Human Experience

Talking CX – CX Talks 2017 Atlanta

By: Rob Sherrell

Several of my talented colleagues from North Highland and Sparks Grove (our killer experience design division) and I were fortunate enough to attend CX Talks in Atlanta Monday. Billed as “the largest customer experience summit ever”, there were over 400 attendees, 24 speakers and 18 associations represented (including CXPA, BMA, AIMA, and numerous others) all covering a wide variety of CX disciplines. Great sponsors from Strativity to Macquarium to Sitecore rounded out the mix.

The morning talks were highlighted by a fantastic presentation from Sterling Jackson, SVP of Guest Strategy and Insights from MGM Resorts International. The discussion was especially moving given this week’s tragedy in Las Vegas. After an emotional and meaningful moment of reflection, we pushed ahead to hear about the MGM approach to guest experience. We were all inspired by the evolved MGM mission: “To entertain the human race” and their detailed approach to enable that mission across six key experience areas including: Guest Feedback, Employee Feedback, Rewards & Recognition, Training, Communication and Performance Management.

I was also excited to reconnect and hear from David Schoenberg, Director of CX at PG&E as he shared his award winning CX improvement program for the California-based electric utility. David and I had a chance to collaborate on a CX panel North Highland held for one of our large financial services clients in San Francisco last year and his insights and perspective is always meaningful.

We then heard from some great client panelists from Verizon, Cricket, ADP, Gas South, Aaron’s, NCR and Kimberly-Clark. It was great hearing talented client-side practitioners sharing great stories about how to drive CX within a complex enterprise.

Afternoon highlights included an even more provocative panel discussion where folks from leading organizations (State Farm, Home Depot, CNN and several agencies) talked through the CX and UX partnership required to enable success. Views differed on the challenges and even the current state of the disciplines, but the takeaway is clear — great CX requires talented UX practitioners and thoughtful integration to make it work.

I also was up on stage in the afternoon to share North Highland and Sparks Grove’s perspective on “The Evolution of Experience”. I shared with the audience that while 9 out of 10 companies are competing on the basis of CX today, a few trailblazing organizations are thinking about what’s next. We believe that the next competitive differentiator will be an organizations’ ability to connect to, and meet, higher-level human needs; to move from purely commercial intent to human commitment, i.e. competition based on corporate Humanity. This is going to require organizations to be Purposeful, Cognitive, Adaptive and Conscious (in addition to delivering great CX). Not an easy future but one we’re already helping our most advanced clients with. Hit me up if you want to hear more.

CX Talks attendees then spent some time exploring the mission and aspiration of the many great associations involved in CX Talks and heard about the opportunity for community connection, enhanced learning and professional development from some great organizations. Really cool communities and opportunities abound.

We then, of course, did some more networking and informal connection over cocktails and appetizers. A great way to end a great event. Overall, I and our North Highland and Sparks Grove colleagues came away energized, impressed and excited about the trajectory of CX and experience design. Congrats to the CX Talks organizers and all involved. It was a great collection of experts and insight. Looking forward to next year already.

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