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Designing Breakaway Customer Experiences July 12, 2017

Designing Breakaway Customer Experiences

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Written by

Clark Van Der Beken

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Customer Experience (CX) professionals from major companies gathered for Forrester’s annual CXNYC Forum on June 20-21. The two-day conference focused on the latest trends and tools in CX to delight customers, drive engagement, and create new and sustained value for customers and the companies that serve them.

Technology is changing the way people interact with products, services, companies and each other. Right now this interaction is mainly through digital devices. But the rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning, connected products and services, and innovative UX/UI means the next wave of customer experience is coming. These technologies will force CX professionals to deliver more frictionless, personalized experiences that go beyond current expectations while also driving top- and bottom-line results.


With so much great content on CX we decided to ask our “on-the-ground” team at Forrester to give us their favorite insights, speakers, and CXNYC moments.

What new or interesting insights did you take away from the conference?

Conor Sheehan
Conor Sheehan

One key takeaway from CXNYC this year was the significance of fostering a CX culture in your organization. While other competencies such as research, design, and prioritization are important.culture surrounds everything. The teams that succeed at this cultivate environments where employees at all levels are empowered and incentivized to go above and beyond for the customer. They focus on customer satisfaction. They find ways to say "yes." The culture is the bedrock on which other CX initiatives are built.

Who was your favorite speaker and why?

Conor Sheehan
Conor Sheehan

I loved Allegra Burnette's talk on using story arcs in experience design. She showed how novelist Kurt Vonnegut's universal story arcs could be used to understand and improve customer experience. I find this especially inspiring because it applies to all aspects of human interaction. People think in stories. It's how they recall experiences and how they communicate. These story arcs can be used for designing employee experience just as well as they can for customer experience.


What topics or themes do you think we’ll be talking about at next year’s conference?

Conor Sheehan
Conor Sheehan

I expect that next year will include more discussion about types of relationships customers build with organizations. Not customer is looking to foster a long-term relationship with every business they encounter. Sometimes that relationship is more transactional. Sometimes it's more of a fling. For a select few, it's a loyal, committed relationship. We will hear more about how to foster and embrace various relationships, how to engage people in the appropriate manner, and how to deepen relationships at the right moments.

Who was your favorite speaker and why?

Ian Cox
Ian Cox

Chip Heath’s presentation introducing his new book The Power of Moments captured the essence of the Forrester CX Forum and what CX pros are looking to do in their organizations: Build an environment where customers have positive, authentic experiences with the organization’s products and services. I commend both the partnership between Chip and Forrester to prereleasing his book to this specific audience. They are indeed the best people to be given a head start with some of his ideas.

Was there a CX story that stood out to you?

Ian Cox
Ian Cox

Chip told a story about an airline flight attendant asking passengers to send up their cocktail napkins with bits of wisdom for a newlywed couple. The dream for CX is to create a stage where these types of moments are more likely to happen. Customer experience is really about moments and stories. A higher net promoter score (a number that indicates a customer’s satisfaction with a product/service), more intuitive and connected digital products, or even being recognized as a leader in Forrester’s CX Index are important outcomes. But moments are the atoms of experience, and frankly are an easier way to explain that oft-overused word. It is people, enabled by technology, who help to create those moments for other people. This represents the great challenge for CX pros, the thing that is so difficult to capture.

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What is the biggest challenge facing CX professionals?

Ian Cox
Ian Cox

It starts with executive support which leads to greater investment in the right tools and increased flexibility in empowering front- and back-of-the-house employees to use their instincts to make a customer feel special. When a customer feels special they are more likely to share that moment with friends. This is amplified through word of mouth and social media. Potential customers start hearing enough of these types of moments and they want to see if this service everyone is talking about can do the job they need done easier and more delightfully. This is an oversimplified synopsis of an ideal outcome, but it was a consistent theme throughout the conference, and one that Chip’s presentation and story helped realize.

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