For me, it was the aha moment of the day.

Nine hours of great talk about digital experience, including e-commerce and web content management systems, had passed. It all came together in the final hour hour at last Thursday's Hippo.Connect Boston conference.

Who should own the customer experience, moderator Arje Cahn of Hippo, an Amsterdam-based, open-source Web CMS provider, asked a panel that included yours truly.

“The customer. I want to give my own preferences," said Jeroen van Rotterdam, chief technology officer and vice president of engineering for EMC’s enterprise content division.

(Editor's Note: CMSWire will continue the discussion of digital customer experience at the DX Summit 2015 conference on Nov. 3 and 4 in Chicago.)

Marketers in the Mix

Makes sense, right? 

All roads in the digital customer experience journey should lead to the customer. 

For the record, my answer was marketing. When Cahn asked the question, my thoughts went to the enterprise challenge. Who should own the digital customer experience from the inside? Marketers or IT?

Marketers should orchestrate the digital experience for customers, I told the audience at the Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Somerville, Mass., the scene of Hippo's first US conference. They understand how to capture and communicate with channel-hopping customers.

Do you want a sales agent responding to an angry tweet, I asked the audience. No. I want someone with marketing savvy, someone who is a staunch brand defender ... someone who can articulate a consistent brand voice through multiple channels.

Someone who understands how the evolution of customer experience through digital channels has opened up opportunities for everything from personalization and engagement to analytical insight and unparalleled insight.

But van Rotterdam was right. Customers should control that digital journey. They’re the pilots in the digital experience sky. Marketers are in the control panel relaying signals and crafting a smooth flight.

All of us are trying to get the most out of this new world of digital experience.

Understanding DX

headshot of arje cahn, cto of Hippo

Customer experience is the foundation of digital experience. As Cahn said in a conversation with CMSWire, it “drives everything.”

“From there,” he added, “you go a little deeper, and the subset of the customer experience is the digital experience, which has expanded. There are more and more digital touchpoints every day. But then from digital experience you can go down to the web experience which is a subset of digital experience. It’s all connected. You can’t do one without the other effectively.”

So how do you define digital experience?

Jerry Hill, chief technology officer for Authx, a Richmond, Va. digital consulting firm, defined it as a personal, emotional reaction to your digital assets, websites, mobile apps, social channels and other touchpoints.

headshot of jerry hill at authxCustomers have what Hill described as “gut responses” to these things.

“That person isn’t necessarily always in control with their emotional reaction to those things,” Hill said. “So for me that’s what digital experience is really all about — that personal, emotional reaction someone’s going to have with your assets.”

In-Person Experience

So what kind of reactions should enterprises be looking for? Think of it, Hill told me, the same way we deal with people in face-to-face interactions.

“When I’m having a conversation with an individual I understand what I need to do to connect, get past the emotion and get to the meat and the meaning,” Hill said.

In the digital world, this means use a platform that allows you to have that conversation. Use data. Listen to customers to tune your message and take steps to “get the customer happy and excited about what they’re doing.”

Once you’re there, the data and content that you’re trying to have them look at can actually be discussed.

“Without that emotional connection,” Hill said, “they’re ignoring your message.”

If you'd like to learn more about digital experience, attend the DX Summit in Chicago on November 3 and 4. Find out more here.

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