also read the CXPA articles from Annette Franz that you find on the CXPA website. Her website also contains a list of useful insights in multiple aspects of the CX journey. These extra readings will help you to succeed.

These are the books from the CXPA board members, and obviously they are the source for the collecting the questions. Use them to fill in your last gaps.
#6-Go out, inspect and install 

A couple of days before the exam, I recommend you to go out, visit the exam location. If you go for the online assessment, install all software components needed for the examination. There are always some issues to fix. For example, I had to upgrade my MacBook to the latest OS and some other interesting issues that you don't want to handle the day or night before your exam. If you run the online version, do the checks, install what is needed, and expect some issues to be solved. Clean and empty your desk, the examinator is really following up on all conditions. 

Recap some of your key notes, re-run the simulator questions. Define your exam strategy and get mentally ready for success. 

#7-Relax and sharpen up 

Relax and sleep well the day before. Enjoy the session that will come. 

On the day itself, sharpen up to focus on the questions. Remember to think first strategy, then tactical, then operational. For each question, first eliminate two answers, and then select on how CXPA would decide. Sometimes it is different from what you would do in your job at your company. Remember that you have to think in the CXPA mindset.

Take question by question, and mark where you are in doubt. You need to complete 100 questions in 3 hours, and believe me, you will need the time. And most of all, enjoy it. I managed to achieve the 100% score on the areas customer-centric culture, and customer experience strategy. Maybe you can too?

That's it. Good luck to you. And kudos to those that helped me !

Hans Vanderwegen