I spent the last three weeks on Reserve status with the Air Force. It’s an exercise I anticipate and enjoy every year, but it inevitably gobbles up a lot of my time when it rolls around. As such, I’ve been a more passive observer on LinkedIn, Customer Think, CXPA, Twitter, and other forums in which I usually participate more actively. The experience has been enlightening this year as I deliberately went through a lot of articles I’d saved and only now got around to reading, followed up on some messages, and felt more free to drop in with comments here-and-there.

One thing I noticed lately is a trend. See if you can follow it based on a few examples I recall seeing recently:

Article: “The Office is officially dead…Why remote work is the new normal” (I’m paraphrasing the actual title of this article as I can’t seem to find it again)

Another Article: “If you’re not using chatbots, you’re failing” (Granted, this one was posted on…guess…the website of a company that sells chatbot services.)

A LinkedIn post: “Job listings should have salary range.” …Repeated six times. That was the whole post.  So emphatic!

Are we no longer conversing?

I write articles all the time that I know are not in line with the conventional thinking of CX, Process Engineering, and, well, business in general.  (My book, which is also in this vein, is coming out next month!  Please buy it…arguing with me about its content is optional.)  I’m not shy about stirring up a bit of controversy, and naturally, I think my opinions are correct—don’t pretend you don’t think so about your own!

But what’s with the proclamations?  I don’t shy away from defending my positions, that’s for sure.  And there’s nothing wrong with making your point boldly and forcefully.  I like to mix it up and enjoy the challenge of having to make my argument.  And yes, in the end, a lot of what I (and many others) put out there is meant to persuade readers to a certain way of thinking.

But this is quite the opposite, I think:  Many folks who say they are ‘contributing’ are really just declaring their opinions as though they’re edicts from On High.  There’s not much persuasion—let alone discussion—going on at all.  These declarations aren’t really adding to the conversation, it seems, as much as trying to end it.

And that’s a shame.

A huge part of what we do as Customer Experience leaders and practitioners is try to convince other business leaders of the importance of seeing things from a different perspective:  That of their Customers.  It’s a constant uphill battle to explain to the professionals who are responsible for (and generally, to their credit, do a great job of) running the parts of their businesses in which they’re the experts to pause, take a step back, and consider how their decisions impact their Customers.  It takes patience and persistence on our part to continue to explain the benefit of this alternative perspective.  For their part, we’re expecting them to be flexible, curious, and creative.  Most of all, we’re expecting them to come into the conversation with open minds:  They know everything about, say, finance or operations or supply chain.  It’s our obligation to introduce them to what may be a new perspective for them when we ask them to consider how the way it’s done impacts their Customers and the impression they have of the company’s Brand Promise.  That’s a big lift if, as an expert his whole career, someone’s being asked to take a totally different look at something he knows so well.

Isn’t it then, hypocritical of us to barrel in with a, “well, this is simply the way it’s supposed to be,” mentality?  They could very well take the same tone with us.  After all, we’re not experts in their fields.

I’m probably guilty of this as well…I’ve written and published over a hundred articles in the past year or so (and don’t forget that book!), so maybe we’ve all got some humble pie to eat.  None of us has all the answers, and we’ll get there together.  Well, maybe we’ll all end up in different places together, because there’s not really any one way to do it.  And that’s cool.  We’ll learn from each other along the way.

But only if we’re conversing.

So bark and yell about what you think is right and how things should be done, for sure…I know I’ll continue to do so.  But on behalf of those who are counting on us CX professionals to improve their businesses, let’s keep the conversation going!