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Notes on the eCustomerExperience Conference

October 11 & 12, 2000

by Kevin Doohan, director of customer experience at

Executive Summary

I would definitely go again. The conference was fun, educational, and incredibly energizing. It was amazing to meet and interact with a large group of professionals who focus on the customer experience. I did a great deal of networking and made many contacts with individuals who I can share ideas with and use as a resource for developing my skills and our customer experience area overall.

Creative Good’s (CG) mission is to improve e-business through a pure focus on the customer experience. Members of the CG team are fanatical about their views and I think I am on my way to becoming a fanatic too. While some at the conference accused CG of being heavy-handed against graphic design, I don’t think it is true. The key to creative good is that they are strongly and passionately focused on creating a good customer experience. Where graphic design can aid understanding and improve experience, I’m sure the CG team is in favor of it.


Day One

Fast Company Keynote

This was an interview with brief Q&A following. Interviewer was George Anders of Fast Company. Guest was Clyde Ostler, Group EVP, Internet Services Group, Wells Fargo. George has interviewed Clyde before for Fast Company. This interview was an extension of the previous conversations between the two.

Notes from Ostler interview:



Focus on what’s important at WF

Find metrics and follow them doggedly. Work toward metrics and performance will improve.


What Works: Does your organization "get it"?

This was a panel discussion moderated by Creative Good CEO, Phil Terry. Very well done. Good examples.

Phil Terry on "What Works":

  1. Customer-led development process
  2. Know your 2 or 3 key metrics, drive to improve them
  3. Start with the limitations of technology, not the possibilities
  4. Seek simplicity

A Webvan holiday package was a great idea but had a very low uptake by customers. The promotion had 150 items to choose whether to include in the package or not. holiday promotion had 5 items to choose from. It was a tremendous success and had greater than expected uptake. The assumption is that a package that is easier to navigate leads to more conversions.

John Piscatello, AltaVista:


Featured presentation: Robert Levitan of Flooz (substitutes for Joe Park of Kozmo)

There were some valuable points brought up. The best idea was probably the "partner summit" that Flooz had. The company achieved great results.

Here is what they did:

  1. Contact all significant business partners and inform them of the summit
  2. Provided all partners with a report card. The report card was to be filled out by partners and was for grading Flooz’ performance as a partner
  3. Compiled report grades and presented to partners at the off-site partner summit.
  4. Hosted afternoon breakout sessions to brainstorm solutions for areas where Flooz was graded poorly.
  5. This process helped partners communicate their dissatisfaction in a positive way. The resulting dialogue was critical for getting emotional buy-in of the partners for the solutions.

Levitan also said that in Flooz’s experience, featured offers don’t work. When Flooz featured four products from, customers thought that the four products were all that was available through not a representative sample.

Finally, Levitan said that customer-led development (by most valuable customers) is critical. For example: Flooz thought that an online address book would be a valuable feature to create. They found out by asking their most valuable customers that it was very low on desired functionality from Flooz.


Brand vs. Customer Experience: Is there a difference online?

Panel discussing this topic was excellent although the question is basically unanswerable and can be argued to infinity. Great dialogue, smart participants, and engaging ideas. Basic wrap-up was that brand is the promise and customer experience is the delivery on the promise.

Di Ann Eisner — Eisner Interactive


Getting it Done: Web design and development for experience online

A super panel who discussed and shared advice with the audience for creating & maintaining a customer centered development process. I really enjoyed this presentation. There are fewer notes than you might expect because we already do much of what these experts recommend at Key takeaways were that corporate objectives must be addressed in the context of customer needs and that the web is more direct marketing than branding.

Laurel Bowman, Red98

Deb McDonald, Consultant

Doug Bewsher, McKinsey & Co.


Day Two

Keynote - Guy Kawasaki: Rules for Revolutionaries

1. Jump to the next curve.

6. Let a thousand flowers bloom

2. Don’t worry, be crappy

7. Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant

3. Churn, baby, churn

8. Think digital, not analog

4. Break down barriers

9. Don’t ask people to do what you would not

5. Make evangelists, not sales

10. Don’t let the bozos grind you down

Several good quotes from this presentation. Guy is obviously a very experienced presenter. Reading the book provides a roughly equivalent experience. Interesting [apocryphal] story on focus groups:

Phillips electronics gathered a group of teens in a room and asked them "What color boom box would you prefer? Black or yellow?". Teens to a person said that yellow was it. Black was conservative and old. Not hip at all. Yellow is definitely the color for them. Later in the afternoon, the teens were informed that they could each take a boom box home with them. Boom boxes were stacked at the exit in two piles, a pile of black and a pile of yellow. All teens selected black. What customers do is more important than what they say. We can watch and influence what they do online like never before.


Metrics: How to measure the e-customer experience

This may have been the best panel at the conference. Primary takeaway from this group is that benchmarking and testing is critical, that it must be performed on an ongoing basis alone and vs. competition, and that once business goals are determined, it is easy to map customer experience criteria to success vs. goals. The companies represented on the panel included: Vividence, WebCriteria, WebPartner, Mindability, and Kanisa. All companies offered valuable services.

Mark Bailey, CEO, WebPartner:

WebPartner looks like a great service to track performance (speed)... They track download times and uptime right now. Measurement of time to complete a task is in the works for the next version but not available today.

Artie Wu, Vividence

Alistair Williamson, WebCriteria

Brand promise -------------customer experience------------à brand equity

Mark Angel, Kanisa


Mark Hurst: The future of customer experience

Mark’s presentation was great. He is a very intelligent and insightful individual yet his presentation came across as modest and completely accessible. He started with a brief history of Creative Good from his early days with Ramen Noodles to the conference which was a significant event on the Creative Good timeline.

Mark said that there are still miles to go in improving the customer experience online. He cited many examples from the 2000 holiday e-commerce report. He also said that for the future, customer experience will encompass a space much greater than the internet. People thought the internet was an extension of the PC. It is not, it’s bigger. People think wireless is an extension of the internet. It’s not, it’s something bigger….


  • The customer experience gap: Technology increases in complexity over time as the number of experienced users decreases.
  • The basics still don’t work. See the Creative Good Holiday eCommerce Report. Search, checkout, merchandising, organization, budgets are not aligned to the customer experience.
  • Interface is less important that attitude. The question: "Will users return?"


  • "The bits are now the story." — Bit Literacy is the concept.
  • Simply look at the newspaper headlines for evidence of the transition.
  • Devices everywhere will be bit-enabled with IP addresses and intelligence. Users will be initially confused on how to deal with all the bits in their lives.
  • Software and hardware companies will make money with software and devices in the space between the bits and users. They will mediate the flow of bits to users or enable users to better manage their bits.
  • Devices that access bits will proliferate and interconnect. Choice of device will become far less important.
  • Bit literacy: 1st teach users to engage bits, then teach them to see beyond the bits by letting them go.
  • Email inbox management is a crude, introductory example of this. The only way to manage your inbox is to create filters and processes to keep it clear of clutter. This is "managing your bits" and an example of the beginning of bit literacy.


The Wireless Customer Experience

This panel was the most spirited and interesting. The group is exceptionally knowledgeable about the wireless space. Since no one truly knows where we are headed with wireless, the views on the panel were different. This encouraged a spirited dialogue and better experience for everyone who participated.

Yakov Christfort, Oracle Mobile

  • Great example of wireless: Dog owner gave dog a treat & beeped collar with cell phone when he did it. Soon enough, dog was trained by cell phone. When collar beeped, the dog would return to owner.

Clay Shirky, accelerator group

  • Content is a degenerate of communication. "_ of what is often a round trip".
  • The most powerful apps allow users to create content for other users
  • Need to communicate multi-channel: I want to voice my requests but to read responses. I send information most efficiently by talking but can receive information most efficiently by reading.
  • PC’s are the "dark matter" of the net. There are millions of them around the country lying fallow and unused. Napster, ICQ, popular power, and SETI are all examples of using computer power distributed among many desktops.
  • Funny quote: "What analysts do is collate lies." Call a company and ask #s for next quarter. Repeat process, collate answers, and publish.

Gordon Gould, Upoc

  • Only clear takeaways after 40 focus groups: give users complete control, don’t spam them, and offer a flat rate.

Matt Ho, Milo

  • Echoed multi-channel comment as most valuable takeaway. Repeat: Need to communicate multi-channel: I want to voice my requests but to read responses. I send information most efficiently by talking but can receive information most efficiently by reading.


Closing - Jeffrey Rayport: Building a better eBusiness

Rayport is amazing. He ranks right up there with the best speakers I have seen. He engages the audience and just does not let go until his presentation is over. Great message, entertaining examples, good involvement of the audience in the presentation. I definitely give this presenter an A+.

The takeaway from Rayport’s presentation is that customer experience is the number one driver of a business. Customer experience is not soft. It is a concept that can be correlated with business goals very easily. His speech communicated this in a number of ways. My favorite example was the wealthy Delta frequent flyer who was over billed $25 for an upgrade. The airline representative put millions of dollars in profit at risk by refusing this customer's request.


Creative Good Workshop

Hosted by a number of creative good staff members. Primary presenters were Maya Capur, Melissa Pennings, and Christine Yu.

The workshop was interesting and I walked away with many ideas. There was also ample opportunity to share ideas and brainstorm with other workshop attendees. The workshop provided additional insight into how Creative Good works and the things Creative Good learns during engagements. Many real world examples were shared. The examples clearly demonstrate that small website changes can have significant impacts on customer experience. I’ve attached slides from the workshop with this document. They’re self-explanatory and contain most of what was covered in the workshop.

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