Mara Bain

By Continuing Education

Normandale Community College Continuing Education and Western National have received 2015 CX Innovation Awards from SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) on 5.6.2015

CX: the Art and Science of the Customer Experience

When Mara Bain took the job as Western National Insurance Group's first Chief Experience Officer last year, she knew it would be like no other position she had ever held. Describing herself as a "recovering accountant," she also knew that her finance background would transfer well to the new field of Customer Experience (CX). As Mara explains, "one of the things that has impressed me about the field of Customer Experience is the wide variety of backgrounds of people attracted to the discipline. Whether professionals come from a marketing, research, analytics, technology, finance or operations background, it is fun to see our common passion for our customers and the advancement of the profession."

Customer Experience: A Growing Field

Customer Experience differs from traditional customer service. It  represents every touchpoint a customer has with an organization, from the website to personal interactions.

Unbeknownst to Mara as she made her transition, Normandale was also exploring this new field. Together, Normandale and Western National applied for a Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant to develop key courses and training tools that both could use to launch their Customer Experience initiatives.

Customer Experience: Making an Impact

Measuring CX is a key part of this growing field. Watermark Consulting calculated the stock performance of companies considered CX leaders versus CX laggards and found that over a five year period, the performance of leaders soared 43 percent while that of laggards dropped 34 percent.

The gap can be attributed to many factors, including increased loyalty and decreased cost of doing business, but equally important is the internal factor of employee engagement. As Mara explains, "When you identify, measure, and improve upon key customer interactions, everyone in the company becomes more confident in their abilities to deliver meaningful customer experiences that generate real growth."

Customer Experience: A Fit for Western National
Members of the Western National CX Advisory Team.Long known for excellent customer service, this successful Edina-based regional property and casualty insurance company decided upon the CX initiative in order to create a consistently excellent experience at every "moment that matters." Mara explains that CX is a great fit at Western National because, "we have a long history of strong relationships and a reputation for providing high quality service. We plan to build upon and further strengthen our tagline 'The Relationship Company' as part of this effort. This core element of our brand is a source of competitiveness in the marketplace, leading us to invest further in the customer experience."

Customer Experience: Getting Started

The CX professional often assumes a C level title such as Chief Customer Officer, revealing how critical customer insight is to achieving sustainable growth.

As a result of this partnership and grant, Normandale is developing courses, coaching and consulting in areas like Customer Journey Mapping, User-Centered Design and
Customer Experience Metrics. Normandale is excited to work with Jim Tincher as our lead instructor. Jim has decades of experience in product development and research, and is at the forefront of the CX field. Jim is interested in this project because of the opportunity to build momentum and critical skills in a fast-growing field. Jim says, "If we can teach the ability to use research and create a passion around a shared vision, we will advance the core elements fueling CX success."

If your organization has a challenge or opportunity that might benefit from a similar grant or custom training program, please call us at 952-358-8343 or e-mail

Mara Bain