My experience attending CX Forums - Atlanta

By Greg Melia CAE posted 04-21-2022 02:47 PM


On Tuesday, I participated in the CX Forums Atlanta Experience Summit, my first in-person CX program in a long while.  And it was worth it – a strong return on investment of time and attention to rekindle CX community connections, develop new relationships, and hear real stories and solutions from passionate CX leaders.  The size of the audience, ample spacing in the venue, and thoughtful safety options provided also helped me feel well assured.  CXPA is proud to partner with CX Forums to help make these limited attendance local programs available, and I am detailing my experience in Atlanta so that you can consider participating in a future CX Forums program - including Boston on May 10 and Chicago on June 7.

My experience began with a four-hour drive which provided me time to decompress and contemplate.  I had forgotten how important it is to ensure uninterrupted time free from the tyranny of email and instant messages. I enjoyed the time to reflect on recent conversations and consider new opportunities.  In Atlanta, I spent time over pizza with the program organizer, CXPA member Mark Michelson, and a handful of other attendees.  It was a great time, marked by a sense of joy to be gathering together after the isolation of the past two years.  

When I arrived to the event the next morning I was warmly welcome by CXPA members Jerry Seufert and Mike Bowers – icons in the CXPA Atlanta community.  I was pleasantly surprised to find the meeting room buzzing with conversations over continental breakfast. As I headed to get a cup of hot coffee, I met Gene Lee, CCXP and began the first of many great conversations of the day. 

Soon it was time to help welcome the audience to the program, and to share updates of the great work underway at CXPA.  The program moved right into a series of speakers.  Here are a few of my favorite morning take-ways:
  • Florian Vollmer shared that his favorite moments are entering a collaborative meeting with lots of post-its where NCR employees and customers are working side by side for a common purpose - improving customer experience.
  • Sam Chandler from Zendesk shared an incredible personal story and highlighted the importance of invest in the people who look after your customers because #EX is critical to #CX.
  • Marcos Arias CCXP presented an awesome case study detailing how adopting a case management approach created stronger bond with customers – and a 23 percent better retention rate and 67 percent customer satisfaction over a three-month compared control experiment.
  • Shawn Nason had some awesome insights to share from his time as a Disney Imagineer, as well as with Humana in the corporate sector. He inspired the audience to focus on the human experience rather than statistics.
  • Kisha Payton highlighted how businesses can benefit from intentional inclusion, citing Warby Parker’s use of the label “extra narrow frame width” rather than “child” as one of several small but meaningful ways to create a better customer experience.
  • City Winery CEO Michael Dorf gave an insider’s look at the intentional design of the venue to ensure connections between the performers and audience.


Over lunch, I enjoyed further conversation with fellow attendees and speakers – plus a buffet of well-planned choices to meet all dietary preferences.  In the afternoon, the learning continued:

  • Gene Lee, CCXP gave an excellent primer on developing alignment and support for CX, sharing how the real culture shift at Mailchimp came when cross-functional teams engaged in the process of mapping journeys from the customer’s perspective. This created buy-in, rather than the #CX team trying to push change.
  • Lyndon Cerejo spoke about the intersection of UX and CX, sharing a great case study of the benefits of having designers visit customers to see how your UX does or doesn’t work in the real world.
  • Sandra Mathis CCXP noted that CX leaders need to be aware that the pandemic has had profound effects on both customer and employee expectations. She encouraged attendees to keeping a positive attitude because CX is an iterative journey, reminding us that we must be willing to take risks and that it’s OK to make mistakes – as long as you remain committed to evaluating and changing.
  • Armand Barone shared that customer feedback collected by video has helped CVS better understand the emotion of is customers and the “why” behind the numbers in its VOC program.
  • Lorraine Schumacher CCXP spoke about the importance of being intentional in everything a company does to ensure effective CX outcomes.  She also shared that she is seeing a “doubling down” in recent months of companies committing to doing the customer research and insight work essential to CX.
  • Mary Drumond urged companies to consider how to deliver empathy at scale, moving beyond just listening to trying to develop a deeper understanding that allows an experience in which a customer truly feels heard and valued.

Four CX professionals on a stage at CX Forums Atlanta

The formal program wrapped up just after three o’clock, but the networking continued on an outdoor patio where attendees were treated to an impromptu concert by local musicians including program organizer Mark Michelson on vocals, harmonica and guitar.  Plenty of smiles and insights were exchanged – a great ending to a great day.

Mark Michelson and Greg Melia

The Atlanta Experience Summit was the first of several Experience Summits presented by CXPA partner, CX Forums. If you are ready to return to in-person CX learning, I strongly encourage you to check out the upcoming locations and dates:

Registration now open:


Save the date:

  • New York – September 20, 2022
  • Washington DC – October 18, 2022
  • Austin – November 14, 2022





04-25-2022 05:40 PM

Thanks Mike - It was a great program, all the better for the chance to meet you and reconnect with others as well!

04-25-2022 12:01 PM

Greg - It was terrific to see you (in person!) and so glad you were able to be with us. You're write-up is outstanding and much appreciated. This is the first conference I've attended since before the pandemic and, like you, I thought the venue, spacing, safety, and especially the time afforded to network, were all exceptionally well planned and executed. I am excited to attend upcoming sessions virtually and encourage all those in Boston and Chicago to jump in! ​