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  • Stephanie Thum, CCXP

5 Academic Articles For Your Customer Experience Professional Development Reading List

Updated: Sep 24


Blogs, books, and podcasts are great for staying sharp on the latest trends in customer experience (CX). But academic literature on customer experience can add credibility to the talk tracks you're using with colleagues about the work you’re trying to get done.


I recently started integrating more scholarly readings on CX into my work. The academic literature has grown exponentially over the past two decades, and even faster the past few years. Here are five journal articles that really turned my head in recent months. See if you think they might be worth putting into your reading cue.


A Phenomenological Study of Customer Disvalue


Source: The Iranian Journal of Management Studies, Volume 13, No. 3, Summer 2020, pages 367-390.


Faster, easier, and less expensive experiences create value for customers. But what factors lead to the reverse phenomenon—disvalue? Disvalue is a separate, deeper phenomenon than customer dissatisfaction. Disvalue is about the lasting impressions customers have of doing business with a company that just really lets them down. This study describes disvalue phenomena and hints at how customers might deal with the situation, including protests, revenge, and telling others about their experience. (Free.)


Customer disvalue is a separate, deeper phenomenon than customer dissatisfaction.

Coronavirus as a Catalyst to Transform Consumer Policy and Enforcement


Source: Journal of Consumer Policy, Volume 43, June 2020, pages 451-461.


Customer consideration in policymaking is a newer topic in customer experience. This article is a timely companion read to the study on customer disvalue mentioned above. Author Christine Reifa hints at the causes of customer disvalue in extreme times, such as price gouging and refund problems experienced by many airline customers, for example, during the pandemic. It calls for businesses to embed fairness into the design of their customer policies from the outset, not offer it as a remedy when experiences go wrong. (Free.)


Companies should embed customer fairness into the design of their policies from the outset, not offer it as a remedy when experiences go wrong. -Christine Reifa

Design for Service Inclusion: Creating Inclusive Service Systems by 2050


Source: Journal of Service Management, Volume 29, No. 5, July 2018, pages 834-858.


Despite recent efforts by the business world to be inclusive of customers with disabilities, exclusion, bias, and discrimination are still problems. Service exclusion exists in cultures where employees treat marginalized or vulnerable customers in discriminatory or predatory ways, instead of with empathy or proactive service. This article calls attention to barriers to change, like the reality that the cost of lawsuits is still oftentimes less than the cost of change. It offers success strategies for improving experiences for all customers. (Free.)


Design Thinker Profile: Capabilities for Overcoming Barriers to Change


Source: Organizational Development Journal, Summer 2020, pages 27-34.


Negotiating change is a timeless, massive challenge for CX leaders. In this article, Dr. Dani Chesson talks about some of the natural characteristics design thinkers bring to the job of change management. She notes that many of these capabilities already exist among employees, but lie dormant, waiting to be discovered by leaders. Leaders should learn to recognize the talents of design thinkers, surface them, and then leverage their abilities to create and lead customer-centric change. (Free.)


Could intracompany, undiscovered design thinkers be the missing link in creating meaningful, lasting customer-centric change?

Moving the Customer Experience Field Forward: Introducing the Touchpoints, Context, Qualities (TCQ) Nomenclature


Source: Journal of Service Research, June 2, 2020, pages 1-23.


This article is a wonderful doozy! It indexes 143 customer experience papers and identifies some research gaps. What I liked most about this piece were the reflections on how the field and practice of customer experience now intersects with the world of data and data privacy. Some of the most important points in the piece have to do with the privacy-personalization paradox in customer experience, which is when customers must relinquish contextual data about themselves to receive personalized experiences. (Paywall.)


What is contextual customer data? How does it relate to creating personalized experiences? What are the customer data privacy implications?

Let's compare notes! Feel free to comment with some of the most helpful scholarly resources you have created, contributed to, or found helpful in your work. Meanwhile, check out Google Scholar to find more from the academic world on the field and practice of customer experience.


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