Diane Magers has spent more than 20 years trying to share a truth that is at once obvious, but harder to execute: While customer experience (CX) is a key business differentiator, organizations struggle to understand that emotions and value for the customer are key differentiators.

Good customer experience is more than just charts, graphs and moving numbers in the right direction. “Customer experience is the customer’s perception of all the interaction they have with an organization and the value it creates for them. It is the emotions we evoke and our performance against their expectations over time that matters," she said.

Most recently with AT&T, Diane has worked in organizations of all sizes innovating, building and executing customer and employee engagement. In 2013, she launched Customer Experience Catalysts, which advises and guides organizations in CX strategy, planning, training, execution and measurement.

Through both her role at AT&T and her own work through Customer Experience Catalysts, she seeks to define and drive business value through improved customer experiences.

She is also a member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and currently serves as CXPA Chairman of the Board. She also parlays her background as a psychologist into her many roles in the CX community.

Magers pairs customer experience (CX), user experience (UX) and digital experience (DX), with a heavy focus on the human element.

While dashboards and analytics are important, she argues that organizations need to remember the most important variables in any equation are the customer’s emotions and resulting behaviors.

Customers are unpredictable, emotional and make decisions based on what’s in their best interest — and rarely think about the value of the organizations they frequent.

Known as an innovative and creative strategist, Magers will discuss her vision of customer-centricity at CMSWire's DX Summit this Nov. 14 through 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago.

We sat down with her recently to learn about her experience, her vision and her strategies for better digital customer experience.

Leveraging the Strengths of CX and DX

Walter: What is your message for the DX Summit?

Magers: I'll be discussing the need for a deep partnership between digital experience and customer experience. It’s really about leveraging the strength of both. Organizations are beginning to more holistically leverage understanding the power of human centered design. As CX professionals, we’ve taken a lot of the techniques like storyboarding or rapid prototyping and generalized them to more people in the organization. We’ve worked alongside the user experience and digital teams to help them understand the different channels involved in the customer journey. This leverages everyone’s strength and helps us design for the entire customer journey, not just one channel.

Walter: What does this DX-CX integration look like when it’s successful?

Magers: It is important to build and execute programs to drive changes in the culture to systematically embed CX and strategically drive CX innovation. We’re focused on design center thinking. We’re teaching those tools and techniques to everybody. We are not expecting them to be designers, but they certainly benefit from the thinking behind the skill sets. It’s helpful for people to have different ways to think about the customer. We’ve use and teach many insights, innovation and design approaches and techniques, like storyboarding and empathy mapping.

Journey mapping also provides a catalyst to customer experience change. This involves putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. We begin to see the customer in their daily life, what they are thinking and feeling and how we fit into their lives – not the other way around.

By having cross-functional teams participate in journey mapping, it also helps us build consensus and gives us the very valuable employee view and input. It really brings it to life and people feel like they own the experience and how they contribute to it. It helps them think about the human and their emotions on the other side of the experience. It’s easy to have just a product and operational focus. The thought is “Let’s build this product and we’ll find customers to use it.” Instead, let’s start with what the human needs and wants and build products and services around that. If you’re thinking about design and interaction, you should consider the customer needs - what they’re looking for, what value they are seeking from the brand (such as saving time, gaining social acceptance, quick and effortless interactions, psychological rewards).

We build many ways for everyone to get in the mind of the customer as we go about our daily work. So it’s putting the customer first. It’s not just thinking about them internally, their scores on surveys or the data about how they interact, but actually leading with the customer and their needs and wants.

Walter: How has digital experience changed in recent years?

Magers: The best part is it adds additional opportunities for deep engagement. It definitely adds another dimension to managing the experience. While we plan experiences, our goal is engagement. So the digital channels have added more and more ways for us to provide value to the customer, employees and partners. We see more companies doing deep investigation into human centered thinking and driving good business results from it.

Walter: Is the focus on design something that’s part of a larger trend?

Magers: This design approach is becoming much more common. It used to be customer experience was a survey and just what customers were telling us. It’s way more than that now. It’s about designing the behavior of the employer-employee engagement, how they provide experiences to the customer, how we partner with other brands. If I were to say to you “Southwest Airlines,” you have in your head very basic things you associate with that brand, like fair pricing and happy employees. So understanding people’s perceptions of a brand, how they see value from interactions with brands, and then trying to improve that perception and every interaction is very important.

Walter: What do you enjoy outside of work?

Magers: I’m an avid reader and an artist. All four of my children are artists. So we spend a lot of time painting, crafting, sketching, using photography, and being creative.

Walter: So you have an appreciation for creativity. How does this mesh with those who are more data-focused and process driven?

Magers: It’s a lot of story telling and building empathy from a personal perspective. I often ask people to tell me about a good or bad experience and then relate their story to what their brand does and how they are building experience (or not).

It's hard when you’re talking with people who look at charts graphs and getting them to move. I find myself reminding them the number on the page is a human being with feelings, emotions, and needs and wants just like theirs. I fervently believe brands that win focus on the human and emotional elements both for customers and employees.