bodybuilder in a superman shirt
DXS16 workshops showed attendees how to become DX heroes. PHOTO: skeeze

CHICAGO — The day before an event like CMSWire's DX Summit is a usually mix of anticipation, anxiety, excitement and trepidation. Will everything go right? Will attendees get all of the nuances of the keynote? Will they like the refreshments?

But as any industry event veteran knows, there is something else going on before the big day —  namely workshops, for those truly devoted to the craft. So just hours before the conference kicks off here at the Radisson Blu Aqua, dozens of early arrivals immersed themselves in strategies, technologies and deep insights about digital experience.

All of the sessions, many of which were sold out, can be classified together under the heading How To Be A DX hero.

'You Are Not Alone'

Diane Magers, chairman of the board of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) didn't waste time putting her group of attendees to work. She divided the room into two groups to identify the challenges associated with being a CX professional and set them to white-boarding their way into answers. 

The exercises revealed some interesting observations — the customer ecosystem, for instance, also includes employees and partners — and yes, sometimes the CEO does have to be cajoled into accepting that CX requires a distinct and official strategy, much like any other part of a company operation.

Another reason for the team-building exercise, Magers told me later, was to encourage participants to develop and build upon their identities as customer experience professionals. "I wanted to let them know 'you are not crazy, you are not alone,' when dealing with these issues," she said.

Follow the Data

Gerry McGovern, CEO of the Ireland-based Customer Carewords — one of DX Summit's keynote speakers — warned his group about the dangers of ignoring the little things. The forms that don't load, the shopping carts that are clunky, the address fields that fail to populate. 

The big vision stuff is grand, he said, but transforming that vision into a digital experience is not necessarily an intuitive process. "It is very dangerous to make decisions based on internal preferences or opinions," he said. As for surveys — forget about them. "When you ask people 'what do you want,' they don’t tell you the truth. That is a really bad strategy." Instead, he said, observe what they do and follow the data.

Seth Earley, founder and CEO of Earley Information Science and Steve Walker, practice leader of Experis: Global Content Solutions joined forces to walk their group through the customer life cycle. This journey, as was made clear as the discussion unfolded, is not some skip down a yellow brick road. 

The pathway, attendees agreed, is deceptively simple but contains very complex processes and technologies at each stage. Indeed, the technology alone can be a game-changer or game-killer depending on how old it is and Earley and Walker gave some good tips on how to navigate this and the related issues of integration.

Global Company, Local Experience 

Bruno Herrmann, director of Digital Globalization of The Nielsen Co., walked his group of brave souls through the process of internationalizing or globalizing content to deliver a consistent customer experience regardless of whether that consumer is Japanese or German or Canadian. I call the group brave because this is no easy task, as Herrmann himself said. 

"Making a local experience truly usable or actionable can be very difficult," he said. “It depends on local practices and local standards but also is a reflection of the aggregate data and insights." Herrmann offered great tips on tools that can help with the process, as well as a starting point for the overwhelmed.

And that was just a drive by of the morning workshops. Stay tuned for further dispatches about today's sessions. And of course, come back to hear what our speakers have to say when the conference actually starts.