How Bruce Temkin shaped the CX profession - and how he’s doing the same for XM
Bruce Temkin is known as the ‘Godfather of CX’.
For over 20 years he has been a central figure in the world of CX, from his influential thought leadership at Forrester through to founding the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) in 2011.
Today, he heads up the XM InstituteTM at Qualtrics, with the goal of making it the world’s premier center of excellence for all things experience management.
Qualtrics recently had the pleasure of speaking with Bruce about his time working in CX, including the early days, his time at GE and Forrester, and why he founded the Temkin Group and CXPA.
On the start of his lifelong CX journey
I started my career as an engineer building submarine missile systems. But my CX journey probably began at my second job out of college. I was a program manager for a company that made submarine sub-systems, leading multi-disciplinary teams to deliver projects that spanned engineering, manufacturing, quality control, and client management.
I learned about the complex relationships that exist within organisations – the give and take that occurs between different departments, and the incredible opportunities that exist for an organisation that starts working as one team.
It became clear to me that success often came down to activities that no one clearly owned. I really enjoyed driving cooperation across different groups, and was able to increase my company’s profitability. This experience established my view of organisations as production systems; they can only deliver consistently good outputs when they are running well internally.
While this may not sound like CX, it was an important foundation for all of my eventual work in experience management.
On becoming Forrester's most read analyst
After leading a couple of Dotcom startups, I joined Forrester Research where I stayed for almost 12 years. I first ran their B2B research department and was focused on the impact of the internet on supply chains and distribution channels. I was responsible for all of our projections for the B2B Internet economy. It was an exciting time, as we were helping the world understand how the internet would impact business relationships.
After that, I ran several parts of the research organisation, including the financial services, CRM, eBusiness, and customer experience groups. I expanded the CX focus beyond user experience to enterprise-wide topics, such as voice of customer programs.
One of my biggest takeaway from working at Forrester is that people really crave simple models that explain complex things. I honed my skills at simplification and storytelling – which led to me being Forrester’s most-read analyst for 13 consecutive quarters.
On setting up the Temkin Group
In 2010, my wife Karen and I launched Temkin Group. At the time, we saw a huge opportunity to help large organisations transform how they operate to deliver better CX.
One of the foundational principles of Temkin Group was that the CX you deliver is a reflection of your culture and operating processes. Who you are externally is a manifestation of how you operate internally – if you have jumbled processes, mixed-up reporting lines, and a culture of blame, then there’s no way you’ll be able to consistently deliver great CX. Our work focused on helping large organisations create and sustain great CX.
I’m very proud of the thought leadership content we produced and the extent to which it was adopted around the world. At every event I go to, I meet people who tell me that their CX program was based on something they learned from Temkin Group, which is always fantastic to hear.
On launching the CXPA
My wife Karen and I started to design the CXPA when we serendipitously met someone who ran a company that handles back office operations for associations. It was truly fate that we met.
This company provided us with the guidance we needed to establish the CXPA, and they also provided us with all of the operational capabilities that we had no interest in setting up on our own.
For CX to thrive, it needed a community of professionals. So we designed the CXPA as a non-profit professional association that was dedicated to helping CX professionals succeed. The profession needed a single voice that would advocate for its growth.
In order to sustain the CX movement, we had to start with a common language, share best practice, and make sure vendors understood that it was in their long-term interest to help the CXPA make practitioners successful. I still remember our first large event – the CXPA’s Insight Exchange – where I told everyone that we all needed to start using the acronym “CX” to describe customer experience.
On the future of CX
The growth of the CX profession over the last 5+ years has been remarkable. Firstly, companies are actually hiring CX people – that didn’t happen before.
Secondly, individuals view themselves as CX professionals, and they’re proud of it. This was a critical step for sustaining the profession. Once we had people self-identifying as CX professionals, they became much more interested in helping other CX professionals – even those who worked in other companies.
I’m so very proud of the cooperation and collaboration we’ve seen from CX professionals around the world.
On joining forces with Qualtrics and the XM Institute
We were pretty familiar with Qualtrics, since most of the vendors in the space were clients of Temkin Group. So we had a first-hand view of Qualtrics entering the CX space and then becoming the dominant player.
After X4 in 2018, my wife and I spoke with Ryan Smith about working more closely together. Temkin Group was an independent consultancy that worked with all technology vendors – so we either had to become a part of Qualtrics or remain completely independent. There was no middle ground.
In October we decided to join forces, and Qualtrics acquired Temkin Group. The entire Temkin Group team came with us to create the Qualtrics XM Institute. In many ways, we have the same goals as before: create easy-to-consume content and training that helps organisations achieve XMTM success. As we did with CX, we’re working on developing a common language and a robust set of frameworks for operationalising XM.
We’re really excited to be a part of Qualtrics. And now that Qualtrics has joined forces with SAP there’s an even larger community of employees, partners, and XM practitioners who need to come together and drive the industry forward.
Qualtrics is the technology platform that organisations use to collect, manage, and act on experience data, also called X-data™. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action, used by teams, departments, and entire organisations to manage the four core experiences of business—customer, product, employee and brand—on one platform. Over 10,000 enterprises worldwide, including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 U.S. business schools, rely on Qualtrics to consistently build products that people love, create more loyal customers, develop a phenomenal employee culture, and build iconic brands.
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