Scot Gillespie, CTO of Washington Post, presenting at DX Summit 2017
Scot Gillespie, CTO of Washington Post, delivered the final keynote at the DX Summit 2017 PHOTO: Robert Levy

CHICAGO — Enterprise-level integrated customer experiences are now a reality. Several executives shared their insights and experiences on how they’ve tackled the challenges of digital experience implementation at the recent DX Summit, held in downtown Chicago at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel.  

The summit gathered a global audience of technologists, marketers and customer experience executives to share their expertise and learn more about the strategies and tools that power customer experience success.

Here are some highlights from the three-day summit. 

CX Lessons From Big Brands

Nicole Rachanow-Garvin, assistant vice president of Experience Design at MetLife delivered a keynote in which she shared her experiences transforming how MetLife services customers across all touch points. According to Rachanow-Garvin, “your brand is the sum of all customer interactions” and customer expectations now mandate “real-time service.”

In “Success in the Shadow of Amazon,” Episerver's Chief Marketing Officer, James Norwood shared the best practices that will set a company apart in the customer experience realm:

  • Being customer obsessed.
  • Being mobile-first.
  • Delivering a seamless experience.
  • Being personalized.
  • Offering exclusivity.
  • Being inspirational.

According the Norwood, customer experience success isn't just about the technology, because, “platforms own distribution, but brand own hearts and minds.”

At the start of day three, Shawn Goodin, marketing CTO of J.P. Morgan Chase echoed Norwood's message, urging his keynote audience to “start with the customer, not the technology.” Shawn noted that there’s, “no silver bullet for CX, but the first step is to start building a relationship with your customer.” He and his team developed a rubric around “Identify-Engage-Measure” and created a maturity model to gauge their progress.

Goodin outlined how J.P. Morgan Chase approaches development and delivery of a digital customer experience, but he admitted how intimidating it can be to start the process. His advice to move past that? “The difference between doing something and not doing something … is doing something.” In other words, just start.

The conference ended on a high note with a keynote presentation titled “How Superior Customer Experience Drives Growth,” by Scott Gillespie, CTO at the Washington Post. Gillespie walked the audience through the development of several publishing products the Post has created to deliver and manage content, because for Washington Post readers, “content is the product.”

The digital transformation process spanned several years, but now the newspaper has automated much of its newsroom content production process, with specific products to manage everything from multivariate testing of headlines to recommendation engines to audience-targeting technology, to name just a few. Gillespie noted these tools have led to a better user experience for Washington Post readers, as measured by KPIs such as increases in domestic subscriptions and time on site. The success of the products has resulted in the Post spinning of and monetizing the product suite under the Arc Publishing umbrella. 

Key Digital Trends for CX Leaders

Other key digital trends and topics cropped up frequently during the summit, including:

GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation is set to go into effect on May 25, 2018. The new law, which applies to any business who interacts with EU citizens, mandates (among other things) companies receive explicit opt-in permission from users in order to monitor, collect and utilize their data.

Several sessions covered this issue in detail, including “Gearing Up, Getting it Done: Make Your Team a GDPR Success,” by Kristina Podnar, an independent consultant, and Carolina Ramirez, digital governance lead at UNICEF.

Scott Meyer, president of Crownpeak's digital governance division also led a workshop on the topic, “Don’t Let GDPR Kill Your Marketing Campaigns: Collect Data While Achieving Compliance.” Meyer helped attendees understand the requirements of the regulation and offered suggestions on how they can assess what will need to change in their marketing campaigns and tools in order to be fully compliant.

The presentations focused on the wide-reaching scale of the regulation and reframed what many see as a burden into an opportunity to serve customers better. 

Tech Tools Spotlight

Selecting the right tools has become almost overwhelming for many teams due to the flooded state of the market. Two sessions offered guidance on how to navigate this important decision to help avoid costly mistakes and lost time.

Seth Early, founder and CEO of Early Information Science and Steve Walker, practice leader at Experis Global Content Solutions led a session titled, “Understanding the DX Ecosystem & Developing a Technology Blueprint.” The session provided actionable advice on how to develop the proper marketing technology stack for an organization by evaluating tool choices according to a customer experience maturity model, then aligning those results with the customer journey.

Tony Byrne, founder of Real Story Group, also led a session on choosing technology titled “The Right Way to Select Digital Experience Technology.” Byrne shared best practices on how to match enterprise needs to the right DX marketplaces and vendors, ranging from WCM to DAM to CRM to Marketing Automations systems and more.

Additional Highlights From the Summit

Some other highlights of the conference included the Innovation Garden, an alternative to the traditional vendor hall. It gave conference sponsors a chance to showcase their latest product innovations in quick 20-minute demos.

Presenters offered some new programming formats to provide attendees a way to have a little fun while learning, practicing and applying CX best practices. Some highlights included:

  • A Shark-Tank for ecommerce led by Carlos Manalo, co-founder of The Office of Experience and Ed Kennedy, ecommerce strategist at Episerver. The two broke attendees into two groups and tasked each with developing a business strategy and funding pitch to take their company to the next phase of growth. Both teams presented their pitch to a panel of judges.
  • An Accenture-team led workshop challenged participants to build their own AI-powered chatbot.
  • An interactive session with Kerry Bodine and Company that led participants through the customer journey mapping process.
  • A presentation on “Audience Engagement as a KPI,” via Brad Dunn of Chicago’s world-famous Field Museum, covered best practices and tactics to ensure an engaged community across digital channels.
  • eZ Systems hosted a debate on headless CMS, which included a panel of experts and ample audience participation with a speed round quiz at the end to test the audience's knowledge.
  • Kristina Podnar led a round table discussion where all were welcome to bring their specific GDPR questions and concerns to the table.

'A Journey of Discovery'

I've come to associate the DX Summit with great networking and conversation, and this year was no exception. Perhaps Brad Dunn at the Field Museum said it best, when describing one of the goals of The Field Museum as, “fueling a journey of discovery.”