Attendees of the DX Summit wait outside a breakout session.
PHOTO: Dom Nicastro

CHICAGO — Digital customer experience professionals gathered this week at the fifth annual DX Summit at the Marriott Marquis in the heart of the Midwest. While attendees just escaped forecasted wintry November temperatures in Brrr City, the hot conversations they had centered around the challenges involved in delivering personalized customer experiences, design thinking principles, the need to create relevant customer journey maps, the potential value of customer data platforms and becoming more empathetic to customers.

We plucked out some marketing and customer experience professionals from the crowd to discuss their challenges and visions for the start of the next decade. (Editor's note: Simpler Media, the parent company of CMSWire, runs the DX Summit).

Customer Personas Only Help So Much

Segmentation — it’s what marketers and customer experiences do, right? Put customers and prospects into “personas.” Done. Problems arise when people jump from one persona to another — and this happens fast, according to Cody Webb, director of global customer experience at skin-care company Nu Skin

“Historically, the approach has been to segment customers before they start interacting with you to be prepared for that interaction, and to identify them as a certain kind of customer,” Webb told CMSWire. “In our business, the movement of the customer from one persona to another can vary quickly. Where we need to go is creating experiences that can adapt using technology at the point of impact. We need to dynamically optimize the experience for what the customer needs in the moment. We need to have a technology to be able to actually execute that kind of vision, but also the content to support it.”

Related Article: Personalized Marketing: Where We Are in 2018

Move from Project-Oriented to Journey-Oriented CX

Webb said in 2020 the goal is to move from project-oriented execution to journey-oriented execution, keeping in mind the customer's objectives. It’s about creating experiences that lead to greater satisfaction.

Headshot of Cody Webb
Cody Webb

“So instead of thinking about the features and benefits that we want to provide to our customers, we're going to think a little more holistically and begin to empathize with our customer," Webb said. "Put ourselves in their shoes and say, not from a marketing standpoint, what is the benefit that we want to provide at this touchpoint? Where's the customer been, what is their need, where are they going, and how do we get them there.”

Marketers Need Automation to Free Creativity

Marketers and CX pros creating digital customer experiences can be restrained by technology that puts them in manual task hell. That’s something the marketing technology and engineering teams at rideshare company Lyft works very hard on — how can we better enable our marketers with automation to avoid mundane, day-to-day tasks so they can focus on big creative ideas, big bets and more experimentation? 

“From the engineering side, our goal is to free up marketers to think big and automate a lot of the daily operations,” said Ajay Sampat, engineering manager, growth, at Lyft. “And currently, a lot of our tools are very rule-based, but we can move them to more sophisticated machine learning model-based approaches.”

Related Article: Marketing Automation, Beyond the First Hello

Progress Over Perfection

Headshot of Ajay Sampat
Ajay Sampat

Sampat said his teams live by the mantra of “progress over perfection.” Engineering owns the martech stack at Lyft, and it is constantly iterating, whether it’s building its own marketing automation system or partnering with third parties. “It's that progress over perfection sort of mentality that helps us drive impact as we're thinking about what does the long-term future of marketing look like,” Sampat said. “I call this test, measure, rinse and repeat.”

Managing Day-to-Day Tasks with Long-Term Vision

The reality for many marketing and customer experience professionals is simply small staffs and resources. Tiana Berry-Jones, vice president of marketing and creative at nonprofit technology training company LaunchCode, lives this reality every day. She has a team of three responsible for marketing and creating strong experiences and content. They want to create consistent brand messages across many customer touchpoints.

However, it takes “so much energy and work and time for my very small team,” she said. “We don't get to really step back and think about the things that underlie our services — like good service design for all of our different audiences — and that is arguably much more important than worrying about whether or not this piece of gated content will hopefully lead to a good talk. Those things are important but, arguably, I should be really focusing my time on the overall user experience and what does the journey look like for different users. And I just don't get time for those things because the day-to-day things are so pressing.” 

Headshot of Tiana Berry-Jones
Tiana Berry-Jones

If she could have anything for her marketing team, Berry-Jones would chose more time. “I would ask for whatever it is that would allow us to both spend adequate time on those little individual things, and also for the overarching big-picture things that touch every part of our organization. I want to be able to spend what I think is adequate time on both of those things and that is not realistic right now.”

Related Article: 9 Key Takeaways from the DX Summit 2018

Designing for New Customer Experiences

Headshot of Sarah Holt
Sarah Holt

Sarah Holt, customer experience manager at Tripwire, which offers cybersecurity and compliance solutions, said her company is moving to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and hybrid offering after being traditionally on-premises. That’s a big challenge for her customer experience teams for the coming year — designing for that new SaaS or hybrid experience.

“We have a lot of efforts focused on customer success, including efforts toward customer nurturing and customer onboarding,” Holt said. Holt’s CX team is also focusing on enhancing self-service and training offerings. They’re looking to implement more robust e-learning module courses where customers could just start learning for free and eventually get to certification.

Owning the Voice of the Customer

Holt said the parent company owns the Voice of Customer (VOC) program. It does yearly surveys, but it’d be more valuable if her specific team could own it. Her team’s offering is a lot different from the parent company. “They've adjusted questions somewhat to our needs,” Holt said, “but not as much as our customer experience managers and leaders would want.”