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August 9, 2019   |   6 min read

Recap of Forrester 2019 CX NYC Conference

Industry professionals came from all over to attend Forrester’s 2019 CX NYC Conference. As a CX strategist, I went to learn about new trends and insights that could inform a whitepaper I was working on. I’ve spent plenty of time pondering the conference and my own perspective on the state of CX. That thinking can be found in CX Planning – All for Nothing?a piece our agency put together after gathering responses from 130+ customer-focused figures.

Forrester’s CX NYC conference shared current CX trends and initiatives for organizations, as well as their 2019 CX Index, CX Elite, and Industry Leaders. Throughout the two days, I listened to Forrester Analysts and industry-leading CX professionals talk about what’s currently shaping CX. I’m sharing with you some of the significant callouts I heard again and again.


Now, more than ever, companies have to embody real values for their customers to align to.

I’ve chronicled this idea before in Does Your Brand Support a Cause? Take a Stand or Sit Down. That piece discussed cause marketing and how consumers want the brands they buy to align with their personal, social, environmental, and political opinions. Brands who get it right do it for the right reasons and are always on the offensive should they provoke someone—or everyone!

  • During the conference, Rick Parrish at Forrester explained the importance of values through a new Values-Based Experience Framework he created.
  • Adam Blumenfeld, Director of Global Customer Insights for TOMS, presented the evolution of their values-based story, which included how they measure the impact of their values.
  • Ellen Needham, Director of Customer Insights & Innovation at Patagonia, discussed the need to hire employees who share the same values as the company.
RickParrish-Forrester-2019 Photo of Rick Parrish. (Forrester: CX NYC Conference (2019). Forrester Research, Inc.)

When the audience was polled, someone mentioned that both TOMS and Patagonia were born as value-based brands. But what about organizations that aren't? The answer inspired attendees to think about the human agenda. Not everything has to be about hot-button issues. Standing for something does not mean standing for everything.

Notable snippet: Values are sticky, squishy, and uncomfortable; you can test them first before ultimately settling. 

The Rise of Values-based CX Courtesy of Ink Factory, Forrester Conference: CX NYC 2019

Employees are an integral piece of the puzzle.

Employee experience was at the top of everyone’s mind. Which only makes sense, because the focus has been solely on customers for a long time. We’ve forgotten that employees are the driving force behind CX success. Employee Experience (EX) and Customer Experience (CX) are inseparably intertwined. Throughout the day, there were EX breakout tracks that revolved around employee personas, employee engagement through a major change, and approaches to identifying and empowering purpose workers. Of all the EX presentations, there were two that resonated with me the most.

The first speaker was Jen Bonifilio, Vice President of Employee Brand at Massage Envy, who was joined by Levi Roberts, Vice President of Data Science at InMoment. Together they discussed the employee experience program they implemented to complement their existing customer experience program. This program included a culture survey to understand what’s working and what’s not, with the goal of leveraging those findings to create better EX. They wanted to deeply understand the “I love my job” factor and what that meant to their employees.

Notable snippet: When it comes to EX, not taking action hurts as much as taking action helps. This is important to remember when we think about the incredible impact employee turnover has on CX.

Travis Gelbrich, Managing Director of Guest Care at Alaska Air Group, brought the keynote home by talking about empowering and arming employees with the tools they need to surprise and delight customers. He told several stories about the flight attendants making choices to go above and beyond for certain customers. All of the stories were touching (and shocking considering I've never flown Alaskan Air, nor experienced such personal attention on American). They even gave away free tickets Oprah-style, which were taped to the bottom of someone's seat. No, I did not win… but that would have been one epic ending to this blog post.

Notable snippet: The most impactful moments are really between human beings. This means most amazing moments are not things you can train for; it's all about hiring the right people and empowering them to do right by the customer.

Customer Experience vs. Employee Experience Courtesy of Ink Factory, Forrester Conference: CX NYC 2019

Other notable topics:

  • Humanizing feedback to drive engagement and action: Carl Wong, CEO and Co-Founder of LivingLens, spoke about his company and how it brings the voice of the customer to life by allowing them to provide video feedback for a company or product.

Notable snippet: CX transformations usually run into problems when it comes to rising customer expectations, insufficient CX management, or CX quality that has plateaued. To solve these problems, change has to happen. Collect feedback from your customers in a way that allows your stakeholders to understand why change is required.

  • Applying human-centered design to data: Fatemeh Khatibloo of Forrester spoke about how privacy and data innovation are at odds. Through innovation, ethics and user experience were left behind. Think about Facebook serving you up that ad for dog food right after you told your spouse you needed to buy more. Regulations on privacy have been put in place over the past few years, but the UX of privacy pages does not make it easy for customers to choose their settings. The point here is user privacy is the new norm, but the UX for it has been forgotten.

Notable snippet: You don't let product management design your product pages. Why are you allowing lawyers to design your privacy pages?

  • Soar in your role by bringing your best self to work: This isn't a self-help session, but Maxie Schmidt, Principal Analyst at Forrester, detailed the need to discover what your talents are and then leverage them in your career. Maxie stated that only 1-in-5 employees use their strengths at work every day. Later she talked about how strengths generally fall into two categories: revolution or evolution. This is interesting within the context of EX and ensuring that we—as employees ourselves—understand how we can add value.

Notable snippet: Lean on your strengths that fit the situation that you’re in or change your situation.

There's more CX where that came from.

Be sure to read our latest whitepaper, CX Planning – All for Nothing?. We created it around an industry survey that gathered opinions on CX tools and their usefulness. These findings highlighted the industry’s current attitude toward CX, while presenting approaches to rallying organizations around it. Steve Agganis, Mindstream President, shared his own take on why every business today must prioritize CX if they want to survive.

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