Carmen Simon on stage at the Radisson Blu Aqua for the CMSWire DX Summit 2018 conference.
Carmen Simon on stage at the Radisson Blu Aqua for the CMSWire DX Summit 2018 conference.

CHICAGO — About 400 attendees came to the fourth annual DX Summit this week in Chicago to learn the latest strategies and technology trends in digital customer experience. Speakers at the event shared lessons on neuroscience activity and how the brain influences experiences. They cited digital transformation case studies from brands like the New York Times, Comcast and Bank of America. In addition, they held workshops on selecting the right digital experience technology and creating user-driven experiences.

One of the best examples of great customer experience came from the hotel in which the conference took place:

"We always strive to meet guest requests, make their experience special and memorable," Alana "Jael" Scott, director of the front office for the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago, told CMSWire. "We are all here to ensure complete excellence. The Radisson Blu Chicago team has pride, character and most of all the ability to take care of every single guest who we have the pleasure of servicing."

While Jeff got his customer wishes granted, DX Summit attendees collected some more best practices on serving their customers. Here are some of the key lessons from the conference: 

(Editor’s note: Simpler Media Group, the publisher of CMSWire.com, runs this conference).

GDPR: It’s Made Us Better at Customer Experience

Digital customer experience professionals are coping with challenges stemming from strict data privacy regulations that empower the rights of prospects and customers — namely GDPR

Brice Dunwoodie, publisher and CEO of Simpler Media, opened the conference by saying the evolution of these privacy regulations is a good thing for marketers and customer experience professionals. 

“Some people may hate me for saying this, but I actually believe that GDPR is our best friend, or the spirit of GDPR is our best friend,” Dunwoodie told the audience. “In many ways, we've been hearing about customer experience and investing in customer experience, the customer is right and the customer is first. GDPR has given us the license to actually invest in that to change our culture and to justify our projects that are actually focused on the customer. I think it's super important, and it's not alone,” Dunwoodie said, citing privacy legislation in Brazil, California and Colorado

He also encouraged the audience to ask three questions as they begin to craft their customer experience programs in 2019:

  • What does the next generation of customer experience look like?
  • How can we use customer voice instead of spying or inference to get there?
  • Is your organization striking the right balance?
Related Article: Customer Analytics Under GDPR: What Customers Need to Know

Span Beyond Knowing Your Customers

Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter @ Prophet, encouraged attendees to ensure they're delivering value, insight and assistance. Knowing who they are isn't enough. “It's helping them in moments when everyone else is literally trying to manipulate them,” Solis said. “... Your brand, every brand, isn't just what you say about you. It's what other people feel. It's what other people experience. It’s what they share that informs strangers in your direction or away from it.”

Challenge your own conventions, your own beliefs, your own vision of what an experience should be, Solis said, because experience is “definitely not going away in 2019.” Experience will become more and more prominent, he added. “As human beings we have an experience,” Solis said. “It is just an emotional reaction to a moment and we feel that it's great, we feel that it sucks. Whatever it is, we feel it. And those experiences can become memories.”

Solis cited a Netherlands town that installed crosslights on the ground so that those texting can know when not to walk and when to proceed across the street. “If a city has to redesign a crosswalk,” Solis said, “I pretty much can assure you that all of our transactions can be reimagined and we can find new KPIs and metrics that don't just deliver customer value, they actually tie to business growth because the nice thing about delivering value is that people feel reciprocity. It's an age old thing that when you feel value, you feel like you can return value to the person giving it to you.”

Related Article: Survival of the Fittest: A Look at Customer Experience Evolution

Tell Senior Leaders: We Need to Move

If your digital transformation projects stall, tell somebody. That was the message from Barbara Lehman, executive director of digital transformation at Comcast. Lehman told attendees that Comcast wanted to move from pushing customers away from phone interactions into digital channels. However, one of its pilots took 10 months to execute. “We went and reported [this] to senior executives, and we said we're not going to be able to stay competitive if it's going to take us 10 months to make a minor change in the way we interact with our customers,” Lehman said.

That, she said, was the tipping point for where Comcast started to really move into organizational agility and knowing what it needed to do to empower people to make decisions. 

Internal Struggles Lead to ‘Urgent Alignment’

Nathalie Latourelle, lead for digital experience, MPO, for the National Bank of Canada, said about five years ago her teams were heavily invested in digital transformation. However, it was mainly for the ecommerce side of the bank. Executives could see that their efforts needed an urgent alignment with other platforms and that some of the projects were not delivering results as expected. 

Why? Because the bank was not looking at the holistic experience of the customer. “So there was a need of content management through all the channels and that's when the pilots just came into work,” Latourelle said.

Related Article: Where Testing Fits in Your Omnichannel Experiences

‘Nothing Was Getting Done’

Pamela Della Motta, director of product marketing technology for The New York Times, said the tipping point for digital transformation at the newspaper was when it came to realize nothing was getting done. “We were at a point in our transformation where our business model was shifting,” she said. “We used to be a newspaper company where our main source of revenue was advertising then it came to a point where we declared ourselves a subscription-first business where we needed to focus on the customer.”

That, Della Motta said, came with changes in technology and changes in the execution of initiatives. “And so we had to learn to collaborate,” Della Motta explained. “We had to learn to work with the technology team, the marketing team, the data team and just all work together in lockstep.”

Learning from Your Happiest Customers

Bank of America took a cue from its happiest customers to drive its digital transformation efforts. The happiest engaged in the bank’s digital and human channels, according to Holly O’Neill, chief client care executive and head of consumer client services. This meant connecting channels such as the mobile banking app, online banking and its financial and contact centers. 

“The connection between those channels was really where we had to focus,” O’Neill said. “So how we managed our digital transformation in the consumer business is [ensuring that] everyone has a seat at the table. The contact centers, the financial centers, our digital executives, our product management team because it does go end to end. It really starts at how that product is developed, how we deliver it, onboard it to a client, all the way to how we service it.”

Digital transformation in her organization starts from the top down. The conversations that are are had with the president of the consumer bank along with the leadership team are “very, very detailed levels of what we want to deliver, what the actual experience is, where we need to close gaps and where we need to improve them.”

Related Article: C-Suite Starting to Take Action on Digital Transformation

Drive Digital Transformation Through Your Company Values

Digital experiences for customers should support your company’s mission, according to Aaron Pickrell, senior director of ecommerce technologies at soccer.com. His team is constantly building a narrative and interweaving that into its customer's digital journeys. “Our mission statement is to inform, inspire and innovate,” Pickrell said. “It's not enough for us to sell products. Selling products is the basics of what we do. But it's not the core of what we do. We want to be there for our customers. We want to be there with a full experience for our customers and establish an authority in the space of soccer.”

It’s not enough, Pickrell said, to just create content based on SEO best practices. “SEO,” he said, “is great. And it's obviously one of the primary reasons why you build content. It's important and it drives a lot of traffic. But it's not sufficient to just create clickbait. We want great, excellent content, amazing content that really reflects our company's values.”

Pickrell discussed the value of creating real content that has intrinsic values inside a commerce experience. “You can't have commerce without content,” he said. The traditional ecommerce model of a “distinct separation between your commerce and your content” doesn’t really work. “We drive everybody through to our site where we carefully curate all of our content and place it in strategic locations so that people can consume it at the right time during the perfect moment."

Related Article: It's Content Turn to Lead Ecommerce Innovation

Bake in Variety to Your Experiences

Content marketers should be worried about the “internal buzz that most people are having in their own heads,” said Carmen Simon, a cognitive neuroscientist and founder of Memzy. Simon discussed how the brain becomes stimulated and what organizations can do to better connect with their audiences while keeping them from becoming bored with experiences.

“Make sure that as you're looking at the content type and as you’re aspiring to be engaging with someone the more that you vary your stimulus, the more likely it is that they will stay with you,” Simon said. “And if you have attention, you're more likely to have memory. If you have memory, you're more likely to have decision-making.”

Be humbled by the fact that we used to believe that boredom or disengagement was caused by a lack of stimulation. “These days,” she said, “we're observing exactly the opposite. Too much stimulation is going to get your audiences to the same effect. So it's in your hands. You're a choreographer of the way that you disclose communication to audiences. And the rhythm that you establish between these things is what's going to earn your audience's engagement.”

Make your messages challenging because that will stretch your customers and prospects intellectually and make you memorable. “If you ever wonder why is it that we can forget so much it’s because so many things sound like so many other things to the point where we can’t distinguish between what's happening,” Simon said. “So any of these entry points can provide an element of challenge to your audiences.”

Human Faces Leads to Better Digital Experience

The American Medical Association (AMA) aspired to do a better job at engaging its physician members and encouraging subscriptions. It did so in part by bringing out the faces of physicians — showing their members on their website and broadcasting their stories through promotional videos, according to Todd Unger, chief experience officer and SVP, physician engagement. 

Further, another one of the key drivers to the AMA’s “digital reboot” was knowing its segmentation, and that meant looking beyond breakdowns in age, level of physician, etc. “Using analytics, we started to look deeper at how are people engaging in our content just by looking at what they're clicking through on our email,” Unger said. “And then subsequently, on the site itself, and we were able to come up with three data driven personas.”

Then, the digital team learned the content that people were interacting with fell into distinct buckets: people were interested in practice innovation, how to deal with burnout, how to get paid, advocacy and clinical data and research. “This change,” Unger said, “began to drive every other change. It all emanated from a very clear description of a behavioral persona.”