BOSTON — Stephen Powers and a colleague grabbed breakfast the morning of a business conference in Las Vegas. They were dressed in casual business attire. The waitress offered them coffee and orange juice.

Two young men walked into the same dining room, dressed in night-club-like gear and looking as if they hadn't slept yet. The waitress offered them a Bloody Mary.

Technology didn’t matter. She used a little intuition to determine her customer’s needs.

Tech: Not Always the Answer

For Powers, vice president and research director of Forrester Research, this was one great example of strong customer experience — without, that is, reliance on technology. Powers spoke during the keynote Tuesday at the Gilbane Conference at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel.

“Customer experience is not just about technology,” Powers said. “Vendors talk about customer experience management, but what they really have is technology to support customer experience management. Technology can support, but not necessarily replace, customer experience management.”

Avoid Interaction Overload

Managing customer experience is not about dredging up millions and millions of interactions through multiple channels and trying to capitalize on them. Think marketing automation. Think holistic design and approach.

Know Where Data Exists

Customer experience is not just about managing big data, Powers said. Too many organizations think managing big data is about getting everything into one system.

But the data for these experiences exists in a “bunch of different experiences.” CMS, CRM, contact centers, search logs. It’s not about managing big data, per se, as it is about aggregating and leveraging that data and making data available.

Learning Opportunities

No One is Perfect

Finally, Powers said organizations have to recognize that everything can’t be a win, all the time. “It’s not about perfection,” he said. “It’s about gradual progression.”

Powers also told this week’s Gilbane attendees that contextualizing experiences is important, too. It’s kind of the theme we’re hearing all week.

Not how much content are you producing to your customers. But what kind of content.

And this happens, many have said this week, only for organizations without silos.

Marketing must meet technology — just as Christine Polewarczyk, senior director of global marketing at SDL, told an audience during her presentation this morning.

It’s about knowing your customers, even if you are not using technologies, just like the Las Vegas waitress showed.