The Modern Customer Podcast

Oct 27 2020 30 mins 42

Go behind the scenes with customer experience leader Blake Morgan to explore the secrets of the world’s most customer-centric companies. Blake is one of the world’s top keynote speakers, authority on customer experience and the bestselling author of “The Customer Of The Future” The Modern Customer reaches thousands of people each week conveying a message of how we make people feel - in business and in life - matters. Her weekly show explores how businesses can make customers’ lives easier and better, featuring experts that provide simple, tangible advice you can immediately apply at your own organization. Today’s customers have the luxury of choice. The answer is simple; choose customer experience and customers will choose you. Learn how to put a stake in the ground on customer experience by tuning into The Modern Customer Podcast each week with Blake Morgan.

What Marketers Really Need To Know About Gen Z
Oct 27 2020 31 mins  
For years, experts have talked about millennials and looked towards the future of Generation Z, the generation to follow. But Gen Z is now here and already having a massive impact, both as employees and as consumers. Marketers need to understand Gen Z to realize its full impact and to separate the truth from long held myths. Generational researcher Jason Dorsey is an expert on all things Gen Z. He studies generational behavior so that leaders, marketers, employers and others can understand the differences between each generation. But he warns against putting generations in boxes. The wide range of ages and life experiences means that within a generation are multiple different groups. However, generations offer powerful clues that can drive trust and help marketers create valuable experiences by bringing them one step closer to understanding their consumers. Contrary to what many people think, Gen Z isn’t made up entirely of teenagers. The group is growing up, so that the oldest members are now approaching their mid-20s. Gen Z is the fastest growing generation in the workforce. Most people view Gen Z as the next wave of millennials, but Dorsey’s research shows that Gen Z is actually very different. He calls Gen Z a throwback generation that actually has more in common with baby boomers than millennials. Gen Z is one of the most frugal generations. They are more likely to use coupons and find deals than their millennial predecessors. They want to graduate college without debt and tend to care more about their workplace benefits. A large number of Gen Z is even already saving for retirement. Dorsey’s research also found that Gen Z will soon leapfrog some millennials in the workforce, creating a strange combination of generations and ideologies. Gen Z is more likely to trust an influencer or someone like them over someone with advanced degrees. And because they’ve grown up with technology and smartphones, Gen Z values social media and the news it provides, but realizes it creates many mental health triggers. Gen Z doesn’t remember 9/11, which was the generational defining event for millennials. Gen Z doesn’t know life before 9/11, and their lives aren’t shaped by the changes that happened after the event. Gen Z doesn’t represent change because this is all they’ve ever known. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic will be the generational defining event for Gen Z and impact their mindset moving forward. So what does this mean for marketers? Understanding that Gen Z isn’t simply millennials 2.0 is an important differentiation. Gen Z values different things than millennials and has different priorities. They also aren’t the teenagers many have long considered Gen Z to be. Gen Z will have a tremendous impact on the workforce and the economy going forward as they become the most powerful generation. Understanding generations gives marketers clues and tools to know their consumers. With this understanding of generational cues, marketers can create more personalized experiences that best target this influential group. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

How Digital Transformation Is Helping Create A COVID Vaccine
Oct 20 2020 29 mins  
In the midst of a global pandemic, pharmaceutical companies around the world are rushing to develop a vaccine to COVID-19. In an industry that typically takes years to create, test and market new drugs, the incredible time crunch for the COVID vaccine is pushing companies to their limits. But it’s not just pharmaceutical companies that are in the race to create a vaccine. There are also companies helping behind the scenes with digital transformation. NECI and its president Tom Ramundo are working with pharmaceutical companies to create a digital stack so they can bring their product to market much more quickly. Digital transformation and industrial automation greatly speed up the testing process by using data and predictive analytics to see how a vaccine performs in trial. Ramundo says that many of the companies working to create a COVID vaccine were born to be digital companies. They are taking the digital fingerprint of the protein that makes up the virus and utilizing it to develop their product. When working on a project that changes the timeline from months and years to days and weeks, companies must be digitally enabled. Without a digital transformation, companies couldn’t come close to creating a COVID vaccine in record time. Companies don’t need to be finding the cure to a global pandemic to undergo a digital transformation. Ramundo says it’s critical for every company, no matter the industry, to adopt digital solutions to improve their processes and become more efficient. Ramundo’s work on the COVID vaccine has highlighted three digital transformation trends: It’s not all about technology. Digital transformation centers around digital tools and capabilities, but the people are equally important. Without passionate people, a digital transformation can fall flat. Ramundo says the COVID team at NECI all volunteered to work on the project because they are passionate about the cause, which helps things move even faster. Leadership must be engaged. Everyone has to be on board for a successful digital transformation. Starting from the top, leaders and executives must be engaged and lead the cause. Leaders also need to develop a plan for employee buy-in to get everyone on board and show the value of the changes. Digital transformation includes everyone, from IT to HR, finance and beyond. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Digital transformation is about smart, integrated technology, but at the end of the day, it has to solve problems. A digital solution that is flashy but doesn’t actually improve the company is a waste. What are the problems you are trying to solve? Ramundo recommends starting small, achieving business results and then repeating the process on other problems. Digital transformation is paving the way for a COVID vaccine to be introduced in record time. It can have an equally transformative effect on companies that focus on strategy and tie the digital offerings back to their business goals. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

How Companies Can Involve Customers In The Fight Against Carbon Emissions
Oct 14 2020 32 mins  
Most companies and consumers know they should fight against climate change and want to make a difference, they just don’t know how. With carbon emissions increasing across the globe, it can feel overwhelming to make a difference. Companies don’t know how to start or even if their efforts will pay off and actually have an impact. Austin Whitman is founder and CEO of Climate Neutral, a non-profit organization that makes it simple for companies to track and offset their carbon emissions and certifies companies that are actively working to reduce their carbon emissions. The goal is to provide companies a turn-key addition to their sustainability work and to start conversations with consumers about climate change. Whitman believes that the fight against carbon emissions is improved when companies involve customers in their eco-friendly initiatives. Not only does it empower customers, but it also creates a powerful partnership for good. Here are three ways to connect with customers on climate change: Make it simple for customers to make a difference. Modern consumers are overwhelmed by choices. Many consumers want to make responsible choices but simply don’t know how. Climate Neutral makes it easy for customers to purchase the most eco-friendly products. Companies that have gone through the certification process can put a label on their products to show customers their products are fighting against climate change. When customers are faced with options of products to buy, they can simply choose the product with the Climate Neutral symbol and know they are making the best choice. The goal of companies should always be to make customers’ lives easier, especially when it comes to making sustainable choices. Show customers change is possible. Whitman says it’s powerful when brands engage with their customers on climate change. Brands need to show consumers that fighting against climate change can lead to real results. Show customers that brands can still deliver high-quality items while reducing their carbon emissions. Focus on what’s achievable. Many consumers are hesitant to make eco-friendly purchases because they don’t want to change from their favorite products or dramatically alter their lives. But when brands showcase that progress can happen without taking away products and quality customers enjoy, it can lead to real change. Offer optimistic solutions. Instead of using scare tactics to engage customers in the fight against climate change, brands should stay hopeful and optimistic. The key is to start a conversation and provide solutions instead of just highlighting the problems. Many consumers feel they’re on their own to make the best decisions to limit their carbon footprints. Show them that it’s a collaboration between brands and customers and that together, we can all make progress. Climate change is a real problem for our world, but customers and companies can make a positive difference when they work together. Climate Neutral shows organizations that it’s possible to take a real stand against carbon emissions. When brands involve their customers in the conversation and action, the movement becomes even more powerful. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

How Retailers Can Build Trust In A Post-COVID World
Oct 07 2020 34 mins  
After months of quarantine and isolation, consumers are slowly starting to adjust to a new life with COVID-19. As stores reopen and re-adjust, they are faced with customers who are drastically different than they were just six month ago. According to Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, in order to transition and move forward, stores must re-build consumer trust. Moving forward in the pandemic starts by understanding what customers are thinking and feeling. Robb’s current company, S2G Ventures, recently published a report about the future of food in the age of COVID and uncovered many changes to customers’ mindsets. Today’s customers are out of their pre-COVID rhythm and are trying to find and settle into new routines while wrapping their heads around all the changes. Customers are adjusting and adapting by doing more things at home, leaning on different experiences and connecting with friends and brands digitally. Amidst all these changes, what customers really want is trust. They want the safety, security and transparency of trusting the companies they do business with. That includes things like knowing where their food comes from and understanding the manufacturing process for their clothes and home items. According to Robb, today’s retailers are at a tipping point: with a new generation of shoppers and a new world situation, companies have to contribute to solutions—they can’t just sit back. Retailers must actively work to build consumer trust by being transparent and authentic. Robb says retailers can re-earn trust and loyalty through three key principles: Act with integrity in every interaction. Customers interact with brands in a number of ways, from apps to in-store experiences and new digital platforms. Each interaction is a chance for a brand to re-earn trust and loyalty. Lasting trust comes from consistent actions. Customers have to know what to expect and that they will get great service every time they interact with the brand. Building trust doesn’t require huge actions—it’s the simple, everyday interactions that make a difference when they are authentic and consistent. Be willing to serve customers. Some customers say they want to be served in certain ways, such as grocery customers saying they want to pick up items in store or have certain things delivered. It’s up to brands to develop the capabilities to serve customers how and when they want to be served. Brands earn trust when they listen to customers and are willing to meet their needs. Use data to understand customers. Most customers are willing to share their personal information with a brand if it leads to more personalized experiences. Modern customers expect companies to know who they are and act according to their individual preferences. Brands can’t build unique experiences and establish trust if they don’t know their customers. COVID has changed how customers think and act, and retailers need to respond accordingly. To build trust, brands must understand modern customers and find ways to rebuild trust every day. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Six Ways To Support Employees During COVID-19
Sep 29 2020 29 mins  
What do you do when everything about how you run a business goes out the window? Software company Red Hat is regularly recognized as one of the best places to work, in part because of its strong community and culture. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees around the world to work from home, the company had to find new ways to support its employees. DeLisa Alexander, Red Hat’s Chief People Officer, is leading efforts to stay connected to remote employees and support them to become their best selves, even in times of stress and uncertainty. Here are six ways to support employees during COVID-19 and how Red Hat has turned a crisis situation into an opportunity to continue to build its strong culture. Start with yourself. Alexander says that leaders and managers have to breathe before they can help others breathe. If a manager is stressed with their own life, they won’t be able to connect with employees and help them work through their stress. Leaders at all levels need to build their resilience and take time to re-energize themselves so they can best lead others. Alexander regularly reminds herself and other leaders that it isn’t selfish to take time to do what you need to do to generate energy to lead your team. Let them grieve. Not everyone has lost loved ones, but the seismic changes to everyday life because of the pandemic have caused people to lose other things, including trips, family time and expected experiences. Employees are grieving for missed opportunities and the loss of their normal lives. Leaders need to acknowledge that it is fine to grieve and to work together to overcome those feelings. Red Hat hired a chaplain to create a grief framework to provide its employees with the best emotional outlets to handle these major changes to their lives. Give them time to recharge. With most people working from home, employees around the world are working more than ever and feel the need to be constantly available. Red Hat realized its employees needed more time to themselves but weren’t actually taking their available paid time off. Red Hat instituted Recharge Days when the company is shut down for one day a quarter and no one is allowed to work. Alexander says the two Recharge Days so far have worked wonders with employees and brought everyone back feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into work without feeling burnt out. Allow for flexibility. With so much of the world in flux, leaders and organizations must be flexible to meet their employees’ needs. Managers need to lead teams in a way that people can be open and honest about their challenges. If someone needs to cut back on their work, someone else steps in, no questions asked. Teams work together to get the work done in whatever way that entails. Flexibility allows for employees to feel supported at work and that they can be their whole selves. Instead of feeling they must always be performing at peak levels, even amidst their many trials, employees know they can have an honest conversation with their manager to get help when needed. Build community. Even though employees aren’t together physically, they still crave human connections and community. Soon after everyone started working from home, a group of Red Hat associates volunteered to curate content for regular newsletters. The weekly employee newsletter provides updates and resources for everything from childcare to remote work. Red Hat also moved the viewing of its internal video program “The Show” online and had thousands of employees from around the world sign on to watch together and chat. Community improves productivity and is a huge boost to employee morale. Involve employees. Even as employees have settled into some sort of rhythm of working remotely over the last six months, there is still plenty of uncertainty for the future. As Red Hat works to solidify future plans, it regularly updates employees and requests their feedback. A team of employees is looking at the future openly and transparently with employees to think through the best options for the company. Alexander and her team are upfront with people that things have changed and include everyone in creating meaningful experiences that engage employees, no matter where they are working. No matter the global situation, Red Hat believes employees should always feel supported and empowered to bring their whole selves to work. COVID-19 has changed how that happens, but staying flexible and finding new ways to support employees has helped the company continue to grow its culture. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

How To Create Customer-Centric B2B Experiences
Sep 22 2020 31 mins  
The B2B space is often an overlooked area for customer experience. But customer-centric experiences are crucial in the B2B world and come from listening to customers and continually evolving. When Kristi Langdon joined Daimler Trucks, she saw the company was incredibly product-focused, but not very customer-focused. The company was successful because of its great products, but Langdon knew B2B was shifting its focus to give more power to customers. She stepped into her current role as Daimler’s Head of Customer Experience and worked with the CEO to lead an effort to put customers at the center of Daimler’s B2B experiences. Daimler’s true first effort into customer-centricity came in November 2017 with its Customer Experience Day. All 22,000 Daimler employees around the world paused their normal work and spent the day listening to customers and learning about their experiences of doing business with Daimler. During those sessions, one customer made a comment that has become a driving force in the company: “You have great people and an amazing product, but your processes need work. We’ve got to work together on your processes.” Customer Experience Day also introduced employees to design thinking, Daimler’s new approach to customer experience. Employees broke into groups with trained facilitators to practice empathetic listening and creating prototypes to solve problems and improve processes. The entire day showed employees the true customer experience, what can be improved and how their work makes a difference. Daimler’s Customer Experience Day is now an annual occurrence and reminder that everyone in the company has a role to play in customer experience. By listening to customers, Langdon and her team learned that customers’ main pain points were a lack of communication and nearly everything about truck service and repairs. From there, the customer experience team looked for ways to automate processes to create smoother customer interactions and more self-service options. Leaning in to technology to better serve customers requires removing silos, especially between the business and IT sides of the company. As Langdon says, customer-centric models require partnerships between departments. Daimler is focused on shifting technology investments and increasing skills of the workforce so its people and developers know how to best serve customers and help with automation. Creating customer-centric experiences means being vulnerable and willing to listen to feedback that isn’t always pleasant. Langdon and her team discovered that Daimler customers have to contact the company an average of six times to get a problem solved, which was much higher than they thought. Daimler is working to lower the number so that customers only have to contact the company once or even not at all because of proactive service that reaches out to customers before problems arise. Getting regular feedback from customers and being willing to listen and improve the unpleasant aspects of the business helps Daimler stay connected with customers and constantly improve. Daimler’s push towards customer-centricity is continual. Building customer relationships, opening feedback channels and leveraging technology help the company deliver strong B2B experiences and create a competitive advantage. This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC. Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it! TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX. When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives? Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day. Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future. To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

3 Ways Companies Can Stay Human During A Crisis
Sep 15 2020 33 mins  
No one could have ever predicted what would happen in 2020. Aside from the pandemic and its impact on the global economy, unemployment, remote learning and a host of other issues, there are also widespread cries to end systemic racism, fires and natural disasters and a tumultuous presidential election. It’s more than anyone could ever have imagined, and it’s taking a toll on consumers. But even with these unique conditions, companies are moving forward and working to grow and provide great service to customers. The question many companies face is how to connect with customers when so much about the world has changed and people are facing so much stress. Amelia Dunlop, Chief Experience Officer at Deloitte Digital, refers to it as the emotional toll COVID-19 has taken on people. No matter how it affects each person, the pandemic and other crises have caused stress and exhaustion and changed people. Deloitte Digital set out to get a pulse on how customer behavior is changing amidst all of the chaos. A survey of 28,000 Americans introduced numerous stories about the changing human experience and showcased what Americans are going through, where they need help and what companies can do to stay relevant. It comes down to one key area: be human. Consumers want companies that are empathetic and see them as individuals in the middle of a crisis, not just shoppers who are the same as they were six months ago. Deloitte Digital’s results found three ways companies can become more human during a crisis: Build trust. Companies have to balance the natural tension between the safety of the group with each individual customer’s freedom in a way that builds trust with customers and is open and authentic. Signal safety. Customers are concerned about safety and often don’t know who to trust. Companies need to create a comprehensive safety plan and clearly communicate it to customers. People look for safety signs that they can see, feel, hear and smell. Redefine connection. Companies must change their approach to physical and virtual interactions to meet the human need to connect while still being safe. Customers still want connection, even if it comes in a different form. Being human requires companies to understand their customers and especially how they are reacting to challenges of the current crisis. The Deloitte Survey also found that people fit into three different clusters: Protectors: These are the people who are more concerned about health risks and tend to only trust themselves or their immediate family in regards to safety. They feel anxious and are acting with concern. Prevailers: This group is skeptical about how long the crisis will last. They are optimistic about reopening the economy and are likely to be the first for in-person experiences. Prevailers feel skeptical and are acting with confidence. Pragmatists: This group falls in between the others and tries to balance health and safety with a push to return to normal. People who fall into this category are feeling calm and acting with balance. Although everyone is going through the same crises, Dunlop says each person values different things. For companies to stay relevant and stay human, they have to build empathy and softer experiences for stressed consumers. Crises will always be part of doing business, even when they are as unpredictable as 2020 has shown. Keeping a good understanding of customers and staying human can help companies navigate crises and maintain strong relationships. This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC. Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it! TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX. When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives? Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day. Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future. To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

How To Stay Innovative In A COVID-19 World
Sep 08 2020 33 mins  
The COVID-19 pandemic may have upended nearly everything about how we live and work, but it hasn’t stopped innovation. While many people and businesses are struggling to stay afloat and work through their day-to-day issues, Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of FutureThink, says there’s never been a better time to be innovative. She views COVID-19 as the great reset that has paved the way for innovative changes. Innovation is more important now than ever, but it requires a new approach in our new world. COVID-19 can act as a catalyst for innovation and allow us to turn changes we were forced into by a global pandemic into productive and long-term changes in our organizations. Here are three ways to stay innovative in the age of COVID-19. Question Assumptions How we innovate is based on our assumptions. The key to strong innovation and being open to new ideas is to question the assumptions we’ve always had or that are part of society. For years, we’ve assumed certain things that are now being challenged. Many companies assumed they couldn’t have their employees work from home. But when they were forced to let go of those assumptions, they realized remote work can be effective for their teams. Questioning that assumption has allowed companies to create innovative remote work practices. As you set out to innovate, question the assumptions you hold personally or within your organization. Ask yourself why you think a certain way and why things matter. Innovation comes when people are willing to find creative solutions and re-create norms. Simplify When processes are inefficient or redundant, people can feel burnt out or too busy to innovate. The goal of simplicity isn’t to get more work done, it’s to do the work that matters. Bodell says anything can be simplified, but especially our processes, mindsets and schedules. Start by stripping things away to the essentials and only adding back in the things that matter most. Evaluate every aspect of your schedule or process to ensure it is valuable and not just busy work. Pharmaceutical company Novartis simplified its processes to drive collaboration and innovation. Video is now mandatory for all meetings, and any meeting longer than 30 minutes requires permission. Other companies are only allowing meetings to be scheduled on certain days of the week so that employees can focus on their own work the rest of the week. When your mind and schedule is free of pointless or busy tasks, you have more energy to dedicate to innovation and can clear the space for better ways of doing things. Know Your Skillset And Pivot Innovation requires individuals and companies to pivot to something new. Successful innovation is often based on your skills and abilities. Instead of trying something completely new, you can pivot to an area where you know you will be strong. Bodell recommends knowing your skillset and pivoting within those boundaries. Start by examining your skills and abilities. Where are areas you excel or that you know you can thrive? Use those skills as a jumping off point for innovation. Bodell shares the example of Dyson, a company that has a well-established production process. When COVID-19 first hit, the company was able to easily pivot from manufacturing vacuums to manufacturing respirators. Because of the company’s expertise in manufacturing and established culture of curiosity, Dyson could pivot to a new product area and innovate. COVID-19 has proven to be a catalyst for innovation. To keep innovation moving forward, focus on questioning assumptions and simplifying so you and your organization can become agile and be able to pivot, no matter what is happening in the world. This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC. Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it! TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX. When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives? Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day. Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future. To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

How Workday Stays Customer-Centric During COVID-19
Sep 01 2020 31 mins  
The COVID-19 pandemic rocked companies and customers around the world. As businesses struggled to survive, many put focusing on their customers on the backburner. But that’s not the case for Workday. The software company is regularly ranked one of the best companies in the world for its customer service and boasts an impressive 97% customer satisfaction score. As the world fell into chaos, Workday stayed close to its customers and used the crisis as a chance to strengthen relationships. Emily McEvilly is Workday’s first-ever Chief Customer Officer. She views her role to be the chief customer advocate and ensure that the customers’ voice is present in everything the company does. Never has that been more important than during the global pandemic. McEvilly said Workday was faced with three main waves of COVID-19 response. The first wave was when stay-at-home orders were first issued. As companies tried to wrap their heads around working from home, Workday B2B clients were mainly focused on business continuity and keeping things moving forward. The second wave came later as companies and employees found a groove of working from home. They had managed to stay afloat, but now faced the challenges of adapting potentially long term. Workday continued its standard personalized approach to customer service but tailored it to meet the many needs of its clients. Employees known as Customer Success Managers were assigned to groups of customers to develop strong relationships with them. Those employees serve as a point of contact for customers and use their knowledge of each customer to offer personalized service. Instead of customers having to blindly call customer service, they have a single person they can contact directly to meet their needs. Workday covers clients in nearly every industry around the globe, and the different needs of those companies became clear during COVID-19. A one-size-fits-all response to the pandemic wouldn’t work with the differing situations. Instead, Workday divided its employees to each serve certain customers. During a crisis, speed is of the essence, and pre-assigning employees cut down on customers having to wade through red tape to find the right person to help them. McEvilly shared the example of one large U.S. retailer that wanted to give its front-line workers an hourly increase. Workday’s customer-centric response helped the company quickly make the change to best help its employees. Another much smaller company has a different type of global workforce that wasn’t used to working from home. Workday employees updated the client’s software to allow managers to easily track employee tasks and even provided consulting hours to help them make changes in their apps. Going one step further, Workday shared the experience in its customer portal so that any customer could see how the product could be tailored. According to McEvilly, the third phase of COVID-19 response hasn’t yet arrived. That will be when companies get back to working in person or with a long-term remote work strategy. In preparation for that phase, Workday is already building new partnerships to strengthen its products to deliver agile features customers will need. Like with many other companies, COVID-19 pushed Workday to implement digital programs earlier than originally planned. Workday accelerated the launch of its Digital Customer Experience, which optimizes all systems related to Workday applications. The applications themselves are powerful and efficient, but the programs that support the applications and educate customers needed to be refined. The digital approach is improving how customers search for information and learn about their Workday products to get the most value. Customer-centricity is never more important than during a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that customers crave connection and want personalized service to keep moving forward. By offering personalized, digital solutions, Workday is able to keep its customers central to everything it does, no matter what is happening in the world. This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC. Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it! TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX. When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives? Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day. Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future. To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

Party City’s COVID-19 Pivot Brings In A New Era
Aug 25 2020 32 mins  
What do you do when your entire business is built around parties and celebrations, but people can’t actually get together? That’s the question faced by Party City during the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of slowing down as social distancing severely limits gatherings, Party City is taking the opportunity to pivot and introduce new services to customers. After its stores closed in mid-March, Party City quickly pivoted to buy online, pickup in store and same-day delivery. According to CEO Brad Weston, the company already had these services on its omnichannel roadmap but had to quickly implement them in a few days instead of months or years as originally planned. Party City partnered with a leading digital fulfilment and delivery platform to enhance the delivery experience from start to finish. Delivery has been a huge boost for the company, especially for balloons. A common frustration for customers used to be going to the store to have balloons filled, only to find they didn’t all fit in their car. But with balloons being delivered, customers aren’t limited by the size of their trunk space. Even in a pandemic, celebrations still happen. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, new babies, holidays and a host of other things give people a reason to celebrate, just in a different way. COVID-19 has forced the store to pivot many of its products and experiences, especially around virtual events. It now offers kits for easy virtual and at-home celebrations, including a DIY movie night in a box, beach day in a box, graduation in a box and many more. Party City also expanded its online resources to help customers plan and host virtual parties with step-by-step guides. In many cases, customers didn’t need tons of supplies for a virtual celebration, but the resources helped build the experience and push Party City to its new experiential focus. Party City is in the business of helping people find and celebrate joy. Much of that starts online. Weston believes that to get customers’ attention, retailers need to provide aspirational and inspirational experiences to start customers down the journey instead of just making products available. In the case of Party City, that means providing inspiration for the entire party experience including entertainment, décor and food, instead of simply selling party supplies. Customers want a one-stop shop where they can plan amazing celebrations and be inspired. Party City’s pivot to experiential customer service starts online by providing ideas and planning services. The company is making the big shift towards adding a marketplace of services that customers might want, including balloon artists, caterers, musicians and more. The goal is to help customers with every step of the party process, from brainstorming and big-picture ideas down to the little details and vendors. Celebrations don’t stop because of COVID-19. Today’s customers are celebrating together while remaining apart. Party City’s pivot during the pandemic provides new resources and ideas for customers while also putting the company on the path to a more holistic, experience-based approach to celebrations of the future.

3 Pillars Of Customer-Centric Healthcare
Aug 18 2020 31 mins  
For decades, healthcare has had a reputation of being bureaucratic and difficult to work with. Customers expect to have to jump through hoops and wade through confusion to find answers to simple questions or manage their care. But the future of healthcare is anything but difficult—it puts customers first to create convenient, proactive and personalized solutions. Kathy Klingler is Chief Consumer Experience and Marketing Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and she brings decades of experience in banking and other consumer industries. Her approach turns the traditional healthcare model on its head to put customers first. Customer experience is crucial at Blue Cross Blue Shield. Klingler’s unique position puts her in charge of everything from brand strategy to digital marketing, customer experience and market insights. She works closely with the Chief Strategy Officer to integrate customer experience into the overall strategy of the company and the future of healthcare. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s strategy reaffirms that putting the consumer at the center of healthcare is the most important thing the company can do. The company’s customer-centricity plan breaks into three pillars: 1. Digital capabilities. One of Klingler’s main focuses since joining the company four years ago has been to build out Blue Cross Blue Shield’s digital capabilities. There used to be disparate systems without a place for members to understand their plans or how to get the most value. A new digital hub is personalized for each member’s needs and allows them full access to the information they need to understand and get the most out of their plan. Modern customers crave digital convenience and being able to get information on their own schedule. 2. Communication channels. For decades, the traditional way of communicating with healthcare customers was by phone. But modern members want to interact digitally and in more convenient ways. Blue Cross Blue Shield aims to meet customers where they are in channels they already use. Customer-centric companies create more communication channels to match customer preferences and ensure those offerings are seamless and convenient. 3. Data and analytics. Blue Cross Blue Shield leverages data in a way that allows it to engage with members in more meaningful ways. Data paints a picture of members and allows contact center agents to proactively suggest care that members might need. Data and analytics add a powerful tool to understanding and serving customers. During COVID, Blue Cross is proactively reaching out to members who are at higher risk or live in hotspot areas to ensure they get the care they need. The mission of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is to put customers first, and it’s something that the employees and leaders live and breathe. By staying in contact with customers and combining customer data, third-party data and behavioral data, the company understands what its members need and is constantly adapting to meet their needs. In the future of healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s customer-centric strategy will become the norm. Healthcare companies must become more transparent and make it easier for their customers to get the care they need in the way they want to access it. Instead of bombarding customers with information, that means delivering personalized information clearly and simply from an ally who can guide them. The difficulties of traditional healthcare are on their way out. In order to succeed in the future, healthcare companies must put customers first and deliver on the three main pillars of customer-centricity. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

How To Master Customer Experience Leadership
Aug 11 2020 35 mins  
A customer focus and strong customer experience starts from the top. In order for companies to be totally customer-centric, they must have strong leaders. However, we’re facing a leadership crisis today where most leaders don’t know how to lead. Jacob Morgan (who just happens to be my husband) is a best-selling author and expert on leadership and the future of work. As he was conducting research for his book, The Future Leader, he came across this startling statistic: most people become leaders in their mid to late 20s, but they don’t receive formal leadership training until their late 30s or early 40s. That means most leaders go more than a decade without any training. No wonder we have such a lack of strong leadership. To be effective, leaders have to take training into their own hands. The first step is to create your own definition of leader and leadership. We are surrounded by leadership, but few of us can actually define it. Establishing a definition allows companies to create filters for who they hire and promote. Those filters ensure that the organization is filled with consistently great leaders instead of a mix of great and sub-par leaders. Jacob’s definition of leadership is being a lighthouse. The purpose of a lighthouse is to shine light on ships in the harbor and guide them to safety and success. Similarly, a leader’s purpose is to guide their people and organization to success. But a leader lighthouse is useless without ships. Leaders can’t just focus on themselves—they must focus on others. From interviews with more than 140 top CEOs, Jacob created the Notable Nine: the skills and mindsets leaders need to adapt to succeed in the future of work. These skills are crucial to becoming a customer-focused leader and creating a culture of customer centricity. Mindsets Explorer: Become a perpetual learner, be curious and focus on agility and adaptability. Chef: Balance humanity and technology. Servant: Serve your leaders, your team, your customers and yourself by being humble and vulnerable. Global citizen: Surround yourself with different people and look at the big picture. Skills Futurist: Look towards the future and think through different scenarios. Yoda: Practice emotional intelligence and empathy. Translator: Develop listening and communication skills Coach: Motivate and engage others and create effective teams across geographies and generations. Technology teen: Embrace new technology and be tech-savvy. A common element for all leaders, especially those leading through the current uncertainty of COVID-19, is to focus on people, not profits. Successful leaders develop their people, set a vision, engage and coach them to be more successful. They are focused more on engaging their employees than hitting their quarterly revenue goals. As Jacob says, putting people first is a philosophy backed by a set of actions. Don’t just believe it—you have to show it. Customer experience leadership impacts the entire organization. In order for a business to succeed, leaders must focus on people and strive to become lighthouses that guide others to success. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

The Secret To Creating A Great Virtual Event
Aug 04 2020 32 mins  
For most people around the world, the excitement of attending an in-person event has been replaced by sitting in front of a computer screen. As the coronavirus pandemic cancels in-person events of all sizes around the world, more companies than ever before are taking their events online. But staring at a screen isn’t nearly as engaging as seeing something in person, and many companies and event attendees have struggled with the new format. Abhishek Vanamali, CMO of Zensar Technologies, is a strong believer in virtual events. Although they can’t exactly replicate in-person events, he believes virtual events are the future and have the potential to offer amazing, engaging experiences for organizers and attendees. Vanamali’s advice to create an amazing virtual event comes down to this: stop thinking about limitations and embrace what’s possible. Many organizations focus on what virtual event platforms can’t do—things like not being able to network one-on-one, raise a real toast or test out new products. But to plan a successful virtual event, no matter if it is a huge conference or a small team meeting, organizers must change their thinking to see what’s possible. Vanamali says that everything we thought isn’t possible virtually is actually possible in some form. The first step for event organizers and marketers is to educate themselves and discover the possibilities of virtual events. Virtual event technology has come a long way in recent years, even before the pandemic hit. There are numerous platforms available that offer features like registering attendees, facilitating breakout sessions and allowing attendees to chat with each other during sessions. When looking at the possibilities of virtual events, the sky's the limit. Technology makes it possible to create nearly any kind of event in a unique and memorable way. Vanamali shared the example of a high-end auction house that was forced to take its auction online. Instead of being weighed down by the idea of selling high-end art without customers seeing it in person, the company created a full-blown production. It ran an all-day virtual event complete with green screens, professional lighting, expert auctioneers and interactive content to tell the story of the art. The virtual auction wasn’t simply a recreation of an in-person auction—it was a new type of event that leveraged technology and helped the company sell $420 million of art online. One of the biggest challenges of virtual events is keeping participants engaged. It’s one thing to sit in a room with hundreds of other people and absorb a presentation, but it’s completely different to be alone at home with dozens of distractions. The Zensar Technologies annual sales meeting addressed this challenge when it added a gamification element for its 300 attendees. While the event was happening virtually on one screen, attendees were also using a companion mobile app to scan AR markers on presentation slides. The person who scanned the most markers over the three-day meeting won a grand prize, and participants got competitive as the leaderboard changed. Zensar also used the app for trivia contests and quizzes between sessions. Vanamali says participants were engaged by the unique gamification piece, which led them to pay more attention to the content and have a better experience. The global pandemic has put virtual events at the forefront of business, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Now that companies have seen the potential of virtual event technology, more events will stay virtual or adopt a hybrid model. To create a great virtual event, remember to embrace technology and consider its many possibilities instead of getting weighed down by its limitations. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

How To Use Data To Create Personalized And Scalable Experiences
Jul 28 2020 32 mins  
With a wealth of customer data available, companies have more opportunities than ever before to deliver personalized customer experiences. But creating a unique experience for each person can take valuable time and resources. Successful companies leverage data to balance personalized experiences with scalable interactions that appeal to everyone. Bryan Flores, Group Vice President, Marketing & Strategy at Frontier Communications, says companies must weigh the tradeoffs between individual experiences and universal truths. The aspects of the experience that apply to everyone are universal truths—things like nobody wants to pay more than they need to or the idea that the service always needs to work. Those universal truths should be table stakes and a built-in part of all experiences. Individual experiences, on the other hand, can change depending on the type of customer. Each person has different needs and preferences, such as a Frontier Communications customer who prefers to stream video on their smartphone versus someone who uses wireless internet to homeschool their children on a laptop. Both customers want the same universal truths—dependable internet at a fair price—but how they receive the service and their interactions with the company will be different. All experiences rely on data to be effective. Flores says his company looks at a huge array of data to truly understand its customers, both on a large scale and an individualized basis. Data shows how customers are using the internet, what devices they use to stream and watch TV and what they are looking for in their own experiences. Data shows consumer trends and individual preferences. Data is also a powerful tool for employees to better know the customers they are serving. Flores says using technology to make employees’ lives easier can greatly impact the customer experience by giving employees the tools they need to provide excellent service. Data powers dashboards that make the most pertinent consumer information available to Frontier Communications representatives. When a customer calls, the employee can quickly see their transaction history and preferences to provide a unique experience, while also understanding the larger data for the entire customer base. The employee may know that the wider customer group in that geographic area uses the internet primarily at certain times a day and can combine that information with what they can see about the customer, such as that they work from home, to recommend the best internet to meet their needs. Leveraging data allows companies to provide individual experiences at scale. Instead of having to sort through data individually or take time to get to know each customer, companies can rely on data to track customer interactions and predict what each customer wants and needs. Data can also pinpoint why customers do certain things to offer a clearer understanding of their lifestyles and habits. Modern companies don’t have to choose between individualized experiences and scaled experiences. By leveraging data, they can have both. Taking advantage of data makes employees’ and customers’ lives easier and helps everyone get a customized experience, no matter how many customers there are. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

How To Overcome The Two Big Challenges SMBs Face As They Reopen
Jul 21 2020 29 mins  
After months of stay-at-home orders and closed doors, small businesses across the globe are starting to reopen. But the world they face today is drastically different from the one they were operating in just a few months ago. To succeed in this new world, small and mid-sized businesses need strong resources and support systems. According to Kim Dixon, COO of FedEx Office, SMBs face two main challenges as they reopen: Managing regulations and customer expectations. Businesses need to follow safety guidelines, but it can be confusing to know which regulations are the most accurate and up to date. On top of that, changing customer expectations place a higher emphasis on health and cleanliness. SMBs face the challenge of making sure they have clean environments and clearly communicating their practices and protocols to customers Getting business back. After being closed or partially closed for months, small businesses have to grow awareness with new marketing efforts and clear communication. They also have to adjust how they operate and the marketing materials their customers use in store, such as switching to single-use menus or individual flyers. Overcoming these challenges can be overwhelming to small and mid-sized businesses, especially as they traverse an unknown world and anxious customers. As FedEx Office navigates its own transition in the COVID world, it also creates experiences to help its customers with their reopenings. According to Dixon, the first priority for FedEx Office and other SMBs should be to create a clean and safe environment for customers and employees. In most cases, that means establishing new health and cleaning protocols, switching from reusable to disposable or digital items and adding tools like hand sanitizer and face masks. Once a business has created its cleaning processes internally, it can communicate those practices with customers through direct marketing, mailers and email and social media updates. Within the businesses, many items need to be rearranged or spaced out to accommodate social distancing. Many small businesses use social distancing floor graphics to make sure customers are properly spread out. Customers won’t return to a store if they don’t feel safe and clean. Establishing processes and clearly communicating them with customers is one of the most powerful marketing messages during the COVID pandemic. FedEx Office also sets the example to its SMB customers of how to interact with their own customers. FedEx Office created special pricing and promotions to help during tough economic times and made in-demand resources, such as templates for social distancing signs, easily available to customers. Similarly, SMBs can follow the example to make things as seamless as possible for customers. FedEx Office also listens to customers and regularly implements their feedback to eliminate pain points and improve the overall experience. Customers weren’t satisfied with the design offerings, so FedEx Office partnered with design leader Canva to make it fast and cost-efficient for brands to create beautifully designed materials. To survive in the current global landscape, SMBs need to listen to their customers and find ways to make their lives easier by eliminating pain points. Small and mid-sized businesses face an uphill battle as they reopen in the middle of a global pandemic. But finding strong partners and resources and clearly communicating with customers can help them overcome their biggest challenges. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

Pinterest and the Future of Shoppable Content
Jul 14 2020 34 mins  
People browse Pinterest for inspiration on recipes, fashion, home décor, health and wellness, travel and much more. But in the future, that browsing could easily turn into shopping. Pinterest is leading the charge for smooth, shoppable content—the future of retail and customer experience. According to Dutta Satadip, Chief Customer Officer at Pinterest, the company tries to strike the balance between knowing when to personalize and when to scale. Customers want relevant recommended content, but they also want access to a wide range of ideas. Most customers come to Pinterest to find something, so Pinterest is moving in the direction of not only showing users the content they are looking for, but also making it seamless to instantly purchase that item. The vision of shoppable content is that in the future, every pin is a starting point for shopping. Instead of simply using Pinterest as a way to get inspired, users will be able to seamlessly go from pin to purchase and trust that they will get high-quality products. Although it might seem like a relatively simple problem, Satadip says it is actually quite complicated. One of the big obstacles to overcome is when Pinterest users find images on the site but don’t know where to actually buy those items. They may see a great beauty product or piece of furniture, but clicking through the image doesn’t take them to a place where they can buy it. Pinterest and its advertisers are working together to eliminate friction and drive more shoppable content. To do so, Pinterest is making sure its shoppable links are for reputable sites. Satadip says Pinterest doesn’t want to connect customers to vendors that don’t sell high-quality merchandise or don’t portray an accurate representation of their products. If a customer clicks through Pinterest to purchase a clothing item, Pinterest wants to make sure that what the customer ends up getting matches the original image. To that end, Pinterest created its Verified Merchant Program. Once a seller has been verified as trustworthy, they receive a checkbox by their name so that customers know the brand is trusted. The program is a win for both customers and retailers because verified retailers can get wider distribution, and customers can purchase with confidence. Building trust is the first step to making customers feel more comfortable clicking through an image and giving their credit card information. The future of shoppable content comes from finding the balance between personalization and scale. High-quality items have to be scaled to be available to everyone across a wide range of topics, but users also want personalized recommendations to purchase things that match their lifestyle. Satadip says Pinterest is working on finding the balance between high-touch services, such as the white glove Verified Merchant Program, and tech-touch services that use data to scale product recommendations. The secret to building strong shoppable content is to combine humans and technology—both sides are needed to give users a frictionless experience. As the line between social networks and shopping blurs, shoppable content will appear on many platforms. Pinterest is setting the stage to play a major role in shoppable content that is as smooth as it is beautiful. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

3 Digital Improvements All Utility Companies Must Make
Jul 06 2020 31 mins  
In an age where most consumers interact with companies through websites, apps and other digital channels, the utility industry is constantly lagging behind. A recent report from JD Power found that customer digital satisfaction in the utility industry is substantially lower than other industries. As companies in nearly every other industry, even notoriously antiquated industries like insurance and banking, prioritize the digital experience and provide innovative and convenient digital solutions for customers, utility companies lag behind with outdated channels and methods. According to Jon Sundberg, Senior Manager of Digital Communication at JD Power, utility companies update their websites an average of once every five years—a lifetime in the digital space—meaning that most websites look and feel outdated and offer a clunky user experience. By not embarking on a digital transformation, utility companies run the risk of becoming digital laggards. Aside from dissatisfied customers, Sundberg says they are also missing a chance to become more efficient and reduce costs. Without convenient digital tools to find answers, track their energy usage or pay their bills themselves, customers are forced to call the company, which is one of the most expensive customer service methods. To stay relevant and build a stronger experience, utility companies must prioritize these three digital areas: Apps. Fewer than half of utility companies across the country have apps, meaning they are missing out on a convenient and cost-effective way for customers to track their account and energy usage. Even companies with apps need to take them one step further. Sundberg says apps need to go beyond the base-level of convenience and move towards offering advice and real-time notifications about how each customer can reduce their energy load to lower their bill and help the environment. Online chat. In most other industries, online chat is standard practice, but 80% of utility companies don’t offer the service. Instead, customers are forced to connect with the company on the phone or in person, which is not only less convenient for customers, but also much more expensive for companies. Mobile website. Because utility companies update their websites so infrequently, most sites aren’t optimized for mobile. Modern customers predominately visit websites on mobile devices, which means utility websites need to be streamlined to help customers find the updated information they need on the go. Digital transformation is crucial for every company, no matter the industry. Because utility companies often don’t face as much competition, they tend to be slow to adopt new digital solutions, which makes life much more difficult for customers. As utility startups gain steam around the country, competition is increasing, which means it’s more important than ever for utility companies to offer a strong digital experience. The best digital experience is built around customers and starts with companies listening to customers to find out what matters to them. Prioritizing feedback and creating convenient digital solutions for customers can set utility companies up for long-term success. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

Why Employee Mental Health Matters And What You Can Do About It
Jun 29 2020 33 mins  
In the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people are now balancing numerous responsibilities: working from home, keeping their kids entertained, stressing about staying healthy, checking in on elderly family members, trying to take care of themselves—the list goes on and on. These responsibilities can weigh on people and lead to mental health issues for busy employees. Guru Gowrappan is CEO of Verizon Media, a company that has seen tremendous growth in the last few months as media consumption has skyrocketed. But even with his many responsibilities as CEO, Gowrappan believes his most important job is to take care of himself and encourage his employees to take care of themselves. It’s easy for employees to become overwhelmed and burnt out during normal times, and that risk is amplified during the uncertainty of a global pandemic and widespread social unrest. Gowrappan believes in doing everything to help employees with what they need to work from home and answer questions about benefits and other changes. He believes it is table stakes as CEO to prioritize employee mental health. As employees work from home, their four walls become their universe. Those walls can quickly start to close in and become suffocating, which impacts an employee’s mindset both in work and their personal life. Gowrappan says it’s important for people to take care of themselves and find balance. He starts each day with exercise and meditation and has provided mediation resources and apps to all Verizon Media employees, as well as free access to 24/7 crisis and counseling support. Working remotely blurs the lines between work and home, which means leaders and employees may find themselves in meetings for more than 12 hours a day with limited breaks. That constant mental energy can be draining, so Gowrappan and his team at Verizon Media encourage leaders to give more breaks. Even a short five-minute nap or 10-minute video game session can help employees reset and have the mental energy to continue with the day. Breaking up the rhythm of the day with as many small resets as possible builds good consistent energy. Everyone is in the same boat with the pandemic, but it impacts everyone differently. Gowrappan believes this is a great opportunity to build empathy as we work through a shared challenge together. He encourages his employees to be as flexible and empathetic with each other as possible. If an employee feels overwhelmed or is struggling with their balance or mental health, they can be open and honest with their leaders or their team and have other people step in to make up the difference. Although the pandemic may be stressful, in many cases it is changing our view of other people and our relationships for the positive. Along with providing employees with resources to reset and re-energize, leaders and organizations should try to find ways to lower employee stress. During the current pandemic, uncertainty can be a major stressor for employees. Gowrappan believes strongly in transparency and communication. He holds daily 30-minute live Q & A sessions with the entire company to keep them updated on how Verizon Media is pivoting and planning for the future. Gowrappan believes CEOs are today’s chief communication officers and have a responsibility to keep employees informed to lower their stress. Employee mental health matters. Especially during challenging times, leaders and employees need to take care of themselves, and organizations must provide their employees the resources to prioritize their mental health and find balance. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

How To Overcome The Biggest Mistake Women Make In Business
Jun 23 2020 34 mins  
Women like Beyoncé command attention, both on stage and in the boardroom. But channeling your inner Beyoncé starts by avoiding a common and costly mistake most women make in business. Trust the woman who served as the personal attorney for many famous musicians, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Jennifer Justice, better known as JJ, spent years as a music lawyer before founding The Justice Department, a female-focused strategy and law firm. She says the biggest mistake women make in business is not negotiating for themselves. Justice says that too often, women don’t hire proper representation to negotiate for themselves. They may hire an agent to negotiate business contracts and deals instead of a lawyer or hire a man who doesn’t understand the business perspective they are coming from. Justice says that men often don’t fight for women because they don’t understand what women have to endure in business and life. Not only are women frequently left out of leadership teams, but women are regularly paid less than men. That pay disparity is only getting worse, especially after women were harder hit by the economic effects of COVID-19. How can women overcome these mistakes and better stand up for themselves? It starts with hiring the right representation. A female lawyer understands the prejudices women face because she has felt them as well. While the power difference with men makes many female clients feel intimidated to ask questions, female representation can create a comfortable environment so that women feel empowered and educated. Women also need to learn to keep pushing and not settle. Even when women think they are getting the best deal, Justice says they are still making less than men. The first step to asking for more and closing the gap between men and women is to properly value yourself as a female. Too often, women become the worst perpetrators and undervalue themselves. Justice says females have to demand more for themselves and for each other. But women are often insecure and don’t feel confident advocating for themselves. Justice recommends women don’t think of it as representing themselves, but rather representing a higher purpose. Changing your thinking about how you represent yourself and your value can give women more confidence and strength to ask for what they deserve. Women face an uphill battle in business, no matter the industry. The top mistake they can make is not negotiating for themselves. Don’t just accept what you’ve been offered; know your value and keep pushing. The more women can represent and stand up for each other, the more the gap between men and women will close and the sooner women will begin to earn what they are worth.

How To Use Sales Funnels To Build Customer Experience With Russell Brunson
Jun 15 2020 33 mins  
It's no secret in a post-COVID world, much of the shopping is happening online. That said, the internet is a great opportunity for brands, but it can also be overwhelming for customers. Not all websites and online customer experiences are created equally. One of the best aspects of an online experience for customers and brands are sales funnels. According to Russell Brunson, co-founder and CEO of ClickFunnels, a sales funnel is completely designed around the customer experience. Traditional websites tend to have complex navigation systems with dropdown menus and lots of options. While some companies think providing customers with choices helps customers get exactly what they need, it can actually confuse customers. When there are too many options or products, customers can get lost in the chaos and end up leaving the website for something simpler. A sales funnel simplifies the process to walk customers down a more direct path. A funnel shifts the experience so that customers only have one thing they can do on a page. Instead of being bombarded with choices and products, customers only have the choice to enter their email address to get access to something they want or to leave the page. From there, the next page also has one option. Each page has one call to action to take customers through a systemic step-by-step sales process. Brunson compares sales funnels to going to the grocery store. Visiting a traditional website is like wandering the grocery store without knowing exactly what you need and putting things in your cart without thinking or getting too overwhelmed and leaving the store without making a purchase. On the other hand, a sales funnel is like meeting someone at the store who shows you exactly what to buy for a recipe, step by step. They take you through a logical sequence of events to make sure you leave the store with everything you need. A sales funnel streamlines customer experience and moves people through the process. Customers get exactly what they want. In many cases, the funnel even moves them to things they didn’t realize they needed but are the next logical step in the process. It’s like your knowledgeable friend showing you the grills at the store and then taking you to get propane and grilling supplies that you didn’t even realize you needed but that will make your grilling experience so much better. As an added bonus for companies, Brunson says sales funnels also lead to a huge boost in sales. Customers aren’t overwhelmed by the process, so they stick around to work through the funnel and drive revenue. Sales funnels resonate with customers because customers often aren’t looking for huge, over-the-top experiences from brands. They would rather have something simple and personalized, which is exactly what can happen through a sales funnel. Brunson uses a simple formula to sell things online: hook, story, offer. The hook grabs someone’s attention with a catchy video or headline. That opens the door to tell them a story to build connection. Then, a brand can make an offer because there is a strong relationship. The three steps might not happen all at once, but they work to create relationships that can lead to eventual sales. Sales funnels, like the overall customer experience, are all about making things easier and simpler for customers. Building a relationship and finding and improving on customer pain points can help companies make sales and create winning online experiences. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

How To Create Agile Customer-Centric Teams
Jun 09 2020 33 mins  
Building a better experience for customers often starts internally by creating a customer-centric culture and strong teams. And for many successful companies, those teams are transitioning to become more agile. Agile is a buzzword often thrown around with teams. According to Sarah Elk, author of Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos, there’s a difference between companies that do agile well and companies that don’t do it properly and end up with more issues than before. What does it mean to be agile? It’s a way of organizing and running teams that helps them change businesses, test fast and stay in tune with customers. Agile teams are focused on innovation and experimenting with new ideas with a strong feedback loop. When done right, agile teams are completely customer-focused and can make a huge impact in strengthening relationships and creating high-quality customer experiences. One thing to remember is that agile teams are a tool, not a strategy. Successful companies have a purpose and a strategy to achieve that purpose. Agile is a tool or methodology to help companies be more efficient and customer-focused, but it isn’t the entire strategy. Elk says agile’s role is essential to customer experience because it puts the customer at the heart of everything the team does. When done correctly, multiple agile teams in the organization are focused on innovating different aspects of the customer experience. One agile team could be working on customer solutions, another on adapting technology systems and another on improving communication. Each team is testing new ideas to find what will work best for customers. Each team has its own agile focus, but they all work together to deliver something different and relevant to customers. Many companies are moving enthusiastically to agile teams, but the entire company shouldn’t be agile. Hierarchical structure and traditional teams are essential to keeping the business running with routine operations. Agile and bureaucracy are complements to each other and balance each other out to keep the business moving forward while also finding new solutions to improve the customer experience. Successful, customer-centric agile teams start with strong leadership and culture. In an agile world, the customer dictates the right answer because teams are testing and learning. Leaders often need to step aside and let agile teams work so that customers can speak for themselves. Elk says the most critical piece of an agile team is the feedback loop. Teams need to be constantly in contact with customers and learning from and applying their feedback. Agile teams have incredible potential to change customer experience and create relevant and innovative interactions with customers. Elk says that at the end of the day, agile is about hope and optimistically looking towards the future. Agile’s goal is to make a business better and should create a fun journey—for both employees and customers. This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk. Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Human-First Customer Service is Broken: Here’s How to Fix It
Jun 02 2020 32 mins  
Every modern customer is familiar with the basic customer service script. It’s often what they hear after waiting on hold and having to work through a phone tree, when what they really want is a quick answer to a question or a human to have an actual conversation with. Instead, they’re left with a frustrating interaction that takes too long and is ineffective. According to Ruth Zive, head of marketing at automated customer service company Ada, human-first customer service is broken. Too often customers have to wait on hold only to get the runaround with questions and feedback that are irrelevant to their issues. An automation-first strategy allows companies to use their humans wisely. Automating customer service doesn’t mean companies need to eliminate human support, but it does mean human employees can be better used. The vast majority of inquiries are repetitive—things like checking on an order status or tracking a package. These questions can easily be answered by automation in a way that is quicker and more convenient than waiting for a human employee. By automating the mundane questions, human representatives are then free to address the more complicated questions and the customer interactions that matter most. Automation cuts costs for simple queries and allows companies to deliver a truly human experience when it’s most needed. Air Asia is one company that has made the transition to automation-first service. According to Zive, using a robust automation platform helped the company seamlessly transition during the COVID pandemic to be available to answer customer questions around the clock. Air Asia’s chatbot through Ada also empowers customers to do things like change their seats and order meals before their flights. If a customer needs a human, the escalation happens seamlessly. By adding automation-first service, Air Asia was able to cut its wait times from over an hour to less than a minute, leading to lower costs and higher customer satisfaction. To get the benefits of automation without the overwhelm of transitioning an entire system at once, Zive recommends companies start by automating the 10 most frequently asked questions, which she says can lead to a 30% call reduction within 30 days. From there, companies can move on to automating more sophisticated questions and integrating back-end systems. The key to a successful automated service strategy is to stay actively involved instead of just setting it up and moving on. Automation underpins an organization’s entire support strategy and requires updates and maintenance. Many successful companies have teams or entire departments dedicated to managing automated service. Human-first customer service is outdated and inefficient. Companies need to turn to automation to increase customer satisfaction and reduce their costs. With a strategic automation system that combines convenient responses with quick escalation to humans when needed, customers can get the support they need and brands can best use their resources. This podcast is sponsored by Ada. More about Ada: ADA is the leader in Automated Customer Experience with their easy to implement AI Chatbot Software. ADA was born with the understanding that live agents have more to contribute than responses to frequently asked questions; with an appreciation for customers’ preference for on-demand, self-service support; and with the knowledge that they could deliver a product that would offer a highly personalized and engaging opportunity for automation across the customer journey. Learn more at

What COVID Teaches Us About Future-Proofing
May 26 2020 31 mins  
Even the most forward-thinking companies couldn’t predict the magnitude and impact of the COVID pandemic. If the future is unpredictable to even the most prepared companies, how can organizations future-proof their businesses? The answers might come from our current situation. Change is unpredictable. No one know the next big global catalyst for change expect that it will happen at some point. But to be as prepared as possible for whatever comes next, companies need to learn from the present and look towards the future. According to Tom Libretto, CMO at Pega, future-proofing starts by looking inside at the business architecture. The future will be fast-paced and constantly changing, so a company’s structure needs to be able to move fast and pivot alongside the changes. Libretto says a lot of architectures of the past were too brittle, and those flaws are now being exposed. In the future, an adaptable business architecture will be more important than ever. Companies should focus on being more stable and establishing flexible systems so they aren’t caught off guard again. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers have been contacting companies about new issues and have had more interaction with brands than before. These interactions have taught companies the importance of responding to the needs of customers in ways that make the company more resilient in the future. Libretto says that companies often respond to customers with a one-and-done mentality and move on to the next issue. To be future-proof, organizations need to respond to customers in a way that makes them stronger and adds to the company’s architecture. Take these opportunities to build relationships, learn from customers and prepare to pivot instead of simply addressing an issue and moving on. One of the most crucial qualities of future-proof organizations is empathy. This has been shown in many ways during the current pandemic. Everyone around the world is experiencing the pandemic, but it happens in different ways, and some are devastating, especially for customers who have lost family members or their jobs. Successful companies have models in place to embed empathy at the heart of all their customer interactions. Empathy will always be important and will satisfy current needs and retain relationships for the long run. Mixed with the human elements is a need to automate to prepare for the future. Libretto gives the example of using an email bot to sort through the deluge of customer emails and automatically trigger the right response, either back to the customer or in process through the back office. Future-proof organizations embrace technology and look for the best ways to automate. The future is uncertain, and it will likely continue to get more uncertain as time goes on. But companies that build agile architectures, show empathy and automate will be on their way to being future-proof and ready to face whatever comes their way. This post is sponsored by Pega. About our sponsor: Pega is the leader in cloud software for customer engagement and operational excellence. The world’s most recognized and successful brands rely on Pega’s AI-powered software to optimize every customer interaction on any channel while ensuring their brand promises are kept. It’s almost time for PegaWorld iNspire, the annual conference from Pegasystems. Join them online for free on June 2 from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time to learn how the world’s most impactful companies are driving digital transformation – which is more important than ever in the COVID-19 age. They’ll have compelling keynotes, demos, and case studies in a highly interactive virtual format and a few surprises as well. Go to to register for free and check out the full agenda. I’ve attended the last several PegaWorlds in person and I can’t recommend it highly enough, so go register today! That’s

The Customer Of The Future Wants Connection And Progress
May 19 2020 30 mins  
Every consumer has their go-to brands—the companies they will do business with again and again because of a trusted track record, great product and strong service. Every company wants to be a go-to brand, only about one-third of them reach that status. In order to become the preferred brand of customers of the future, brands need to focus on connection and progress. To better understand the ever-changing needs and demands of customers, Lippincott brought together specialists from a number of fields to predict what the world and customers will look like in five years. Those findings help drive brands’ current strategies to prepare to serve customers of the future. According to Dave Mayer, Senior Partner, Brand Strategy at Lippincott, one of the biggest takeaways is the need to prioritize customer experience. That comes from both connection and progress. Connection Go-to brands like Apple, Samsung and Charles Schwab drive real connections with their customers. They strive to continually improve the experience to make themselves loved by customers. Instead of simply delivering a functional need and being a transactional brand that a customer uses once and leaves, go-to brands create relationships and understand their customers to keep them coming back again and again. One of the best ways to measure connection is through NPS. If a customer says they will recommend a brand to family and friends, they likely feel a strong connection with the company. Progress But connection alone isn’t enough to create a resilient go-to brand. Brands that drive loyalty also help customers do something they couldn’t do before. Customers of the future want to interact with brands that fill a need they can’t get filled anywhere else. Progress means pushing customers forward, opening doors and introducing them to ideas and services they didn’t even know they needed. Connection and progress work hand in hand. A brand that offers progress without connection runs the risk of deflection. As soon as another brand comes with a better option, customers will abandon ship for the competition. Similarly, connection without progress means that customers will likely eventually leave for other brands that have more forward-thinking options. Connection and progress are vital to creating go-to brands now, but they will be even more crucial in coming years. Mayer says that go-to brands grow five times faster than transactional brands and endure themselves to customers and shareholders to become resilient through difficult times. The customer of the future is values-driven and wants to connect with brands they believe in and that do good in the world. That’s progress. But they also want highly personalized experiences, which create connection. Brands must deliver on both sides to deliver a strong customer experience. The customer of the future is changing, but they will remain loyal to their go-to brands that continue to offer both connection and progress.

Is COVID The Catalyst For Banking Digital Transformations?
May 12 2020 34 mins  
Like all industries, banking has faced huge disruptions due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. And although the challenges facing banks have led to many negative effects, there could be a silver lining as the pandemic moves companies closer to full digital transformations. According to Marc Andrews, VP of Financial Services and Insurance Strategy at Pega, many banks were working towards digital transformations before the pandemic hit, but they weren’t all the way there. Banks were on digital transformation journeys to allow customers access through online channels, but none of the banks had completed those journeys. With new challenges and nearly everyone banking remotely, the gaps are now highlighted. Banks are faced with struggles from two sides: internally and externally. Internally, employees are forced to work remotely without protocols in place to scale security and efficiency. Internally, banks see the impacts of economic struggles and high unemployment as they face cash flow issues with many customers out of work and unable to make their loan and bill payments. As challenges grow and evolve, banks are having to quickly shift resources. Requests like fee waivers and small business loans are going through the roof, so much that banks are having to bring on new employees and shift things around internally to manage the flow. All while employees are working remotely in an industry that never expected to be able to work from home. With incomplete digital transformations, banks simply weren’t prepared to handle the huge number of requests and didn’t have tools in place to enable customers to bank without going into a branch. Andrews says most banks started by trying to manage the crisis with basic websites to capture customer requests. Those basic forms collected information, but the requests often had to be handled manually and created a huge backlog. Most banks are now moving to the second phase: business stabilization. By now they’ve largely figured how to have employees work from home and customers bank remotely and they’re turning to partners to create more intelligent forms to capture customer requests and automate the responses. In Canada, one bank partnered with Pega to create an intelligent form to automate payment request from the government. Within the first three days, the bank automated more than 60,000 payments and allowed customers to make and track their loan concession requests. The digital system was much faster and more efficient than doing it manually. For many banks, the pandemic will act as a catalyst towards full digital transformation. Banks and their customers will see that they can’t live without these technologies. Instead of focusing only on certain aspects of the digital transformation by offering digital tools just in certain areas, banks will realize how much they need to fully transform. They need to deliver end-to-end digital journeys that aren’t specific to a single channel. Andrews says that in order to be successful, banks must build from the middle outwards instead of starting from the front end or the back end. A full digital transformation allows people to use any channel on the front end and any system on the back end. Digital transformation is the future of banking, perhaps now more than ever before. Our world is constantly changing, and banks that offer full digital journeys will be best set up for long-term success. This post is sponsored by Pega. About our sponsor: Pega is the leader in cloud software for customer engagement and operational excellence. The world’s most recognized and successful brands rely on Pega’s AI-powered software to optimize every customer interaction on any channel while ensuring their brand promises are kept. It’s almost time for PegaWorld iNspire, the annual conference from Pegasystems. Join them online for free on June 2 from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time to learn how the world’s most impactful companies are driving digital transformation – which is more important than ever in the COVID-19 age. They’ll have compelling keynotes, demos, and case studies in a highly interactive virtual format and a few surprises as well. Go to to register for free and check out the full agenda. I’ve attended the last several PegaWorlds in person and I can’t recommend it highly enough, so go register today! That’s

Former Apple CEO John Sculley On The Importance Of Customer Experience
May 05 2020 34 mins  
Today, Apple regularly tops lists of companies with the best customer experiences and the most innovative products. But that hasn’t always been the case. When Apple was founded, few companies even considered customer experience. As the company was first gaining traction, Steve Jobs brought on people who understood customers to take risks and prioritize experience when few other companies were. One of those early leaders, John Sculley, went on to become CEO of Apple. The goal of Apple under Steve Jobs was to create beautiful products and an experience so wonderful that everyone would want a computer, even people who weren’t tech-savvy. Instead of focusing solely on the processing power and technical aspects of the products, Jobs, Sculley and other Apple leaders prioritized the design and experience. They understood far before many other companies that without a great experience, customers wouldn’t be loyal, no matter the quality of the product. When all other tech companies were run by engineers and focused only on harnessing processing power, Apple realized that computers were for everyone and that great technology could also be combined with a strong experience. In order for customer experience to permeate through a company, Sculley says it must become a core principle of the organization. Leaders set the example of the importance of experience. This is best done when founders see the value of customer experience and make it a foundational principle of the company. Sculley says experience has always been relevant, but how it comes to fruition is different now than it was decades ago. As an executive at Pepsi, Sculley was faced with the problem of being heavily outsold by Coca-Cola because Pepsi lacked brand recognition. Sculley created the Pepsi Challenge to immerse customers in the experience and show the quality of the product. Pepsi ran commercials of customers participating in blind taste tests. Without a label on the bottle, customers largely preferred Pepsi. While the commercials ran on TV, Pepsi also hosted the Pepsi Challenge at malls and events around the country, giving customers a chance to let their tastes decide. Putting customers in charge of the experience gave Pepsi a huge boost and helped it compete with Coca-Cola. Jobs recruited Sculley to work at Apple because he had helped Pepsi outsell Coca-Cola. They shared a love of design and a desire to do something bold for consumer marketing. Focusing on customers helped create a company that today is beloved by loyal customers around the world and known for creating customer-focused products. Sculley’s experiences at Pepsi and Apple show the power of focusing on customers and taking bold actions to put customers at the middle of the company.

5 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Data To Drive The Supporter Experience
Apr 28 2020 34 mins  
A company striving to grow its revenue and an organization dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes may have different goals, but one important principle stays the same: they have to connect with their audience. Just like customer experience is crucial in the for-profit world, supporter experience drives the success of non-profit organizations. In both industries, data plays a vital role. Sri Mishra, Chief Data and Technology Officer at JDRF International, knows that data holds the answers to staying relevant and connecting with supporters, no matter the type of the organization. Data is often overlooked in the nonprofit world, but it is a vital piece of an organization’s success. Here are five ways nonprofits can use data to drive the supporter experience: Know supporters. For-profit customers are fairly easy to identify, but non-profit supporters tend to be more unique. Mishra says segmenting supporters is the biggest challenge organizations face, and trying to understand supporters manually can lead to data inaccuracies. Data helps organizations understand their many types of supporters and what matters to each group, as well as segment their approach for personalized experiences. See architecture holistically. Nonprofits need to believe in technology and invest in it. That means looking at the technology holistically and considering entire systems instead of just pieces. Holistic thinking allows organizations to connect pieces of data together for a full view of the organization, its supporters and its progress. When an organization sees things holistically, it can predict the future and plan for long-term success. Partner with tech teams. A digital transformation is an organization-wide endeavor. Business teams can’t do things on their own, and the technology team can’t create an effective data system without involvement from the business side. Data brings together the entire organization to unite every department to a common goal. Break down silos. Many non-profits run into pieces of data done manually in different parts of the organization, which creates inaccuracies and inefficiencies. Instead of the data working together to solve problems, it fights against itself and makes it difficult to understand what is really going on. Data allows organizations to automate their systems, which breaks down silos and unites the organization around a cohesive strategy with shared data. Without silos, the organization can run more efficiently and better serve its purpose. Create partnerships with tech companies. Most non-profit organizations don’t have technology resources to tackle data effectively on their own. Mishra says non-profit organizations have to partner with technology companies that understand the world of data and can apply their products to the organization. Strong partnerships help the non-profit adopt data systems more quickly and effectively. Using data effectively can help non-profit organizations fulfill their purposes and meet their goals. To look towards the future and build lasting and effective relationships with supporters, nonprofits have to use data and find the partnerships that make it possible. This post is sponsored by Informatica. About our sponsor: Digital transformation changes customer expectations: better service, faster delivery, with less cost. Businesses must transform to stay relevant and data holds the answers. As the world’s leader in Enterprise Cloud Data Management, Informatica provides the foresight to become more agile, realize new growth opportunities and create new inventions. With 100% focus on everything data, we offer the versatility needed to succeed. Explore all that Informatica has to offer—and unleash the power of data to drive intelligent disruption. Please visit Informatica at

How Informatica Leverages The Powerful Combination of AI and Data
Apr 21 2020 29 mins  
“AI needs data, and data needs AI. They go hand in hand.” Those are the powerful words of Ansa Sekharan, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer at Informatica. Data or AI alone is only part of the equation; true success in customer experience comes when the two sides work together. Informatica leverages the power of data and AI to serve its customers and provide tools for its customers to serve their end-users. AI and data are a powerful combination for the future of customer experience. But the biggest challenge for companies is to know how to collect good data and act on it. The recent explosion of data provides both challenges and opportunities, but in order to properly leverage data and use it in tandem with AI, companies must know the best data to use. Informatica faced a similar problem in knowing how to provide relevant content to its customers. With so much data and content available, the challenge was to narrow down the data. Informatica created a micro-learning program to get the right information to the right customers at the right time. The company collected data on its customers and on a variety of potential information to share with them. Then, using AI to understand each user and where they were in the product lifecycle, it was able to provide relevant content tailored to each customer and applicable to their current needs. Instead of bombarding customers with huge amounts of content, Informatica combined AI and data to provide a personalized customer experience that not only helped customers but also showcased its products. Many of Informatica’s customers use a similar approach to AI and data to reach their own customers, Sekharan said. He shared the example of FedEx using data and AI, along with Informatica products, to optimize its delivery routes and improve shipping times. By taking data of what packages need to be delivered and combining that with AI, FedEx is able to create the best routes to more efficiently get deliveries to customers. Data helps companies truly understand their customers, and AI allows them to automate much of the experience to deliver customized interactions at scale. Together, data and AI deliver powerful insights into what customers are looking for and how it can be delivered. Informatica realized this firsthand when it switched to a subscription model and started focusing more on relationships and experiences than products. Its data showed that customers wanted strong relationships to choose a product for life, and AI made it possible to deliver on those experiences in a way that mattered to each customer. Data and AI are a powerful combination. When leveraged correctly, they can propel customer experience to the next level and create long-term relationships and strong benefits. To successfully use both sides of the equation, companies need to understand their customers, look at the data and find ways to automate personalized experiences. This post is sponsored by Informatica. About our sponsor: Digital transformation changes customer expectations: better service, faster delivery, with less cost. Businesses must transform to stay relevant and data holds the answers. As the world’s leader in Enterprise Cloud Data Management, Informatica provides the foresight to become more agile, realize new growth opportunities and create new inventions. With 100% focus on everything data, we offer the versatility needed to succeed. Explore all that Informatica has to offer—and unleash the power of data to drive intelligent disruption. Please visit Informatica at

How Personalization Made BarkBox A Must-Have Subscription Service
Apr 14 2020 34 mins  
Successful, customer-driven companies put their customers first in everything they do. Even if those customers have four paws. BARK, the company behind the wildly successful BarkBox, was created when its founders wanted to make functional and stylish products that would make their dogs happy. As co-founder Henrik Werdelin says, BARK does everything from a dogs-eye view. Personalization has been a hallmark of the company, especially with its monthly subscription boxes that have served more than 3 million dogs. But instead of viewing the company as a subscription box company, Werdelin says BARK views itself as a company in the business of making dogs happy, which is best done through subscription boxes. Each monthly BarkBox comes with two treats, two toys and a chew for the dog. But Werdelin says the reason it’s so successful is because of the experience it provides for owners to share something special with their dogs every month. The products are exclusive to BARK and fit a monthly theme for the box. Taking things to the next level is BARK’s amazing attention to personalization. Of the one million boxes it sends out each month, there are around 120,000 different varieties based on the size and breed of the dog and things like allergies. Personalization also comes in the form of tailoring boxes to individual dog’s needs. The BARK team makes an effort to talk to as many customers as possible, which usually ends up being around one-third of its customers each month. From those interactions, the company’s Happy Team, which focuses on customer experience, created the No Dog Left Behind program. If a customer calls in with a certain request for a product, the team goes out of its way to make it happen. At one point the team had 20,000 boxes going out, each one hand assembled with notes of the customer’s request. One customer didn’t want pork treats in the BarkBox for her pig, so the team handmade her a box with treats for pigs. Other customers called wanting toys that could withstand their aggressive chewer dogs, so BARK made a new line of products and put them in those customers’ individual boxes. The company has since built technology to match the needs of the team and customers and to scale the personalization process. But Werdelin says his best advice is to do things that don’t scale. Companies often want to create big systems to solve problems by mass, but customers are unique. The best solutions happen when a company and its employees have empathy and think of what’s best for each individual customer. Most brands can do something manually for a long time before coming up with a scalable solution. BARK even sends out and answers its customer emails individually to gain insight and build strong customer relationships. Personalization is the root of BarkBox’s success. Paying attention to individual needs and really taking the time to not only listen to customers but go above and beyond to meet their needs makes a difference. By putting customers and their dogs first and making their lives easier and better, BARK has secured loyal customers—both humans and canines.

Community During Coronavirus: How The Alcohol Industry Builds Connections
Apr 08 2020 27 mins  
The global coronavirus pandemic has changed how businesses around the world operate. But according to Ann Mukherjee, CEO of Pernod Ricard, times like these reveal character. Instead of be afraid of the changes and challenges of the current landscape, companies have the opportunity to move forward through ambiguity, be agile and think differently about profits. Now is a great time to build community and strengthen connections. Like all leaders of global companies, Mukherjee worries about the personal safety of her employees and customers. Her company has prioritized safety, family and community first. With so much uncertainty around the world, Mukherjee and her team choose to focus on what they can control to help their people feel protected. In many cases, that has helped strengthen relationships and build community through positive actions. In the wake of a global shortage, many of Pernod Ricard’s alcohol brands around the world have shifted to manufacturing hand sanitizer. An employee suggested making the switch, and within 48 hours the program was approved and ready to start production. The global response has changed distilleries into hand sanitizer factories and helped keep people safe and healthy. Building community also means being aware of people in the industry who have been hit hard by the economic repercussions. The Jameson Irish Whiskey brand donated $500,000 to an emergency fund to support bartenders who are out of work. Taking things one step further, the brand also promised to match donations, which inspired one of its distributors to also donate $500,000. One donation started a movement to support many people impacted by the pandemic. The brand and its employees want to do everything they can to help people who are out of work, and that goodness spread to others. As the beverage industry changes and restaurants and bars around the world change their operations, Pernod Ricard has also adjusted. Customers are increasingly favoring virtual happy hours and toasting each other over technology. To support the new way of connecting, the company has strengthened its e-commerce business and worked towards pickup and delivery options. In times of uncertainty, Mukherjee advises to make adversity an advantage. She realizes she can’t solve everything that’s coming in the future, but she can take it one day at a time. As she focuses her energy on what she can control and make it better, that attitude permeates throughout the company to create a mindset of positive change and community. The world may be volatile, but companies can do their best to create community and strengthen connections, even during difficult times.

3 Pillars that Empower Executives to Thrive During Tough Times
Mar 31 2020 37 mins  
It’s no secret that we are experiencing a moment in history that is uncertain and distressing. The coronavirus pandemic has affected millions of businesses around the country, leaving employees and leaders in a state of panic. Executives at these businesses hold a heavy responsibility on their shoulders to remain calm, adaptable, and resilient. As the world changes drastically around us, we are looking to these c-suite leaders to step up and set an example. Damon D’Amore, C-Suite Advisor and Elite Performance Mentor, works with executives every day to help them build their legacy, meaning the clear and consistent message the stakeholders in his clients’ lives and businesses will share when they are gone. While he believes we all have to focus on tactical and immediate business needs, the only way to secure a legacy, the narrative of which you control, is to make tradeoffs with time and dedicate resources to focusing on what matters most. This is done by focusing on these three pillars: Psychological: MindsetCreate filters to determine what time and resource demands are worthy of focusing on. You are the one who prioritizes your time, not your employees, customers, or board. The result is establishing confidence that you are focused on what matters most. Emotional: Resilience as a Lifestyle Resilience is not about surviving one challenge or trauma. It is being an optimist in the sense of waking up everyday knowing things will go wrong but you have the tools to survive and thrive. Knowing you will be ‘OK’ combined with the confidence that you are focused on the right priorities, you will be equipped to lead effectively. Narrative: Share Your StoryUse the data points of your life and career to tell a unique and compelling story. Your story will gain advocacy for your goals from all of your stakeholders like your company’s board, customers, investors, family and friends. You need to know your story, believe it, and learn how to communicate it. For executives out there that are still at a loss for how to cope with the changes that coronavirus has brought, and will continue to bring, Damon says to compose yourself and take stock of what you have and what you need. If you’re safe and have food, shelter and whatever medical supplies you need for a couple of weeks, you’re likely in a good place. You should also find a way to be present and focus. That can mean learning to meditate, breath work, or practicing gratitude. You don’t need to travel to a mountaintop in a faraway land to learn to do any of these. You can watch a video online, listen to a podcast, or download an app. Another helpful tool is to find an accountability partner or group. Even if it’s just 1 hour per day, get on a video chat with coworkers or peers. Set an intention or goal for the next hour, mute your video, put on headphones and do the work. Just seeing others being productive will alleviate some stress and help you to focus. The reassuring news is that many of us are in the same boat and there’s no need to be embarrassed about sharing your feelings with your peers. As we all navigate this new reality, let’s not forget that this is an opportunity to build a legacy that we are proud of. Getting your mindset right, being resilient, and having the confidence to share your story in a vulnerable way sets you apart from the masses. As an executive, your responsibility is just as large as the impact you are capable of creating.

How Citi Uses Purpose-Driven Campaigns To Connect With Customers
Mar 03 2020 26 mins  
Financial services might not seem like the most emotive industry, but consumers tend to have some of their most emotional moments connected with their finances—things like going to college, buying a house or saving for retirement. So when Citi performed an audit a few years ago and realized it wasn’t coming across as emotive, it knew it needed to make a change to better connect with customers. According to Jennifer Breithaupt, Citi’s Global Consumer CMO, the company switched its aim to lift people up with purpose-driven campaigns. One of its major components was storytelling. Breithaupt says Citi created a simple recipe for purpose-driven marketing: 1. Stop talking so much. Up until that point, Citi was known for talking at its customers through every second of a commercial. It started using big, beautiful visuals instead of constant words to share its story. 2. Put people at the center. Storytelling is all about people, and one of the strongest ways to connect people to a message and purpose is to involve other people. Sharing stories and inspiration became the focus instead of just giving a sales pitch. 3. Use music. Citi started using large, sweeping melodies to elicit emotion and drive home that connection. The move to purpose-driven campaigns allows Citi to build better connections with customers. It shows customers that the brand cares about more than just making sales and opening accounts, but that it really wants to support its customers and build relationships. Internally, the switch gave employees a renewed sense of purpose to do their best work and improve their customer interactions. Modern customers want companies, especially financial brands, to do more than just make money. They want them to have a purpose, share a message and contribute to something bigger. Citi’s switch to purpose-driven marketing allows it to position itself as a life partner to walk alongside customers during their ups and downs. It also helps the company give back and contribute to charitable organizations around the world. Emotion plays a huge role in customer experience. To feel invested in a company, customers want to connect to a purpose. Citi’s switch to purpose-driven campaigns demonstrates that showing emotion instead of sales pitches can lead to big gains.

5 Values That Drive Logitech’s Customer-Focused Culture
Feb 25 2020 32 mins  
In the fast-paced tech world, it’s tempting for companies to rely on their products. But Logitech, one of the world’s largest hardware companies, knows the importance of being customer-focused instead of just product-focused. The company takes a unique approach by having its CIO, Massimo Rapparini, also lead customer experience. But the connection between technology, information and customer experience works as Logitech builds a customer-focused company that delivers quality tech products and forward-thinking digital solutions. Marrying IT and CX helps the company lead the charge for innovative support solutions that serve customers. Rapparini points to Logitech’s growth in VR, chat and a worldwide omnichannel experience as success behind the integrated design of technology and customer experience. Logitech's CX principles drive a customer-focused culture. Employees are encouraged to think through the design of every step of the customer journey. The core CX principles are known in the company as the 5 E’s: · Empathy · Expectations · Effortless · Engaging · Error-free Each principle puts the customer at front of mind. Rapparini says that starting with an empathetic mindset puts all Logitech employees in the shoes of the customer and helps them see things from their perspective. From there, they can work to clear set expectations, make the experience as few steps as possible, build customer relationships and remove errors. Logitech’s diverse customer base comes from creating a wide range of products, from gaming headsets to enterprise technology accessories. Focusing on the customer instead of just the product helps the company grow. The core principles are timeless and applicable to all customers, no matter where they are in the world or what products they purchase. Logitech uses design thinking to create consistent experiences that consider every interaction a customer may have with the brand. Products may be a draw for customers, but what really keeps them around is the experience. By building a customer-centric culture and focusing more on people than products, Logitech has built a successful and sustainable company with a loyal group of customers.

H&R Block’s Evolved Experience Aims To Wow Its 20 Million Customers
Feb 12 2020 28 mins  
More than 150 million Americans will file their taxes in the coming months. But how many of them will have a good experience doing it? H&R Block aims to create a smooth experience for its customers that both instills confidence and wows them. And that comes from continually evolving the customer experience to leverage both technology and human connection. H&R Block’s 20 million customers run the gamut of what they are looking for in an experience. According to CMO Vinoo Vijay, the first wave of customers files early because they want to get their refund as soon as possible. Later in the tax season comes the second wave who just want to get their taxes done. Each group has different needs and emotions relating to their taxes, which means the company needs to offer a wide variety of services. But no matter if a customer is doing their taxes themselves online or sitting down with a tax professional, H&R Block aims to create a steady experience with consistent vocabulary and a singular narrative. Customers will hear the same terminology and receive the same level of service no matter if they file online in January or in person in April. Vijay says that focusing on the tiny parts of the customer experience accumulates into a great experience that wows customers. At its core, Vijay believes marketing is about experience. In recent years, H&R Block has focused on experience as a core value to drive business. Connecting with customers on an emotional level builds the relationship, which is then strengthened with technology-supported services. In its continual evolution of the tax process, H&R Block is rolling out new services this year, including the ability for online customers to chat with a tax pro about questions and a digital drop-off program for customers to send in their tax forms electronically so that their taxes are already in process for their in-office appointment. The overall goal is to not only simplify the tax process but also provide great service and meet the needs of all types of customers. Some customers just want to file their taxes as quickly as possible, while others want to learn about the process and have a conversation with an experienced professional. H&R Block provides services that hit all points on the spectrum. Companies across all industries, especially H&R Block, have to balance the push for new technology and automation with the natural urge for human connection. Vijay says H&R Block’s goal is to make sure human connections are more tangible and valuable. Even with all of the new technology and automation, it doesn’t want to lose sight of human relationships. “It would be terrible for us to forget that our human needs are greater than speed,” Vijay says. “We need to find ways to serve the fullness of our communities and our people.” Helping customers file their taxes in a convenient, simple and personalized manner comes down to continually evolving and adopting new technology without letting go of what makes us human—those connections with other people. By tapping into all areas of the equation and building emotional connections, H&R Block can continue to improve its customer experience.

How Mamava Uses Design Thinking To Solve Customer Problems
Feb 04 2020 35 mins  
When Sascha Mayer had her first baby, she realized a common problem for working moms: not having a good place to breastfeed or pump for their baby. Especially when she travelled for work, Mayer had difficulty finding a dignified place to use a breast pump and often found herself pumping in the bathroom. In talking with other moms, she realized she wasn’t alone and that the problem was rampant across the country. Mayer kept expecting someone else to solve the problem, but when no one did, she and her colleague Christine Dodson accepted the challenge. Using their backgrounds in design, they created Mamava, a portable lactation suite. Every aspect of the Mamava pod is designed with mothers in mind. Mayer is a strong believer that empathy leads to great design. From her own experience, she was able to design a place that appeals to mothers while meeting their needs and providing a dignified place to feed their babies. Mamava suites are now in airports, conference centers, arenas and offices around the world. Every aspect of their design is intentional to not only provide a great experience for users but also to stand out and normalize breastfeeding. The curved walls are deliberate to make the pod look different than anything else in the area and provide a feminine touch. Users unlock the pod via an app and enter the clean area that holds benches, a table and chargers, plus an overhead fan to regulate temperature. The pod is designed to be comfortable and convenient without being a place where people want to spend all their time so other mothers can have a turn. By thinking through the entire experience, even down to the type of non-porous materials that are easy to clean, Mayer built a product that resonates with mothers. She has been surprised by how many customers quickly become advocates for the brand and even take pictures of themselves inside the pods and share them on social media. Design thinking and empathy play a huge role in customer experience. By putting herself in customers’ shoes, thinking of her own experience and working through every detail, Mayer was able to help build a transformative company and a great experience for busy moms.

3 Transformations at Serta Simmons With CMO Melanie Huet
Jan 29 2020 29 mins  
The mattress industry definitely hasn’t been sleepy in recent years. With the success and growth of online, direct-to-consumer mattress companies, industry stalwarts have had to undergo major transformations to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. Melanie Huet, CMO at Serta Simmons, says the company’s reset has renewed its focus on consumer-led innovation and put customers at the heart of everything the company does. According to Huet, Serta Simmons’ success comes from its three recent transformations: digital, marketing and product. Digital Transformation The digital transformation involved putting more resources and focus on consumer targets and insights. Serta Simmons used data analysis to better understand its customers. Instead of getting most of its insights from retailers as it had in the past, the company shifted to listening to customers to better understand what they want and need in a mattress. Serta Simmons also uses an innovation team to pilot new ideas, especially related to technology, to create a smoother internal and external experience. Marketing Transformation Serta Simmons’ marketing transformation involved shifting from the goal of satisfying customers to delighting them. The company built out its marketing team to better understand and connect with customers. One group that it found was missing from any mattress company was Gen Z and younger consumers. This is the group that is starting to or will soon be moving out of their parents’ house or finishing college and moving out on their own. Serta re-launched its 150-year-old Simmons brand for Gen Z. The idea is built around a crash pad—a basic first mattress that serves as a place to sleep and hang out. The mattress is part of a lifestyle, and the company’s effective new marketing approach is all about having fun and connecting with younger consumers. Product Transformation Serta Simmons’ research found that most consumers don’t understand the differences between mattresses or think they are really that different. But a renewed focus by consumers on getting quality sleep has led the company to create new products. Serta Simmons’ product transformation completely changed how the company thinks about its products to focus on issues most important to consumers, such as comfort and temperature, to create amazing sleep experiences. Huet says sustainability is a huge issue in the industry and one that mattress companies in general haven’t embraced. Serta recently launched its first sustainable Beauty Rest product to reduce the amount of plastic in oceans. Like all industries, the mattress business is constantly evolving. In order to stay ahead of the curve and avoid being disrupted, Serta Simmons underwent multiple transformations. Successful companies will follow in its footsteps and continually adapt.

Reducing Friction, Your Best Advantage In Creating Compelling Customer Experiences
Jan 21 2020 30 mins  
When you think of your interactions with brands, you likely find yourself experiencing some kind of friction. In physics, friction is anything that slows down progress, like a block trying to move across carpet. In customer experience, friction is any unnecessary effort to complete a task, and it can hurt the experience and how a customer views the brand. Roger Dooley is the author of Friction: The Untapped Force That Can Be Your Most Powerful Advantage and my podcast guest this week. He says that although friction is a relatively simple concept, it’s obvious that not everyone is aware of it because of how much friction we face every day. Friction is anything that slows customers down. Reducing friction often doesn’t involve huge changes. In many cases, it’s the small changes that remove friction and create a compelling customer experience. Roger shares the example of Amazon’s one-click ordering. The simple button simplifies the check-out process and removes friction without completely uprooting the shopping process. In the podcast, Roger shares more examples of companies that have removed friction and how every brand can find ways to create a friction-less experience. Every aspect of friction lessens the customer experience. Reducing friction through small actions creates a seamless customer experience and offers a powerful advantage over the competition. This podcast is sponsored by Fujitsu Computer Products of America, leader of the document scanning industry and a subsidiary of the world's third largest IT products provider.

Creating A Great Experience For Customers Of All Ages
Jan 14 2020 26 mins  
How do you create a great experience for customers of different generations? That’s the challenge faced by children’s hair salon Pigtails & Crewcuts, which has two very distinct and different types of customers: children and parents. According to CEO Wade Brannon, the key is creating a personalized and comfortable experience for everyone. Haircuts can be stressful for both children and their parents, so Pigtails & Crewcuts aims to create a relaxing atmosphere that is inviting for everyone. Children appreciate going somewhere that is designed for them with child-sized furniture and activities. The salons are also designed to be comfortable for parents with a colorful environment that isn’t too over the top. The salon also has plenty of places for parents to sit nearby so they can also have a comfortable experience. For children, the main goal of the salon is for them to be comfortable and enjoy their haircut. That’s done through employees who are trained to interact with children and create a safe and calm atmosphere. Instead of rushing children through their haircuts, employees are encouraged to take their time to make sure each child is comfortable. According to Wade, parents look for a salon that makes their kid look good and takes out much of the stress of giving a child a haircut. When children are happy, parents are more likely to also be satisfied with the service. Pigtails & Crewcuts creates a controlled environment where both parents and children know what to expect. Every time a customer walks in the door, they are greeted by an employee, who explains the entire process from check-in to wait times and even takes new customers on a tour of the salon. Being clear with the process helps customers of all ages know what to expect and helps things move more smoothly. Both children and parents are involved in the haircut process. Employees work to make sure children are comfortable, and they regularly check with parents throughout the haircut to make sure they are creating what the parent had in mind. Afterwards, parents receive an email follow-up to ensure their expectations were met. Pigtails & Crewcuts aims to take a sometimes painful activity and improve the experience with a controlled and personal environment. Focusing on both children and parents and being clear with expectations and service creates an environment fit for all groups where both children and parents look forward to returning.

Nordstrom Revamps Customer Experience With New Supply Chain Strategy
Jan 02 2020 28 mins  
The supply chain isn’t typically a strong consideration when building a customer experience strategy. But at Nordstrom, the supply chain is a critical element of delivering quality customer experiences. The company recently re-imagined its supply chain with customers at the center to create a delivery and logistics process that gets customers exactly what they need, when they need it. In order to build a new approach to the supply chain, Nordstrom had to let go of the historical concepts of what a supply chain can do. According to Ngoc Phan, VP Supply Chain Systems and Engineering, Nordstrom set out to create a system that can evolve with changing customer demands and help customers engage with the brand on their terms. One size doesn’t fit all, which means the supply chain needs to be customizable for each customer. Phan says Nordstrom looked to optimize its supply chain for customers instead of the traditional cost or transportation considerations and looked at three opportunities: Flexibility. Modular solutions help Nordstrom adapt as customer needs evolve and change. The supply chain acts as a framework that can adjust with customers. Space. Nordstrom has existing physical assets in many markets where customers live, so it looked for solutions to optimize the existing space in its network. Operational simplicity. The supply chain doesn’t need to be complicated. Nordstrom wanted to increase productivity and decrease the time it took to train and onboard new employees by using intuitive solutions. With these opportunities in mind, Nordstrom’s revamped supply chain leverages its existing physical space, as well as new technology like robotics and automation, to quickly deliver products to customers. No matter if a customer wants to pick an item up in store, browse the racks the find the perfect item or have it delivered to their home, Nordstrom’s customizable supply chain helps meet their needs and provide great service. Nordstrom shows that the supply chain is a crucial aspect of customer experience and a piece that shouldn’t be overlooked by companies that want to provide consistent experiences to their customers from all sides.

Using Experiential Retail To Create A Carefree Escape
Nov 22 2019 27 mins  
A company that rose out of tragedy is now a leader in experiential retail. Painting with a Twist was started 10 years ago after Hurricane Katrina to give people a safe haven and fun escape during a difficult time. Customers flocked to the chance to enjoy an evening painting and drinking with friends to escape from their cares and worries, and one of the first experiential retail businesses was born. Today, Painting with a Twist has more than 300 locations across the country and has created the sip and paint industry. The company encourages groups and friends to come together to paint a picture and enjoy drinks and snacks. Everything about the night, from the painting itself to the easy-going attitude of the artist instructors, encourages guests to let loose and have a great time. Aside from simply teaching guests to paint, the artists tell jokes and play games with the class. The goal isn’t to teach people to become world-class painters but rather to inspire them to have fun with the people around them and try something new. One of the main target demographics are groups of women looking for a unique way to spend time together without going to a bar or restaurant. Painting with a Twist quickly learned that everyone can enjoy a carefree escape, even if they aren’t going through a tragedy. CMO Katherine LeBlanc says that focusing on why the company exists and delivering on a great, unique experience keeps people coming back because they feel relaxed and free to enjoy a great night with friends. The company competes against other entertainment brands, including movie theaters, restaurants and even escape rooms, but has built loyal customers by offering personal connections and a truly unique experience. Painting with a Twist continues to expand its carefree experience with new offerings, including pop culture paintings of favorite movies and nostalgic TV shows. It also hosts birthday parties, family days for younger children and trivia programs. Franchises are encouraged to build partnerships with local businesses to make each store unique and reflect the local area. LeBlanc says the company is also developing partnerships to create new experiences, such as adding music with local bands or other pop culture painting options. All experiential retail brands can learn the power of creating an immersive experience from Painting with a Twist. No matter if the group is a ladies’ book club, kids’ birthday party or corporate retreat, Painting with a Twist aims to deliver a unique and consistent experience and create an environment where people know they can relax and enjoy a carefree escape with their loved ones. Delivering on that promise creates an experiential retail brand with loyal customers.

Building Thoughtful Customer Experiences At Slack
Nov 12 2019 32 mins  
Some companies let customer experience come together on its own, while others take a more intentional approach. At Slack, the thoughtful, intentional approach has made it leader in customer experience as it constantly evaluates and updates its experience to meet customer needs. The thoughtful approach starts internally. Ali Rayl, VP Customer Experience, has been with the company from the beginning. As Slack experienced rapid growth, Ali and other leaders realized it was too big for one person to know everything. Slack customer service representatives now specialize in certain areas of the program and become specialized experts. Employees benefit from taking ownership over certain areas, and customers can be served more quickly by automatically sending their question to a specialist in that area instead of moving aimlessly through the service department. Rayl encourages her team to start conversations with customers and facilitate seamless transactions. Because Slack is a workplace communication tool, customers contacting the brand offer the company a unique opportunity to showcase what the product can do and to highlight how easy and smooth it can be talk to someone at work. The thoughtful approach is driven by data and analytics. Customer service agents track the type of questions and calls they get to understand who is asking for help and what questions they have. From there, the service department works closely with the product and engineering teams to look for ways to change the product. Rayl sees two ways to look at customer problems: to either manage them through the support team or to solve them through engineering. The key to a quality experience is to find balance. Some common issues can be changed through engineering, while it’s easier to simply manage other issues. No matter how their issue is solved, Slack wants all customers to feel valued and heard. A thoughtful customer experience comes from more than just solving problems. At Slack, it involves listening to customer feedback and looping it back to make the product better. Involving the entire company and building strong relationships with customers turns customer experience into an issue that impacts everyone and that everyone can contribute to. A thoughtful approach to customer experience changes with customer needs but always puts making the customer’s life easier at the center of everything.

From Chaos To Clarity: How A Knowledge-Rich Culture Boosts Customer Experience
Nov 05 2019 31 mins  
Is your company operating in chaos or clarity? The difference often comes down to creating a knowledge-rich culture. Modern customers and employees want information on their own terms. In order to best educate employees and provide answers and tools to customers, many customer-focused brands create knowledge-rich cultures. These cultures pride themselves on offering learning and growth opportunities for employees while empowering them to solve customer issues. However, Dave Hare, principal consultant at ServiceXRG, says too many companies have knowledge-rich cultures in silos, which creates chaos and lost opportunities. When knowledge is kept within departments and not shared with the rest of the company, it creates more escalations of customer issues. A customer could call the contact center with an issue that could be easily fixed by someone in the engineering department, but without that information being shared across the entire organization, the customer’s call is escalated and takes longer to answer. Hare says that companies that build cultures of knowledge sharing solve more calls on the first contact and do it faster with fewer escalations. When silos are broken down and information is shared across the entire company, employees and customers benefit. Employees have the tools to help customers right away or know where to send customers to answer more technical questions quickly. That knowledge creates job satisfaction for employees and instills confidence in customers that the company knows what it is talking about. For customers, a knowledge-sharing culture creates less frustration as issues can be taken care of accurately and much more quickly. Hare says one of the biggest aspects of customer experience is making the customer successful without regression or pain. That can only be done by instilling confidence in the customer that the employee is their advocate into the company. Employees, no matter if they are in the contact center, finance, engineering or anywhere else in the company, need to use every resource to resolve customer issues. That comes from building a strong culture of sharing knowledge. Customer experience is the most powerful tool companies have. When customers sense chaos at a company, they will quickly take their business elsewhere. To turn that chaos into clarity, brands of all sizes need to build a knowledge-rich culture that breaks down silos and shares information across borders with employees and customers. Sharing knowledge and instilling confidence benefits everyone in the organization. This episode of The Modern Customer Podcast is sponsored by Squelch.

Lessons In Experiential Retail From The Pet Industry
Oct 25 2019 31 mins  
In a world where more customers want to stay at home and have products and services delivered to them, a company in the pet industry is mixing things up with experiential retail. Zoom Room Dog Training is an indoor training gym for dogs that is turning the traditional training model on its head. Instead of focusing solely on each dog’s experience like many pet companies do, Zoom Room focuses on the experience of each human. The company’s motto is “We don’t train dogs, we train the people who love them.” Instead of customers dropping off their dogs for a one-time training session to fix a specific issue, Zoom Room builds relationships between dogs and dog owners to encourage socialization and improve skills and agility. At Zoom Room, clients are always with their dogs and have the responsibility to look after them. The company creates a secure setting and screens dogs for sociability before allowing them to join the group setting so that everyone feels confident about their dog’s surroundings and safety. Millennials are the largest pet spenders of any other group and a demographic that loves experiences. CEO Mark Van Wye and his team designed the company and its programs to pay attention to every aspect of the human experience to change the dog training model. The results are incredibly impressive, and Van Wye reports that many dogs and their owners make Zoom Room training sessions a part of their weekly routines. Zoom Room has a very impressive Net Promoter Score of 90 and retention rates in the high 80s. In experiential retail of any kind, data and personalization are key. Zoom Room is data driven to provide the best experience to each person. Each client is tracked and their preferences and history are recorded so they only receive specific communications that apply to their needs. Zoom Room also appeals to millennials by taking photos and videos of dogs during their training sessions, which it then shares with the owners on a platform that integrates into social media. Dog owners share the impressive pictures to showcase their dogs, and it also adds to the Zoom Room brand and experience. By embracing experiential retail and creating an environment where dogs and owners can bond with each other and others like them, Zoom Room is turning the dog training space upside down. The company shows that great experiences can come in all industries and that providing a data-driven, personalized experience resonates with customers.

The State of Customer Experience In Australia
Oct 18 2019 13 mins  
For years, Australia has had with a well-established culture of customer experience. In general, companies seem to connect with customers better and offer more personalized solutions than they do in other parts of the world, including the U.S. However, many Australians have hit experience roadblocks with big companies lately, especially when it comes to the contact center. Having trouble waiting on hold or not being able to talk to a human isn’t new, but it can have a serious impact on the overall experience. In the 1980s, many companies started using IVR, or interactive voice recognition systems, to corral people through their phone systems. These are the phone trees that have customers push buttons for certain types of calls, but that really just end up pushing customers’ buttons with a frustrating experience. Over the years, many companies have continued with the IVR mindset by becoming abusive to customers and mismanaging relationships. Instead of looking for innovative solutions, they hold on to decades-old technology that is frustrating and ineffective. Many companies, in Australia and all over the world, have the idea that customers will keep coming back no matter how they are treated. That’s not the case. As more companies put humans back in customer experience, they separate themselves from the companies that cut costs and rely on impersonal technology. Research has shown that customers want more human interactions and less technology in their brand interactions. Companies that don’t offer personalized interactions with real humans are losing customers to brands that offer quality service and connections. Customer experience in Australia will continue to evolve in coming years. As companies turn back to humans in our data-centered world, there will be a greater focus on personalized experiences and real relationships. Data and customization will help brands create one-to-one experiences instead of interactions that appeal to the masses. More companies will also turn to self-service tools to give customers power to solve their own problems and answer their own questions without contacting a bot or contact center. Although customer experience in Australia may have hit some bumps, many companies still focus on what matters most: customers. By turning back to humans and offering convenient and personal interactions, those companies will build great experiences and lead the way to the future.

How To Become A Professional Speaker With Jacob Morgan
Oct 08 2019 42 mins  
It may seem glamourous to fly around the world, deliver speeches to adoring fans, and bring in a big paycheck. In reality, the life of a professional speaker is much less glamorous and much more demanding. But even with the long flights and rejection, it can still be incredibly rewarding. My husband Jacob Morgan worked his last full-time job more than a decade ago. When the boss who had promised him great career opportunities out of college had Jacob running to get him coffee, Jacob left and didn’t look back. He didn’t set out to become a speaker, but instead focused on consulting and working for himself. As he built a personal brand focusing on the future of work, he started getting invited to conferences and his speaking career took off. Today, Jacob is a best-selling author who travels the world to speak at conferences and to top executives. But he says for every one speaking gig, there are 10 that didn’t work out. Jacob responds to speaking requests and negotiates his own contracts, which requires a huge amount of work and time for every speech. From his years of speaking experience, Jacob offers three pieces of advice to aspiring professional speakers: Build credibility. Before you get asked to speak anywhere, you have to build your personal brand. Jacob has a blog, podcast, books, online courses and much more to establish himself as a thought leader. No one will want to hire you to speak if they don’t know who you are and what your message is. Deliver an engaging speech. Jacob thinks of speaking as a performance. Aside from delivering useful content, he also wants to connect with the audience, make them laugh and surprise them. There’s a huge difference between someone who just reads their speech and someone who is genuinely interested in the topic and engages the audience. Know your worth. One of the biggest mistakes speakers make is not charging what they’re worth and accepting everything that comes their way. When Jacob was starting he took nearly every speaking request, but now he charges what he’s worth and isn’t afraid to walk away from a deal if a group isn’t willing to pay his rate. Know the value you bring and don’t compromise. Starting a professional speaking career can be full of long flights in coach, uncomfortable hotel beds and paltry paychecks. But building your brand, delivery and experience can create a strong speaking career that opens doors across the globe.

Disrupting The Auto Industry Customer Experience With Carvana
Oct 01 2019 30 mins  
Buying a car can be stressful and time-consuming. It’s not a task that most consumers look forward to. But Carvana is changing the experience by giving power back to customers and letting them find their perfect car from the comfort of their own home without having to haggle with salespeople. Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer Ryan Keeton points out that the car-buying process hasn’t changed in more than 70 years. Carvana set out to create “Amazon for cars” to provide an amazing experience for customers to find their perfect used car. Using a wide array of technology, customers can peruse Carvana’s 15,000 cars (a much larger inventory than the typical dealership) and get a complete and accurate view of the inside and outside of each car. Once they choose a car, it is either delivered to their home as soon as the next day or available to pick up at a car vending machine around the country. In perhaps the biggest innovation over the traditional car buying experience, customers have a seven-day window to return the car with no questions asked. Everything about Carvana is designed around the customer experience. Keeton and the other founders wanted to save people money and use technology to reduce friction. By removing many of the extra people and layers of the dealership buying experience, customers have more control and transparency into the process. Instead of salespeople, Carvana has customer advocates who answer questions about the process and specific cars. Customer advocates don’t fight the customer to haggle for a deal, but are on the same team and work with customers to find the perfect car. In order to create an amazing experience, Carvana relies heavily on technology and data. The company invested heavily in photo and video technology, as well as logistics to be able to deliver cars to people around the country as soon as the next day. Technology also auto-populates many of the contracts, which turns a multi-hour car-buying experience into a 10-minute transaction. Data helps Carvana measure its progress and target its approach to potential customers. Disrupting such a large industry hasn’t come without its ups and downs. Keeton says many customers, especially those in new markets, think Carvana is too good to be true. One customer even had 20 co-workers waiting with him when his car was delivered. They had a bet on if Carvana was real and if the car would even show up. To combat skepticism, Carvana works to surprise and delight customers with amazing experiences. Continually delivering on its promises helps Carvana stay close to its brand and customers as it continues to spread its message. Carvana shows that even well-established industries can be disrupted with a renewed focus on customers.

How A $1 Billion Dollar Company Keeps Customer Service As Its Focus
Sep 26 2019 28 mins  
The telecom world faces constant change and evolution. A decade ago, smart phones didn’t exist, and now they’re the core of every company. Through the change, one company has seen incredible growth of 20-30% year over year to become a $1 billion-dollar company. Its secret? Focusing on customer service. John Marick started Consumer Cellular with a goal of bringing cell phones to people all over the world. As the industry changed and his company grew, it honed in on an often-overlooked market: seniors. The company’s simple approach to creating happy employees and exceptional customer service has led it to earning the top spot in customer service for non-contract providers six times in a row by J.D. Power. Seniors need phones for communication and safety just like everyone else, but providing an exceptional customer experience to seniors is different than serving any other demographic. Instead of measuring how fast contact center agents can resolve customer issues, Consumer Cellular encourages its employees to take their time with each customer. Employees want each customer to get the most value from their cell phone, so they are willing to spend time helping them learn to use their phone and work through any issues as they transition to a cell phone. Instead of trying to beat a time resolution goal, agents instead are focused on helping customers feel comfortable with their phones and service. That extra effort makes a huge difference as customers feel valued instead of just being pushed through the line. Personalization and data play a huge role in customer service. Customers should be engaged and feel happy they contacted the company, even if it was for an issue with their cell phone. Consumer Cellular tracks formal and informal metrics, including surveys, attrition levels and outside recognition, to measure its progress. Its flat internal structure also means that executives are involved in day-to-day operations and customer service. Marick says Consumer Cellular aims to be there when customers need it. The company is working towards being more proactive and using customer data and feedback to find new ways to help and provide an amazing experience. Even as the industry continues to change, Consumer Cellular can hold strong to the customer focus that is ingrained in its culture. By staying engaged with its partners and the industry, Consumer Cellular feels confident that it can continue to evolve and serve future customers. In the last year, the company has expanded into other services related to caregiving to better serve its target market. By building strong relationships with seniors and their families and taking the time to provide personalized service, Consumer Cellular can continue to grow and build its legacy of customer service.

Experience Design In Field Operations With AT&T President Jenifer Robertson
Sep 17 2019 33 mins  
In a company as large as AT&T, most customers will only ever interact with field operations technicians. That means that creating a strong experience in the field is vital for both employees and customers. Jennifer Robertson, AT&T’s President of Field Operations, mixes technology with human decisions to create an efficient experience with a strong human touch. AT&T has thousands of technicians in the field every day. Robertson and her team recently introduced the CODE initiative to help field employees make good judgements about customer care. CODE is an acronym for Care about the customer, Own the experience, Deliver, Exceed expectations. Instead of detailing how to handle every situation, AT&T provides its employees with the framework to make their own decisions to best serve the customer. The four driving principles allow technicians to do what they think is best for each customer. CODE has become a rallying cry for employees, who appreciate being empowered to meet each customer’s unique needs. Empowering employees and building human interactions is powerful, but the field experience still needs to be efficient. AT&T’s daily field work is a feat of logistics. Customers want to know when technicians will arrive, and technicians need to maximize the number of customers they see every day while limiting drive time and gas consumption. Last year, AT&T launched its Dispatch Learning Engine, an AI-powered platform that considers real-time information like traffic, fuel, technician skills and customer history to identify the best routes and schedules for each technician each day. With all of the factors, Robertson says there are 2.3 trillion options for every 300 jobs to assign—no human could match the machine’s ability to create the best routes for employees, customers, the company and the environment. The Dispatch Learning Engine has earned rave reviews from technicians and dispatchers, and customers have shared positive experiences of knowing who will service their issue and when they will arrive. AT&T has also reduced its miles traveled by more than 20% and saved 51 million pounds of CO2 emissions by creating more efficient routes. Field operations is a crucial part of customer experience. It’s where the rubber meets the road. By properly training employees and giving them freedom to use their best judgment, AT&T has built a global team of empowered technicians. Combined with innovative uses for AI, the company streamlines its operations to be as efficient and sustainable as possible.

Digital Transformation And The Future Of Ecommerce With Pitney Bowes CMO
Sep 10 2019 30 mins  
In 2020, ecommerce logistics company Pitney Bowes will celebrate its 100th anniversary. It’s safe to say the company has seen tremendous change in its 100 years as it evolved from a postage company to a global technology leader. But instead of just reflecting on the past, the company is looking towards the future of ecommerce and preparing for what comes next with a digital transformation. Over the past five years, Pitney Bowes has undergone a massive digital transformation, both internally in how it operates and externally in its products and how it interacts with customers. The company broke down silos and developed company-wide analytics. Client data is now stored in a central system that all employees can access to make faster and more strategic decisions that meet customers’ needs. Pitney Bowes also created a common cloud, as well as targeted clouds for each department, that send tailored, automated messages to clients at just the right times. According to CMO Bill Borrelle, the digital transformation set the foundation for a client experience transformation. By streamlining internal systems and uniting the company with machine learning and data, employees are empowered to better serve customers and deliver a consistent, forward-thinking experience. Borrelle believes transformation is all about culture. Pitney Bowes’ culture created the transformation because employees understand that the client is at the center of everything. That mindset led to a need for new technology and common tools to best serve customers. The digital transformation allows Pitney Bowes to continue to evolve as client needs and technology change. Borrelle encourages employees throughout the company to practice data hygiene, or keeping data clean and accurate. The better the data, the better the client experience. Data also plays a large role in the future of ecommerce. Pitney Bowes is at the forefront of the changing ecommerce landscape and releases a consumer survey and thought leadership piece every year to measure the changes. Borrelle says changing customer demands will greatly impact ecommerce as the industry continues to grow. The biggest purchaser of online goods is the millennial male, in large part because of subscription boxes. Consumers, especially younger shoppers, want fast delivery and convenient service. The speed of fulfilment and delivery, as well as the popularity of subscriptions, will only continue to grow. The next 100 years could see amazing changes in ecommerce. The fast-paced industry could look dramatically different in even just a few years. Creating digital solutions and focusing on customers will prepare ecommerce companies to deliver amazing, data-driven experiences no matter what the future brings.

We Are Future Shapers: Enterprise Transformation At Honeywell
Sep 05 2019 29 mins  
Instead of just being employees, Honeywell employees are now considered Future Shapers. It’s part of the company’s digital transformation and move to create a smart, convenient future for its customers. Future Shapers are dreamers and doers. As Ken Stacherski, Honeywell’s VP Enterprise Transformation, shared, the company’s internal motto is “The future is what we make it.” With those words in mind, Future Shapers are transforming Honeywell inside and outside for their customers. The move towards Future Shapers starts with Honeywell employees who make the future a reality. Stacherski said that as the new initiative took hold, a storm of energy went through the company because employees were so excited to embrace the concept and create the future. They wanted to work for a company that rewarded risks and innovation. Future Shapers extends from employees to more widespread digitization efforts. Honeywell’s digital transformation helps connect the dots across its 35 business enterprises to build more efficient processes and systems internally and externally. By streamlining things internally, Honeywell can also offer its B2B customers more streamlined services. The goal is to create a forward-thinking and connected company that is easy to do business with. Stacherski shared Honeywell’s three focuses as it expands digitization: Differentiated customer experience. Honeywell aims to interact with customers consistently through the buying cycle. That means creating consistent experiences starting with digital awareness and moving all the way to after-market support. Data-driven decisions. Honeywell hopes to standardize processes with strict data governance and a coherent IT structure. With a solid and consistent data framework, it can make informed, timely decisions for employees and customers. Operational efficiency. By cutting through red tape and replacing outdated systems with more efficient models, Honeywell can work more accurately and provide a better experience for customers. The three goals show the shifting power towards customers. As Future Shapers work to define the future, they are expanding Honeywell’s customer-centric culture and connecting with customers from end-to-end touchpoints. In the future, Honeywell hopes to continue on its digital transformation path. The Future Shapers initiative puts the company on the cutting edge of new technology and empowers employees to create the future instead of being disrupted by it. Focusing on customers and driving innovation creates a powerful company that could transform how companies do business.

Creating A Thriving Subscription Business With Fender Digital
Aug 28 2019 28 mins  
If you had great intentions of playing the guitar but gave it up after your first lesson, you aren’t alone. As many as 90% of new guitarists quit within their first year. But that might not be the case much longer. Fender Digital is building a thriving subscription model that teaches guitar skills that people actually stick with—and so far, 100,000 people are on board. Fender is known for its iconic guitars, but customers are much more valuable if they actually stick with the instrument instead of making a one-time purchase and giving it up. By reducing churn of first-time players by just 10%, Fender has the potential to double the size of the entire industry. The challenge was in how to reduce churn and teach novice guitarists with short attention spans who are always on the go. The subscription model of Fender Digital allows musicians to learn at their own pace while also addressing many of the issues of why people quit. According to Ethan Kaplan, GM of Fender Digital, one of the most common reasons people quit playing the guitar is because it hurts their fingers. As a result, the first thing taught in Fender Digital is how to play without it hurting. The basic model of Fender Digital is a subscription that moves students through a variety of guitar learning modules. The course is based around data and customer feedback to teach basic skills and more advanced concepts. Students get immediate value once they join and have access to the material. The subscription model is also enticing for customers because it automatically updates with new content instead of requiring people to have to buy new versions of a course. Kaplan says that most people are linear learners and work through the modules in progression, but Fender Digital also allows people to jump around and focus on the skills or songs that are most interesting to them. Giving power to the students can go a long way in keeping them engaged and motivated with the guitar. A subscription model really comes down to providing continual value. Fender has found that when a company provides value, people want to subscribe. The key is to continually provide value for guitar students at all levels. For Fender Digital, that means opening channels for communication with users and regularly editing and adding new content. Testing the content to help people if they get stuck and putting themselves in students’ shoes helps create a high-quality experience. The product is constantly evolving to match what people want to learn. Fender Digital also complements the main Fender brand. Kaplan says the two sides work together to create a lifetime of engagement for loyal customers with everything from products to services and experiences. The subscription model is growing increasingly popular because it provides more ways for customers to connect with brands. Fender Digital is taking subscription services to the next level by providing value and strong content.

Driving Customer Experience At IBM With CMO Michelle Peluso
Aug 20 2019 26 mins  
How does a 100-year-old company continually reinvent itself to change how the world works? By relying on and driving a high-quality customer experience. IBM’s current success is built around its historic roots and the customer-first culture that has existed from the beginning. For CMO Michelle Peluso, that means standing on the backs of giants while also looking towards the future. The goal of IBM’s customer experience is to create more one-to-one interactions and move away from mass marketing and experiences. Peluso says the most important thing is seamlessness. Silos are common in large companies like IBM, but IBM avoids them by creating agile teams that are focused on a common goal. Each agile marketing team has a mix of specialists from different areas, such as IT, marketing and product design. The teams are tasked with thinking about how to sell a particular IBM product. Bringing together different backgrounds and skillsets for a common goal allows for unique perspectives and a seamless approach to customer experience across the entire organization. Marketing plays a large role in making sure the client journey is well instrumented so that IBM gets feedback when things aren’t going well. The right client feedback at the right points highlights areas for improvement. IBM’s customer experience is driven by data and includes new technology like AI. Peluso’s agile marketing teams use IBM Watson to get proactive alerts each morning about areas where they are underperforming. Watson also gives the teams reasons for the lack of success and suggestions for improvements. Instead of the human employees having to manually dig through endless amounts of data, Watson’s AI capabilities provide proactive alerts that allow teams to move more quickly and accurately. Peluso says emerging technologies give customers more control and puts them in charge of their own experiences. This will only continue to grow in the future of marketing and customer experience. Along with AI and agile teams, Peluso believes blockchain will have a large impact on the future of customer experience and marketing. Instead of moving through a complicated process like media buying with numerous moving parts and limited accountability, blockchain could potentially connect different parts of the supply chain with one record of the truth. Media buying could potentially be more accurate and targeted to provide personalized customer experiences. A high-quality customer experience doesn’t come from a single action or person, but from the collective efforts of many people working towards the same goal. At IBM, that translates into leveraging new technology and ideas while still holding strong to brand values from the past to continually driving forward-thinking solutions customers crave and expect.

The Future of Train Travel Is Here With Virgin Trains USA
Aug 13 2019 32 mins  
Taking a relaxing trip by rail or hopping on a high-speed commuter train to the next city is common in Europe and Asia, but it’s a foreign idea for most Americans. Virgin Trains USA is hoping to change that by bringing the future of train travel to the U.S. The sweet spot for train travel is between highly populated city centers that are within 200 to 300 miles of each other. It’s a distance that most people drive instead of fly, but the trip by car can be full of traffic, construction and detours. Instead, the goal of Virgin Trains USA is to create a network of high-speed passenger trains along busy highway corridors so that travelers and commuters can get where they need to be more in a way that’s quicker, easier and more eco-friendly. Virgin Trains USA president Patrick Goddard says trains are 90% safer than cars and provide faster and more reliable travel. Virgin Trains’ first big foray in the U.S. is revamping an old rail line in Florida. After updating the line to connect Miami and West Palm Beach, Virgin Trains is now endeavoring on phase two to extend the line to Orlando in the next few years. Trains that can reach speeds of 125 miles per hour will soon be zooming past people stuck on the freeway on the three-hour drive between Miami and Orlando. Virgin Trains also has plans to build a train route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas that could cut the three-hour trip to just 75 minutes, as well as other potential sites that could link neighboring cities. But Virgin Trains is hoping to gain a following not just for its speed, but also for its experience. As the company expanded in the U.S., it brought it architects, designers and visionaries to create an amazing experience in the station and on board. Goddard taps into his hospitality background to ensure the experience disrupts and changes the status quo of train travel in the U.S. and around the world. A large part of that is the digital experience. Virgin Trains strives for a digital experience that will ultimately involve as little interaction from the user as possible. That means keeping things seamless and simple, such as integrating all forms of transportation from start to finish in a single booking and allowing passengers to order food to their seat from the station or the train. Train travel has the potential to give passengers their lives back instead of being stuck in stressful traffic jams. The future of train travel is here, and as Goddard says, it’s not your grandma’s train service. A modern network of high-speed trains could transform how people travel and do business as it connects cities and passengers with amazing experiences.

Customer Service Is Not A Cost Center And Other Lessons From FreshBooks
Aug 06 2019 29 mins  
How do you take on an industry giant and deliver innovative solutions? With a customer-first culture that becomes a competitive advantage. Mike McDerment created FreshBooks when he couldn’t find a great accounting solution for his small design business. He designed the product for business owners, not accountants. Now, the company has over 10 million customers and is the #2 small business accounting software in America, after giant QuickBooks. From the beginning, FreshBooks had a customer-first culture and focused on building close relationships with customers. McDerment and his team focus on building customer proximity where the people buying the product aren’t far-off numbers, but rather real people who are always the center of the company. Every new FreshBooks employee spends their first month working in customer service. They learn about the products and then spend time answering phone calls and chatting with customers. McDerment says starting all employees with the customer service background helps them understand the products and keeps them close to the customers so they remember who they work for. The customer service team even designed and runs the onboarding process because it is that central to the culture for new employees. FreshBooks has always invested money in customer service, even before many other companies caught on to the need to do so. McDerment says that customer service isn’t a cost center, but rather an opportunity. Some companies view investing in customer service as a necessary evil, but it should actually be viewed as a revenue generator because of all of the gold found in customer experience. McDerment says that if you listen carefully, the customers have all the answers, from where to focus the company’s effort to what products to design for the future. Customer service is a valuable feedback loop that helps FreshBooks get insights to pass on to the correct teams to put into action. Aside from its unorthodox approach to customer service, FreshBooks also used a unique method to build the next version of its product. Knowing that competitors would be watching to see what FreshBooks would do next, the company built a seemingly competing product under a different brand name so that no one would steal its ideas. Once the new version was proven, it became the main FreshBooks product. Building a successful company comes with its ups and downs, but McDerment says that focusing on innovation and remembering to put customers first makes all the difference. The biggest factor to success doesn’t show up on the balance sheet; it’s the culture that makes all the difference.

Samsonite: A 110 Year Old Company With A Fresh Digital Approach
Jul 30 2019 32 mins  
Most people don’t think about their luggage when travelling. The goal is to focus on the experiences themselves instead of the product that’s carrying your clothes and supplies. Samsonite is a staple in the travel world. As Chief Digital Officer Charlie Cole says, the goal is for customers to talk about the vacation and not about what they’re packing. A good suitcase quietly gets the job done without adding headaches to the trip. The growth of the experience economy in recent years has led to more people traveling than ever before. Samsonite has updated its approach to customer experience to reflect a new wave of travelers. The company may be 110 years old, but it has a fresh digital approach. One of the reasons for its current mindset is the fact that Samsonite pays attention to changing trends and technology. Cole says it’s important to embrace change instead of resisting it. Samsonite acknowledges things that are changing and then decides how it will attack them, which can either be by reallocating internal resources or adding an outside acquisition to its diverse portfolio. Samsonite is actually an entire portfolio of travel products and websites, including Tumi, American Tourister and Staying brand-aware and constantly self-assessing helps Samsonite recognize what it needs to do to change and stay ahead of the industry. Samsonite leverages data to provide a strong digital experience. Cole says the importance of data will continue to evolve. Samsonite aims to use data in a way that helps the organization be more efficient and customer-focused. Staying in tune with what customers are looking for helps the company create the right products and market them to the right people. Another impactful trend for Samsonite has been the growth of D2C businesses. Samsonite has strengthened its own D2C role in recent years to match other D2C companies. It built out its entire D2C capability, from systems to people, to create a powerful way for customers to get exactly what they need straight from the brands. At the same time, Samsonite maintains its wholesale relationships with suppliers like Amazon and Kohls to keep another arm in the industry. Samsonite bridges the gap between a long-lasting company and an innovative startup that is constantly evolving. Leveraging data and creating a strong brand portfolio helps the company be prepared for whatever happens next as it continues to build a strong digital experience.

Restoring Trust, Control, And Fairness In The Digital World
Jul 23 2019 49 mins  
For years, customers have traded their personal data for digital services, rewards or promotions. In order to gain access to a new program, get discounts from a company or connect with friends on social media, we’ve given up much of our personal information. But is it a fair trade? Data privacy issues have been growing in intensity for years, leading to a world where customers aren’t in control of their own data and trust between customers and companies continues to erode on a daily basis. Countless questions face technology and business professionals today, but perhaps none are more important than those surrounding data security, fairness and trust. Data used to not be worth anything, so customers gave it away freely. They didn’t think anything of giving out their email address or personal information in exchange for services and information. But over time, companies like Google and Facebook turned personal data into currency. Now, that information we used to give away freely is incredibly valuable, but customers are no longer in control of it. Stephen Messer, co-founder and vice chairman of Collective [i], says it all comes down to the tradeoffs customers are willing to make. In general, customers love the personalization that comes from data, but they’re concerned about how their data is used and shared. Most people are willing to share their data with Netflix if that leads to personalized show recommendations, but they likely aren’t as willing to share their data with an unknown e-commerce company just to get a small discount. Each person’s tradeoff value is different. Many of those tradeoffs involve not understanding how companies collect or use customer data. A major contributor to the lack of trust is that companies aren’t transparent or careful about how they use data. Messer says trust is the hardest thing for companies to earn, and it’s nearly impossible to gain back after it’s been lost. But how can companies regain trust and help customers feel secure about their data? Messer says it starts with companies being open about how they’re using data and the safeguards they use to protect it. Google, for example, anonymizes its data. It doesn’t care who the data is from; it simply wants customer data to make its products better. If more customers were aware of those types of safeguards, they could possibly be more willing to share their data. Customers need information so they can make choices and have control over their own data. Tom Wilson, president and CEO of Allstate, believes trust should be considered in terms of relationships. Wilson suggests having a global standard of three data sharing agreements, ranging from restricted data use to open data use. Depending on what the data will be used for, customers can opt in to different levels based on their comfort level. If a customer wants to be in complete control of their data, they would select the restricted option, but if they’re willing to share data in exchange for certain recommendations or perks, they could select the controlled or open options. Another solution would be for companies to charge customers to control their data. A small monthly fee could potentially allow customers to opt in to protected data on social media sites. Wilson and Messer agree that data privacy and trust are complicated issues. No matter the solution, it starts by being transparent and giving power back to customers. Providing them with resources and information can create more informed customers and make a large step towards regaining trust.

Driving Innovation In Customer Experience With Josh Linkner
Jul 17 2019 29 mins  
There’s a lot of talk about innovation in the business world. But innovation is more than just a buzzword—it should be the culture and mindset of customer experience professionals. The best customer experiences push beyond the norm to provide creative, unique and memorable experiences and services for customers. According to best-selling author Josh Linkner, customer experience is a platform for creative expression. Every single person is creative, and one way we can manifest it is through finding creative and innovative customer solutions. Innovation will ultimately drive value for the brand. Linker recommends thinking of customer experience as a blank canvas and finding new ways to win. In order to do that, brands need to examine every touchpoint they have with customers and look for ways to improve the interaction and outshine the competition. Creativity doesn’t always mean trying something out of left field. In many cases, innovation happens with simple ideas that challenge what’s always been done. Linkner gives the example of a company in Korea that started packaging its bananas based on ripeness so that customers could work their way through the package and have a ripe banana every day. The simple, innovative solution led the company to charge three times more and crush the sales numbers. Many companies fall into the rut of focusing on efficiency instead of encouraging innovation, but efficiency can only get you so far. In our fast-paced world, we can’t rely on models of the past. Customers crave innovation and new solutions. Creativity is the one thing that can’t be outsourced or automated. It can become a powerful competitive advantage. Many companies overestimate the risk of trying something new and underestimate the risk of standing still. Leaders and employees at all levels need to encourage creative ideas—both good and bad—to get people talking. Removing judgement and building resilience can create an environment where innovation thrives. An innovative mindset can also help companies evaluate existing processes and mix things up from what’s always been done. Ben and Jerry’s does this by holding a funeral for retiring flavors and literally burying them in a casket. It isn’t a mark of failure that a flavor didn’t sell well, but instead a celebration of what the brand accomplished and a signal to start fresh with a new idea. All it takes is one person to look at something they’ve seen 100 times with a creative point of view to find a new solution. Innovation is the root of customer experience. Stale and stagnant experiences don’t build strong relationships with customers and will get overlooked for innovative ideas from the competition. To lead the pack and best serve customers, Linkner says individuals and companies must bring their creative souls to the surface and see what amazing results ensue.

Nordstrom's Digital Transformation With SVP Customer Experience Shea Jensen
Jul 09 2019 31 mins  
How does a company that has been around for more than 100 years still provide innovative and customer-focused service? For Nordstrom, it comes down to understanding customers and evolving the experience to meet their needs and exceed their expectations. Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s SVP Customer Experience, says the brand’s goal is to make customers feel good and look their best. But what sets Nordstrom apart is how the brand meets the customer where they are. Many other companies think of themselves as channels, but Nordstrom provides a complete omnichannel experience by considering itself a brand, not a channel. Nordstrom’s digital transformation revolves around finding ways to win with customers in a digital world. The seamless experience between channels allows customers to get the great quality they depend on from Nordstrom no matter how they shop. However, digital transformation didn’t mean completely abandoning physical stores. Instead, Nordstrom updated its physical locations and added extra services to make the experience as convenient and easy as possible. The goal is to provide access to the brand and its products at a time and place that works for customers. Nordstrom stores are for discovery and inspiration. Jensen says 35% of online purchases begin with moment of discovery in store and around 85% of customers who shop in store started their journey in some digital capacity. The company currently operates three Nordstrom Local stores that serve as service hubs with personal stylists, online order pickup and alterations that are right in the neighborhoods where customers live and work. Nordstrom Local customers spend twice as much as customers who don’t shop at Nordstrom Local. Jensen says the convenient touchpoint becomes part of their daily lives. Nordstrom Local and traditional Nordstrom stores also use well-trained employees as personal stylists, but the services are often augmented with AI and new technology. The Style Board function allows salespeople to curate an assortment of products for a customer, send it to their phone and then be available for a live chat. When the customer is ready to purchase, it’s as simple as shopping on The experience moves between channels in a way that makes sense for customers. At Nordstrom, customers are in control. They choose how, when and where they shop, and Nordstrom works to provide a high-quality and personalized experience every time. The shopping journey is no longer linear, but creating a digitally driven omnichannel experience puts customers in the drivers’ seat and gives them control.

Growth IQ: The Ten Smart Decisions That The World's Most Successful Businesses Make
Jun 28 2019 28 mins  
What’s the secret sauce to successful businesses? How do the best companies continually innovate and grow? According to Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce, there’s not one secret to success. Growth and success don’t come from just focusing on employees or building a customer-centric culture or going through a digital confirmation—it comes from a combination of all of those things and many more. Bova created the idea of Growth IQ from her more than 20 years as a sales and marketing practitioner and academic. Her framework is designed to help companies looking to accelerate growth or recover from a growth stall. The foundation of the Growth IQ is based on three principles: Pause and get context. Before growth can begin, practitioners and companies need to understand the context of their market. They need to know their competitors, what’s happening in the market, why they’ve won or lost in the past and their strengths as an organization. Taking time to look at the industry context creates a strong foundation instead of barreling forward without a full view of what’s happening. It’s never one thing. Growth doesn’t come from one path or action in isolation. Sustainable and meaningful growth is a combination of multiple growth paths that creates a flywheel to drive continued growth. Sequence matters. The order that companies do things in helps them have a better likelihood for success. The steps matter, but the order they are taken in is also crucial. These growth principles are extremely important as industries change and are no longer protected from outside competition. Technology has made a huge impact on all industries, but Bova says the modern connected customer is more disruptive than new technology. That means companies need to focus on creating a customer-centric culture by putting their employees first. When the culture is right, everyone knows their roles in delivering meaningful customer experiences. That’s when real growth starts to happen. Employees also need to be on board because everyone owns customer experience. However, Bova says someone needs to set the strategy that all employees follow. If the CEO isn’t involved in the employee first, customer-centric culture, those ideas won’t become integral to the company’s DNA. Sustainable growth doesn’t come from just one area. It’s more than just putting employees first and creating a strong customer experience, although those definitely play large roles. The challenge is knowing where to focus first. But Bova says once a company decides, they need to stick with it and commit. True change and lasting growth is a process and don’t happen overnight. Committing to Growth IQ allows for a real impact on employees and customers, and ultimately on the bottom line.

Cisco's Customer Experience Transformation With Alvio Barrios
Jun 04 2019 31 mins  
Many companies think of customer service as just what happens when a customer calls with a problem, but Cisco has transformed customer experience to include the entire customer journey. According to Alvio Barrios, SVP Americas Customer Experience, the goal of customer experience is to proactively engage with customers and help maximize the value of whatever products they’re getting from Cisco. As the market transforms, Cisco’s products and services have also transformed. The same is true with customer experience. Customers want to get to market faster and be competitive, which means Cisco must proactively help customers and find opportunities to better optimize their solutions. A number of factors contribute to Cisco’s customer experience transformation. It starts with a commitment from executives across the company. Customer experience impacts all functions of the company, so all executives need to be on board. Employees must also be engaged in customer experience. At Cisco, employees understand what’s happening in the industry because they’re experiencing it themselves. Part of Barrios’ job is to leverage customer focus and turn it into customer obsession to create an open, customer-first culture. Customer experience transformation must happen fast because trends and technology are constantly changing. Cisco uses a feedback loop to listen to customers and find ways to improve its products and services so it can deliver a better experience in the future. Cisco also uses analytics and insights to find potential challenges and opportunities. Barrios says the most important thing about moving quickly is to be bold and totally committed. Challenges will arise, but a deep conviction and bold actions can help push through the trials. Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Change takes time. Cisco celebrates the small wins and works to eliminate silos with a company-wide customer experience blueprint. Getting all employees on the same page and being honest will help everyone see success and the purpose of customer experience. The best customer experience is proactive and comes from companies that are obsessed with their customers. Cisco shows that like the customers themselves, the experience should also be constantly transforming to provide amazing, proactive solutions. This podcast is sponsored by Cisco.

Conversational AI At Capital One
May 30 2019 27 mins  
Imagine having a human assistant to look after your money 24/7 and proactively find ways to save more and keep your money secure. It may sound like an impossible dream, but Capital One makes the same service available for its customers with a virtual assistant named Eno. Capital One has always been a pioneer in conversational AI. It was the first financial company to launch an Alexa skill that allowed customers to check their balance with a voice command back in 2015. In 2016, it introduced Eno as a text bot. Now, the revamped Eno is more intelligent, responds to conversational text and voice commands and even makes proactive recommendations and alerts. If you made an unusual charge that could be fraud, paid an astronomical tip that’s out of the norm or spent more in a certain area than normal one month, Eno will send you an alert. The bot not only reaches out, but also allows customers to quickly take action right within the channel instead of having to log on to a computer or call customer service. The goal of Eno and Capital One’s dedication to conversational AI is to remove friction and have real conversations with customers. Before Eno, Capital One had an SMS fraud alert system that would text customers to confirm or deny unusual charges. However, the company realized that half of the responses weren’t confirmed or denied. Customers would respond with things other than the Y or N that the system recognized. They were interacting with the service, but not in a way that the machine recognized. The move to conversational AI allows humans to talk as they normally would. Ken Dodelin, Capital One VP Conversational AI Product Development, says it’s a move to teaching machines to talk like humans instead of the old method of trying to have humans talk like machines, which was ineffective and frustrating for everyone involved. Eno’s conversational AI technology allows it to understand more than 99% of customer queries and responses—a major jump from 50% just a few years ago. Customer expectations are changing, and how brands design systems must also change. Conversational AI isn’t something to take lightly. When done well, like in the case of Capital One, it can be a major component of the company’s overall strategy. Dodelin says it’s important to have humility when designing the program. Customers don’t always act how companies expect them to, which means teams have to be agile to find what best matches what customers will actually do. Eno’s proactive approach has resonated with customers and had a very positive reaction. Eno and Capital One show the power of conversational AI to build bridges and improve the customer experience. Dodelin says that no matter the company, the goal of AI should always be to be helpful. The right technology can create extremely helpful solutions for busy customers.

The Experience Economy Is Growing: A New Company Curates Luxury Travel Experiences
May 22 2019 31 mins  
Planning a vacation is often so exhausting that you need the vacation just to recover. Choosing a destination, planning the itinerary and scheduling all the details can take up a huge amount of time and energy. But a new company takes away the need for travelers to plan their own vacations and taps into the experience economy to create unique adventures. Manifest is the brainchild of Jeff Potter, the former CEO of Frontier Airlines and Exclusive Resorts. From his decades in the travel industry, Jeff learned the importance of getting away on vacation. Millions of vacation days go unused every year, and a major reason is that people don’t have the time or desire to plan their own trips. Modern travelers are also leaning more heavily to experiential travel and want to immerse themselves into the places they travel instead of simply staying in a resort. Manifest plans group travel expeditions throughout the U.S. Instead of long, international trips, these vacations are more manageable for people to fit into their busy schedules. Customers join a local chapter, pay the annual fee for the travel club and then can sign up for as many trips as they want. Because of Potter’s connections in the industry, the cost of private aircrafts, luxury accommodations and exclusive experiences actually ends up being close to what people would pay for booking a business class trip on their own. Group travel also brings people together in a unique way. With Manifest’s model, the people travelling together in a group likely live in the same city and have similar interests. The specialized trips range from an upscale Sonoma wine tasting weekend to whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon. Potter calls it “tribal travel” as the groups consist of likeminded people who share a passion for experiential travel. Manifest is built around creating amazing experiences and building trust. According to Potter, what customers want more than luxury experiences is authenticity. They want to truly experience their travel destination. Manifest plans excursions that are often off the beaten path and something travelers might not find if they were making their own arrangements. To ensure guests are satisfied with the arrangements, Manifest customers complete a short survey when they join the travel club, which includes details about their preferences and activities. The company listens to customers to offer a wide variety of experiences to meet everyone’s needs. In our modern world, customers tend to value experiences over things. They’re investing more in travel than ever before, and Manifest takes advantage of the need for convenience, experiences and community by creating unique, personalized travel opportunities.

Sprint's Digital Transformation with Chief Digital Officer Rob Roy
May 14 2019 31 mins  
Digital transformation can have numerous goals, from saving money to improving customer satisfaction. But at Sprint, the goal is to empower both internal and external customers to do what they want, where they want, when they want. Rob Roy and this team called The Hive take a unique approach to finding creative technology solutions that meet the needs of customers and employees. Digital transformation at Sprint is a reverse cultural transformation. It means embracing new ideas and working across the company to build long-term, sustainable products. A major focus of the digital transformation is internal, with the philosophy that if employees have the tools they need to succeed in the digital world, it will spread to customers. Roy often brings on digital natives with fresh ideas to his team. They also partner with startups and other entrepreneurs who have fresh perspectives on the future of digital. In order to build a successful digital transformation that is accepted within the company, Roy says that it’s important to ask two questions: What is the direction of the company, and how does digital transformation align with those goals? What is the customer saying? What are their main pain points? Combining the answers to those questions can help companies prioritize the areas that are the highest need and that will have the biggest impact. Sprint uses customer feedback, analytics and real interactions with sales representatives to set its digital transformation priorities. After all, digital transformation isn’t effective if it isn’t accepted by employees and goes against the goals of the company. Instead of simply building digital products and hoping for the best, the team at Sprint gets input from employees and customers on what matters to them. Members of the digital transformation team flew to platinum care centers and sat with top care representatives for weeks to listen to their calls and understand how agents go about their days and work with their systems. Seeing the technology in action helped identify pain points and ways new technology could improve the efficiency and work of the representatives. The team then built a program called AI Agent Assist that is tailored to how representatives actually interact with customers. Many companies get pushback on new technology because the systems aren’t intuitive and require too much change, but Sprint’s new programs are familiar to employees because they played a role in designing them. Instead of working in an isolated box, Roy says it’s important for teams to work shoulder to shoulder across the organization. For Sprint’s digital transformation, it’s important to embrace new ideas and create an innovative environment. Roy and his team spend hours every week thinking through processes. They experiment with new technology, brainstorm with outside thought leaders and surround themselves with people who want to press beyond the norm. Staying close to customers and embracing new ideas has helped Sprint’s slightly unconventional digital transformation lead to amazing results that are driving future ideas.

When It Comes To Customer Engagement, Loyalty Matters At Citi
May 01 2019 22 mins  
Are loyalty programs worth the cost? According to research by Citi, the answer is a resounding yes. As the company transformed its rewards program and analyzed customer preferences, it found that modern customers are more loyal and valuable when they participate in a loyalty program with a great experience. Mary Hines, Head of Customer Engagement and Innovation at Citi Cards, aims to deliver a seamless experience across all customer touch points. Customer loyalty programs are critical, especially in the retail and financial services spaces. What started in the 1980s for airlines and was often viewed as an unnecessary expense is actually a powerful way to engage with customers. Citi surveyed 1,000 consumers and found that 89% are more loyal to businesses where they are a rewards member. Citi customers who redeem their points spend twice as much as customers who don’t redeem their points. That engagement and loyalty can make a huge contribution to customer retention and the bottom line. However, not all loyalty programs are created equal. When Hines started with Citi in 2012, customers had to call the company or use a website to redeem their points. Now, the vast majority of customers redeem their points through a mobile app for intuitive and convenient access to their rewards. Citi’s research also found that 83% of consumers are more likely to participate in a loyalty program if they can access the program easily from their mobile phone. That number jumps to 94% for millennials. In many ways, customer loyalty programs reflect customer experience as a whole. Customers want resources that are accessible and applicable. They don’t want to go out of their way or jump through hoops to access a loyalty program. They also want personalized offers. Citi’s survey found that 95% of customers who are enrolled in loyalty programs are more likely to engage if they can get personalized offers. Hines has made a push to partner Citi with other popular retailers so that customers can easily redeem their rewards points right where they already shop, including Amazon, Best Buy and 1-800-FLOWERS. Rewards redemption also varies around the world based on culture and customer preferences. Customer engagement has a huge impact on loyalty. Providing a seamless and forward-thinking rewards program that is driven by digital can create a band of loyal customers who provide incredible value to a brand. Engaging with customers and getting more of their loyalty drives the bottom line and creates a company that customers are proud to be a part of.

Designing Empathy Into Customer Experience
Apr 23 2019 31 mins  
Two of the biggest buzzwords in customer experience are AI and empathy. But are the two concepts mutually exclusive, or can they be used together to create a harmonious customer experience? Dr. Rob Walker, Vice President Decision Management at Pegasystems, believes customer-facing AI initiatives can be programed to be empathetic. However, empathy is often lacking in customer interactions. It’s difficult for customers to feel empathy from brands when they are being spammed, have to repeat themselves constantly or are forced into irrelevant conversations. The majority of modern customer interactions are driven by AI, and there is a need to add empathy to those conversations. In order to show empathy in the customer experience, Dr. Walker says brands must make every conversation one-to-one. Many companies fall into the trap of traditional marketing and send the same message to every customer, which often ends up with customers getting multiple messages from different departments of the same company. It’s confusing and overwhelming. A one-to-one conversation focuses on the need of each individual instead of simply blasting them with the same message as everyone else. Another important principle is to take the customer’s view. Companies need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and consider if their approach is appropriate or relevant. Just because a company can sell a customer something, should it? Understanding a customer’s circumstance can quickly build and show empathy. Personal experiences naturally build more empathy. It’s easier for customers to see empathy from a company when they interact with the brand one on one instead of just being part of the masses. AI plays a crucial role in identifying opportunities for a personalized approach. AI allows companies to target specific customers. It can decide the most relevant approach in real time that creates the most mutual value for customers. Instead of human employees having to guess their way through a conversation, AI makes it possible for companies to be more exact in their approach. Combining AI and empathy to best connect with customers can require a culture shift in many companies. In a truly customer-centric organization, different departments won’t compete with each other because they want to do what is best for the customer. Dr. Walker recommends operationalizing AI and empathy, but says that brands shouldn’t look too far out because technology and ideas are moving quickly. AI is constantly changing and could soon infer empathy. For now, it is a powerful tool in creating personalized experiences that allow for more connection between customers and brands, which naturally builds more empathy.

5G Will Impact The Customer Experience: An Interview With Qualcomm's President
Apr 17 2019 31 mins  
Imagine being able to stream anything anywhere without having to worry about bad signals or data limits. Soon connecting to the internet will be as commonplace as connecting to electricity. 5G has the power to unlock limitless computing and impact the entire world, including the customer experience. Cristiano Amon is the president of Qualcomm, a company that has technology in every smartphone in the world. Amon is considered the godfather of 5G because of his work planning, advocating and creating the technology. He is passionate and optimistic about the potential of 5G to change the way we work, communicate, shop and live. The most obvious impact of 5G will be super-fast internet, with speeds up to 10 times faster than current levels. With current 4G, customers can experience poor signal areas where they don’t have the power to stream or access the internet as quickly as they like. That trouble won’t be an issue with 5G, as everyone around the world will have guaranteed connections no matter where they are. The impact of massively increased speeds is enormous. In recent years, even slightly faster internet speeds have allowed consumers to stream music, so they don’t need to buy CDs or download MP3s. The same buying shift will happen with 5G as consumers can stream 4K video anywhere in the world, which means they won’t need to buy DVDs or download movies. 5G will also have a huge impact on social media and allow for instantaneous connections. People will be able to share things in real time and have live conversations around the world. Gaming could also boom with 5G and cloud-based gaming. Instead of having to purchase expensive computers to handle large games, 5G will allow consumers to play any game on any device no matter the computing power required. 5G goes hand in hand with the growth of AI. Because of 5G’s fast speeds, everyone will essentially be constantly connected to the cloud. Al and machine learning can also build faster connections and flag activities that aren’t normal. Amon says that with this growth comes the need for more protection of our digital selves on par with how we protect our physical selves. What does this mean for the customer experience? Everything is changing. Consumers will be able to connect with brands in real time and will expect faster service and responses. Connectivity will impact innovation and allow products to come to market more quickly. Brands will also have more data on their customers to provide uniquely personalized experiences just when customers needs them. The world will get smaller as connectivity increases. Unlike today’s wireless technology that is primarily used in the wireless industry, 5G will touch all industries in both B2B and B2C. 5G will become part of the critical infrastructure and change manufacturing, IoT, healthcare and so many more industries. Amon says that consumers who like their smartphones today will be very happy once 5G is up and running. Companies will need to match that love and excitement with service and experiences that leverage the power of 5G.

Balancing Human And Technology Decisions In Digital Transformation
Apr 03 2019 28 mins  
Digital transformation is all about using technology to better solve customer problems. But a new report from global telecommunications company Telstra found that many U.S. companies lean too heavily on the technology side and don’t focus enough on the people behind the decisions. According to Nicholas Collins, Telstra President for the Americas, digital transformation loses its effectiveness if companies forget about people. Brands need to continually evolve their businesses as technology and customer needs change. Instead of chasing technology, companies need to focus on what they want to be for their customers. “Technology alone is not a silver bullet for digital transformation. While investing in the right technology is crucial, placing too much importance on the role and performance of technology in digital transformation is a barrier to success,” Collins said. There are huge opportunities for companies that have yet to start a digital transformation. Collins says it starts with a top-down commitment from leadership. Companies need to strategically decide what they want to achieve through digital transformation. From there, they should assemble the right teams to bring those goals to life. The foundation of successful digital transformation is people, especially through strong leadership and culture. Telstra’s study found that focusing too much on technology can lead to stalled progress and a lack of measurable outcomes. It’s easy for companies to get caught up in the technology behind the transformation, but the most effective digital transformation simplifies how people work so they can be engaged and better serve customers. As businesses grow, they often add new products and services that only add to the complexity of the company. Collins recommends that companies regularly take stock of their offerings and processes and find ways to simplify. Work back from the customer and what the brand is trying to achieve and then streamline or simplify as much as possible relating to the customer experience. Digital transformation really comes down to using technology to simplify and streamline how a brand operates interacts with customers. Collins recommends involving the employees who are closest to the customers because they can often provide insights that people who don’t regularly interact with customers might not see. Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. No matter where companies are on that journey, there is still plenty of opportunity to grow and develop. But in order to be successful, companies have to think about people and not just technology.

Digital Transformation At The American Medical Association
Mar 21 2019 30 mins  
It may have the word “medical” in the title, but by all accounts, The American Medical Association is actually a media company seeing the fruits of its digital transformation. In the last 18 months, association membership has grown by more than three times, thanks largely to a new digital approach. The AMA helps physicians in their quest to improve patient care. A large part of that is creating quality content from medical experts, including white papers and other documents. But that content is ineffective if it isn’t meaningful to members or easily accessible. Digital transformation is a business buzzword, but it can be scary to people. Instead, Todd Unger, chief experience officer and SVP physician engagement at the AMA, likes to start with the business of basics, such as identifying the audience, the company’s growth goals and what digital platforms will help the brand perform on a bigger scale. The digital solutions for one group might not be what another group needs. In order to be effective, companies must segment their audience and tailor their approach for reaching out to certain types of people. Unger came to the medical world with a background in e-commerce and horse racing. His fresh perspective helped him see areas that could easily be improved. One of the best ways to build momentum for a digital transformation is to start with the low-hanging fruit. For the AMA, it was as simple as adding a button to its homepage that people could click to join the organization. Those simple changes can make a big difference to the overall experience, but it often takes someone with fresh eyes to find those simple solutions. Unger’s best advice is to start small, move fast and get quick wins. Digital transformation can be scary and overwhelming, but quick wins from low-hanging fruit can provide positive momentum. Success can also show people who are hesitant about the need for a digital transformation just how powerful digital tools can be. With that fresh perspective comes the need for a cohesive team. Unger says many companies have problems with digital transformations because the responsibility of digital marketing is split across multiple departments, which takes away accountability and makes it hard to get results. Within a few months of starting the digital transformation, the AMA brought its digital marketing teams together to one cohesive unit and immediately saw faster progress. Unger’s team tests everything to drive growth. Even something as simple as an email template needs to be tested repeatedly to prove that it can effectively meet customers’ needs. Testing helps digital teams move to making fact-based decisions instead of relying on their opinions. In the end, digital transformation comes down to trust. Are you communicating and connecting with customers in a clear way that builds trust? Digital solutions can drive growth and create meaningful relationships with customers. As Unger says, there’s never been a more exciting time to be in marketing. And it all starts with digital.

Customer Experience For Your Most Valuable Customers With Wharton's Peter Fader
Mar 07 2019 31 mins  
Most people consider customer experience the ultimate goal for companies and marketers, but according to marketing professor Peter Fader, customer experience isn’t for everyone. It’s no secret that modern customers are all unique. They have different preferences and also different value for brands. As Fader says, not all customers are created equal. Some will be loyal to the brand and purchase every new product, while others will only purchase items on sale and could dabble in other brands. While both types of people are customers, it’s definitely more worthwhile for the brand to invest in the loyal customer who makes bigger purchases. When it comes to customer acquisition and retention, brands should focus on quality, not quantity. 10 brand-loyal customers who recommend the product to friends and make repeat purchases are better than 20 customers who only purchase when it’s cheap and convenient. Today’s customers realize they aren’t always treated the same as all other customers. Some customers get VIP treatment and special offers, while many others don’t. Customers understand the difference and realize that companies are simply rewarding customers that deserve it a little more. That’s where customer experience comes in. Different customers have different kinds of relationships with brands. Fader uses the example of Stitch Fix, which offers a completely different box of clothes to each customer to create a one-of-a-kind experience. As technology and personalization continues to improve, Fader says that customized approach will become the rule more than the exception. In order to best grow and nurture a relationship with customers, brands need to understand what tactics are most effective, and it’s not the same for every customer. Some customers might respond well to a rewards program, while others may resonate more with customer experience. Companies can’t pick one tactic and think it’s the best thing for all customers all time. A large-scale customer experience campaign might only move the needle for some customers in some circumstances instead of being the ideal solution for every customer. Fader says the best brands use a variety of tactics because they understand their customers and the value they provide. Customer experience is still crucial to brands and can have a tremendous impact in creating loyal, long-term customers. However, as companies try to connect with customers, the key is to understand their value and preferences and build relationships in the way that best works for each person. Check out a great talk from Peter Fader at Google here.

Behind The Scenes Of Comcast’s Digital Transformation
Feb 13 2019 32 mins  
Digital transformation is everywhere these days. But the idea of updating everything about how a company works and interacts with customers can be overwhelming. Comcast’s recent digital transformation shows that moving strategically and focusing on solutions customers love and employees champion can lead to great results. Comcast has made a major push in the last few years to get to a level where customers love the brand. The goal of the company’s digital transformation was to solve traditional problems with technology and create an easy and consistent experience for customers. Digital transformation is possible, even at large companies with standard processes. Scott McAllister, SVP Digital Transformation, narrowed the digital transformation down to four steps that proved incredibly successful for Comcast: Get senior level support. McAllister says it’s vital to have support from the CEO and other executives. At Comcast, the CEO was on board from the beginning. All executives in the company make two customer calls a month to discover customer pain points. Those calls showed leaders the importance of creating simple digital solutions for customers. Set clear objectives. Comcast started the journey with what it called a North Star metric: the percentage of customers who interact with the brand digitally. Tracking that single metric would show the success of the digital transformation. The number started in the low 60s% and is now up to the high 70s%. Get everyone in the company involved. It’s important to engage at each level of the organization to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Comcast invited employees from all levels and divisions of the company to have a voice in the new digital experience. Involving everyone gave all employees buy-in and helped create digital products that represented all viewpoints. Create an initial focus on certain transactions. An entire digital transformation can be overwhelming, but McAllister recommends starting with the lowest-hanging fruit. For Comcast, that was bill pay. Figuring out how to transform the interaction and move bill pay to digital set the stage for the rest of the transformation. By solving one problem, the company could move more easily to other areas. Digital transformation is vital in today’s world to build customers who love the products and won’t go anywhere else. Digital solutions offer amazing opportunities to meet customer needs and deliver an experience that goes above and beyond. Comcast shows that involving everyone in the digital transformation creates internal champions and helps manage change. Although there will be bumps in the road, following these four basic steps to a digital transformation can keep your company on top of trends and first in customers’ minds.

The Consumerization Of Healthcare With One Medical's CMO Doug Sweeny
Jan 31 2019 30 mins  
You’ve probably experienced this familiar scene: going to the doctor, having to wait to be seen in a sterile office, feeling rushed through the entire appointment and finally going home without feeling much better. It’s no wonder healthcare is one of the top five hated industries in the world. But One Medical is out to change people’s negative perceptions of healthcare by focusing on the patient experience and making it something people actually enjoy. It’s part of the growing trend to the consumerization of healthcare. According to CMO Doug Sweeny, One Medical thinks through the entire patient experience from start to finish to make visiting the doctor enjoyable. Instead of waiting weeks to get an appointment, patients can use an app to book a same-day appointment or virtually visit with a provider after hours. From the moment a patient walks in, the feel of the office is different. The modern style and calming décor is a stark contrast from typical waiting rooms. There aren’t phones at the front desk, which means receptionists can actually greet patients and talk with them instead of being distracted by a phone call. Appointments start on time, with the average wait time of just 30-60 seconds. The experience continues throughout the appointment. One Medical has automated much of the paperwork processes to allow healthcare providers to do what they love most—care for patients. They can take the time to build real relationships and meet the needs of each patient. Studies have shown that having a strong relationship with a doctor adds value to members and prevents things like urgent care visits. Aside from typical healthcare services, One Medical also offers services that patients really want, like mental health coaching, weight management classes, sports medicine, physical therapy and much more. The purpose is to help members meet their health goals instead of only seeing them when they’re sick. The company has partnered with large hospitals across the country to offer advanced specialist care to its patients. One Medical also works to engage with its employees by allowing them to focus on what matters most: patients. Instead of getting paid based on how many patients they see, all One Medical doctors are salary based. The entire experience is drastically different from the typical healthcare environment and could revolutionize the industry. One Medical remembers what many other healthcare companies don’t: that patients are people. Visiting the doctor can be an enjoyable experience. Like in other industries, consumers can take their business elsewhere if they aren’t satisfied, so healthcare companies need to understand changing consumerization trends to create a positive and personal experience. Healthcare is changing, and companies like One Medical that focus on patients and relationships will be the ones paving the way.

Digital Transformation For B2B Customer Experiences
Jan 07 2019 32 mins  
Customer experience is a major focus of the B2C world, but it’s also vitally important for B2B companies. As B2B customers become more digitally savvy, companies need to focus on digital transformation to ensure high-quality customer experiences. According to Dushyant Mohanty, global head of transformation at Tata Consultancy Services, that means moving from being product-centric to being customer-centric. Mohanty helps companies around the world transform to meet the needs of modern customers. He is an expert in B2B manufacturing, energy and financial services. When creating a transformational customer experience journey, B2B companies should put themselves in the shoes of their customers to see if they are getting an immersive solution that meets their needs, or if the company’s offerings are outdated. An immersive omnichannel experience includes all types of outreach and technology. In order to make it happen, Mohanty says companies often have to include people who aren’t typically part of the buying experience. Involving these people earlier in the process can help companies get a more accurate view of their customers and help create a cohesive experience with everyone on the same page. In a digital transformation, the customer experience needs to be customized and in real time. That means adjusting as needed and using the correct customer persona. Just like how modern customers expect customization in their B2C experiences, they also want it in their B2B interactions. In theory, this new approach to B2B customer experience is relatively simple. Putting it into practice, however, can be quite challenging. Mohanty says executives need to first pinpoint the reason for the transformation. Is it to drive top-line revenue, or is it to establish their market share? Knowing the reason for shifting to a customer-centric company can help drive strategy. Once a company understands its incentive for changing, it should look at its current contracts to see what customers are asking for. An effective customer experience means that the company is responding to customers’ needs. The contracts can tell the true story of if that’s actually happening. Mohanty points out that a digital transformation is more than just updating a few processes. For many companies, it’s a complete overhaul of their approach to service and customer experience. Small changes will only get small results. To make a real change, executives need to take a step back and look at things objectively to see if they are reaching customers and achieving their goals. The underlying technology structure has a huge impact on customer experience, as does the data strategy. Start with these as a foundation to customer experience. In the end, it really comes down to having a growth mindset. B2B companies that can embrace digital transformation for customer experience are the ones that don’t simply do what’s always been done but instead look for new solutions to meet customers’ needs. Just like in the B2C world, B2B companies need to always be evaluating their approach to customer experience to stay on top of new trends and technologies. A digital transformation can help companies become more customer-centric to guide their customers through the changing digital world.

Creating Personalized Retail Customer Experiences With RedThread
Nov 19 2018 25 mins  
It’s a problem nearly every woman has faced: shopping for clothes and taking dozens of items into the dressing room, only to come out with just one or two items that fit. It’s a frustrating experience and one that can cause women to internalize their difficulty finding clothes that fit as something being wrong with their body. But a new company is getting rid of standard sizing to create personalized, tailored clothing items designed to fit each customer’s body. Instead of standard sizes, customers can easily get clothes that fit their bodies perfectly. Every woman’s body is different, and it’s rare for someone to actually fit nicely into a standard size. RedThread was founded by Meghan Litchfield after she realized that she wasn’t alone in her shopping frustration. Countless other women also had difficulties getting the perfect fit, especially as their bodies changed. Litchfield and her team aim to turn that frustration around to create a positive shopping experience for all women. RedThread uses a 3D sizing model to customize fit, and the entire thing can be done from a customer’s living room. Each customer starts by taking a fit quiz so that RedThread can understand their fit preferences and what fit issues they commonly have. If pants are usually too long or too baggy in the thighs, the RedThread team takes that into account in their sizing model. Each customer is then sent a unique link, which she follows to take three photos of herself and one of an empty room. Those images create a 3D model, which pulls 15 specific measurements to get the right fit. RedThread tailors then create the item of clothing to match the size and fit preferences. The finished product is delivered to the customer’s door within a week. So far, Litchfield says women are enjoying the experience. Aside from creating clothing pieces that women love, RedThread’s goal is to give women the convenience and ease they crave. Modern women don’t have time to search for the right clothing items and take a gamble if they will really fit. In an industry that has long stood by standardized sizing, RedThread is changing the paradigm. Litchfield wants to own the entire process, starting with how women shop to how the clothing items are sewn and delivered. So much thought is put into each piece, which guarantees a great experience. Instead of being stuck in a dressing room with nothing that fits, women can now be confident that their clothing will be comfortable and tailored exactly to them. RedThread shows how truly listening to customers can help meet their needs. Understanding your customer and taking the time to create a high-quality, customized product goes a long way in customer experience.

Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide To Creating Customers With Word Of Mouth
Nov 01 2018 33 mins  
In a world where most of a company’s marketing and customer experience budget goes to new technology and flashy ads, it’s time to get back to the basics of word of mouth. According to Jay Baer, co-author of the new book Talk Triggers, it’s all about talking to customers and getting to know them. From there, brands can create talk triggers. It’s a simple concept but can be incredibly effective. A talk trigger is a strategic business choice that compels conversation. In order words, what can your brand do differently that people will talk about? Baer gives the example of Cheesecake Factory’s massive menu, which has hundreds of items and almost 6,000 words to describe them all. The menu didn’t just happen—it’s a strategic choice by Cheesecake Factory that gets people talking. Baer’s research found that 38% of Cheesecake Factory customers have talked about the menu in the last month without being asked. The novel-sized menu is a simple thing that encourages conversation and makes customers advocates for the brand. To be effective, a talk trigger must meet four requirements: be remarkable, relevant, reasonable and repeatable. As Baer points out, this isn’t about surprise and delight and creating an amazing experience for one customer. It’s about doing something believable and unexpected that all customers can experience and talk about. DoubleTree’s famous chocolate chip cookies are a great example of a talk trigger. The simple act of giving each guest a warm chocolate chip cookie when they check into the hotel makes a huge impact of the customer experience. People talk about DoubleTree cookies all the time, which is one of the reasons why the company doesn’t have to spend a lot of money on advertising. Every company can create a talk trigger. Baer recommends mapping the customer journey and identifying potential touch points and triggers. From there, interview new customers, long-time customers and lost customers to get their perspectives on the brand. Use that information to create something original and unexpected. What can you do that customers don’t see coming? That’s how you get them talking. Although data and technology play a huge role in customer experience, we can’t forget about the old standbys, including word of mouth. Taking time to understand customers and get them talking can create a memorable experience and make them loyal brand advocates.

Marketing Age Positivity With Chico's CMO
Oct 03 2018 31 mins  
In a world where older women are often expected to look and act a certain way, Chico’s is spreading a message of age positivity. The clothing store recently launched a marketing campaign and video that shows a 58-year-old influencer asking women if they would wear their age on a t-shirt. The idea is to showcase that getting older is really just getting bolder. Chico’s “Bold” campaign has received hugely positive reviews as women embrace the idea of showcasing their boldness and experience. In today’s world, it isn’t enough to just talk about products. Customers, especially women, care about a brand’s purpose and want a brand to stand for something they can relate to, says Chico’s CMO Shelagh Stoneham. Studies have shown that women are most comfortable with themselves when they are 60 years old, but so many messages in society go against that and say that older women shouldn’t take risks and be bold. Chico’s aims to show that women can do anything at any age and that women should dress themselves in a way that is true to them, regardless of their age. At Chico’s, aging is a badge of honor, not something that should be hidden. In order to successfully market the message of age positivity, Chico’s dove into research to find out about its customers’ demographics and what they wanted. The majority of Chico’s customers are age 40 or older and are experiencing changing bodies. Chico’s wanted to shift the perception of its brand and showcase that women of every age can accept their bodies, be confident and show their boldness. Customers and potential customers have connected with the authenticity of the message and campaign. Chico’s message is more than just words. The brand and its employees really believe that they are saying and walk the walk by showing their own boldness at every age. The marketing campaign is part of Chico’s larger focus on customer service. Stoneham says clothes are a form of self-expression. Chico’s focuses on delivering the most amazing customer service with its stylists who are trained to connect with customers and help them put together outfits that make them feel as beautiful, confident and comfortable on the outside as they do on the inside. Chico’s customers are so loyal that many have built decades-long relationships with associates. Employees spend time asking questions and are trained to be sensitive to customers and deliver high-quality, personalized experiences to everyone who walks into the store. Chico’s is constantly listening to customers and finding out what they want and need. Customer feedback is added into products, marketing campaigns and the entire experience. Chico’s shows that embracing an authentic message like age positivity and making it a hallmark of a company’s marketing can be incredibly successful. By standing for something more than just their clothes and highlighting a message that resonates with women, Chico’s is fighting ageism and connecting with customers.

Nasdaq Grows Its Digital Brand With Explosive Social Media Content
Sep 26 2018 31 mins  
A stock exchange might not seem like the most likely place to publish fresh social content and connect with younger generations. But then again, Nasdaq has always been ahead of its time. Nasdaq was the first electronic stock market and dates back to the 1970s. Although most people have probably heard of the company, many of them couldn’t actually tell you what Nasdaq does. That’s where Chief Digital Officer Josh Machiz comes in. His job is to connect Nasdaq with a younger audience and tell the story of what Nasdaq actually does. With a fresh strategy and relevant content, he’s connecting with a new audience and growing the company’s brand and experience. When Machiz joined the Nasdaq PR team in 2013, the company wasn’t doing much—if anything—with digital marketing and social media. But because Nasdaq is focused on innovation and technology, Machiz knew the company had to be able to showcase the stock market of the future digitally. A focused effort on growing social content has increased Nasdag’s followers from 20,000 to more than 3 million in just five years. Part of the way Nasdaq is gaining traction is by focusing on the innovators who are changing tomorrow. Companies come to Nasdaq to go public on the stock exchange. As Machiz says, the company is a dream factory where dreams come true. Many of the recent companies to go public resonate with entrepreneurs at different stages of building their companies. Nasdaq’s social content is aimed largely towards younger entrepreneurs and Millennials. These people likely aren’t the ones who will be considering taking their companies public any time soon, but it’s never too early to build a loyal audience. Younger people are very influential to older people. As today’s entrepreneurs and founders get even younger, it’s important to get in early with a consumer audience and build the next cohort of potential customers. Social content is huge for attracting a younger audience and showcasing the Nasdaq brand of innovation. One of the hallmarks of Nasdaq’s efforts is the “Never Settle Show”, a weekly talk show in front of a live studio audience that’s live streamed around the world. The show is regularly recognized for its interactive nature and even won a New York Emmy. The “Never Settle Show” covers the entrepreneurial hustle and is all about removing boundaries to entrepreneurship and making it accessible to everyone. Aside from the talk show, Nasdaq also has other podcasts and shows to showcase its brand and connect with a new wave of entrepreneurs. Live shows are popular at Nasdaq, though that hasn’t always been the case. Aside from the “Never Settle Show”, Nasdaq has also partnered with CNBC to broadcast “Squawk Box” and “Fast Money” every morning and evening from its innovative market site. Machiz hopes to increase partnerships in the future with online publications and new media outlets to expand Nasdaq’s audience. As technology grows and changes, Nasdaq will keep growing right alongside it. The company already has big plans to integrate AR and VR offerings into its social content and office space. Nasdaq is living proof a company in any industry can transform its brand and connect with customers on a different level with quality social content.

Leveraging Computer Vision For Customer Experience At Wayfair
Sep 12 2018 31 mins  
Shopping for a new couch or rug is unlike any other kind of shopping. First, customers don’t buy these kinds of household items as often they do other products, and they often don’t know what to search for. Instead of knowing the right keywords to search, buying home items is more about the visual approach and knowing what items look good in the space. A customer might want a blue rug, but they don’t know what brands or details to put into the search bar. That’s part of the reason Wayfair, the largest online provider of home goods, relies so heavily on algorithms and analytics. The company has algorithms for managing all areas of the customer experience, from what a customer sees on targeted web ads to what delivery experience they have and how often they receive marketing emails. It’s all in an effort to better understand customers and make it easier and better to buy home items online. Wayfair uses visual search and computer vision to add a visual element to AI. Customers can take a picture of something they see at a friend’s house or in a store, and Wayfair’s visual search finds products that look similar. It makes for a more pleasant shopping experience than trying to find the right keywords to match the look a customer is going for. According to John Kim, Wayfair’s global head algorithms and analytics, much of the company’s success in customer experience comes from how it leverages its computer vision. Wayfair has 1,900 engineers and data scientists that are broken down into customer experience pods. One group focuses solely on how customers find what they are looking for, including things like keyword search, visual search and targeted ads. Another pod focuses solely on the buying aspect of the customer experience and makes it as seamless as possible for customers to buy what they want. Pods work together to make their aspect of customer experience the best it can be. By bringing together data scientists and engineers, the pod can not only come up with great ideas, but it also has the skillset to put them into action quickly. Wayfair’s culture focuses on customers and analytics. No matter if an employee is in marketing or IT, they understand the importance of analytics and can speak the language. Customers are the focus of everything the company does, and it aims to move quickly and respond to customer needs. Wayfair also uses technology as it moves towards the future. It recently partnered with Magic Leap to introduce mixed reality shopping, which allows customers to virtually see products in their homes to make sure they fit the space and style of the room before making a purchase. It brings together the best of AR and VR for an enhanced shopping experience. AI is the future, and it has a major role to play a Wayfair. Focusing on algorithms, visual shopping and AI-powered analytics drives a successful customer experience and makes it easier for customers to find what they need online.

Topgolf Captures The Future Of Customer Experience
Aug 27 2018 31 mins  
Some people say millennials don’t golf. That might be the case in the normal world of golf, but at Topgolf the stats show a different story. 51% of Topgolf customers are people who don’t play traditional golf. At Topgolf, customers visit for an experience away from other entertainment options they might have. According to Erik Anderson Topgolf Entertainment Group's Executive Chairman, they are competing with everyone including Netflix, bowling, music events or people who simply choose to sit at home on social media. It used to be that golfing was reserved for older people with money. It meant spending the morning on the golf course doing 18 holes. Today, you can get the same golfing experience, but with music, lights, food and friends. Topgolf is changing how people golf and capturing the future of customer experience. Creating Moments that Matter Topgolf competes in the attention economy. It’s up against anything else that can capture people’s attention, and in order to stand out, the company aims to creates moments that matter. Part of the reason for Topgolf’s success is that Erik Anderson and his team view the company as a creative company instead of a service company. It’s not just about serving customers their food or ball buckets—it’s about being creative to exceed their expectations. The goal is to create moments that matter, and employees at all levels are encouraged to be creative to do that. Anderson tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who celebrated her birthday at Topgolf. She didn’t like the guacamole she ordered because there was too much stuff in it. Instead of just offering a refund, the chef came out to talk to the girl and made a simpler version of his recipe that she loved. The creative approach to solve the problem helped create a great experience for the girl and her family. Customer Experience Defined Anderson’s approach to customer experience at Topgolf has three parts: 1. Must be authentic. Topgolf is a modern take on golf, but it is still an authentic golfing experience that has been updated. 2. Creates community. The goal of Topgolf is to allow people to golf how they want to. Guests can play games, watch TV and have fun. The experience is aimed at creating community and allowing people to experience great moments together. 3. Use technology to extend the community. The experience is designed to be shareable, which is huge for younger customers who share everything. Customers are encouraged to stay in touch with the brand through social media even when they aren’t golfing. A Culture of Trust Those three elements work together to build a culture that celebrates creating moments that matter. Leaders trust employees to create a great experience. Employees have to learn to take on that trust and be responsible for customers. Anderson likens it to a rowing team. Each person on the team must be precise and trust every other team member. If anyone takes a stroke off, the boat veers off course. Topgolf creates a culture where employees know their colleagues will do what they need to do. Employees trust each other and are allowed to be creative. Customers can tell the difference. Topgolf’s approach to creating an authentic customer experience shows what things will be like in the future. Instead of focusing only on basic customer needs, brands should consider the entire experience. Be creative, think outside the box and trust your team to create great moments for customers.

Using AI For Customer Experience At Allstate
Aug 07 2018 31 mins  
Imagine having an expert mentor at your fingertips at all times. Someone who could answer questions, provide advice and move you in the right direction. For customer experience representatives at Allstate, that dream is a reality with Amelia, an AI-powered bot trained in the language of insurance. It’s just one way the company is using AI to power customer experience and lead the charge in a changing insurance industry. As customer expectations have changed, Carla Zuniga, senior vice president at Allstate, has worked to modernize how the company interacts with customers. The goal is to make more out of everyday interactions with customers and to move more interactions to automated channels, including chatbots and AI-augmented human roles. One of the major players in the AI game at Allstate is Amelia, a chatbot trained on more than 50 unique insurance topics and regulations across all 50 states. Allstate employees can quickly chat with Amelia to get concise answers about complicated insurance questions from customers. Not only does it allow customers to get the answers they need right away, but it allows employees to be ready to work much sooner by cutting down training time. Instead of having to sort through numerous articles and resources and make customers wait, representatives can now chat with Amelia while the customer is on the phone to get the most accurate information. In an industry where regulations and compliance are incredibly important, Amelia helps make sure every customer’s needs are met and are in compliance. Amelia provides the best of both worlds—the quickness and accuracy of AI mixed with the personal touch of human interaction. Amelia handles more than 250,000 conversations each month and is used by more than 75% of Allstate call center employees. Allstate has plans to increase her workload and expand her scope to eventually interact directly with customers. Paired with other AI programs like automation and big data, Amelia has helped Allstate reduce its talk times and increase its first call resolution rates. Zuniga believes AI will continue to grow and transform over the next five years as the technology becomes more robust. As Amelia and other AI services become more customer-facing, employees will be able to focus more on case management and the human aspects of customer experience. No matter how the technology grows, personalization is still a key element of insurance companies. It can be easy for customers to just feel like a number when they get a new policy, file a claim or contact their insurance agent. To combat that, Allstate relies on data and creates detailed profiles of each customer. By leveraging this information and using AI to highlight trends and the most important data points, the company can help interactions feel more intimate. As the digital transformation continues and AI changes how insurers interact with customers, innovating and staying ahead of the curve is incredibly important. Modern customers want to feel empowered and engaged, and the best insurance companies must innovate in order to stay relevant. A major part of that innovation must be centered around AI, just like what is being done at Allstate.

Improving Digital Connections With Customers
Jul 24 2018 30 mins  
It used to be that customers went to a restaurant for dinner, enjoyed their meal, and left without a second thought. Now, digital technology is changing how restaurants connect with customers and opening the door for big advances in customer experience. Using digital communications to improve the online and in-restaurant experience gives brands more opportunities to get to know their customers and to provide a more personalized experience. Stephanie Perdue, CMO at TGI Fridays, compares it to fine dining restaurants that know their guests and why they are in the restaurant and then caters to the occasion, whether it’s a birthday dinner with friends or a romantic date. With the wealth of data available to restaurants today, brands can know why customers are dining and what they are looking for in an experience. Innovation is in the DNA at Fridays, and the restaurant is constantly looking for ways to evolve the brand to match customer trends and technology. Much of the digital improvement comes from connecting disparate data points. Fridays has a wealth of data from customers, both online and in-store, but the challenge is connecting the data and providing it to servers to create real-time, tailored experiences. Imagine if the data could show that a certain customer always purchases a certain type of cocktail, was celebrating a friend’s birthday and prefers to be seated in a booth. The server could take the information and deliver an amazing experience to help Fridays stand out from other restaurants. The company is currently testing a variety of technology to turn that dream into a reality. Data also extends to rewards programs. Fridays was a pioneer for restaurant loyalty programs and is constantly evolving its approach to meet customers needs. By using data and digital technology, Fridays is able to connect customer data for its rewards customers to provide personalized offers and recommendations. Instead of the traditional “earn and burn” program, Perdue says the company is looking to use the rewards program to provide more opportunities to engage with customers. Even something as simple as giving a rewards customer offers for items they already buy can be incredibly effective. If a customer always buys appetizers but never dessert, offering a deal on appetizers is much more effective than a once-size-fits-all offer on dessert. A big trend for TGI Fridays has been using digital to grow its to-go and at-home dining options. Data has shown that customers want great food from their favorite restaurants without actually having to go sit and wait in the restaurant. TGI Fridays invested heavily in its delivery and to-go ordering business and doubled it in the last six months. Digital is a communication point that makes traditionally brick-and-mortar restaurants accessible for at-home customers. Expanding the to-go service not only opens the door to a wave of new guests, but it also allows the restaurant to understand the needs of its customers and track their trends and purchases. Perdue says it is important to be where the customers are. Fridays allows customers to place orders via Facebook, GM OnStar or Amazon Alexa, which makes it convenient to order great food from wherever they are. Going forward, the biggest trends in the constantly evolving restaurant industry will be using data to connect the online and in-restaurant experiences and engaging customers after they dine. Taking advantage of digital trends and technology can help restaurants like TGI Fridays stay ahead of the curve.

CX Is Today's Brand Battleground - Arm Yourself!
Jul 17 2018 29 mins  
Business leaders and executives would all agree that today’s customer experience has to be personalized, convenient, fast and right every time. But how many of them actually know what the experience is like for their customers? Are they aware of hold times, connection delays or other issues? Customer experience is one of the defining characteristics of today’s brands. But too many brands measure things reactively instead of taking advantage of technology to proactively understand and address issues. The majority of brands rely on surveys and find out about issues after the fact instead of using technology to prevent issues and catch them before they grow. Alok Kulkarni, CEO of Cyara, a cloud-based solution that looks at customer experience from the outside in, says it is important for executives and CX leaders to put themselves in their customers’ shoes to really understand the experience. If they wouldn’t want to go through something themselves, they shouldn’t make their customers do it. By using an early warning system to find integration breakpoints and system flaws, companies can take a proactive approach to solve problems before the customer experience is impacted. Rather than relying on employee feedback and stories that are hard to substantiate, a digital CX solution allows brands to perform systemic audits to get data about issues and potential pitfalls. Kulkarni shares the example of a large bank that launched a new call recording solution for customers just before the entire team left on Christmas vacation. When the vice president of customer care returned after the holidays, expecting to hear how well the solution was working, he was surprised that more than half of call center agents reported that customers couldn’t hear them on the phone. Customers were frustrated, and the bank’s net promoter score took a nosedive. The entire team had to come back from vacation early to address the issue, which could have easily been prevented with an early detection system that showed the audio wasn’t going through. Instead of having to play catchup and solve the problem later, CX technology could have pointed out the issue before the system went live. Digital is also a powerful tool in customer experience monitoring. Monitoring from the outside is like a canary in a coal mine compared to finding out what happened after the event when it is too late to solve the problem. NPS and customer satisfaction scores are useful in tracking customer experience, but they don’t tell the whole story and are rear-facing instead of proactively seeking digital feedback in real time. The new metric is operational customer experience, or OCX, which objectively tracks scores for things like call success rates, connection times and hold times. This is just the beginning—customer experience technology will continue to play a huge role in the future. Kulkarni expects an explosion of AI that will lead to more conversational bots. Customers are expecting more human-like conversations through technology, and a conversational AI boom is right around the corner. A connected digital journey that seamlessly takes customers from an AI bot to an actual human can help provide timely responses. Kulkarni predicts that connected journeys will be a key battleground in the future of customer experience. An omnichannel strategy allows companies to use digital to solve customer problems on their first contact with the organization. As experience becomes more important than product or even price, brands need to make customer experience their top priority. In today’s battleground, brands need to arm themselves with a digital solution that puts customers first. This podcast is sponsored by Cyara. If you would like to sponsor a podcast please contact our team [email protected]

Storytelling With The CMO Of Tourism Australia
Jul 11 2018 30 mins  
When you think of great stories, you probably think of things you connected with emotionally. Sweeping images and great characters and locations instead of rational content and lists of facts. That concept is followed by Tourism Australia, where Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson says companies shouldn’t be overly rational with customers. It’s a common trap for many brands to over-explain things to customers. Consumers are surrounded by so much noise in today’s busy world—the best way to cut through the noise and make an emotional connection is to ignore being rational. Ronson says the best storytelling is grounded in what people know, but then moves forward. People can’t connect emotionally to a list of facts. After all, an emotional connection, not a rational explanation, is what drives us to change our behavior. Tourism Australia followed that idea with its Super Bowl commercial that re-created a fake Crocodile Dundee movie trailer with Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride. By tapping into a sense of nostalgia and fun, it was able to relate with customers on a different level and build an emotional connection with Australia. Instead of embarking on a massive campaign, Ronson and her team focused on quality over quantity and decided to do fewer things but to make them more compelling and really reach out to customers to create an emotional connection. The main idea was fewer, bigger, better. It’s a stark contrast from many marketing efforts that aim to be louder and flashier than the competition, but it paid off for Tourism Australia and made their commercial the most watched from the Super Bowl. In order to be effective storytellers, Ronson also says that organizations need to look at who they are targeting. The most effective organizations target their audience based on attitudes and behaviors instead of demographics. Attitude is a much better indicator of consumer behavior, which is why Tourism Australia focuses on high-value global travelers instead of one particular demographic. Focusing on attitudes and behaviors helps marketers better understand changing customer trends. Today’s customers want genuine, unique experiences. They want to be able to connect with people around the world, especially as they travel. Part of the reason Ronson believes the Super Bowl commercial was so effective was because it highlighted the down-to-earth and welcoming nature of the Australian people instead of just listing reasons Australia is a good place to visit. No matter the story we tell, Ronson sums it up correctly by saying we’re all human. There is always something that connects us emotionally, and it’s up to marketers and storytellers to find out what that is.

American Customer Satisfaction Index with Managing Director David VanAmburg
Jul 05 2018 27 mins  
When it comes to understanding customer satisfaction, it’s best to go straight to the source: the customers themselves. Perhaps no one does that better than the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a research groups that looks at more than four dozen industries to find out what customers are buying and how satisfied they are with their experiences. ACSI’s data covers all major consumer industries. With data from the last 20-plus years, the organization can see how trends and technology impact overall customer satisfaction. The biggest trend in retail for 2018 is the continued growth of online retailers and the struggle of traditional big-box retailers, said ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg. Brick-and-mortar stores have been struggling for quite some time, especially as online stores like Amazon and Walmart continue to grow. However, the struggle has been bigger in the past year compared to the previous three to four years. It’s even harder for specialty mall stores like Gap to find their footing with customers. Customers just aren’t shopping in malls as much anymore, which means many of these stores have had to focus on their online presence. A great example of that is Nordstrom, which is doing better than many other department stores. Nordstrom saw that the industry was changing a few years ago and pivoted to expand its web presence. The idea is to be where the customers are. Nordstrom realized many of its customers prefer shopping online, so it put more effort into its online experience. VanAmburg says one of the keys to a strong web shopping experience is navigation. It should be intuitive for customers to find what they want. There also has to be logistics to match—even a great website doesn’t create satisfied customers if the items or sizes they want aren’t in stock. For modern customers, efficiency and convenience is crucial. That’s one of the reasons that supermarkets and drug stores are doing better than they were a year ago. As Amazon moves into the space with its Whole Foods acquisition, supermarkets have improved their marketing and found ways to offer competitive convenience. Even small changes to the look and flow of the store can improve efficiency and overall customer satisfaction. ACSI’s data has found that efficiency is the most important quality to customers. In a world where Amazon offers two-day shipping and instant in-store checkout, stores have to come up with creative ways to compete. In order to get customer data that is useful, stores must focus on the entire customer experience. ACSI regularly asks customers about all of the elements of the shopping experience, from overall satisfaction to their expectations, prices, store location, employees, and merchandise. Customer satisfaction doesn’t some from one single area, but is the totality of the entire experience. Stores can use the same metrics to track their own internal progress and that of the competition. Today’s world is data-driven, and customer satisfaction is no exception. In order to best serve customers and compete with the retail giants, stores across all industries need to understand customers and what they are looking for. With the help of ACSI and other internal data, retailers can stay ahead of the competition.

Must-Have Career Tips From The Forbes Women Summit With Microsoft GM Lori Wright
Jun 27 2018 33 mins  
It’s a situation many people have found themselves in. As a young professional who was throwing herself into her career, Lori Wright looked around one day and realized the person she had become was not who she really was. She was so focused on building a great career that she neglected every other area of her life, from working through family vacations to not seeing friends or taking care of her personal well-being. In what Wright calls a “catastrophic burnout moment”, she called her boss and quit a job she loved. Wright, now the GM of Microsoft 365, uses that experience to help find balance in her life as a busy mom, executive and community member. One of her biggest life lessons is that working women can’t have it all and must make trade-offs. Women are under a lot of pressure to be perfect in everything they do. Scrolling through Instagram or flipping through a magazine showcases women who seem to do everything perfectly—great careers, clean houses, well-behaved children, a strong marriage, community involvement, fit bodies and much more. But Wright wants women to realize that the idea of being perfect at everything is an illusion. No one is doing everything perfectly every day, and a big part of self care is giving yourself a break and realizing you can’t do it all. The key is finding balance and trading off. Wright recommends laying out all of your responsibilities and then identifying the critical moments in each area. It could be that being at your kids’ soccer games or school pickup is critical for your family responsibilities and being at board meetings or employee trainings is critical for your work responsibilities. Critical moments are different for each person. Be deliberate with your time and make sure that you show up for the important moments. As Wright says, once you leave college, you never get straight A’s in life. Instead, make the moments you need to get an A in for the day a priority. One day you may get an A in work and community involvement and a C in family responsibilities, but it balances out when you get an A in family and a B in work another day. What matters is that you’re there for the important work moments and the important family moments, as well as moments that are important in other areas. Time is finite, and accepting that there are trade-offs can be powerful in your work-life integration and overall success. Wright also says it is important to help others along the way, especially other women. Every woman has a magic wand she can use to help someone and make another woman’s life easier. As we work to be more deliberate with our time, we can be honest and open about what else matters in our lives. Instead of only keeping work things at work and family things at home, we can bridge the gap and create more trusting relationships. Wright sums it up with her advice to her younger self: enjoy the journey. Even with the trade-offs and challenges, there is joy in every day. Take the pressure off yourself to do everything perfectly and instead look around and enjoy the view.

Customer Service Expert Jeanne Bliss Asks "Would You Do That To Your Mother?"
Jun 20 2018 29 mins  
Business leaders, contact center employees and sales associates interact with customers every day and are faced with requests, questions and a wide variety of complaints and issues. The customer experience largely comes down to how they respond—is it with a rote reply or a personalized reaction? Jeanne Bliss, president of CustomerBliss, bestselling author and a pioneer in the CX field, wants leaders and employees to pause before responding and remember the human side of customer interactions. Her new book asks the question, “Would you do that to your mother?” The idea is simple—we take good care of the people we care about, whether it’s our mother, sibling or a close friend. In many situations, there is a difference in how we treat customers and how we treat our loved ones. But every customer we interact with is someone’s mother, sibling or friend and should be treated with the same humanity and respect. Bliss says the work of customer experience can get unnecessarily complicated. By pausing and evaluating the situation before taking action, practitioners can connect in a more human way instead of being stuck in a sea of processes and regulations. After all, customer experience comes down to connecting with people, not just sticking to a rule book. An example Bliss cites in her book is Vail Resorts, which outlawed phrases like “Our policy is”, “Not my job” and “I don’t know.” The company gave its employees freedom to deliver the experience of a lifetime to its customers and provided the training and trust to go along with it. If your mother called in with a warrantee claim three days after the warrantee expired, you wouldn’t give her a lesson in your company’s warrantee policy—you would simply take the claim and make an exception. The same should be true with other customers. If a long-standing customer calls with a warrantee claim just after the warrantee expires, take care of them like you would your mother. If not, you put that customer relationship at risk and open the door for them to go to a competitor. One of the reasons people often overlook the humanity of customer experience is that there is a lack of trust in many organizations. When leaders don’t trust employees, it leads to a poor experience that drives away employees and customers. We should trust employees and trust customers, just like we trust our mothers and other loved ones. Bliss also shares the example of Cleveland Clinic, which realized more than a decade ago that it just wasn’t pleasing customers. The organization implemented rules that meant that no employee, no matter if they were a doctor or worked in the gift shop, was allowed to pass a customer requesting help. It also made all employees caregivers and gave them training and permission to stop and help every customer and patient they saw. The company got rid of silos for a more holistic approach to customer experience. You wouldn’t leave your mother in the hallway of a hospital, so why would you do that to a customer? Customer experience is all about humanity. More than profits or growth, it really comes down to connecting with customers and meeting their needs. As we build and strengthen relationships, the growth and profits come naturally. As Bliss says, we need to add humanity to customer experience and really ask ourselves, “Would I do that to my mother?”

Next Insurance: Reinventing Insurance For Small Business
Jun 14 2018 29 mins  
The world of small business insurance has always been riddled with hoops to jump through. Instead of spending valuable time growing their businesses, entrepreneurs are forced to waste time on the arduous process of finding insurance. In many cases, these people end up just purchasing a policy to be done instead of being confident that they made the right decision for their business. Next Insurance is on a mission to reinvent insurance for small business, and it centers around updating the customer experience. When Next Insurance entered the market two years ago, it realized that the insurance experience was universally unpleasant across all small business industries. According to COO Sofya Pogreb, there was lots of room for improvement. One of the biggest paint points was simply the amount of time the entire insurance-buying process took. Oftentimes, small business owners only had a few days before they needed to have a policy in place, but it took weeks of dense paperwork to make a purchase. Next Insurance turned that on its head by removing most of the humans from the application process and leveraging AI and machine learning technology. As Pogreb said, the vast majority of customers don’t actually want to talk with a human if they can have a better experience working with a machine. Instead of weeks of paperwork, most Next Insurance customers can buy a policy in 5 to 10 minutes, and 93% of them never talk to a human. The company has agents available for customers who prefer human interaction, but the vast majority of customers simply want speed and accuracy, which is provided with the the help of strong AI algorithms. One of the biggest holdups for traditional insurance companies is the fragmentation of the value chain. The agents interacting with the customers might not understand their small business industry, and the data of what customers want and need isn’t getting to the back end and product development. Without a flow of data, the product and customer experience aren’t optimized to best meet the needs of customers. Insurance essentially comes down to three main decisions: the underwriting decision, or if a company will sell insurance to a customer; the rating decision of how much the policy will cost; and the claims adjudication decision, which decides if the claim is covered and for how much. Traditional insurance companies use humans for each of these decisions, which is often why things take so long, instead of using data to make the process more efficient. Next Insurance enables data to move through entire entire value chain to better understand the customer. Data is updated in real-time so product developers and those focused on customer acquisition can know what is and isn’t working with customers on everything from pricing to coverage. Next Insurance is also leading the charge in how it handles claims, which Pogreb calls the moment of truth in insurance. One of the biggest frustrations for customers filing a claim, only to realize that their policy doesn’t actually cover what they thought it did. Next Insurance focused on transparency with customers so that they know from the beginning what is and isn’t covered. According to Pogreb, there’s a revolution coming to the insurance industry in customer experience and product quality. Next Insurance and a growing wave of insurtech startups are leading the charge, but soon all companies will have to transform their customer experience and product offerings.

Getting Future Ready With Wunderman CMO Jamie Gutfreund
May 30 2018 31 mins  
Is your company running from the future or preparing for it? Nearly every business leader knows the the future of work and technology will bring huge changes, but very few of them are actually doing anything about it. Companies that invest now to become future ready will be the ones that lead and withstand upcoming changes instead of getting disrupted and being pulled in multiple directions. Wunderman Global CMO Jamie Gutfreund and her team recently undertook a major research project and discovered a large disconnect between companies seeing problems and actually solving them. Most people see change as an obstacle instead of an opportunity. And while Gutfreund agrees that you can’t predict the future, it is definitely possible and wise to prepare for it. One of the main keys to becoming future ready is to be constantly evolving. As technology changes, it opens new doors for how brands connect with customers. Brands that are preparing for the future pay attention to new technology and find new, innovative ways to share their messages and connect with customers. It’s easier said than done, however. The research by Wunderman found that while the majority of brands say they are future focused, 70% of business leaders said they can’t sacrifice short-term gains for long-term goals. The important thing to remember is that digital transformation and new technology isn’t just a trend. It’s a long-term game and a powerful tool for forward-thinking companies to have in their tool belts. Digital transformation isn’t a quick fix but rather something that needs to happen over time. However, digital tools don’t matter if the messaging isn’t there. Gutfreund says that the most successful companies are the ones that have set themselves up to receive feedback from employees, customers, competitors and industry leaders. These companies can hear what is going on and put it into context of what their brand stands for. Companies that are future ready can’t operate in a silo. They have to be exposed to what is going on with their customers and across all industries. Instead of simply competing against other companies in the same industry, technology and customer experience have made it so that all brands are competing against each other. Customers compare every interaction with a brand to their best brand interactions, regardless of if that means a bank or airline is getting compared to Netflix or Amazon. It’s in everyone’s best interest to make listening and customer experience a key focus moving forward. Wunderman’s research also uncovered the idea of wantedness. Today’s customers have all the power. Instead of brands seeking loyal customers, they need to pivot and serve their customers as loyal brands. The vast majority of customers will only consider using brands that show they are interested and care about their customers. Customers want to feel wanted, and it’s up to brands to give them that special treatment. So much of the buzz in the consumer world is around transparency and low levels of trust. Brands that can show they are invested in incorporating feedback and new technology and actually want to serve their customers will not only be ready for the future but will be the ones leading it.

Is Your Customer Experience GDPR Ready?
May 24 2018 29 mins  
A huge change is coming to Europe, and most businesses aren’t ready. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, goes into effect May 25, and with it comes a power shift that allows customers more access to their personal data than ever before. Customer data has long been thought of as a business asset. However, under GDPR, customers are now taking back ownership of their information and the power that comes with it. They can now choose what information companies have and delete their information from a company’s database for any reason. Companies that don’t comply with the new regulations run the risk of being fined up to millions of dollars. However, the majority of businesses aren’t prepared for the new legislation. According to Jeff Nicholson, VP CRM of Pegasystems, most companies didn’t realize the impact GDPR would have until it was too late. That leaves companies scrambling to come up with a data solution that meets the guidelines of transparency while also preparing for a potential wave of customer data requests. A new survey from Pegasystems found that 82% of EU residents plan to use their new rights to view, limit or erase their personal information that companies have on file. That means that not only will companies have to field the requests and share the information they have on each customer, they will also potentially lose customer data if customers request to erase their data. Companies also should handle the request in a way to adds to their customer experience. Nicholson says it’s more a question of when, not if, the requests will come in. Companies must plan for large numbers of customers asking to see and potentially remove their data. GDPR doesn’t grant exceptions if there are too many requests for a company to handle in time, so all brands must be prepared for large volumes. Nicholson says the best thing companies can do to be GDPR ready is to be proactive. The power and data shift is coming, and companies that ignore it or don’t plan accordingly run the serious risk of being blindsided by data requests and changes. Being transparent and creating reliable processes for customer data allows proactive brands the chance to build relationships with customers and gain a competitive advantage. It all comes down to trust and transparency. Customers want to know they can trust companies to take care of their personal information and not sell it or use it inappropriately. Companies that can demonstrate customer trust will be much more successful than unprepared companies inundated with customer deletion requests. One of the biggest downsides of customers electing to have their data erased is that it can no longer be used for data analytics. Losing data means companies won’t be as connected to customers or have as many insights into their preferences and habits. One of the most vulnerable industries with these changes is retail, which relies heavily on customer data for personalized recommendations and marketing. Companies need to learn to do more with less data to still provide a high-quality, personalized experience. GDPR is a huge shift in the EU, and it has the potential to expand to other parts of the world, including the U.S. According to Nicholson, the implementation day of May 25 isn’t the finish line but rather the starting line to a long road of customer data changes. Companies that are proactive and GDPR ready will set the tone and can weather the shifting consumer landscape.

The Future Of Customer Experience: People Plus Technology
May 14 2018 31 mins  
There are often two camps when it comes to customer experience: those who think automation and technology is the future, and those who think humans will still perform every task. However, perhaps the most likely scenario is one championed by David Clarke, Global CxO & Experience Consulting Leader, Digital Principal at PwC, who believes future success in customer experience comes from a combination of people plus technology. One of David’s first suggestions to companies and one that he is constantly using in his own work is for companies to consider if they are transactional or transformational. Transactional companies treat their customers like numbers and are just there to get the job done, while transformational companies aim to really change their customers’ lives by providing a quality product or service and a great experience to go along with it. Although technology is a powerful tool for customer experience, relying on robots can quickly turn a company into a transactional company where customers only interact with the brand to make a purchase and move on. However, if things are too people-heavy, a company can lose efficiency. The key is to find the balance between technology and people. David advises that changes don’t have to be massive. Brands don’t need to rush out and buy the latest automated technology, but should instead start with the technology they already have on hand. Small changes can create momentum. The journey to customer experience is never over, but taking small steps helps things grow and keeps the company moving to continual success. As David says, lots of good steps amplify each other and keep you moving in the right direction. Technology can not only open new doors with customers but also connect with the second half of the equation: human employees. PwC focuses on mentoring associates to give them the individual tools they need to succeed. Transformational companies move easily between industries, and a lot of that comes from moving employees between disciplines. PwC focuses on building the right team for each project, which often involves bringing together employees from different departments. The goal is to find the right people to work together to extract the best from each person. Technology can help, but the work of a cohesive and diverse team of humans can’t be replaced. This approach to the future of customer experience is reflected in a new report from PwC. One of the key takeaways from that report is that customers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a better experience. This statistic shows the power of customer experience—after all, not many other investments or marketing campaigns lead to a 16% price premium. The survey also found that 42% of people would pay more for a warm welcome, which is something that can’t be done by a robot. The report also found that customers will walk away after one bad experience, and that the cost of earning them back is very high. In our connected society, customers have lots of sources of information and chances to judge companies, so brands need to always be focusing on customer experience and earning customer loyalty. The future of customer experience isn’t about replacing people with technology. New technology only amplifies the human experience. More than half of customers surveyed said brands have lost their human touch. In order to make the most of customer experience, brands should focus on finding ways to complement the human experience with automation. Instead of simply becoming robot-controlled commodities, companies need to build the connection between people and technology to differentiate themselves. Innovative companies stay ahead of the curve and are constantly moving forward. As David says, moving to the future of customer experience isn’t something you do once and are done with—it is a constant movement of small steps and regular innovation to find the next thing to please customers. There is always change, and that change comes from combining people and technology.

How Prudential Connects The Dots Of Every Customer Interaction
May 08 2018 31 mins  
In a world filled with uncertainty, helping everyday Americans gain financial security has never been more important. That’s been the goal of Prudential Financial since it was founded in 1875, but the company has changed its methods with the times and is now leading the charge for innovation. One of the big players in that charge is Chief Customer Officer Naveen Agarwal, who views his role as connecting the dots of every customer interaction. Naveen says the biggest challenge in customer experience, especially in the financial services industry, is that it is often organized by product because of how the business is managed internally. This creates a fractured experience for customers, who often have completely different interactions depending on if they are talking to someone in banking versus someone in the credit card department. Naveen’s goal is to connect the entire ecosystem and not let management silos define the customer experience. Technology and data play a huge role in breaking down those silos. Before Naveen could create a customer-focused strategy, he had to look at the data to understand customers. Prudential’s more than 300 websites and 40 call centers provided plenty of data about why customers were connecting with the brand and where they were in the customer journey. With a base understanding, the team could then improve those interactions with technology. In the financial world, customers work with either fast money or slow money. Fast money includes things that are done quickly, like account maintenance and credit card applications. Prudential is good at helping customers pay their money faster. On the other hand, slow money involves long-term things like investments and retirement. In these areas, people tend to be very uninformed and overwhelmed. Prudential saw a gap in the customer journey where people were avoiding these big decisions because they simply didn’t know enough. As a result, it created an online content library with resources broken down by subject to help people learn how to manage their money. This is especially important for people who are left as beneficiaries of their loved ones’ accounts. Prudential’s goal is to educate customers in their times of need, and it does that with an innovative survivor center with content specifically tailored to people dealing with the financial aftermath of the loss of a loved one. Even with more than 20 million customers across the globe, Prudential still aims to create personalized experiences. By tracking customer behavior, the company can understand each customer’s preferences and stage of life. The goal is that no matter how a customer interacts with the brand, Prudential employees always discuss each customer’s individual needs. In many cases it opens up needs and questions customers didn’t even know they had. AI and machine learning have played a large role in transforming Prudential’s core values for modern customers. Prudential is one of the best examples of putting AI into action in a way that truly transforms the customer experience. It used to be that applying for life insurance required multiple meetings, tons of paperwork, and invasive tests, which was a drain on the company and its customers. The entire process could take up to 10 weeks before customers were properly assessed for their risk. Prudential moved to AI to turn the basic information provided by customers on their initial life insurance applications into an algorithm to predict risk. The model is 93% accurate and can produce a policy in two days instead of two months. As a result, the number of customers buying life insurance has shifted. As Prudential moves towards the future, it will continue to put customers first and use the best data-driven technology. Customer-focused executives and team members should understand technology and customer needs because everything they do has a deep layer of technology. Prudential shows that even a long-standing brand can transform itself to serve customers with innovative data and technology.

The Critical Role Of Operations In Customer Experience
May 01 2018 31 mins  
In a world where many customers just feel like dollar signs or voices on the phone, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world promises its customers they will be able to see the whites of its employees’ eyes. No matter the issue, there will always be someone there so closely involved in the situation that customers will know who they are and feel their presence. It’s a powerful identity that Gary Adey, Commercial & Operations Director, Group Enterprise at Vodafone, has created for his team. Called Red Line, it’s an effort that showcases the importance of trust, ownership, and empathy in customer experience, especially when it comes to the operations team. Whenever a customer issue crosses the Red Line, the team owns it until it is resolved. The Red Line identity is something that employees can connect with and that makes them proud to work for Vodafone. They then use that identity to drive positive interactions with their commercial and enterprise customers around the world. Vodafone went through a transformation three years ago when it realized it needed to create a strong customer experience to match the high-quality network in which it had invested so much money. The company set a goal to be the customer experience leader in every market it operates in—a tall order considering Vodafone’s 500 million customers in 26 countries, including both consumer and enterprise customers. Gary’s operations team plays a unique role in customer experience that isn’t seen in many other companies. At Vodafone, operations is an important piece of the culture that aims to create the optimum mix between people, technology, and process. Operations is directly connected to digital transformation and customer experience. One way Vodafone drives customer experience is by focusing more on structure than on rules. Employees don’t have strict rules they have to follow; instead, they are given a structure and the autonomy to act within that structure to provide the customer what they need. Gary wants his employees to be empowered and passionate and not to be held back by rules or things they don’t have authority to do. Vodafone knows the importance of investing in customer experience, especially considering that it takes 12 positive customer interactions to undo the damage of one negative interaction. Investing in creating positive interactions from the beginning is more cost effective than risking a bad experience and having to fix it later. This is especially important considering the wide range of interactions employees have with customers. On the consumer side, customers have questions about things like their bills, coverage, and upgrades. Vodafone has digitized many of those interactions so customers can engage digitally through the app for a more efficient and seamless interaction. On the enterprise side, the operations team supports large multinational customers who may have issues with their infrastructure that impacts everything about their business. Employees have to be ready to address a broad catalog of customer experience issues. In the competitive telecommunications world, Vodafone sees customer experience as a sustainable differentiator that helps it stand out from the competition. It is easy to see the correlation between strong NPS and company growth. The company is focused on building trust with its long-term customers. Vodafone’s operations team also stays on top of new technology and innovations. As trends and technology change, the company wants to be able to provide the best service and options to its customers, including an innovative program around the changing role of the retail store. This is particularly important in the enterprise space where many of Vodafone’s customers are going through their own digital transformations. By using new technology, Vodafone can have more data to create personalized experiences that can be scaled across countries and segments. Operations plays a pivotal role in customer experience, as shown at Vodafone. By creating a team that owns the customer experience and is passionate about serving customers the best it can, operations can become the heart of any customer experienced-focused company.

How A Humble Culture And Self-Deprecating CEO Fuels This $130M Tire Company
Apr 23 2018 29 mins  
Most CEOs don’t clean bathrooms, report to entry-level employees, or stop by stores just to chat with customers. Then again, Larry Sutton isn’t most CEOs. Larry has turned RNR Tire Express into the fastest-growing tire franchise in the country with a humble and self-deprecating attitude. Larry doesn’t see himself as the head of the company; in fact, he’s actually turned the entire structure upside down. RNR uses an inverted version of the traditional pyramid hierarchy system. Larry reports to other executives, who report to regional managers, who then report to store managers and employees. As Larry says, the people who are doing the actual work are often the ones who have the best answers; if he wants to find out what kind of trucks to buy, he’s going to ask the manager who works with trucks all day instead of an executive who is removed from the actual work. It’s all in an effort to create a serve spirit instead of a service spirit. The CEO reports to everyone else because it is his job to serve them. That culture trickles down to customers, who can see a difference. A serving attitude permeates RNR in how employees are treated. Larry believes that employees won’t be willing to serve customers fully until they are served and valued. That comes from working with them as a person instead of just an employee. Managers and executives help employees develop life skills so they can be the best husbands, wives, fathers, sons, neighbors, etc. they can be. RNR is a company full of changed lives in the business of changing lives. Focusing on employees and changing their lives spreads to customers and helps the company change their lives, as well. Larry follows the Yes CEO mentality and has a goal to say yes more often than he says no. When an employee or franchise owner has an idea for something new, Larry almost always lets them try it, even if he doesn’t think it will work. The idea will either be a great success or serve as a learning experience for the employee and teach them more than if Larry had just shot the idea down in the first place. As long as it doesn’t hurt the brand, employees are free to try a lot of different things to create unique solutions to help customers. Serving is at the heart of everything RNR Tire Express does. The goal is not to provide service, but to serve people. Multiple times a year RNR hosts events for employees and their families to connect and share the culture of the company. It costs a lot of money to put on events and offer rewards, but Larry believes it is worth it to serve employees. In an effort to build the culture of service, Larry has even turned down potential franchises who just didn’t fit the RNR culture. Another way Larry stands out from the typical CEO is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He knows his employees and can connect with them on a personal and self-deprecating level. When he stops by the stores, he often checks to see if the bathrooms are clean. If they aren’t, he quietly grabs a mop and gets to work. Larry also isn’t afraid to get feedback. It all comes back to the attitude of humility. He realizes that getting tires isn’t a pleasant experience for most people, so he welcomes new ideas of how to improve the experience. As Larry visits RNR franchises, he talks to customers in the waiting rooms about what could make their experiences better. When one customer suggested free Uber rides, four franchises started testing the idea. Other franchises are trying free pickup and delivery and mobile tire installation, and all franchises offer free refreshments and charging stations. Larry truly believes that investing in customer experience pays off by creating an environment where people want to work and customers want to do business. His unique approach is working—RNR Tire Express has grown to a $130 million business since it started franchising in 2003. Thinking outside the box and serving with humility can make a big difference for companies across all industries, and it starts at the top.

When Your Employees Are Your Customers With Liberty Mutual
Apr 12 2018 30 mins  
When it comes to customer experience, many companies often overlook an important group of customers: their employees. According to Melanie Foley, EVP, Chief Talent and Enterprise Services Officer at Liberty Mutual, seeing employees as customers is key to creating a great experience. Just like customers can choose to buy your product or not, employees can choose to work for your company or not. Creating a culture of employee engagement helps drive a strong customer experience because employees are excited and prepared to interact with customers. Treating employees as customers starts with the hiring process and delivering on the promises made in interviews. At Liberty Mutual, there is a large focus on developing engagement and loyalty by creating a culture that inspires employees to want to do the best they can for their customers. When companies provide an enjoyable atmosphere and make it easy for employees to do their jobs with the right technology and efficient processes, employees come to work because they want to, not just because they have to. There’s a definite difference between employees who are engaged and passionate about the work versus employees who are just there for the paycheck, and customers can sense that difference. Treating employees like customers can also be measured. Liberty Mutual uses NPS to measure customer satisfaction and will soon be rolling out eNPS, or employee net promoter score, to all 50,000 of its employees around the world. Strong companies anticipate and meet their customers’ needs, and the same needs to be done for employees. Liberty Mutual does this by encouraging empathy, dignity, and respect for everyone—customers and employees alike. Insurance can be a stressful business, and employees are often communicating and working with customers after they have had a devastating loss and are working to fix things. Although it has been a difficult and costly few years for the insurance industry, Melanie encourages companies to not nickel and dime their employees. Employees need to feel valued and won’t want to take care of customers if they feel the company is cutting corners on its customer and employee experience to save a few bucks. The pace of change is increasing rapidly, especially in insurance. Strong companies are forward-thinking and try to get ahead of change. One of the best ways this can happen is by making sure all employees have change leadership capabilities and feel prepared to face change in their individual roles. Change can often lead to anxiety, so providing a space where employees can practice mindfulness is key. Liberty Mutual recently switched from a traditional wellness program for employees to a more all-encompassing well-being program that also encourages mindfulness, breathing, and taking time to calm down and reset. In order to create a strong employee experience, leaders must be willing to have difficult conversations. Companies should be transparent and create spaces to talk honestly about important issues that are facing employees, especially with regards to themes like gender representation and making sure women are treated equally. Tools like employee resource groups and other discussion avenues can be powerful in making sure everyone’s voice is heard. Every company exists to serve a customer, whether that customer is someone buying the product or an employee. Engaged employees make engaged customers. By focusing on building trust, innovation, and loyalty with employees, everyone in the organization, including customers, will feel engaged and satisfied.

Customer Experience In The Insurance Claims Process
Apr 02 2018 30 mins  
When an insurance claim is filed, it means there has likely been an accident or some damage to a person’s car, home, or business. Understandably, most people aren’t thrilled to have to go through the claims process. However, customer experience is still vitally important in the insurance industry and can make the journey more pleasant for everyone involved. According to Alex Glanz, global insurance practice lead at Medallia, the insurance industry is similar to other subscription businesses—customers pay in advance and feel the value of their purchase later. Customers use insurance all the time. Although they likely aren’t frequently filing claims, having the peace of mind that they are protected no matter what happens will improve the quality of life of a customer. In the insurance world, there is a natural tension between saving money and helping customers. Insurers want to provide a great customer experience and follow through on their promises, but they also want to manage claims efficiently and effectively, which can often be at odds with each other. Sometimes to create a good customer experience the claim needs to take longer to process, but that costs more money, just like making detailed estimates can hurt customer experience. In general, the better the experience, the higher the cost. The balancing act for insurance companies is to create fair outcomes while managing costs to best serve customers. In order to do that, insurers should think about things from the customer’s perspective. This week’s guest on the Modern Customer Podcast - Alex Glanz - recommends using data to understand the customer journey and see the points where the company’s actions aren’t meeting the customer’s expectations and using those as areas for improvement. Truly providing a great customer experience comes from having a customer-focused culture. According to Alex, everyone in the company must be focused on customer experience. It needs to start with the C-Suite and spread through the entire company. The best companies democratize their data and get it into the hands of people who can take action. When everyone engages around customer experience, customers are satisfied and loyal to the company. Alex preaches the importance of moving past operational customer experience, which takes a research-based approach, and instead focusing on an agile, emotional response. Many companies fall into the trap of doing research about customer experience, coming up with a strategy, and slowly rolling it out in controlled segments. However, the best customer experience responds to the needs of customers and is more flexible. Real customer experience grows as it is part of a company’s day-to-day operations and a living piece of what every employee does. The goal of customer experience for a brand should be to remove friction, and that goal is critical in the insurance industry. As customers file claims during difficult times, companies should be looking for ways to make the process smoother and help make customers’ lives easier, not more difficult. Improving customer experience helps lower costs, which keeps things in balance. Although the insurance customer journey might be unlike that of any other industry, customer experience is still a vital part of the insurance process and can be developed by knowing and understanding customers. Disclosure: This is a podcast and post sponsored by Medallia

Stronger and Smarter: A Look Back At Customer Experience With Zappos
Mar 28 2018 31 mins  
Zappos is considered a leader when it comes to customer experience, but it hasn’t always been that way. When Rob Siefker, now the Senior Director of Customer Loyalty, started representing the company at conferences years ago, he estimates only 10% of people had heard of Zappos. Now that number is around 99%, and the company has become a model of how to create a customer-obsessed culture. However, the road to Zappos’ success wasn’t without hiccups. Zappos has been an evolving company from the start. When Rob started in 2004, he was working as a temp in the call center on a job that was only expected to last a few days. That didn’t end up being the case, and he has grown with the company over the last 14 years. As Zappos has grown, one thing that has stayed the same has been the company’s customer-obsessed mindset. Although customer trends, expectations, and technology have changed, Zappos has been able to stay true to its brand and respond to a changing environment. One of the biggest changes for Zappos occurred when the company shifted to a Holacracy model in 2013. Instead of using the traditional top-down organizational system, Zappos wanted to encourage innovation and empower employees by flattening the structure and distributing power. Zappos is now a leader in Holacracy, and it has been a great fit for the company, but it there were challenges along the way. There were a lot of unknowns with the initial transition, especially because no company of Zappos’ size had ever tried Holacracy before. One of the things Rob said the company didn’t anticipate was how to process the natural tensions that come with change. The new system was a bit disorienting at first, simply because it was something employees had never experienced before. Some of the early growing pains could have perhaps been mitigated if leaders had better anticipated the challenges and taught employees how to use the new system to instigate change. Rob suggests that other companies that move to Holacracy or make any sort of big structural change should recognize that people will likely have a hard time with a significant change and will need time to adjust. Rob recommends involving employees from the beginning of the process and answering their questions right away so they can see how the change will affect them before it actually takes place. Zappos considered its employees when moving to Holacracy and trained them on the new system, but it also wanted to move quickly, and there were areas where it could have been better to slow down and make sure everyone had a firm understanding of the new principles. However, the challenges of moving to a new system only solidified Zappos’ customer-first culture, and the company came out stronger. Zappos Insights is a consulting arm where Rob and other employees mentor other customer service companies on running contact centers and putting customers first. The key thing for these companies to remember is that every business is different and there isn’t one single playbook for success. Zappos has grown and evolved over the last decade, and it will continue to evolve as demands and technology change. However, Rob says that the focus always has been and always will be on building an emotional connection between customers and the brand. The company will continue to elevate its customer experience in new ways, including its Zappos Adaptive program that curates products for people who have disabilities or limitations that makes it harder for them to put on clothes and shoes. Zappos aims to provide better service to an underrepresented customer group and to all customers. Although it hasn’t always been a smooth road, Zappos’ ability to focus on customers and empower employees has allowed the company to take risks and come out stronger and smarter than ever before. Although every business is different, every company can learn from Zappos’ customer-focused culture.

7 Lessons Learned From Adobe’s New Customer Experience Index
Mar 20 2018 32 mins  
Many businesses know the importance of becoming “experience-led” and went to get there, but knowing where to start can be overwhelming. Adobe recently created a new customer Experience Index after surveying more than 1,500 people across the country. The results show powerful insights into the minds of customers and show areas where companies are excelling with customer experience and where they can improve. Delight Me, Know Me + Respect Me, Speak in One Voice, Keep Technology Apparent According to Tamara Gaffney, Strategic Insights Engagement Group Director at Adobe, the general findings of the study break down into four tenets of experience that businesses should have. The four include: Delight Me, Know Me + Respect Me, Speak in One Voice, and Keep Technology Apparent. These are general themes outlining where companies or industries as a whole can improve. Some companies are doing better than others. One of the biggest complaints from customers across all industries falls under the tenet of Speak in One Voice. Many customer frustrations arise from brands not following through on promises and not being genuine about what they said they were going to do. Issues also arise when there are hidden fees or the brand isn’t transparent. Experience Makers and Experience Breakers Adobe classified certain actions as Experience Makers and Experience Breakers. Making the customer feel tricked is an Experience Breaker. Tamara said it is extremely hard for companies to speak in one voice, especially with all the communication channels that are available these days. In order to cut through the clutter and provide a consistent message and experience, companies need to break down data silos and focus on integrating internally so they can present a united and consistent front to customers. Companies Can’t Rely On Data Alone Data and technology also play a huge role in the modern customer experience, though Tamara emphasized that companies can’t just rely on data alone. Survey respondents said they were delighted with new tech offerings, especially when it comes to helping brands create personalized experiences. In the technology section, the highest scores were for the importance of personal service, but the lowest scores were for preferring to interact with a human over a computer. Essentially, consumers understand that there are times when it is easier and better to interact with a computer and times where a human can provide better service. When getting a basic answer or filing a form, consumers like to interact with computers for fast service, but when it comes to getting personalized recommendations or answering more complicated questions, humans do a better job. Customers like to have options of how to get the best service. Millennials Are The Most Demanding Generation Another theme throughout the survey related to customer feelings and expectations from different generations. The most demanding generation is Millennials aged 25-34, most likely because they are becoming much heavier consumers. Younger consumers age 18-24 are more aligned with the older generations when it comes to what they expect from brands. However, just because customers aren’t complaining doesn’t necessarily mean they are happy—consumers aged 50 and older are less likely to complain, but it’s often because they’ve given up, not because they really are happier with the experience. The key takeaway from this data is not to assume that quiet customers are happy and to work on creating a great experience for customers of all ages. Use Surprise And Delight For Mundane Everyday Customer Interactions There’s also a lot of talk in the customer experience world about the importance of surprise and delight. According to the survey, most companies are doing a fairly good job of surprising and delighting customers, but there is still room for growth. To most effectively surprise and delight, brands should focus on the things customers do most often. A surprise and delight experience for something they do once a year is nice, but it’s more impactful to put that effort into building a surprise and delight experience on something customers do more regularly. If You Don’t Measure It You Can’t Improve It Tamara advises all companies to measure how they are doing with customer experience. Although Net Promoter Score is widely used and helps measure customer satisfaction, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Companies that want to become experience-led need to use more detailed data by creating surveys, talking to customers, and looking on social media. They need to understand their own Experience Makers and Experience Breakers and invest resources into strengthening those areas. Address Your Biggest Challenge Area First Even the most experience-led businesses can’t do everything at once. As the data shows, there are areas where companies are excelling at customer experience, and there are also areas with potential for growth. The key is for each company to figure out and address the biggest challenge areas and then put an emphasis on surprising and delighting customers at the biggest opportunities. A strategic and informed approach to customer experience can change how brands interact with customers. Disclosure: Adobe is a former client of Blake Morgan’s.

Improving Customer Experience With The Third Wave Of Enterprise Communications
Mar 19 2018 28 mins  
There’s no doubt that customer experience is changing. Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects is that it is changing so quickly. In order to keep up with the rate of change and ensure customers’ needs are met, companies need to embrace a new wave of technology. In many cases, customer experience is only as good as a company’s data and communication system. Think of how we communicate: we use text, chat, email, phone, and more. If that’s how customers talk, it’s also how companies should listen. Yet many times communication is lacking and actually contributes to a bad customer experience. Bryan Martin, Chairman and CTO at 8x8, likes to think of business communication in terms of waves. The first wave was on-premise and hardware-based with heavy infrastructure. Companies likely had a different vendor for each aspect of their communication and data storage, which meant things were disjointed and inefficient. In the second wave, point solutions moved to the cloud, which didn’t really solve any problems except for making the solutions less expensive. We’re now in the third wave, which is transforming how businesses operate, store data, and communicate with customers. In the third wave, companies have a single enterprise cloud solution that covers all customer and employee interactions. The single platform enables communication while also engaging with customers and storing data for the entire company to access. Taking advantage of the third wave helps companies accelerate their businesses, gain more revenue, and see higher NPS scores. According to Bryan, the third wave will continue to grow as more people realize that all communications need to be connected. Using different tools creates silos within an organization. If the contact center uses one program to manage its phone calls and the digital team uses another program to manage social outreach and customer data, everything falls into different categories and can’t be connected to create a consistent customer experience. Imagine the frustration for customers who can’t have their issues solved right away and for employees who don’t have the tools they need to best meet customers’ needs. Those problems are fixed with a unified enterprise system. Contact center agents are always on the front line of communicating with customers. However, these agents aren’t effective at their jobs if they don’t have real-time access to other parts of the company. For too long contact centers have been their own islands without any connection to a common corporate directory or shared information. However, by connecting the entire organization to the same cloud-based data system, contact center agents can not only be aware of the context of their calls and better serve customers, they can play a vital role in driving customer experience and increasing sales. There are lots of different channels companies use to communicate with customers, but technology is the glue that holds it all together. With the vast amount of data available today, companies should be able to understand and process customer needs in real time and know the history and context of each customer interaction. With the help of connected technology, the entire organization can be constantly improving. Many companies think that changing their system and moving to the third wave is complicated and expensive. However, companies like 8x8 provide a variety of simple options. Investing in a unified engagement system has a high ROI as it accelerates business and improves customer experience. In today’s world, technology is a vital part of customer experience. As Bryan says, the data scientist plays as important a role in customer experience as does the contact center agent. Taking advantage of technology and breaking down silos to create a unified, data-driven system allows companies to put customers first and drive their own business towards the future. Disclosure: This is a podcast and post sponsored by 8x8.

Building A Customer-Centered Culture At Capital One
Mar 12 2018 32 mins  
Not many companies end up highlighted on The Ellen Show, but that’s exactly what happened for Capital One, and it can all be credited back to the company’s customer-centric culture. After her fiancé broke up with her and she moved out, a Capital One customer’s card was flagged for fraud when she ordered furniture sent to her new address. The customer called and explained the situation to contact center employee Tonya, who gave her 4,500 miles for a vacation after her rough breakup and even sent her flowers. The story went viral, but according to Doug Woodard, SVP Customer Operations at Capital One, things like that happen regularly. At Capital One, a customer-centric culture starts with trust. Executives work to create an environment where they can trust employees, which gives employees freedom to help customers in whatever way best meets their needs. All employees are encouraged to look for ways to build a connection with customers. Doug considers it his job to care for those people who care for the customers. He aims to support the customer-facing associates and empower them to serve customers. Capital One is so successful with its culture because it starts at the top. From the C-level down to entry level employees, customers are an integral part of the DNA of the company. A customer-centered culture means that customer experience doesn’t just fall on one department—it is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. Everyone has a responsibility to understand customer feedback and make improvements to customer experiences. At Capital One, that happens as leaders invest time in getting closer to customers by going to the call center, reading customer feedback, and sharing that information with their employees, no matter what department they are in. Employees are recognized publicly when they are a hero to customers, which reinforces the customer-first culture. According to Doug, a customer-centric culture is also built on transparency. Companies have to mean what they say and say what they mean. Culture is transparent to customers, and they can quickly see through words that aren’t backed by action. A customer can easily feel if the employee they are working with hates their job because it will naturally come out in the employee’s attitude. Humility and accountability are also vitally important. It takes humility to really listen to customers and be willing to do what they are asking and listen to their feedback. Framing is also key to a strong culture. Employees need to see how their work affects customers and the difference they can make. At Capital One, employees know they aren’t just answering the phones at a credit card company, they are helping people with their financial lives. Everything rests on building that sense of purpose, from training and accountability to the quality of the experiences. Identifying the metrics that will measure customer-facing actions can also drive culture and action. It might be tracking NPS or other metrics, but having something to measure makes people accountable and forces them to follow through so the actions are rooted in the culture. Much of what builds a customer-centered culture starts with the mindset of the leaders and employees. As demonstrated by Capital One, having an attitude of serving customers can permeate the entire organization and lead to great success.

Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies
Mar 06 2018 31 mins  
Culture has come to the forefront of many business leaders’ minds lately due to attention around issues like sexual harassment and diversity. The problem is that most leaders don’t know how to cultivate a corporate culture that is lively and sustainable, or else they are going about it the wrong way. Denise Lee Yohn, author of the book Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World’s Greatest Companies, says the thing most companies are doing wrong is thinking there is one just kind of culture they need to create. Many leaders see companies with great cultures and feel they need to imitate them exactly to create cultures that are warm and fuzzy with lots of perks for employees. That’s not the case. What really makes a strong culture is something that represents the brand’s mission and values. Yes, it should be a nice place to work, but the companies with the best results create cultures that are unique and represent who they want to be as an organization. Instead of thinking as culture the same way as everyone else, leaders should find something that represents their brand and encourages employees to produce the results the company needs them to. That doesn’t always mean perks—as Denise points out, perks are just the tactics many leaders focus on instead of addressing the underlying foundation and strategy that makes a successful culture. Great snacks or a free gym might make employees happy, but it usually doesn’t truly engage them, and the appeal could soon wear off. True culture is long-lasting and goes beyond just nice things in the office. Companies should be confident in their culture and own it. It’s misleading when a company misrepresents its culture, only for employees and customers to find out that things aren’t really how they seem to be. Organizations need to have an internal culture and outward identity that are aligned so they are authentic in all they do. Intentional cultures start from the top with an executive team that takes responsibility. Culture isn’t built on its own, but rather requires a concerted and deliberate effort. The CEO and his or her team should think about things like the organization’s purpose, core values, and unique attributes. Those ideas can drive culture and allow the company to create something fresh that stands out from everyone else. A good culture is sustainable and creates a competitive advantage. Denise shares MGM’s cultural transformation as a good example of how to create a strong culture that engages employees. MGM used to be thought of as an average Las Vegas hotel and casino, but the company wanted to transform into an experience-based brand. All of the company’s employees had to get on board with the transformation, so MGM brought in a training team to work with all 177,000 employees in person. Starting with leaders and working through the various departments, everyone was trained on the new culture so they could embrace the new brand identity. MGM wanted each employee to “be the show” and realize his or her place in creating a show for guests. Investing time in reaching out to all employees helped MGM change its brand and its internal culture into a place where employees feel valued and know they are contributing to something bigger. As a result, MGM has seen an internal transformation and financial gains. Culture is vitally important to a brand’s success. It is strategic and something leaders should be focused on and very involved with. Instead of focusing on tactics that don’t work, Denise encourages companies to decide that makes them different and build a culture strategically. Creating a unique and sustainable culture can truly turn a business into a strong and successful company. Internal cultures start from the top with an executive team that takes responsibility. Culture isn’t built on its own, but rather requires a concerted and deliberate effort. The CEO and his or her team should think about things like the organization’s purpose, core values, and unique attributes. Those ideas can drive culture and allow the company to create something fresh that stands out from everyone else. A good culture is sustainable and creates a competitive advantage. Denise shares MGM’s cultural transformation as a good example of how to create a strong culture that engages employees. MGM used to be thought of as an average Las Vegas hotel and casino, but the company wanted to transform into an experience-based brand. All of the company’s employees had to get on board with the transformation, so MGM brought in a training team to work with all 177,000 employees in person. Starting with leaders and working through the various departments, everyone was trained on the new culture so they could embrace the new brand identity. MGM wanted each employee to “be the show” and realize his or her place in creating a show for guests. Investing time in reaching out to all employees helped MGM change its brand and its internal culture into a place where employees feel valued and know they are contributing to something bigger. As a result, MGM has seen an internal transformation and financial gains. Culture is vitally important to a brand’s success. It is strategic and something leaders should be focused on and very involved with. Instead of focusing on tactics that don’t work, Denise encourages companies to decide that makes them different and build a culture strategically. Creating a unique and sustainable culture can truly turn a business into a strong and successful company.

How Having A Culture Of Connection Can Impact Your Customer Experience
Feb 28 2018 32 mins  
Everyone wants to feel connected—it’s part of human nature. Whether it’s building relationships at home, in the community, or with friends, people like to feel bonded to each other. But perhaps it’s nowhere more important than at work. A connection culture in the workplace can impact customer experience and create a place where employees are engaged and excited to be. Studies have shown that people who aren’t connected can actually get physically ill and fall into poor health, especially during times of stress. However, the opposite is also true, says Michael Lee Stallard, author of "Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work”. When employees feel connected to their supervisors or the people they work with, all the parts of their body work together so they can physically work at a higher level. As an employer, it makes sense to want employees who are physically and mentally strong and engaged over employees who are dragging and stressed. Who would you rather have interacting with your customers? Brands want their customers to be engaged and feel connected to the company. But it’s hard for employees to give customers what they themselves don’t have. A company won’t have energetic and enthusiastic employees who connect with customers if those employees don’t feel connected to the company. According to Michael, there are five benefits that come from having a connection culture: employees have cognitive clarity, they give their best effort, they align their work with the organization’s goals, they communicate more, and they engage in creativity to fuel innovation. A culture of connectivity impacts everyone, and customers can feel if it is there or not. When employees are engaged and connected, they naturally want to share that with customers. Michael tells the story of Admiral Vernon Clark, who was the Chief of Naval Operations just before 9/11. When Admiral Clark took over, the Navy was having a hard time retaining sailors because they weren’t treated well and didn’t feel connected to the organization or to each other. When he first joined the Navy, Admiral Clark had a Master Chief mentor him, which connected him to the organization and set the path for his career, and he wanted other young sailors to have a similar experience. Admiral Clark turned things around by talking to the Master Chiefs and encouraging them to mentor and train the sailors under them. It worked—by mentoring the sailors and building connections, the sailors became more engaged and connected to the Navy’s mission. In just 18 months, re-enlistment jumped from 20% to 70%. Creating a connection culture in the Navy ensured that it was ready for whatever came its way and could do its job to protect American citizens. Similar principles are found at Costco, which is known for taking care of its employees. Because Costco is focused on doing the right thing, employees feel connected, and the company has a much higher retention rate than other retail stores. The result is employees who are happy to be there and serve customers in any way they can. A connection culture builds long-term, sustainable performance, which creates a high-quality customer experience. When people don’t feel connected, they are only coming to work to get a paycheck, and it shows in their interactions with customers. Conversely, a connection culture helps every employee see how their role impacts the organization and makes them excited to provide a great customer experience each day.

The Way Money Moves: How Our Relationship To Money Is Changing
Feb 07 2018 29 mins  
Most anyone who has had a bank account for at least a few years is familiar with the traditional relationship between banks and customers—banks house the money, send the statements, and set the rules. Many people think of their bank as the “big bad wolf” who sets the terms of how money is used and comes after you with fees if you can’t manage your money correctly. It’s a necessary institution, but one that has long been feared by many customers. Things are changing, and how we interact with banks and money is transforming into a much more customer-friendly model. Instead of being afraid of banks, customers can now work with them to conveniently meet their financial goals. One of the leaders of the movement is Zelle, a peer-to-peer payment system that allows users to instantly send money through a secure app. Zelle is actually owned by seven of the world’s largest banks with the goal of creating a consumer platform that is fast, safe, and works across banks. It’s a far cry from the old attitude of banks that only cared about how many customers they could get to open accounts. Today, banks care more about creating a good experience for customers and providing them with the tools to make banking easy and accessible. In many cases, banks are pivoting to more advisory roles and expanding their services and relationships. The relationship between customers and banks is changing in large part because new technology allows banks to use various platforms to deliver services that are faster and more convenient for customers than they could have done in the past. Zelle and many other banking apps would not have been possible even just a few years ago, but with advances in mobile technology, it’s not only now possible but safe and convenient. Technology also allows banks to provide more options to customers. It used to be that if customers had to do any kind of banking, their only option was to go into a physical branch and talk with a banker. Now, mobile and online banking make it much more convenient for customers to get their banking done on the go. Modern customers love to self-serve, and banking apps make that possible. Instead of having to talk to a teller to deposit a check or wire money to a friend, it can now be done with just a few clicks in an app. Of course, physical locations are still available for people who want face-to-face interactions or have more complicated issues, but just having the option to bank in a way that is convenient for each customer is a huge change in modern banking. The evolution of money is far from over. Changing payment options will likely affect how customers make purchases. Rose Corvo, the marketing lead for Zelle, says her company’s main goal is for people to use less cash and checks and instead use instant peer-to-peer payments. As artificial intelligence grows, it will also become more of a force in the financial world. AI will be able to notice trends in a customer’s account and then initiate a conversation about how the problem can be fixed. For example, if AI notices that a customer keeps overdrawing their account, it can notify a human to call the customer or contact them directly to discuss options and other banking products to prevent future With new technology and options comes more opportunities for banks to advise their customers on how to be smarter with their money. Education is a huge goal of modern banks because educated customers are happier and more loyal to the brand. As technology advances and it becomes even easier to monitor and move money, banks will likely become a more convenient part of our lives. Our relationship with money is changing for the better, and it will likely continue to change as technology finds more ways to put customers first.

The Connected Customer With Samsung
Jan 29 2018 30 mins  
It used to be that customers had one basic cell phone that they used just to call or text people, and they would contact the phone’s support center when things went wrong. Those days are long gone. Today’s customers have multiple devices that are constantly connected, and they can interact with tech companies for more than just support questions. As the technology and mobile world changes, Samsung is also changing its attitude towards customer experience. Instead of what SVP Customer Care Michael Lawder calls the “break, fix model” where customers only came to the brand to fix their broken devices and then got on with their lives, Samsung is now focused on building lasting, meaningful relationships with its customers that go beyond the one-off service fixes. The idea is that as customers become more connected with their devices, they can also become more connected to the brand. More devices means there is more chance to build loyal Samsung customers for life. Samsung does this by aiming for high-quality customer service through a number of channels. It recently unveiled its truck on the streets of New York City that can service customers similar to how a food truck operates. If a customer needs help setting up their device, their screen to be fixed, or just a place to charge their phone, they can come aboard the truck and get the service done for free. Samsung is also expanding its chatbot ability by using bots to efficiently direct customers to a real person who can answer their questions. Although Michael admits the technology isn’t completely there yet, the idea is that bots will be able to streamline support requests by texting customers a few questions to point them to the right human support agent. Future chatbots will be able to gather more information about customers, which will lead to more customized experiences. Samsung’s new focus on the end-to-end customer journey means that the focus isn’t just on selling a product or fixing something when it’s broken—it’s on building relationships throughout the entire customer journey. Building relationships that solve problems and improve customers’ lives means that Samsung has to put resources into its programs. By delivering amazing experiences, studies have shown that customers invest more in the brand, which leads to a huge ROI. The internal Samsung motto for service is “Done plus one”, meaning that not only is the problem solved, but employees have the power and are encouraged to go above and beyond to delight customers and make them Samsung fans for life. It’s not just customers who are connected to the products—employees are as well. Samsung lets its employees, especially those in the service areas, use their products for personal use so they can fall in love with them and naturally want to provide amazing service. The hope is that employees will be fueled by their own passion for the brand and products and want to share that with customers. Customers are more connected than ever before, and that connection will continue to grow with the IoT and as more devices become available. Companies like Samsung know the power of staying in touch with these connected customers to help them not only connect to their devices, but also to connect to the brand.

Podcast Mashup: Highlights From The 2017 Episodes
Jan 22 2018 23 mins  
In 2017 I had a lot of great conversations with a wide variety of thought leaders. I gathered up some highlight clips from last year’s podcast interviews and put them into one podcast mashup. These clips show how customer experience can be defined and implemented, what it means for businesses in the future, and more. The first interview I looked back on was with Mary Winfield, VP Customer Experience and Trust at Lyft. The company has to focus on two sets of customers: drivers and passengers. The entire business model is centered around making customers’ lives easier, from providing services people want and need to using technology that makes things simple and efficient. She describes the symbiotic relationship between employee experience and customer experience at Lyft. Donna Morris is the EVP Customer and Employee Experience at Adobe. I visited the Adobe offices in San Jose, and we talked about the future of customer experience. She believes the role of customer experience is only going to grow. Digital technology will have a huge part in the future and will need to ‘emote’ as face-to-face interactions are going away. This will direct how organizations think about the customer experience and creating great experiences without the human element. Under the direction of Adobe’s Chief Marketing Officer Ann Lewnes, the company created an attention-grabbing ad that reached out to customers and kept their attention. In this clip, Ann talks about the Adobe commercial that starts with a bank robbery and ends by showcasing digital technology and customer experience. One of the hottest topics of 2017 was the chatbot. The next podcast interview is with singer, actress, and entrepreneur Christina Milian. Together with her business partner Josh Bocanegra, they created Persona, a tech company that builds chatbots for celebrities. Christina describes the value the chatbot brings to her brand, how it works, and how to get started when considering adding a chatbot to your company. The future of marketing is not an easy thing to scale. Karin Timpone, CMO of Marriott International, is definitely up to the task. Marriott has a focus on Guerrilla marketing and jumps on real-time marketing opportunities via social media. One recent example was the Pokemon Go craze. Marriott’s social media team put its efforts on high octane and placed Pokémon monsters in pools knowing that guests photographed them and that they would possibly go viral. They got wind of one Pokémon Go super user and decided to sponsor him by sending him to Japan, Australia, and Europe to catch more Pokémon. Social media is a powerful way for marketing teams to engage with customers in real time, but it requires marketing to constantly have eyes and ears on the ground

Working With Your Spouse, Building a Personal Brand & The Future of Work With Jacob Morgan
Dec 30 2017 50 mins  
In today’s work landscape, people aren’t limited by what corporate position they hold or what their job title is. Everyone can piece together their dream career with initiative, hard work, and a little luck. Perhaps there’s no better example of that than Jacob Morgan, a leading author, speaker, and expert on the future of work. He also happens to be married to me. After a few disastrous jobs in the corporate world, Jacob realized he wanted the freedom to work for himself and push himself in new ways. Instead of just getting coffee for executives, he wanted to be guiding them and helping them create good environments for their employees and customers. The path from recent college grad to a successful speaker who now travels the world wasn’t easy—Jacob started out speaking for free and hustling to make his voice heard, but his career has grown and gained momentum over the last decade and put him in a position to continuously expand and grow his brand. Jacob’s formula for success as a professional speaker and author, or really as just an entrepreneur with a voice, is to “Be everywhere all the time”. To him, building a personal brand comes down to three things: consistency, visibility, and frequency. You need to pick a topic as your expertise and be as consistent as you can with it. Instead of bouncing around and addressing a number of business-related topics, Jacob writes and speaks only about the future of work and employee experience, which has built his brand and made him the go-to expert in those areas. To be visible, Jacob says you have to be everywhere in the most seen places, which includes making podcasts, writing articles, attending conferences, and more. And frequency means doing it all the time. Between the articles, blogs, videos, and podcasts, Jacob’s content is always being published, which keeps him fresh in his viewers’ eyes; the same principle applies to anyone building a personal brand—be frequent to keep content new and fresh. Building a personal brand is a continuous effort, but it can eventually open doors to new possibilities. In Jacob’s case, it has led him to writing three books and now working with his spouse where he and I can find the crossover between their respective work with employee experience and customer experience. Between Jacob’s personal experiences working in the corporate world and his research and travels that have taken him to organizations around the world, he has become passionate about organizations building effective employee experiences, which play a huge role in the future of work. As technology grows and the workforce changes, employers need to change their mentality around work to focus less of tasks and more on people. To create a company where people want to work, executives need to be aware of the people who work there, which means getting out from behind their desks and actually interacting with employees and customers. Leaders need to start a dialogue with employees about what they like and dislike and what can be improved. Employees also need to get engaged and join the conversation—if they want to help build a human-centered organization that can withstand changes to the workplace, they need to stand up and make their voice heard. The future of work is changing and opening doors to new opportunities for people in all industries. To prepare, employees need to build their personal brands and get involved in their organizations. If there is something you are unhappy with, follow Jacob’s example and either fix it or get out. With involvement and dedication, you can better your organization or create your own opportunities to build a career that is perfect for you.

The Top Ford Future Trends 2018
Dec 21 2017 32 mins  
The world is changing, and consumers are changing right alongside it. That’s the biggest takeaway from the 2018 Looking Further with Ford Trends Report. With political unrest, natural disasters, and a growing spotlight on social inequality around the world, the tone of this year’s report is much different than previous years. Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s futurist and the lead of the report, says consumers are feeling the pace of change. Sheryl and her team talked to 9,000 people in nine countries and identified trends that will shape how consumers think, act, and buy in 2018. The Edge of Reason There’s no doubt that recent global changes have affected everything we do. 75% of respondents around the world and 80% in the U.S. agreed that people are growing increasingly intolerant of opposing views. These changes can be overwhelming and can greatly contribute to the fabric of our global society, especially with such polarized opinions. Activist Awakening Perhaps one of the positive elements of the recent change and unrest is that people are realizing they can no longer be complacent. The vast majority of people in the survey said they are overwhelmed by the changes that are happening. But nearly 75% of those surveyed said they believe individuals can make a difference in the world. Consumers are recognizing the importance of understanding what is going on around them and taking a stand to make the world better in any way they can. Minding the Gap One of the biggest hot-button issues is inequality in everything from education to employment and living costs. More than 80% of adults around the world said they are concerned about the large gap between the rich and the poor. A growing number of entrepreneurs and companies are looking for creative solutions to narrow the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged. The Compassionate Conscience Our modern society has made it easier than ever to know what is going on around the world, which consumers feel is both good and bad. Half of all adults say following the news daily is stressful, and the majority of people surveyed said they are overwhelmed by the suffering in the world. It’s hard to escape the bad news, but people have learned to ease the pain by being compassionate. More than 75% of respondents also said that they think their actions can lead to positive change. Mending the Mind Lately there has been a lot more attention on the link between physical and mental health as consumers realize that they can’t have a healthy body without strong emotional well-being. An increasing number of companies and governments are starting mindfulness efforts, and employers are starting to recognize that if they want employees to be productive, they need to think about the whole picture. Retail Therapy Consumers have longed turned to shopping as a way to relieve stress and other emotions, but lately they have been re-thinking how effective shopping really is to bringing them happiness. For many people (66% of adults globally), the experience of shopping is more enjoyable than the actual purchase. Because of this, many leading companies are creating experiential stores to showcase the brand without actually having any products for sale. Helplessly Exposed Big data is a huge part of how companies do business, but more than three-quarters of survey respondents say they find it creepy when companies know too much about them. The recent push has been towards privacy and transparency—most consumers don’t mind that companies have some data on them, but brands need to be open about what data they have and not have too much or use it in inappropriate ways. Technology’s Tipping Point Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, especially in areas like artificial intelligence and automation. The views on these developments are split with 52% of adults saying they think AI will do more harm than good and many people saying being inundated by new technology is overwhelming. Singled Out Instead of following the traditional path of marriage and parenthood, more consumers are staying single. In fact, half of the U.S. population is single, and there are now more single people than married people in the U.S. for the first time ever. The majority of adults surveyed around the world said they believe single people are treated differently than married people. Big Plans for Big Cities Cities are growing, and 75% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. To make things more efficient and showcase the potential of cities, they need to be made smarter. Nearly 90% of people around the world think cities need better transportation options, but smart cities also include creating healthier and happier places through master planning, connectivity, and numerous industries working together.

Managing Real-Time Customer Communications In A Crisis
Dec 13 2017 19 mins  
It’s a business leader’s worst nightmare—a natural disaster is headed for your area, and you need to keep your family, your customers, and your business safe. How do you manage customer communication to make sure everyone is aware of the situation and customers stay happy? That was the dilemma faced by South Carolina Federal Credit Union recently as Hurricane Irma threatened landfall. Its experience can be considered a case study of how to manage real-time customer communication in difficult times. Customer communication is always important and plays a large role in the overall experience, but it perhaps is never more important than when companies need to share information with their customers during a time of crisis. Circumstances can change quickly, so being able to deliver accurate, quick, and concise messages is crucial. As the hurricane neared, South Carolina Federal Credit Union had to share when it would be open and how customers could access their money and other financial services. According to Beth Jaskiewicz, Senior Vice President of Marketing, the best thing to do for a crisis is to be prepared. The credit union has a business continuity plan and started planning on how to put it into action about two weeks before Irma was scheduled to make landfall so that customers could still manage their money and wouldn’t have their financial services interrupted. The widespread plan included everything from the possibility of delays in delivering cash to ATMs to power outages and setbacks in running the business. Senior management met with the business continuity team daily to stay updated and fine-tune their plans as weather forecasts changed. Throughout the entire process, credit union employees considered what it would be like for customers if the hurricane did hit. What would customers need to know, and what would the credit union need to do to make them feel safe and secure? During a crisis, a consistent message is key so customers didn’t feel they were getting a different story depending on the channel they are using. Choosing the right channel to communicate with customers is important. During times of crisis, it is easy for people to get bogged down with too much information, so the most effective communication from a company involves just the basics of what customers need to know. In the case of South Carolina Federal Credit Union, this involved sending short text messages and emails with updates about when the branches would be open or closed and then directing customers to the website or social media channels for further updates. Companies should also consider who needs to know the information. During Hurricane Irma, all customers needed to know, but other crises and situations might call for smaller, more targeted groups to be notified. Effective customer communication during a crisis really comes come to organization and collaboration. Beth recommends planning before disaster strikes and walking through various scenarios with key leaders to put a plan in place. Everyone in the organization should have a clearly defined role with a backup person in place in case something happens. Some disasters, like hurricanes, provide some sort of warning, while other crises can happen without any warning. Crises are unexpected and can wreak havoc on companies, but having a plan in place to communicate with customers seamlessly can make all the difference and turn a potentially chaotic situation into something that is calm and organized. Staying on message and being concise can help strengthen your customer experience, even during difficult times.

Augmented Reality And The 4th Transformation
Nov 30 2017 28 mins  
Technology has changed and improved the customer experience over time, but the most recent transformation with the growth of augmented reality is sure to lead to greater change than ever before. According to Jay Samit, Independent Vice Chairman at Deloitte, augmented reality has the power to revolutionize customer experience in every industry. Our modern world has connected us with devices like smartphones, which puts a world of possibility right in our pockets. But even with smartphones we still have to search for answers. Instead of customers having to seek out information, that knowledge can now be embedded in the environment in a way that anticipate customers’ needs and helps them find solutions where they already are. Imagine a world where you can wear glasses that look just like normal glasses but that have AR technology that can be customized to match your lifestyle and provide the most applicable information. According to Jay, these glasses are right around the corner and will make it much easier to incorporate AR. Instead of getting lost in a store, AR could light up a path on the ground to get you to the item you need. AR could also help customers see inside a resort before they book and provide glimpses into what the view and accommodation would be like or instantly translate a conversation or signs when users are traveling abroad. AR could also transform the in-store experience by having coupons or product recommendations pop up depending on where customers are in the store and what items they are looking at. Companies around the world are already implementing AR and seeing great results in customer experience. A zoo in Japan has created an augmented reality experience where visitors can use their phones to see a path show up on the streets to get them from the subway stop to the zoo. It’s a fun way to make things easier for customers instead of them wandering around until they find the zoo. Beauty counters have also seen an influx of AR-powered mirrors lately. The technology allows users to virtually try on makeup and see how it would look on their face, plus the mirror remembers what a customer has used and can recommend products based on their preferences. Over the last few years, there has been a huge growth in customer experience online. However, AR has the power to surpass the internet and offer a better experience than customers could ever get online. Things like virtual inventories, side-by-side comparisons, and being able to see things in 360-degree views will totally change how customers shop and interact with brands. Instead of having to go into a store to try items on and ordering things online and hoping they fit, AR will allow customers to try things on virtually, see them from every angle, and easily compare them to other items. Augmented reality is immersive learning that hits customers at a different level. It is the extra things that anticipate needs, improve problems, and make interactions with customers just a little bit better. AR is being able to get what you need when you need it and creating seamless experiences that make life easier, more efficient, or more enjoyable. The future of customer experience is strong, and it’s due largely to AR.

More Than Data: Engaging Customers Authentically With The Ideal Marketing Mix
Nov 17 2017 32 mins  
When customers choose a clothing brand, they take a lot of things into consideration, including price, style, availability, and brand reputation. It takes the perfect mix of fashion and function to draw in customers. But the clothes won’t sell themselves, so a strategic marketing mix is also required. In an increasingly data-filled world, many companies rely on analytics for every customer decision. However, TechStyle Fashion Group, which operates brands like Fabletics, Just Fab, and Shoe Dazzle, has expanded beyond just data to find the right combination of strategic data and human connections to maximize its marketing efforts. The company shows that a good marketing mix involves not just data but also personalization, technology, and a strong connection with the brand. Each of TechStyle’s brands works as a sort of subscription service—customers share data with the company and agree to visit the site on a monthly basis to see the new collections. Having detailed customer preferences, buying habits, and sizes in a huge database makes it easy for the company to create products it knows customers will buy and love. While the traditional retail model creates products it only hopes customers will purchase, brands like Fabletics use data to know exactly what customers want and sell a staggeringly high 90-95% of their products. With so much data on their customers, it would be easy for TechStyle brands to sit back, watch the return customers flow in, and treat everyone the same. But instead the company works to authentically reach out to customers to build a strong brand connection. When it comes to getting first-time customers, TechStyle relies on a wide variety of marketing methods. Because the brands are so data-driven, the marketing approach is also very personal. It adds to the brands’ values of working with each customer to create a great experience. Shawn Gold, TechStyle’s Corporate Marketing Officer, says that in the last year the company did around 24,000 different Facebook ads, 600 different versions of its websites, and 6,000 different emails. In many cases, the company uses existing data to find target markets and customers and then tailors the approach to best reach them. Added to the marketing mix is a strong word of mouth referral program. TechStyle’s brands tend to have very strong net promoter scores, with customers telling their friends and family about the services. This is due to not only have a convenient service that exceeds customer expectations, but also by building a culture that puts the customer first. Prioritizing an effort to keep customer involved builds customer loyalty, which contributes back to the marketing efforts. TechStyle regularly holds focus groups and even visits the homes of its customers to see what is in their closets and how their clothes match their lifestyles. Data helps the company ask the right questions, but the answers come from the customers themselves. Showing genuine interest in customers and finding better ways to match the product with what customers really want is incredibly effective and keeps customers coming back for more. Every Fabletics employee also has to work in the store so they can talk with and really get to know the customers. In an increasingly technical world, TechStyle doesn’t rely completely on automation. While there are some issues that are solved with machines, much of the customer service efforts are led by humans. The company has found that customer satisfaction results are more than 20% higher when humans are involved in the process because its customers love having a personal connection. Data plays an important role, especially in the ever-changing fashion world, but it isn’t everything. Creating brand-loyal customers comes from a unique marketing mix that puts customers first and makes them central to everything the brand does.

Healthcare Revolution: Lead With Customer Experience
Nov 09 2017 32 mins  
The healthcare field is changing, and customer experience is right at the center. Gone are the days of customers feeling inconvenienced and doctors having to spend long hours to catch up on their work—today’s healthcare revolution is all about empowering customers and helping everyone get the care they need. That change means the industry is becoming more competitive, and customer experience in many cases is the deciding factor for where patients go to get care. In the old way of thinking, doctors were central to everything. They set when appointments were available, who could be seen, and what treatments were available. However, consumers now have myriad choices of ways to get personalized care and attention, from apps to websites and concierge healthcare services, and the industry had to change. People no longer automatically go to a doctor when they are sick or need a checkup, and healthcare companies now have to compete more to bring in patients. The key factor patients are looking for is personalized care—they want someone who treats them like an individual, takes time to answer their questions, and makes it easy to be seen and get the care they need. At the core of the new healthcare movement is service and a dedication to making a difference. According to Arra Yerganian, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Sutter Health, when healthcare employees realize that they all want to serve customers and improve their lives, it is easier to build a culture centered around customers. That culture can shine through in every interaction between the brand and customers. Sutter is known for its great customer service and constantly receives feedback from patients that they feel special when they interact with Sutter doctors and nurses. Arra says that isn’t a coincidence—people are trained to be that way and encouraged to tap into their natural caring abilities to create great experiences for patients. Part of building a strong customer experience in healthcare is taking advantage of new technology. In many cases, innovative healthcare technology allows providers to see more patients, be more effective with their time, and provide better diagnoses and treatment options. The growth of telehealth has allowed customers to be seen virtually on their own schedules, which has been a boost to customer experience. Sutter recently partnered with Augmedix to allow doctors to wear smart glasses that can pull up a patient’s chart and notes on the screen during the appointment. The device saves doctors time of having to stay late to write notes because it is done in real time and provides a more personalized and interactive experience for patients. The growth of data has also provided more opportunities for healthcare providers to gain insights on their patients and create strategic, personalized experiences. Arra says the key to standing out and creating a strong customer experience is to find a way to connect with patients. Instead of relying on differences in quality or expertise, the best customer experience providers lean on something that tells a unique story and builds a connection. The best organizations take risks and make unique choices to stand out. Customer experience makes a huge difference in the healthcare space, and it is a driving factor in the new approach to the industry. By focusing on people and personalization, healthcare providers can go above and beyond to create satisfied patients.

Creating Compelling Customer Service Experiences
Oct 25 2017 32 mins  
Nearly every company wants to better understand their customers so they can find ways to improve the customer service and build brand loyalty. But actually finding the answers and putting them into practice are two different things. Transforming customer service isn’t a quick solution, but it can lead to fantastic results when done correctly. Customer service experts Jeannie Walters and Adam Toporek consult with numerous companies each year on how to improve their customer service. Their vast experience has taught them that improving customer service is never a one-step solution. Although each organization can follow the same steps, the journey to a quality customer service is personalized for each company. In order to truly make a change, the company has to identify what it wants to achieve. Everyone knows that customer service experience is good, but few companies actually know how it relates to their goals and strategies. One of the first steps companies need to take when redefining customer service experiences is to realize the business outcomes they want to achieve so they can connect specific aspects of the customer service experience to those goals. For example, if a company wants to build its referrals by a certain amount, it needsf to focus on creating brand loyal customers who return and are eager to refer the company to their friends. That goal could tie into the post-sale aspects of customer service experience and following up to make sure each customer is satisfied. With goals in mind, brands need to understand what their current customer service experience is really like. Many companies think they have an idea of what customers experience and how they feel, but surveys can be deceiving. After all, the results a company gets are completely dependent on the questions it asks and can often paint a skewed picture. To accurately understand the customer journey, brands need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Jeannie notes that when she works with an organization, she completes a full customer service experience investigation, including observing how employees interact with customers, walking through the digital experience multiple times, and looking for holes in the experience that could affect customers. Getting immersed in the customer service at a human level can often provide more accurate feedback than looking at surveys. With an idea of the current situation, companies can then consider their ideal customer service—how would things look if everything went smoothly? That goal can help guide the next steps to take to make the dream a reality. Of course, perfect customer service can’t be created overnight and takes constant tweaking and evolution. Both Jeannie and Adam believe one of the most important parts of creating lasting change in customer service is to have leaders who understand the importance of customer service and who are on board with change. If leaders invested, even the grandest ideas can’t take root to create a lasting change. Customer service involves many different aspects, but one of the key features is understanding the customer and what they want out of the journey. Being strategic and working through the steps to transform customer service experience can lead to positive and lasting change.

How The General Data Privacy Regulation Will Impact Your Customer Experience
Oct 16 2017 23 mins  
New regulations from the EU are impacting customer data around the world and causing companies to make big changes or risk getting hit with heavy fines. But instead of fearing the change and just throwing money at the problem, complying with the regulations can be thought of as an opportunity to rethink and improve the customer experience. The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) is creating a buzz that Jeff Nicholson, VP CRM Product Marketing at Pegasystems, likens to the anticipation surrounding Y2K. Essentially, the new regulation requires any company anywhere in the world that uses EU residents’ personal data to re-think their data strategy. That means that companies in the US are still affected if they have ever done anything like collect email addresses or names of people who live in the EU. If companies don’t comply with the regulations, they could be fined up to 4% of their total global revenue. Under GDPR, individual customers can approach companies to find out what personal data they have, and organizations have to provide the data to the customer. Essentially, the new rules change who owns personal data—instead of companies, the power is now in the hands of customers. The new rules come at a time when data breaches are found every day and affect millions of people a year. People around the world are more aware of their personal data and want to find ways to protect it and know who has access to it. Companies must take safeguarding their customers’ data very seriously. If customers don’t feel their information is being protected, they will take their business elsewhere, which can lead to huge PR and financial consequences for companies. A recent survey found that more than 90% of multinational companies consider GDPR to be a top priority, and many are allocating significant budget to solve data problems and come into compliance. The majority of large companies say they plan to spend at least a million dollars on their new data strategy. If the money is being spent anyway, smart companies will put it to good use and do more than just put their data practices in compliance with GDPR—they will use it as an opportunity to transform customer experience and become a leader in their fields. This is a great chance for companies to combine compliance with marketing. Instead of simply just plugging a hole in the data stream, think of how you collect data and how it can be better used and targeted. Now that customers have more control over what companies have their information, irrelevant communication from companies puts those brands at risk of losing the customer. All it takes is one bad communication for the customer to opt out and have their data removed. The best companies not only respect and safeguard customer information but also use it to create open lines of communication that really help the customer. With all the data available, companies have the potential to create targeted outreach that meets the needs of every individual customer. This can be done a number of ways, but Jeff recommends getting people from across the company, especially from compliance and marketing, involved. Investing in the right technology to monitor, track, and safeguard customer data is also incredibly important. Being transparent with the customer information you have can also build a better relationship with customers. Many people are wary about who has their personal data, and they will likely be more trusting of companies that can show where they gathered the data, what they are using it for, and who has access to it. Data plays a huge role in customer experience, and being able to monitor and target it better can lead to better relationships between companies and customers. GDPR is changing how companies handle customer data, but it is much more than just a compliance issue. In order to lead the new data conversation, companies should use the opportunity to re-think their customer experience and find new, relevant ways to reach out to customers.

How Facebook Shapes Customer Experience With Chatbots
Oct 11 2017 19 mins  
The majority of customer interaction today happens on the phone, but that isn’t the way most customers prefer to communicate or the most effective way for brands to interact with customers. Phones can be frustrating, email can feel like spam, and in-person communication can be inconsistent. Instead, a growing number of brands are turning to chatbots via Facebook Messenger to add value to the customer experience in a way that is easier than ever and preferred by the companies and the customers. When Facebook opened the Messenger platform in 2016, it had a good idea of what the technology could do for companies, but Kemal El Moujahid, product manager at Facebook, said the team was surprised by the creativity of how brands around the world were using the chatbot function. Instead of relying on traditional methods like blanket sales offers and mass communication, bots provide opportunities for real-time, personalized communication that can meet the needs of customers right where they are. Brands can easily tailor the needs of the bot to showcase their message and products and reach out to customers in an accessible and useful way. In order to be successful in building the customer experience, brands need to be clear about what they want their bots to do. A bot that is designed to bring customers into the store will perform differently than a bot that is designed to provide product recommendations and education. Brands need to understand how customers are using the bot and how it can play the most effective role in the customer journey. An example of this comes from Sephora, which uses its Facebook bot to educate its customers about its products and offerings—its bot can provide personalized makeup recommendations and allows customers to find stores and book beauty treatments. Sephora’s customers have a much better experience when they understand the products they are looking for, which is where the bot can help. Because bot communication is more natural and casual, it adds a personal feel to a brand and helps create a life-long relationship between the customer and the business throughout the entire customer journey. Bots can be used to bring in new customers and to build on existing relationships. McDonalds restaurants in Brazil print codes that link to their Facebook bot—when customers access the bot, they get added benefits and build a stronger relationship with the brand that gets them to come back to the store. A huge draw for bots is their convenience. Instead of having to download a new app or program, bots are instantly available to the millions of users already connected to Facebook Messenger around the world. Bots can be developed and updated fairly quickly and inexpensively, which means companies can make changes to quickly best meet the needs of their customers. As the customer journey evolves, so too can the bot’s performance. Bots will continue to play a major role as the customer experience grows and becomes more personalized. Bots gather lots of information to distill it down to the most relevant information for customers, allowing for better personalization at scale. The days of spending hours on the phone to answer questions are done—today’s customers are all about using bots for questions, service, and product information. As brands around the world can attest, Facebook makes it easier than ever to build customer relationships via bots.

Meet Verizon Wireless' New Chief Customer Experience Officer Scott Zimmer
Oct 02 2017 18 mins  
Verizon Wireless is known for trying new, innovative things to expand its business and reach new customers. In the competitive mobile space, it takes a concerted effort to build the customer experience. Verizon Wireless recently took it a step further when it brought in Scott Zimmer to serve in a new position as its Chief Customer Experience Officer. According to Scott, customer experience definitely creates a competitive advantage over other companies. Verizon’s goal is to go above and beyond to build brand loyalty and brand love so that customers prefer the company for reasons beyond it just having the best price. Its perspective and practices can help companies in all industries. Verizon views the customer experience as a complete journey, from a prospective customer looking into the company to actually making a purchase to then using the service and having a continued great experience. With interactions happening online, in person, in the app, and on the phone, the company aims to make every interaction consistent with the Verizon brand. One new way it is doing that is through its new concept store in San Francisco. The next-gen retail store concept adds emotion and humanity to a technology service and is another opportunity for Verizon to build relationships with customers. Scott says that the retail store experience can be used by other companies and industries that can apply their products and services in a tangible space. For Verizon, that means creating a coffee shop-esque space that shows off its products, including virtual reality headsets that customers can test. Scott brings together experience in the business and customer spaces and states that every company should be thinking of business and customer strategies in tandem. If a company only focuses on business, it won’t have customers, but if it only focuses on customers, it won’t have business. To truly create a unique customer experience, brands need to build emotional connections while still showcasing their products and driving sales. The keys to a great customer experience include having a corporate culture that reflects customer values and leaders who set the tone for a customer focus. In order to provide a consistent experience that meets the customer where they, Scott and his team involve every employee to connect the dots of the entire customer journey. Every detail impacts customer service, and making it a priority in everything the company does can lead to great success, especially in an industry as competitive as wireless. Verizon is an example of the benefits that come from prioritizing customer experience and investing the resources to put customers first.

Leading Both Employee And Customer Experience At Adobe
Sep 26 2017 20 mins  
When it comes to building strong relationships and experiences, organizations are often faced with a difficult choice: do they focus on employees or on customers? Like many companies, Adobe had two groups working parallel to each other—one focused on reaching out to employees and the other on building experiences for customers. But then Adobe realized that the two audiences actually worked together, and Adobe’s leadership combined customer experience and employee experience under the direction of Donna Morris, EVP Customer and Employee Experience. People have always been Adobe’s core asset, and that focus is part of the reason the company has seen such rapid growth. For years Adobe focused on being a great company to work for and building a strong employee experience. But at the end of the day, customers actually drive the business, so the company adjusted its focus to be as great to work with as it is to work for. The two ideas go hand in hand—satisfied and engaged employees are more likely to give their best effort and represent the brand well, while satisfied customers are happier and easier to work with. Central to the idea of bringing employees and customers together is to focus on people and make them the core of the organization’s culture and strategy. Although they are similar, uniting the focus on these two groups isn’t something that can happen overnight. In order to be truly successful, there must be a cultural change that emphasizes the importance of employees and customers. Employees need to understand the metrics of how customer experience and satisfaction are gauged and know what the company’s goals are to improve the scores. Each person should see how his or her role plays into the larger customer experience. With a changed mindset, companies can evaluate their processes to see how employee and customer experience can be connected. According to Donna, many organizations will be surprised by how easily their core mechanisms can be aligned to streamline the experience model, especially if employees are using the same products and becoming customers themselves. Adobe does this by using employees as advocates for its customers’ needs. Any employee can report an issue about the software or service quickly and easily, which means that issues can be resolved as soon as they are spotted instead of waiting for customers to find issues and go through the entire reporting process themselves. Employee compensation at Adobe is also tied to customer experience, which drives a greater incentive to put the customer first. Regularly checking in with employees through engagement surveys provides the company with periodic updates to see where it is improving and where it can continue to grow. It also helps measure how connected employees feel to the customers and creates opportunities for feedback. One of the keys to building a strong customer and employee experience is to focus on the long-term relationship with each group. Instead of simply getting a customer to make a sale or pushing an employee to hit their quarterly goals, organizations should look for ways to build lasting relationships that keep customers and employees satisfied and coming back for more. An often overlooked aspect of building relationships is focusing on empathy and understanding where people come from. When leaders and organizations focus on emotions, they can foster better employee and customer bonds. Although customer and employee experience are similar, organizations can’t just apply a one-size-fits-all solution. One of Adobe’s biggest challenges and opportunities is providing the right experience for its wide array of customers. With more than 100 different products, the company’s customers range from individuals to large global corporations, and each group has a different set of needs. Adobe hopes individual customers can be entirely self-directed and get great service and answers without contacting the company. On the opposite end of the spectrum are large companies, where Adobe is considered a thought partner and who require more interaction to understand and address their concerns. In order to best meet the needs of customers at varying levels, employees need to receive the right training and be aware of the service required for each type of product. Putting that in motion means that employees must understand the products and their customers and feel comfortable and supported in the workplace to deliver quality service. As customer experience and employee experience both become a larger focus at organizations, it seems only natural that they will grow together. Both of these experiences are connected and should be constantly evolving based on the trends, technology, and needs of both groups. By focusing on the connected experience of employees and customers, organizations don’t need to put one group ahead of the other and can enjoy a cohesive experience with a strong people-centric culture. Disclosure: Adobe is a client of Blake Morgan’s speaking business.

Shaping The Future City With Ford's Jessica Robinson
Sep 18 2017 18 mins  
Imagine a city where people travel seamlessly on their way to and from work, new technology is integrated into everyday life, the air is clean of pollution, and people feel safe and welcome. It may sound too good to be true, but for a number of entrepreneurs and engineers, it’s a reality they are working towards every day. Ford is leading the charge to bring together all kinds of thinkers and creators to consider the future city—a place where new technology is used and executed smoothly in a way that is useful for the people and sustainable for the environment. From city planners to scientists and engineers, people from across nearly every discipline are involved in the conversation. In order to make the future city a real possibility, everyone must be involved and on board. There are a number of things to consider when creating the city of the future, including transportation, logistics, weather, safety, and much more. One area that is a central focus for many companies, including Ford, is transportation. Cities of the future over the next 20-100 years can’t rely on cars because it will lead to too much congestion and pollution. Instead, these thinkers are considering new ways to move people around that harness the power of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other new technologies. Ford is doing it through its recent acquisition of Chariot Shuttle—a micro-transit company that operates vans that can hold up to 14 passengers. These vans operate throughout cities to get passengers where they need to go, but the routes are entirely crowd-sourced, meaning that if enough people need to travel to or from a certain spot, the routes can be changed to accommodate their needs. There’s no doubt that people love the convenience of living in cities. In fact, cities are expected to grow by 60% by 2030. Now it’s up to the city managers, local leader, engineers, entrepreneurs, and more to turn those cities into sustainable entities. Creating the city of the future requires thinking outside the box—building more freeways won’t fix LA’s notoriously bad traffic, for example, so the conversation has moved to creative alternatives with public transportation. As the number of options available for public and shared transportation grows, cities need to better understand the trends and what is happening so they can continually improve the systems. Creating the city of the future is both a daunting and exciting challenge, and it all starts with a conversation across industries and expertise. With resources, new technology, and a collection of creative ideas, the city of the future might be here sooner than we think.

The Behavioral Psychology Of In-Store And Online Shoppers
Sep 12 2017 32 mins  
Online shopping and new technology has changed how customers interact with brands and make purchases, and it has had a huge effect on the customer experience. Knowing who your customer is and what they expect from your company is huge, especially when it comes to understanding why customers shop online. How customer experience is put into action changes based on the type of company and industry and what customers need to best have their needs met. However, there are always core similarities; Dr. Volker Hildebrand, Global Vice President at SAP Hybris and author of “The Customer Experience Edge”, has narrowed customer experience down to four fundamental principles: convenience, speed, relevance, and reliability. Companies that have the best customer experiences do a great job with at least three of the pillars. Customer experience is a holistic experience, and being able to offer a personalized approach for each customer can give your company a big advantage over the competition. Although companies may have internal silos, customers don’t see that and want a cohesive experience. Volker cites the example of a bank that was having difficulty getting customers to sign up for online banking. When it realized employees in the branches didn’t have any incentive to refer customers online and that the two entities were being run separately, it made changes to unite the branch and online experience and combine the metrics. Customers don’t care about what’s going on behind the scenes as long as they can have a quality and convenient experience, so companies need to take down silos for a unified experience. The internet has made the customer journey start way before the customer actually buys a product or steps into the store. Now, customers are doing their research to find out what products are best, and they expect to be able to find all the answers they need quickly and easily. If a company can’t provide those answers, either through a chatbot, online community, or human, they risk losing that customer to a brand that can provide the answers. Thinking about things from the customer’s perspective and making sure all the information is accurate and easily available can start the customer experience off on the right foot. One disruptive aspect of online shopping that is changing business models is subscription services. These days, customers can have subscriptions for everything from rental cars to toilet paper. Subscription models offer customers the convenience of not having to worry about ordering something, and they often come with discounts. However, using a subscription model means customer experience is more important than ever. In these cases, the experience and service is really what makes the difference—you’re no longer selling a product, you’re providing a service. Making customer experience an integral part of everything the company does, especially online, can drive growth and customer satisfaction. The key to customer experience is finding a way to stand out and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes to provide a cohesive experience from end to end, no matter if it is online or in store.

Connecting Customer Experience To Business Strategy: An Interview With Charlene Li
Sep 04 2017 29 mins  
Every company wants a magic elixir that makes employees happier, profits higher, and the outlook rosier. According to leading business strategist Charlene Li, that secret sauce is growth. When a company is focused on growing, customers and employees are excited and enjoy an upward spiral. But in order to grow, companies need to be willing to take risks and go outside their comfort zones. Growth and meeting customers needs need to play a critical part in an organization’s strategy. Companies that take risks tend to have better customer experiences. Think about it—customers will more naturally want to shop from a brand that is new and finding the best ways to meet their needs instead of a company that is stuck in the past and hasn’t updated its products or practices in decades. In order to take calculated risks, companies must build the growth mindset into their company under the direction of top leadership. The speed of change depends on the industry, but companies should strive to keep up with the fastest moving customers they serve. For fast-paced tech companies, that could mean new initiatives every few months, while other manufacturing companies might take a big risk every few years—it all comes down to what your customers want and expect from your service. Part of growing is always finding customer solutions before customers even know that’s what they need. Charlene points to the example of T-Mobile, which talked to a number of customers about their mobile experiences. A common thread was that cell customers hated their carriers, no matter who that carrier was. They didn’t like being chained to a contract and limited in what they could do. With that in mind, T-Mobile took the risk to create the Un-Carrier strategy that has been successful for the company. If T-Mobile didn’t have a growth mindset and a strategy of listening to customers and thinking about the future, they would have missed out on a huge way to set themselves apart from the competition. Customer experience is also affected by how companies are organized. In many cases, it can be helpful to have a single person serve as the Chief Omnichannel Officer to bring together the various call centers and customer technologies. This is especially important early on in a company’s customer experience maturity when one person needs to hold the organization’s hand and set the tone for interacting with customers. As things grow and develop and the strategy becomes more engrained in the organization, that person can act more like an organizer to bring together all of the aspects of customer experience instead of being expressly in charge of every detail. No matter the size of the company, everyone needs to have a customer-centric mindset that helps them do their part to create a strong customer experience. Understanding where your company is today and where it needs to be in the future can help set a strategy that encourages customer interaction. Charlene suggests creating a customer advisory board and inviting customers to be open and honest and what the company can do better in its customer interactions. Staying one step ahead of the competition and always keeping an eye on the customer can lead to tremendous growth and success, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of being distracted by things that don’t really matter, companies need to create strong strategies to guide their actions and meet those unseen customer needs.

How Marketers Can Ensure Their Brand Evolves at the Same Pace as New Innovation and Growth
Aug 31 2017 23 mins  
There’s never been a more exciting or more challenging time to be a marketer. Customer expectations are changing by the minute, meaning marketers have to be on the ball to keep up with new ideas. How can they help their companies grow while still keeping their brand current and relevant? According to Sally Jenkins, CMO of Informatica, the key is to understand the customers and always be looking forward to a new opportunity. Sally shared her experiences leading a recent rebrand at Informatica. Rebranding is about much more than just changing the logo—it is a chance to make sure messages and goals match what customers want and expect. While a full rebrand doesn’t need to happen on a regular basis, companies should constantly be testing their messages with customers and honing their communication in an ever-changing world. The first step of a rebrand is to understand what customers are saying about the company. This can be done with surveys, events, or break-out sessions to get a better understanding of what customers feel about your company and where they are in the customer journey. This information gathering should be open and honest—it acts as the basis for your updated brand, so information that isn’t completely accurate could lead to ineffective results and a brand that isn’t truly aligned with what customers are looking for. The end goal of the first stage of rebranding is a complete understanding of where customers are and where your company can take them. From there, companies need to synthesize the information and combine it with other data to find a way to translate what the customers want to the company’s messages, look, and feel. This is where the brand identity is created and when the visual aspects of the brand are connected to goals and vision of the company. Sally stresses the importance of first launching your new brand internally with employees. By thinking about employees as your first customers, you can help employees realize how to use the company’s values in the decisions they make at work every day. Once the employees are on board and understand the updated brand, the messages can be spread to external customers for a cohesive customer experience. Rebranding is something that needs to be thought about on a regular basis and continuously adjusted as the needs of the company and its customers change with new technology and ideas. One of the best ways to do this is to use data for predictive analytics. Combining the science of data with the art of marketing helps CMOs and their teams stay on top of trends and lead the charge for innovation. In the ever-changing marketing world, data helps companies make informed decisions about effective ways to reach customers. To truly keep up with innovation and growth, companies should always be proactive and find ways to disrupt the status quo. In a world where customers where define your brand no matter what, it’s up to the marketers to take charge and help set the narrative the reflects your true brand.

Facing Digital Disruption Across Industries With Accenture Digital's CEO
Aug 24 2017 29 mins  
Digital disruption is inevitable, especially as new technology emerges at a rapid pace. But instead of being disrupted, it’s up to companies and leaders to take charge and become the disrupters themselves. According to Michael Sutcliff, CEO of Accenture Digital, the future of customer experience is all digital and focuses on personalization. However, creating a plan on a whiteboard and actually putting into into action at scale in the real world are two very different things. In order for a digital strategy to truly be effective, companies must be able to adapt their digital technologies and learn more about their customers’ intentions over time. Preparing to be disrupted isn’t something that happens overnight—companies must work at it and plan to adapt their strategy. Many of the companies that struggle with digital disruption are those that don’t want to put the work in or don’t know where to start to move towards the digital space. Some companies put lots of effort into the front end of customer experience without realizing the changes that need to be put into the back end and the supply side. Creating a strong digital customer experience is both an art and a science that requires work and planning on all sides. Instead of relying on legacy technologies like outdated call centers, many organizations don’t realize the importance and potential of a digital customer model that can be much more efficient and interactive. In the digital space, disruption can come from any other industry, not just those that are right around your company. Consider the example of Airbnb: it paid attention to customers to realize what they really want is an experience. The company then partnered with other brands, such as transportation or ticketing companies, to take advantage of their technology and create a package for Airbnb customers that gives them everything they need for a great experience. Airbnb wasn’t disrupted by other industries but was able to leverage their technology to disrupt Airbnb’s current model and create something more efficient and successful. But no matter how much technology is added, customer experience will always be human centered. Technology is simply the supporting tool to create a good experience for a human, whether that is the customer or an employee. The best digital strategy can’t create a strong experience if the human skills and connections aren’t there. Companies should work to truly understand customer intentions instead of just caring about how much money each customer earns for the company. Customers can quickly see when a brand doesn’t truly care about or understand them. New digital technologies provide companies the opportunity to greatly improve their customer understanding and interactions—companies that don’t keep up or lead the pack of disruption will quickly fall behind companies that are embracing disruption. Digital disruption has the potential to fundamentally change how an organization does business and interacts with customers—but it’s up to the company to take charge and lead the change.

The Term AI Is Overused: A Conversation With A Chief Data Officer At The Intercontinental Exchange
Aug 15 2017 33 mins  
Steve Hirsch has perhaps one of the most daunting data jobs in the world. As chief data officer at the Intercontinental Exchange and NYSE, his team is faced with massive amounts of data that relate to financial markets around the world, and it all has to be safe, accurate, and usable. It’s a big job, and one that has evolved over recent years with changes and new technology. One of the biggest changes has been the growth of artificial intelligence, but Steve says we are using the term AI too much and often applying it to technology that doesn’t actually involve artificial intelligence. Steve cites the example of Apple’s Siri, which appears to be AI but is actually just programmed to answer questions in a certain way without taking insights from around and making her own conclusion, which is what actual AI would do. Automation is playing a large role in the trading spaces, as some exchanges have replaced human traders with computer-based trading machines that use algorithms to find the best deals. Because so much of what happens in finance is driven by models and technology, the industry has faced a number of changes in the past years and decades. To be successful and keep information secure, data experts in the field need to stay informed and on top of the latest trends. In the data-driven financial world, the Intercontinental Exchange is always looking for ways to incorporate new technology, whether that means building it themselves or going through a good vendor. The main goal of the Intercontinental Exchange is to provide financial data to traders, investors, and academics. That means making sure customers have the information they need to manage their own risks and providing a trusted environment and network that is secure enough for customers to do their required work. The same principles apply to any tech-based business: the goal is always to keep customers’ data safe and secure and provide them the resources to get the job done. Data, especially related to finances, is particularly prone to volatility. To be successful, organizations need to be prepared for volatility. It shouldn’t be feared, but rather thought of as a way to test that the team has done their jobs properly. Anything from changes in the market to political events, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters can have a big effect on the industry. These events can’t be predicted, so constantly managing data and making sure it is always secure and accurate is incredibly important. For people wanting to get into the data space, Steve says there are lots of opportunities. Some of the biggest demand now, especially for organizations that analyze massive amounts of data, is for data scientists and data engineers who can understand data and algorithms to make business decisions. The financial markets affect us all, and having the right data drives smart decisions to keep the markets thriving. Your organization doesn’t have to be as big as the NYSE to take advantage of data—by staying on top of tech trends and avoiding being disrupted with volatile actions, any organization can work towards success.

The CIO's Role In Customer Experience
Aug 10 2017 26 mins  
Things in the world of customer experience are constantly changing, and the CIO is no exception. Instead of simply sitting back and waiting for things to happen, today’s CIO plays a more proactive role in finding forward-thinking solutions for the company. That’s according to Jason Richard, CIO of Lucky Brand. While the old CIO position may have been limited to the technology side of the business, Jason is involved in many facets of the organization as he looks for ways things can run more smoothly, be more efficient, and leverage new technology. This is incredibly important in customer experience as modern customers demand a consistent, tech-based experience. Even something as seemingly simple as offering free WiFi in stores can utilize new technology and greatly improve the customer experience. As more customers take their shopping online, the CIO plays a large role in making sure customers have a consistent experience no matter where they are shopping and that they don’t see any barriers between shopping location. In Lucky’s case, customers could be on the website, in a dedicated Lucky store, or at a partner department store, so Jason and his team ensure the technology is the same and that employees can provide customers with the products they need. This includes making sure the company has the best technology to track inventory, accept payments, and communicate with customers. If a customer purchased a product online but wanted to return it in store, as is very common in today’s world, the company needs to have the right technology to make that transaction possible. Without proper systems and employee training, customers could be left with a frustrating situation and no way to change it. The CIO’s job is to deliver on capabilities to make the customer experience great. The role of the CIO has already changed, and it will continue to evolve as technology and the customer experience changes. The focus going forward isn’t simply on making sure computers work and the lights stay on, but rather on delivering on ROI and using technology to make a strategic impact in the company. CIOs can’t sit back and wait for other business leaders to come to them with needs of the organization—they must get enough pull behind them that they can innovate and proactively put the right technology in place to drive the organization forward and build a strong customer relationship. In order to do that, CIOs need to be aware of their business, the industry, and the latest technology. In a world filled with evolving technology, customers expect a strong tech-based experience. The CIO can implement changes to greatly improve the customer experience and stay ahead of the technology curve.

Chatbots 101: Building A Chatbot For Business With Wells Fargo
Aug 01 2017 28 mins  
Today’s customers want to interact with brands in a way that is easy and convenient. For most people, that means self service because they can control when and how they get the information they need instead of waiting on hold and potentially wasting their time. When it comes to self service, there’s possibly no better technology than a chatbot. Wells Fargo recently tested the waters by creating its first chatbot, and the lessons learned can be applied to companies in any industry. One of the biggest draws for a chatbot is that offers self service with a conversational interface, according to Kimarie Matthews, Senior Vice President of Wells Fargo Virtual Channels Social Care & Capabilities. Customers can easily find the answers to their questions by using a conversational style instead of having to type or search for an answer, but they also have the value-added human service if that better meets their needs. Chatbot technology opens the door to offer a higher level of customer experience and connect with customers in a new way. The Wells Fargo chatbot includes answers to basic questions about account balance or recent transactions, which are what most customers use the chatbot for. There are also other features that customers have yet to discover, like diving deeper into spending trends and potential account offers, and Kimarie says the company is discussing how to let customers know about the additional features that can help their banking and savings goals. Where should companies start if they want to build a chatbot? Kimarie says it doesn’t have to be a grand effort—simply start with a task that customers need and that the chatbot can do very well. Things can grow naturally from there once customers realize the value of the chatbot. For Wells Fargo, that meant delivering an easier way for customers to keep track of their account balances, but other companies can find tasks to simplify for their customers with a chatbot. The important thing is to tweak the chatbot in real time and constantly make adjustments to improve the customer interactions instead of sitting back and waiting for feedback. Chatbots are a powerful customer experience tool and one that will continue to evolve as technology changes. Although issues around security and privacy still remain and will need to continually be addressed, the foundation is set and the resources are there for companies to take advantage of chatbots. It all comes down to ease—building a chatbot is relatively easy for businesses with resources like Facebook, and using chatbots can make things easier for customers. Although chatbots will never replace human interaction, they are a great resource for expanding how brands and customers connect.

Today's Customer Experience Technology Stack For The Modern Customer
Jul 24 2017 33 mins  
It used to be that customer experience took place in person or when a customer called a support line; however, the interactions of today’s modern customer are much more digital, meaning there is a huge need for a technology stack to drive a strong customer experience. According to David Rowley, CTO of IAC Publishing Labs, customer-driven technology can make a huge difference within an organization, but it also needs to be thought through so that it is strategic and efficient. Many companies build with themselves in mind instead of their customers, but forward-thinking organizations with the best customer experiences put themselves in the shoes of the customer and think about how their customers interact with the brand. By breaking down the interaction into every touch point, companies can focus on the technology that will best meet the needs of the customer and the goals of the company. The key to a strong technology stack is to make a seamless experience for the customer. Although internally things might be divided amongst various teams and apps, the customer should be able to have the same experience no matter if they are communicating with a brand on social media, browsing products online, or calling in with a question after making a purchase. Many companies focus solely on the discovery phase of the customer journey when customers are choosing which product to buy and doing their research. While that part is incredibly important and is often what drives customer growth, it shouldn’t be prioritized at the expense of the later customer stages. After a customer has purchased a product or chosen a service, they can be turned into powerful brand advocates and have the potential to build a strong relationship with the brand. These customers can turn into a valuable tool for referrals and expanding a brand’s message, but oftentimes the step is forgotten. Along each step of the customer journey, there should be systems in place that build connections between the brand and the customer and offer a personalized experience that customers will want to share. In order to be truly effective, brands need to combine systems of engagement, or the things they use to interact with customers, with systems of record, or the back-office programs that track customer information. Tying these systems together is critical to monitor and stay on top of the modern customer experience. One of the biggest challenges of the modern customer experience is integrating technology stacks that will last as technology changes and evolves. The key is to focus on the problem you are trying to solve and to understand how customers want to interact with the brand. Some brands have success going through a single stack provider, while others like to piece together services from a number of vendors; there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather each company needs to do what is best for their strategy. The key to staying ahead of the modern customer experience is understanding technology and how the right stack can help companies better understand and interact with customers.

Women Are Uniquely Positioned To Lead Customer Experience—Here’s Why Denise Lee Yohn
Jul 18 2017 29 mins  
Anyone who says it’s a man’s world clearly hasn’t seen the impact women can have on customer experience. As more women flock to customer experience roles and opportunities and bring their unique perspectives and skillsets, it’s becoming clearer that women are in a unique position to lead customer experience. According to Denise Lee Yohn, a brand-building expert with more than 25 years experience, women have unique points of view that lend themselves well to customer experience. Among those is the natural ability to be empathetic, which is especially important because customer experience really boils down to understanding the customer and what they want. Women can also stand out in a field of men, which gives them more opportunities to shine and share new ideas. As diversity and inclusion becomes a bigger focus at many organizations, not having women involved in customer experience makes companies seem out of touch. After all, women are half of the customer base, so leaving them out of the decision-making process could be disastrous. I interviewed Denise Lee Yohn on the modern customer podcast. Listen to it here. That’s not to say that women don’t face challenges in the customer experience space. Some women have to battle with being stereotyped, and not being thought of as credible. Many women suffer from imposter syndrome, at least as they move up in the leadership ranks. That means they don't feel as powerful as they seem and they must fake it until they make it. Society often tells women even in 2017 that their worth is based on their looks, rather than their mind and their work. When you look at the top of politics, of corporations, and even of keynote speaker line-ups, we still mostly see men. Where are the women? We are here, but we face many hurdles uphill, but must support each other in our effort to create more opportunities for women. Along with personal challenges, inside of corporate America there are challenges women face internally at companies. In many organizations, customer experience is divided across multiple departments, meaning that to truly make an impact, a woman has to be able to influence beyond her scope to people in other areas, and many organizations aren’t currently set up for women to do that. In order to be most effective, many women rely on their content to override the prejudices and use a more logical and analytical approach when discussing customer experience with men. According to Denise, customer experience is very connected with employee experience—if employees don’t understand or aren’t motivated to deliver a good customer experience, it is much more likely that they won’t. The most successful companies develop an internal culture that is aligned with their brand that then connects that to the customer experience by linking what customers need to what employees need. When employees are treated well and feel valued and connected to the brand, they are much more likely to share those experiences with customers. This strategy seems to work well with women, who often naturally like to make connections between groups and people. For a woman to break into the customer experience space, she must embrace her differences and channel that unique perspective into something that can contribute to the company. Being deliberate about your career and the skills needed to succeed can make a big difference. It may be an uphill battle, but women are making great progress in the customer experience space and proving they can connect with customers and drive results in a new way. Denise Lee Yohn is a fabulous speaker and thought leader and I had a wonderful time interviewing her for my show. She is an important voice to follow. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, speaker and author of the book More Is More. Sign up for her newsletter here.

Shifting Trends In Consumer Behavior With Ford's In-House Futurist
Jul 05 2017 33 mins  
Sheryl Connelly is the in-house futurist for Ford Motor Company. You might be surprised to know she doesn’t ever talk about cars. As futurist she says she often finds herself “in the role of the polite contrarian.” If you listen to Sheryl, she’s a wealth of knowledge about self-driving cars, to shifting gender roles, to how and why companies need to work on building trust with consumers. Her job involves playing the role of contrarian. At Ford she spends time asking her colleagues about their own assumptions around their work. And this is the role of the futurist, to pose possibilities and various scenarios around the future and what could be. Technology has sped up the rate of change and this is why the role of the futurist is more important than ever. “The reason we have so many futurists today is we have so much change happening so quickly. I need to put in the opposite vision just so you can entertain it," said Cheryl. Futurist As Storyteller Part of being a futurist is painting possible pictures of future scenarios. This role is part researcher, statistician but more importantly storyteller. As a storyteller you have the potential to tell an optimistic story of the future or a negative one. Sheryl said in our podcast, “If you’re an optimist you have rose colored glasses. That includes economic growth, prosperity, improved quality for masses, education for all, disease and suffering eradicated. But you always have to compare it to the exact opposite.” Sheryl is an optimist but does her best to stay neutral. She said, “It’s much easier to imagine the many ways to things can go right than go wrong. The end game isn’t to see who wins, but to see how expansive you can get with your thinking.” Sheryl is very measured when she speaks about the future, even self-driving cars. When I asked her in our interview what impact the media hype has on the work at Ford around self-driving cars she said, "The media hype doesn’t drive what Ford is doing. Ford has been working on autonomous vehicles for decades. The really big obstacle is the other stakeholders, barriers or hurdles. [For example] How do you resolve issues surrounding insurance, legislation, data privacy, protocol, partnerships with cities, infrastructures, public and private collaboration in place to monetize the infrastructure?" She added, "who should be in those discussions?" Self Driving Cars - The West Isn't Ready According to Ford the West isn't ready for self driving cars. The reason might surprise you. Ford did research in eight different countries around self-driving cars. What they found was 84% of people in India and 78% of people in China said they would drive self-driving cars. While in the US only 40% of people said they were ready for self-driving cars, and an even lower number for the UK. Sheryl said, "We didn’t ask why, but our theory is that China and India have the most egregious congestion takes place, unimaginable for westerners to comprehend. In Beijing the average daily commute can be five hours a day. This isn’t an infrastructure problem since in Beijing they have a highway 50 lanes wide. They suffered a traffic jam that lasted 12 days long." She believes that this is why in China an India people are ready for self-driving cars. You also have more fatalities because of cars. However the West is a different story. According to Sheryl in the West the car is an extension of personal identity – the car symbolizes freedom and independence. It’s hard to give that up. She noted that autonomous vehicles could add to gridlock. In the podcast we talk about the 2017 Predicting The Future Report released by Ford. The research talks about building customer trust, the rising role of women in society and sustainability. The Rising Role Of Women We talk extensively in the podcast about the rising influence of women and Sheryl talks about how she presents these ideas to various teams at Ford. She said, “The rising influence of women is something we pay attention to.” She illustrates to her team members who the rising influence of women impacts society in a variety of ways. “Let me show you how that’s playing out in education, budget planning, board membership and company performance. Let me tell you what women are telling us about our cars. Let me tell you how women are responsible for 80% of household decision making. Let’s look to other arenas for insights that might change the trajectory of our conversation,” said Sheryl. Sheryl is very unique in her role as in-house futurist. You won’t want to miss our conversation on the modern customer podcast. For more from Blake M

How The CMO Can Leverage AI Internally And Externally
Jun 30 2017 17 mins  
There’s no doubt that technology is changing faster than ever before. At the heart of that in the business setting is marketing, which is becoming a driving force behind putting that new technology into action to reach out to customers and make sure a company is communicating in the right way. One of the biggest changes in the tech and marketing world is artificial intelligence, which will play a major role in the coming years. According to Morag Lucey, the CMO of Avaya, a modern CMO needs to understand all the intricacies of modern technology, including AI. That’s because new technology changes the way marketers do their jobs—in order to truly be effective, they must really understand which technology is the most relevant and how it works. AI wasn’t even on the radar of many marketers just a few years ago, and now it is one of the fastest-growing technologies. Staying on top of things is vital. The new generation in marketing means that the paradigm has shifted and now marketing is responsible for a larger portion of the pipeline. Technology requires companies to continually transform—what Avaya started out doing 100 years ago is now obsolete, meaning the company has had to transform and pivot many times since it was founded. Marketers are key in helping their company transform and in understanding how to change a company’s identity through technology. Marketing really comes down to communication and making sure you are interacting with customers in the best way. As technology becomes more integral, the CMO, CIO, customer experience officer, and others all play a part in ensuring that the customer experience is seamless. Much of this will happen through machine learning and taking advantage of robots and AI to communicate with customers quickly and efficiently. One of Morag’s biggest concerns with changing technology is how it affects the skillsets of employees. The entire discipline of marketing is changing, meaning it is more important than ever to have strong talent in an organization. Investing in employees to ensure they have the skills they need for the future is absolutely critical. Artificial intelligence will play a major role in marketing, which means having employees who can understand the process and visualize how to combine human interaction with machine learning will be huge. As for the future of marketing, Morag predicts that marketing will be the top revenue generator for companies within five years, meaning that now is the time to get a firm grasp on technology and how it can transform a company. AI and other technology is transforming how companies operate and market themselves. Leveraging that technology can make all the difference in a successful company that avoids getting disrupted.

All Customers Are Not Created Equal From The Wharton Customer Centricity Conference With Salesforce
Jun 27 2017 15 mins  
It’s an age-old marketing question: do you focus on all our customers or only target those who are most likely to drive results? According to Dr. Peter Fader, marketing professor at Wharton, and Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist for Salesforce, the answer is simple: customer centricity. The idea behind customer centricity is to recognize that not all customers are created equal. Building on the differences in the customer base can be much more effective than simply using a blanket approach for all customers. By focusing on top customers and surrounding them with product recommendations and extra services, they can have an excellent experience and keep coming back for more. That’s not to say that middle and lower-tier customers should be forgotten—effort should still be put into finding the right messages and products to appeal to them, but the focus should be on targeting the right products and messages to each customer group individually. In order to truly utilize customer centricity, a company should have a good idea of its brand and why it appeals to customers. Using the vast amount of data now available, teams can see what the customers bring to the brand and what the brand brings to the customers. By understanding what drives a customer to use your product or service, you can better appeal to their needs and know how to reach out to them in the future. Much of that comes from building a strong brand that customers feel they can trust. When customers feel they can connect with a brand, they are more inclined to repeat their business, especially when that strong brand messaging is combined with product recommendations they can trust and use. Companies that best practice customer centricity make it an integral part of their brand and make a focus on the customer a hallmark of their work and culture. Customer experience is just one part of customer centricity, and companies that can build their brands, reach out to the right customers, and leverage metrics will be able to create a loyal customer base and drive great success.

Ethics and Artificial Intelligence With IBM Watson's Rob High
Jun 12 2017 30 mins  
Artificial intelligence seems to be popping up everywhere, and it has the potential to change nearly everything we know about data and the customer experience. However, it also brings up new issues regarding ethics and privacy. One of the keys to keeping AI ethical is for it to be transparent, says Rob High, vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson. When customers interact with a chatbot, for example, they need to know they are communicating with a machine and not an actual human. AI, like most other technology tools, is most effective when it is used to extend the natural capabilities of humans instead of replacing them. That means that AI and humans are best when they work together and can trust each other. Chatbots are one of the most commonly used forms of AI. Although they can be used successfully in many ways, there is still a lot of room for growth. As they currently stand, chatbots mostly perform basic actions like turning on lights, providing directions, and answering simple questions that a person asks directly. However, in the future, chatbots should and will be able to go deeper to find the root of the problem. For example, a person asking a chatbot what her bank balance is might be asking the question because she wants to invest money or make a big purchase—a futuristic chatbot could find the real reason she is asking and turn it into a more developed conversation. In order to do that, chatbots will need to ask more questions and drill deeper, and humans need to feel comfortable providing their information to machines. As chatbots perform various tasks and become a more integral part of our lives, the key to maintaining ethics is for chatbots to provide proof of why they are doing what they are doing. By showcasing proof or its method of calculations, humans can be confident that AI had reasoning behind its response instead of just making something up. The chances of AI truly going “rogue” are small, but they still need to be considered, and in order to maintain transparency and trust, the machine’s processes should be revealed. An example of this comes from IBM Watson, which is used to help doctors diagnose patients and decide the best treatment options. Doctors can’t possibly keep up with all of the data and new studies being created every day, but Watson can scan through millions of records for new data and treatment suggestions. By showing where the information and recommendations are coming from, Watson expands what human doctors can do and provides them with resources to make the best decisions for their patients. Watson isn’t making decisions for the doctors, but instead is presenting options with the proof to back it up. The future of technology is rooted in artificial intelligence. In order to stay ethical, transparency, proof, and trustworthiness need to be at the root of everything AI does for companies and customers. By staying honest and remembering the goals of AI, the technology can play a huge role in how we live and work.

Pushing The Bounds Of Creativity With Ann Lewnes
Jun 07 2017 33 mins  
A commercial that starts with a bank robbery and ends by showcasing digital technology and customer experience might not be conventional, but that was never the goal of Adobe and its CMO, Ann Lewnes. Instead, the company created an attention-grabbing ad that reached out to customers and kept their attention. Adobe is an experience-based company that known for its digital creativity as a way to engage with customers and create a community and shows how pushing the bounds of creativity can lead to great success. Ann pushes creativity by giving her employees long-term goals to works towards. The goal may seem aspirational or far-fetched, but it inspires people, encourages risk-taking, and pushes them to think bigger. One of Ann’s team’s most recent big ideas was a contest to celebrate the 25th anniversary of video editing program Premiere Pro, one of Adobe’s biggest products. The company partnered with the band Imagine Dragons and released the raw footage of the band’s newest music video with the challenge to use Premiere Pro to re-edit the video however customers felt was inspiring. The creative idea yielded more than 9,000 entries and was a huge hit on social media that created a community of younger users. More than just being an attention-grabbing creative idea, the contest showcased the product and followed business strategy. Creativity doesn’t come with free reign to do whatever you want, however. Adobe is also focused on inspection and making sure teams can quantifiably show their results. With tools made available to marketers these days, it’s possible to back up a creative idea with numbers. Even the most creative idea can be a flop if it isn’t backed up with data. Another key to creativity is being aware of trends and what other companies are doing. With a strong team to manage the business, each person can keep an eye on what competitors are doing and use that to fuel their own creativity. To be truly successful, marketers need to be able to use both sides of their brain and be analytical and creative. As companies tap into creativity and learn to push the limits, they can build on their customer experience to create memorable, meaningful events and interactions for their customers. When considering customer experience as the sum of the interactions a person has with a brand, being creative provides more opportunities to stand out and push that sum higher in customers’ minds.

How To Become A Professional Speaker With Shep Hyken
Jun 06 2017 32 mins  
What has turned into a successful career as an author and keynote speaker started with a birthday party magic performance as a young boy. When Shep Hyken was just 12 years old, he gave his first presentation of sorts by performing tricks in front of an audience of other kids. Years later, he would begin a full-time speaking career that tapped into much of what he did as a young magician. Shep’s professional speaking career has lasted more than 30 years and provides many opportunities for teaching others who want to follow his career path. However, he warns that although professional speaking may seem like a “sexy” career, it actually isn’t that glamorous most of the time. The real job isn’t simply giving the speech, it’s getting the speech. The real work comes from finding speaking gigs and preparing remarks to make every speech and presentation the best it has ever been. Professional speaking can be a lucrative and interesting path, but it is also extremely competitive. In order to stand out from the crowd, Shep provides the following tips: Work hard. Make it your mantra that no one will outwork you. Having a goal to make every presentation the best one creates confidence in the client and helps you prepare. Stay in one lane. Shep focuses only on customer service and doesn’t cross over into other related topics. By staying on one topic, he has created a niche for himself and a strong personal brand clients know they can trust. Write books. Although this isn’t as powerful as it once was, Shep says that a speaker who has written a book, especially one that has gotten good feedback, can tip the scales in his or her favor. Once a speech has been booked, preparation is key. Shep starts getting ready for a presentation six weeks or a month before the big day by deciding what to speak on and how it will flow. He then asks the client the three most important points for the audience to remember and makes sure he addresses them in the speech. From there, it’s preparing his speech, putting the bullet points on a single index card, and practicing and reviewing until he doesn’t even really need to use the card. He makes arrangements so that he is at the venue on time both physically and mentally so he can give his best effort to every speech. The world of professional speaking can be exciting and open doors to new opportunities, but it often requires energy, preparation, and determination to be successful. However, by following in Shep’s footsteps, you can also build a strong speaking career.

Customer Loyalty Pays With Marriott's CMO Karin Timpone
May 31 2017 31 mins  
Last year Marriott bought Starwood Hotels. The $13 billion merger created the world's largest hotel company with more than 1.1 million rooms and about 5,700 hotels in more than110 countries. The merger combines Marriott brands, including Ritz Carlton, Courtyard and Residence Inn, with W Hotels, Westin, Sheraton and other Starwood brands. Now with the merger comes a fresh approach to engaging all those customers, and part of that is the two once separate customer loyalty programs. Last year Marriott bought Starwood Hotels. The $13 billion merger created the world's largest hotel company with more than 1.1 million rooms and about 5,700 hotels in more than 110 countries. The merger combines Marriott brands, including Ritz Carlton, Courtyard and Residence Inn, with W Hotels, Westin, Sheraton and other Starwood brands. Now with the merger comes a fresh approach to engaging all those customers, and part of that is the two once separate customer loyalty programs. If there’s anyone who knows the benefits of customer loyalty its Karin Timpone, CMO of Marriott International. Timpone, who I interviewed on the modern customer podcast this week, reports that since the Starwood acquisition her role has been consistent. She travels around the world to the many Marriott properties and works with a global team on brand strategy, content strategy, product launches and so much more. Timpone was formerly an executive at ABC Disney Digital Media, Yahoo! and Universal Studios. She joined Marriott four years ago and has since led major growth for Marriott. As mentioned before, Marriott and Starwood now have now linked loyalty programs. If you are a Marriott customer you can use your points with Starwood Hotels and vice versa. Timpone says these customers “stay more, pay more and cost less.” These customers, as you can imagine, are much lower cost per acquisition. But if loyalty is so profitable, why don’t more businesses pursue it? This is one advantage the hotel industry has over sharing economy hospitality companies such as Home Away or Airbnb who do not offer loyalty programs. Marriott doesn’t only focus on loyalty. They focus on guerilla marketing as well and jump on real-time marketing opportunities via social media. One recent example was the Pokemon Go craze. Marriott’s social media team put their efforts on high octane putting Pokémon monsters in pools knowing that guests photographed them and that would possibly go viral. They also surprised guests in rooms with Pokémons on their beds when they checked in. They got wind of onePokémon Go super user and they decided to sponsor him sending him to Japan, Australia and Europe to catch more Pokémon abroad. Social media is a powerful way for marketing teams to engage with customers in real-time. But this requires marketing to have eyes and ears constantly on the ground of their locations. And customers are enjoying travel now more than ever. And they’re sharing their experiences across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more. But it’s not just one generation that are enjoying travel and talking about it online. There’s a major shift happening in society where more people focus on experiences over owning things, on access over ownership, and it’s not just the younger generations. This is good news for the hotel industry. Great companies like Marriott are participating in social and cultural phenomenon that end up being great marketing for the company. Whether it’s customer loyalty programs, social media or jumping on a cultural and social phenomenon Marriott is at the top of its game.

Customer Experience In The Age of Artificial Intelligence With Pegasystems
May 24 2017 31 mins  
Today many consumers are deeply confused about artificial intelligence and the impact it makes. According to a recent Pega survey of 6,000 customers in six countries, consumers appear hesitant to fully embrace artificially intelligent devices and services. Only one in three (36 percent) are comfortable with businesses using artificial intelligence to engage with them – even if this typically results in a better customer experience. Almost three quarters (72 percent) express some sort of fear about artificial intelligence, with one quarter (24 percent) of respondents even worried about robots taking over the world. So clearly there is a lot of fear and uncertainty around what artificial intelligence can do. However, in contrast 71% of survey respondents said they would want to experience artificial intelligence if it actually made their lives better. We need to do a better job of educating the world about artificial intelligence. You might not realize how prevalent artificial intelligence actually is in your life – already. Your gmail uses artificial intelligence to sort your inbox and Facebook uses artificial intelligence so you can tag your friends and family’s faces in your photos. These are simply two small examples of the ways artificial intelligence is already part of consumers' lives, and the future brings many amazing possibilities for the use of artificial intelligence to improve customer experiences. In this podcast with the CTO of Pegasystems Don Schuerman we learn about all the pragmatic uses of artificial intelligence and the very real impact its making. We talk about how artificial intelligence is being used today, and how it can and will be used tomorrow.

Fighting Customer Fraud In The Modern World With The BBB
May 23 2017 29 mins  
In a world driven by technology and as more companies cut their customer service efforts as a way to save money, customers can often feel like they are surrounded by information with nowhere to turn. The Better Business Bureau is out to advocate for customers and fight customer fraud in the modern world. According to Steve McFarland, president and CEO of the BBB in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley, the group aims to create an ethical and trustworthy marketplace that brings credibility to businesses and provides resources for customers so they can make wise purchasing decisions. Businesses can become accredited with the BBB as a way to show their credibility and that they provide trustworthy service to customers. Consumers can then see reviews of companies, file complaints against bad business practices, and access free resources to see business reports and trends to make wise choices. Many companies are turning to what Steve calls “ghost”-tumer service instead of customer service. They have taken phone numbers off their websites and instead only have a vague email address customers can contact with issues or questions, but those issues might not always get resolved. If that is the case, then it is increasingly difficult for customers to get issues resolved and know who they can trust. One of the areas where the BBB is seeing the most change is with cybersecurity and data. There are 12 cyber crimes in the U.S. ever second, and 80 people become victims every minute. With growing technology and new ways for hackers to steal information and reach out to consumers with scams, the threat is increasing every day. The growing threats for businesses of all sizes and for customers means that protecting data is more important than ever. The BBB wants customers to have the tools they need to stay protected, which means doing basic things like changing passwords and being careful about what they post and read on social media. Different types of scams are arising that reach out to new groups of people, even those who think they are vigilant. Checking on something that appears to not sit quite right can help consumers be aware of red flags and avoid having their data stolen. The BBB is just one way for customers to get the extra information and protection they need and for companies to gain credibility with their customer experience. In an age where consumers can be left behind and not know who to trust, having an organization that can verify trustworthy businesses with great customer experience can help the entire marketplace.

Leveraging Customer Analytics To Gain A Competitive Advantage
May 16 2017 27 mins  
In today’s technology-driven world, one of the foundations of a strong customer experience is data. But with so much data floating around, it can be difficult for companies to know what information to use to best expand their strategies and reach the right customers. According to Rishi Dave, chief marketing officer at Dun & Bradstreet, when data and analytics work together, they can be leveraged to create a strong competitive advantage and build an exceptional customer experience. Rishi says that companies struggling with data need to first understand the current state of their data and to see if it matches the company’s strategy. Are the analytics in sync with the overall goals of the company? In many cases, the answer is no, often due to not having the right data or using data that is old and outdated. If that is the case, companies need to reevaluate their overall goals and see how data analytics can play a role in their strategy. CMOs also need to learn to leverage master data and bring in additional third-party data. Companies should be collecting their own data from customers through surveys, web traffic, and call center logs, and then supplementing that data with information from other sources to get a complete view of their customers. Those data insights can then drive an improved customer experience. Data analytics will play a huge role in the future of the customer experience. Having a strong understanding of data puts companies in a better position to use new technologies like artificial intelligence and chatbots to create a personalized experience for each customer. For example, Walmart recently announced that it will be investing heavily in putting sensors in items it stocks in its stores, which will allow the company to know when a product runs our or expires and automatically send the customer more. Being able to transform customer data and collect more data with sensors provides customers a more personalized experience. As technology grows and we can gather new data through sensors and connected devices, the ability to better understand the customer will only increase. Data opens new doors for understanding customers and creating an incredible customer experience, and the analytics available today provide companies the opportunity to create sophisticated models to drive their decisions. Brands that can best take advantage of data analytics will set themselves apart and have a large competitive advantage.

The CIO's Role In The Customer Experience
May 09 2017 31 mins  
There has never been a better time to be a CIO. That’s according to Vic Bhagat, CIO of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, who has decades of experience in the technology space. Where it used to be that CIOs were fighting for a spot at the table and struggling to get their voices heard, CIOs are now front and center. Nearly every innovative thing companies want to do today, from social, mobile, big data, machine learning, and more, goes through the CIO. However, with that increased visibility comes a bigger responsibility to play a strong role in the customer experience. There are often other technology leaders and opinions within an organization, but part of what sets a CIO apart is his or her role as a business leader who must have their finger on the pulse of the business. The CIO has to have a firm grasp on how the business operates so they can know how to best leverage new technology to deliver a world-class experience to customers. In order to know how to best use technology to help customers, the CIO must have a good understanding of customer and work to build a relationship of trust where customers can be honest about the solutions they are looking for and what would make their lives and shopping experiences better. Vic views one of his main roles as supporting and advocating for customers, both internally and externally. Internal customers, or employees, who have great technology experiences can pass that on to external customers. Consider how a call center employee who is frustrated with a slow computer or outdated system affects the mood and experience of a customer calling in with a question. Conversely, an employee who has the tech tools to do their job can focus on providing a great experience to customers. The CIO can have a good understanding of what customers want to be able to provide them the solutions to best perform their jobs and be happy. At Verizon, Vic and his team focus on helping companies focus on their core capabilities instead of their chore capabilities. If there is an area that is a chore for a customer that would be considered a core at Verizon, the company can take it off the customer’s plate and allow them to focus on their core abilities and goals for growth. The idea of customer experience isn’t new. However, with the tools available today, we can create a better and more innovative experience than ever before. The CIO can play a role in making sure the right technology to meet customers’ needs is implemented within the organization. The CIO’s role, especially when it comes to customer experience, is incredibly important. With a strong understanding of customers and the effects of technology, a CIO can create innovative solutions and a great environment for customers.

Customer Experience In The Age Of Social Media
Apr 27 2017 30 mins  
Customer experience is constantly evolving as new products and technology are introduced, but nothing has changed it more than social media. Instead of brands just talking at customers, social media puts the power back in the hands of the customers and gave them a voice to share their experiences. Social customer experience opens huge opportunities for companies to build relationships with their customers, but it also changes the strategy of how brands communicate. According to author and podcaster Dan Gingiss, customer experience is how people feel about every interaction they have with a company. However, it used to be more siloed, where offline experiences stayed offline, but thanks to social media and smartphones, everything can be brought online. A customer who has a bad experience at a store or restaurant can quickly take a picture or video of the incident and share it on social media, which can create a firestorm of negative publicity for the company. Conversely, positive offline experiences can also be shared and lead to great growth for a brand. To truly take advantage of social media, brands need to focus on the positive elements. There may always be mistakes and negative experiences, but focusing on the positive encourages customers to do the same. In order to harness the power of social media for customer experience, brands need to create a culture of putting themselves in the customer’s shoes by walking through their store, website, or service with the eyes of a customer. Observing every little thing that happens from a customer’s point of view can be eye-opening for employees about the challenges and roadblocks in the path and what it means to be a customer of your company. Having a company-wide mindset that matches the customer’s helps every employee extend their reach. The key to a good customer experience is fluidity—no matter if the interaction happens online or in store, everything should be smooth for the customer and work together to create a cohesive experience for them. Social media also opens the door for brands to be more authentic and transparent. Modern customers can see right through automated responses and canned replies; the best way to reach out to people is to take the time to connect with them to truly build a relationship. Instead of simply focusing on sales and getting through the customers as quickly as possible, the most effective companies take time to nurture each relationship and stick with the customer until they are satisfied. This can be done by simple things like addressing customers by name, mimicking their tone, and using a personal touch. Customer experience has changed greatly with the growth of social media, and it plays an important role in reaching out to customers and starting a conversation with them. As we move towards the future, customer experience will become the last true differentiator between brands, meaning it is more important than ever to provide customers with a high-quality, seamless experience.

The Rise Of The Celebrity Chatbot: A Podcast With Christina Milian
Apr 18 2017 28 mins  
Today I bring you a special podcast interview with singer, actress and entrepreneur Christina Milian and her business partner Josh Bocanegra who together have built a company called Persona Bots. Persona Bots is a tech company that builds chatbots for celebrities. They've built chatbots for reality TV star Jwoww, literary film character Christian Grey, model Karrueche Tran, musician Kehlani and more. “Celebrities are the trendsetters. People want a way to speak to their fans in a way that’s real. They want their voice to be heard in a way that’s authentic,” said Milian. Celebrities today are brands. Thanks to social media, celebrities have the ability to engage with fans directly. Though most don’t. Why? It’s not possible. With millions of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook fans, celebrities generally engage in one way conversations on social media. Brands have a similar conundrum. They can’t respond to the millions of social media comments they get from customers. And they’re using chatbots as a way to provide tailored and personalized interactions. Chatbots have the potential to scale and provide personalized interactions in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past. Milian has over two million people messaging her on her bot. She says this was the fastest growth out of any social media she’s ever done. According to Milian the goal for the chatbot, built through Facebook messenger, is to keep the fans there engaging with her on Facebook messenger. She believes people don’t want to be bothered with ads. And messenger provides a direct and uninterrupted channel with the consumer, sans ads. Celebrities And Tech More and more we are seeing the collision of tech and celebrities. Even Ashton Kutcher has invested in 60 companies including Airbnb, Flipboard, and The next few years will only bring more celebrities into the world of tech. It makes sense for celebrities and tech to get together considering tech brings a large platform to celebrities for them to create and share media, and celebrities bring other celebrities and fans to these platforms as well. "Oh hey..."When I ping Christina Milian’s chatbot on Facebook messenger, she responds “oh hey…” Her chatbot is fond of using the kiss emoji and that makes sense considering Christina’s brand. In fact in our podcast interview she mentioned much of what chatbot users ask her is if she’s single, and will she marry them. In fact her business partner mentions one unique interaction that occurred on Milian's chatvot. A girlfriend of a male chatbot user found his phone, and thought Milian was really engaging with her boyfriend through messenger, according to Bocanegra. Bocanegra says the user's girlfriend became very jealous; a testament to the power of chatbots. Some people don’t even realize it’s a machine at all. For now the questions are predetermined and organized by category .For example “Q&A: Get to know me on a personal level.” One of the questions the user can ask Milian is “were your parents strict growing up?” She responds “Nope. Both of my parents were really cool. They were protective though. My parents were actually young when they had me.” As Milian builds Persona Bots and her own chatbot the variety of ways you can interact with the chatbot will grow.Today you can view Milian's latest music, request a signed autograph, learn more about Christina’s personal life (mentioned earlier), shop for fan gear, her clothing line, or her line of wines called Viva Diva Wines. The chatbot is not perfect, however it’s one of the first I’ve seen that grants fans the ability to interact with Christina on chat, the same way one would interact with a brand. We’ll only see these technologies grow. Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author and keynote speaker. For more from Blake sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.

Building A Brand Above The Fray: The Success Of Vera Bradley
Apr 15 2017 28 mins  
One of the brightest and most recognizable accessory brands around is Vera Bradley. Its bold patterns and functional designs make it a desirable brand for purses, wallets, and more. But beyond the bright colors is a successful brand that had stood the test of time and showcases the importance of building a brand that lasts. No matter the industry, there is a ton of competition for customers’ attention and sales. It can be easy for companies to focus on staying ahead of the competition instead of building their own brand. However, if companies get too caught up in seeing what other organizations are doing, they run the risk of losing focus on their own brand and not building a strong customer experience. Although Vera Bradley operates in the competitive accessory space, it has managed to find its niche and focus on what it is good at—creating an experience and showcasing a special item. Vera Bradley isn’t a discount brand and typically represents a special product customers are willing to spend more money on. Because of that, co-founder Barbara Baekgaard and her team can focus on creating a great customer experience because they are confident in their brand position and aren’t distracted by comparing themselves to other stores. The lesson here can be applied to any brand: find what you are good at and use that to build a personalized and strong experience for customers. Don’t just play catchup to the competition—create something that represents your brand and what you stand for, and customers will respond to that. A strong brand tends to create a great customer experience, and much of that brand starts with corporate culture. With niche brands, customers want something they can count on—the experience is more than a one-time transaction, but a shopping experience that they expect to be enjoyable and lasting. Vera Bradley hires nice people as sales associates and tells them to be themselves. The result is a reputation for strong customer service because customers know they will always have a friendly and personable experience in the store. The same principle applies to customers who are shopping for more than just handbags—today’s modern shoppers tend to want an experience instead of simply a transaction. The best experiences tend to come from strong brands that have an identity that permeates through their employees and makes every step of the buying process enjoyable. Employees should be aware of the company’s brand and know the role they play in sharing the experience with everyone who comes into the store or visits the website. A strong brand can be a powerful tool in creating a high-quality customer experience. Although there are many things that can shake a brand, having a strong foundation that is embedded in every aspect of the organization can make a huge difference and be felt by customers at every turn. For more from Blake Morgan sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

TripAdvisor's Lessons Learned From Building A Chatbot
Apr 06 2017 26 mins  
Imagine being able to instantly get recommendations for top restaurants, hotels, and attractions, no matter where you are in the world without having to talk to a human. It’s a great resource for travelers made possible by the TripAdvisor chatbot. Chatbots are popping up everywhere. TripAdvisor as a company tries to stay on top of new technology, but it didn’t want to create a chatbot just for the sake of making one. After considering the strategy involved, the team, led by Jeff Chow, vice president of product, decided to dip its toes into the chatbot water with a way to deliver great recommendations where and when people need them. Creating the chatbot was a learning experience with principles that can be applied to a variety of verticals. The overall goal for the chatbot was to take TripAdvisor’s leading qualities and turn then into the ultimate travel assistant on the go—perfect for planning a trip, traveling, or sharing information with friends and family. With its software, TripAdvisor wanted to use machine learning to scale the data from its many interfaces so that it could be used in different customer interactions. The team views the chatbot as guided discovery—the questions start big and then narrow down until the task is completed and the best recommendation can be given. In order to provide the best recommendation, the bot must understand what the traveller is really looking for—after all, a restaurant recommendation in Miami will be different based on if someone is traveling for work or pleasure. Chatbots have potential to be a powerful, personalized tool. Because they can remember things users say, it can get personal and hopefully soon learn soft signals and natural conversation. That way, even if a user doesn’t explicitly ask something, a chatbot could potentially know what to recommend based on their patterns or behavior. However, getting smarter over time is a unique challenge in travel, as people’s travel preferences can change greatly depending on the purpose of their travel, which means the bot needs to be adaptable to different travel needs. TripAdvisor also learned that building a chatbot isn’t a one and done process—there is always room for continued growth and improvement. The company’s next focus is to increase engagement with its partner businesses to provide better recommendations to customers. Jeff’s best advice from the TripAdvisor experience is for other companies to be strategic with their chatbots and technology. Don't create a chatbot just for the sake of doing it, but instead think of what it can do to move your business forward. When done correctly, chatbots can create great opportunities for an organization.

Shaping Customer Experience From The Top With AT&T Mobility's CEO
Mar 27 2017 30 mins  
All companies face challenges with industry disruption. No matter if you’re in healthcare, education, retail or anything else, there are sure to be changes in the industry over the coming years. However, prepared companies can use that disruption to their advantage to continue to hone their customer experience. AT&T is a good case study of staying ahead of the trends while still working to provide an excellent customer experience. The company has led the charge to the new TMT industry that represents the world we now live in—telecommunications, media, and technology—and uses industry growth and change to create an improved customer experience. Customer experience is more than just a singular event—it can include the time the customer spends researching product options, browsing in store or online, and the actual purchase, not to mention what happens after the sale or service. At AT&T, customer experience is known as a journey that starts when a customer joins the company for a single product like phone or internet service. With that initial relationship established, the company can work towards its goal of creating long-standing trusted relationships that cover multiple devices. According to AT&T Mobility CEO Glenn Lurie, the company allows customers to define the customer experience and relies on feedback from them to create the best experience possible. Great customer experience starts from the top and won’t happen if executives can’t find ways to connect new technology and offerings to what their customers are experiencing. At AT&T, every employee is in charge of staying in front of industry disruption. By staying on top of trends, the company is able to talk to customers about nearly every aspect of their lives, from their phone and internet service to entertainment and a connected home and car. Putting in the time and money beforehand allows AT&T to be very involved in its customers’ lives, just like being aware of new travel trends or computer programs can help companies in other industries know how to best serve their customers. Aside from being aware of trends, customer experience can be shaped by listening to feedback and seeing how your organization is viewed by customers and outside groups. AT&T does this by keeping a close eye on how it is viewed from third parties like JD Powers and the current state of its net promoter score, but other companies could use social media metrics, Yelp reviews, or call center logs to measure feedback. Strong leadership plays a vital role in customer experience, especially as technology and trends change across the board. Although the methods may vary, the goal of customer experience should always be the same: to surprise and delight and create a real bond with customers. Companies truly invested in the customer journey are sure to see success as their industries continue to evolve.

Improving Customer Experience With Marketing Analytics At 3 Day Blinds
Mar 23 2017 28 mins  
As the consumer world changes, businesses must adapt their strategies and marketing to best meet the needs of customers. 3 Day Blinds started nearly 40 years ago as a way to provide window coverings faster than the market norm. As the industry changed, the company slowly moved away from retail stores and now sells all of its product through at-home appointments that allow customers to see samples in their homes to get a better idea of the product. The move from retail locations to at-home consultations was a large shift for the company, but one that allowed for more personal experiences with customers and a way to better connect with them throughout the entire buying process. Now the company is one of the few remaining direct-to-consumer manufacturers in the U.S., meaning it has the power to control every aspect of the customer experience from initial contact to manufacturing and delivery. 3 Day Blinds has also adapted its marketing strategy to reflect customer trends. Although the big push these days is towards mobile, the company realized 70% of its appointments come through call center phone calls. Instead of spending time and money to develop mobile just because it is trendy, the company stuck with its roots and found ways to integrate marketing automation into its more traditional phone operations. With new technology, 3 Day Blinds can track what keywords drove customers to make a phone call. For example, if a customer types a search into Google and gets the results for 3 Day Blinds, the website can create a unique phone number that lets the company know what keyword resulted in the call. Call center agents are also given a list of keywords related to the customers’ search that they can use to organically steer the conversation for best results. The company was surprised to see the diversity in keyword searches and what they lead to, which further showcases the need for personalization and to understand what each customer is looking for. For Dan Williams, chief revenue officer at 3 Day Blinds, marketing automation is all about breaking down the business to see what can be optimized to have the biggest impact. Using data gathered from at-home consultations and phone conversations provides the company with automated data about things like how often to contact customers, the optimal length of a call, information to gather or not to gather on the phone, and much more. Combining automation and call intelligence allows all employees to better understand the customer and make the most of the phone call. This not only impacts sales but also leads to increased customer satisfaction when a person can get the answers he needs quickly. The 3 Day Blinds experience is unlike most other consumer experiences and allows the company to be creative with its marketing and data collection. By truly understanding the customer and implementing technology and automation when appropriate, customers can have a unique and personalized experience that meets their needs.

Managing Your Brand Through Times Of Change
Feb 28 2017 29 mins  
How do you keep your brand on message during a changing digital landscape with a company that is more than 100 years old? That’s the question faced by Toni Clayton-Hine, CMO of the Xerox Corporation, every day. One of Toni’s main tasks is managing an evolving brand narrative to a new wave of customers as her company returns to its roots. As the world gets more digital, Xerox is going back to its core products and finding ways to transform its traditional copy machines into systems that manage the entire document experience, both digitally and physically. These days, it’s about more than just making copies, it’s about optimizing the movement of information and what and how information gets printed. Although the company is going back to its roots with a modern twist, the core brand of Xerox is still the same: to innovate how the world communicates, connects, and works. To spread the brand message, Toni relies on a team effort at Xerox. Everyone from the product designer to the tech support representative plays a role in how each customer interacts with the product, and everyone has a role to play in the customer experience. Everything the company does is about putting the customer first. Toni’s marketing team works hard to be present where the audience is present. That means connecting with them in new ways, such as social media, and making sure the information is available any place a customer wants to consume it. In today’s sometimes complicated digital landscape, Toni uses the approach of engaging with customers wherever is most comfortable to them to get the information out clearly and quickly. There’s also the issue of managing the message to see how well it resonates with customers. Xerox has a large focus of getting its employees out in the field to talk to people who are actually using the products, whether they are re-sellers or end customers. Combined with customer councils, feedback sessions, and surveys, it provides the company with strong feedback to make sure its messaging and methods are effective with customers and that the company isn’t over-promising but not delivering, which could be detrimental to the brand. Staying in near-constant contact with customers also allows the brand to make changes quickly as the digital landscape continues to evolve. Even though times are changing, the overall customer experience is still the same, especially when it comes to Xerox products. The customer experience still includes every touchpoint from early research to buying the product and actually using it. Even though the methods may change, the focus is still on engaging with the customer before, during, and after a sale. There are ways to innovate the process and the products, which Xerox does through its Park division, but the idea of sticking to the core brand and constantly engaging customers stays the same. The customer landscape is no doubt changing, especially due to technology and increased information. However, by sticking to core principles and looking for ways to reach customers where they already are, brands can join Xerox in having great brand messaging success.

Customer Experience And The Evolving Role Of The CMO
Feb 14 2017 27 mins  
Evolving technology means nearly everything about the customer experience is changing—including the role of the CMO. That’s according to Maggie Chan Jones, CMO of global software company SAP. Maggie draws on her years of industry experience to navigate the changing customer landscape. Where the buying journey used to be linear, the best marketers must now adapt to changing consumer behaviors. Marketers used to rely on the traditional marketing funnel, which moved each customer along a track until they made a purchase. However, today’s customers go in and out of different stages of the buying process, which makes understanding the customer more important than ever before. Instead of walking customers through the now-non-existent linear buying process, brands should work on engagement and building trust with the customer so that they feel comfortable making the purchase whenever they are ready. As the customer market becomes more complex, brands are struggling to simplify and survive. Complexity can be a drain on customers and on business resources and takes more than 10% of profits from many companies. To avoid complexity, work to simplify your processes and help customers find what they need quickly. The more options a customer has, the more time and money it takes for the company to provide them with what they want, when most times it is just a simple answer to a question. Maggie recommends using innovations and technology to solve customer problems, but to never lose sight of each person you are trying to reach. Even with the newest and best technology, your goal is still the same: to create a quality, personalized experience for each customer. No matter what happens, marketing is still about connecting with people. Before adding in technology, take a step back and consider where you want your company and customer to go. With the processes and goals in place, you can then add in the right technology to reach the end point without becoming too complex. Consider the people and the journey they will have with your brand—everything should focus on the customer and breaking down complexities to make things as simple as possible. Whereas CMOs used to focus largely on big-picture marketing campaigns, they will soon, if they haven’t already, take on more responsibility than ever to drive bottom-line growth. In many cases, this means having a strong understanding of changing technology and even taking over responsibilities that were traditionally held by the CIO. Machine learning, which Maggie believes is still in the early stages, has the power to lead to big analytics. To better understand the customer, CMOs must be able to decipher big data to find the right analytics to drive growth and connectivity for their company. Big data can provide amazing customer insights, but only when it is used correctly and understood. The use of digitization and big data helps brands stay relevant and in tune with their customers so that they can implement changes and programs while they are still relevant. Today’s customer landscape is fast-paced and ever-changing. To lead their teams to success, CMOs need to have a strong grasp of both large-scale analytics and small-scale customer engagement.

The Sharing Economy’s Customer Experience Technology Innovation
Jan 25 2017 30 mins  
Much of the technology that’s being developed now will help us coordinate things, from employees to customers, in a much smoother way. Devin Fidler, research director at Institute For The Future, compares it to being an orchestra conductor—as we better use technology, we can more easily bring in other parts of the customer experience to create a smoother melody within our organizations. One of the greatest benefits of new technology is that it provides us the ability to find the resources we need much more quickly. Just like Uber can connect us with a ride or Airbnb connects millions of customers with millions of open rooms, we can also find ways to use this new technology to change our business strategy. Rethinkery Labs, for example, runs software like Upwork and Freelancer that sifts through thousands of freelancer profiles to find the exact right match for a given project, then reaches out to that person to ask if they want to be involved. Instead of people looking for work, the work is now looking for people. To be the most effective, Devin recommends re-thinking what you want your customer experience to look like. Because things are changing so rapidly, the experience will likely look very different to even how it did just five years ago. These new tools allow us to fundamentally change nearly everything about our customer experience and are a great opportunity to creatively look at how customers will view and interact with your company from every level. Disney Parks has done this by completely re-vamping the customer experience. Soon before a visit, guests receive interactive wristbands in the mail that can then be used at the park to get in lines, make purchases, and perform other common actions.Customers have a better, more streamlined experience in the parks because Disney was able to re-think its experience approach and take advantage of new wearable technology. Machine learning, or artificial intelligence, is sure to play a huge role in a forward-thinking customer experience, especially as it comes to serving customers in real time. Software like Amazon Echo allows customers to communicate with a device that coordinates all of their data on the back end to better respond to their needs; similar technology is being developed for a wide variety of other companies to help customers get things where and when they need them. As technology grows, so should the sharing economy, including services like Uber and Airbnb, as well as the freelancer economy. These unique and new ways of working present new issues that can be resolved with advanced technology and new applications. These new models also take advantage of digital management to find workers that are a perfect match for a specific situation and can move people easily to where they have the most value. Automation and new technology play a huge role in how companies run their businesses and interact with customers. As new technology arises, brands should look for ways to add them to their customer experience to create a fuller experience for employees and customers

A Modern Customer Journey In Banking
Jan 12 2017 29 mins  
Not everyone loves dealing with banks or credit card companies. Citi Global Cards and its chief customer and digital experience officer, Alice Milligan, are changing that with a customer-centric culture and plans to make the entire credit card process simpler and easier for all customers. With so much disruption in the banking world, the focus is definitely on digital and mobile. Citi Global Cards customer experience team members spend a lot of time with customers to make them central throughout the entire strategy. The team focuses on three main areas: how to make it simpler for customers to interact with the company, how to make customers’ lives easier, and how to take away anxiety or pain from customers. Based on detailed research, they realized the three most important things to modern customers: Ensuring the bank or credit card company is upfront about experience. Giving customers the tools to be in control of their own banking so they feel empowered and are less skeptical. Privacy and security. Making sure customers know the company stands behind them and can be trusted with their personal information. From those key areas, the company discovered how important time is to customers—everyone is busy and doesn’t want to spend a lot of time banking, but they still want the security and convenience. Understanding the customer has been a driving force for improving customer experience—when they realized a main concern of customers was to stop any charges on their card after it was lost or stolen, the company introduced Citi Quick Lock that allows users to quickly lock their card from a mobile app while they look for it. Citi has also been working to empower customers by giving them the tools they need right at their fingertips; at the start of 2016, the company had one-third of its functions available on its mobile app, but by the end of the year it was up to 75% of functions with the rest rolling out soon. Citi Global Cards continues to strive to enhance the customer experience by finding new ways to meet customer needs and solve their problems. This includes anything from gamification and rewards programs to developing the messaging and phone systems so that customers can contact the company however they wish and get a quick result no matter which method they use. Alice and her team also keep a strong pulse on the industry by talking to thoughtleaders, going to trade shows, reading, and putting the latest technology and thinking into action in ways that will help their customers. The customer experience is more than just putting things in the hands of customers. It’s listening to them and incorporating their convenience and wishes in every step of the process. That’s why customer experience is part of everyone’s job and responsibility across the company, regardless of what department they are in. Credit cards and banking might not be areas where customers love to spend their time, but improving the customer experience can lead to great results of satisfied customers.

Customer Collaboration With Salesforce's Mike Rosenbaum
Jan 03 2017 20 mins  
Collaboration and feedback are two hallmarks of great customer experience, and both are on display at Salesforce. The company’s IdeaExchange is a place for thousands of customers and end users gather to share their feedback and suggestions about the popular software, and it has been wildly successful as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. As IdeaExchange has grown over the years, it has become a very strategic part of how Salesforce runs product management, according to Mike Rosenbaum, EVP of CRM. There are more than 66,000 ideas on the exchange and millions of votes from people expressing their support of certain suggestions. Spirited users even start campaigns to build enthusiasm for their ideas. The suggestions cover everything from design to efficiency and are taken into consideration by the Salesforce team. Mike estimates that one-third of a product management team’s thinking is influence by IdeaExchange. One of the most unique features of the exchange is that it isn’t simply a one-sided suggestion box—it allows customers and employees the chance to start a dialogue and work through issues together. Employees are encouraged to check the site daily for updates and to respond to suggestions. Each suggestion has an associated feed, which allows users to collaborate. Often times, the results from IdeaExchange come more from the collaboration and brainstorming than they do from the initial idea. Aside from helping the company hone its product, IdeaExchange also greatly helps the customer experience. It gives customers a chance to voice their opinions and really feel like they are being listened to. Salesforce prides itself on having the strongest community of professionals in enterprise software, and it empowers customers to help the company come up with advances and solutions to programs. Salesforce has spent years developing a community of trailblazers—the people who are known in their individual organizations as Salesforce experts. These trailblazers are a huge asset to the company with their advanced knowledge and feedback. As they interact with product management teams, they can feel better about investing so much of their career into the software. IdeaExchange has led to a number of major upgrades for the program. One that was seemingly simple was the suggestion to offer more than three columns in the dashboard display, which quickly became one of the most discussed suggestions. When the upgrade to unlimited columns was announced, Salesforce customers cheered knowing they impacted the change. That change would never have happened without IdeaExchange. IdeaExchange benefits both customers and the company by connecting them and building a strong, two-way relationship where customers feel valued. By engaging customers and leaders, Salesforce hopes to be an example to other companies looking to increase customer engagement.

How Self-Service Technology Is Changing The Landscape Of Contact Center Jobs
Dec 27 2016 29 mins  
Customer experience and the contact center landscape are already in the process of changing dramatically, and change will continue to happen for years to come, according to Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst at Forrester. One of the biggest impacts on contact centers has been the growth of self-service technology. Instead of calling a company with every question, customers now have a variety of resources available to assist them, including chatbots, mobile apps, customer forums, social media, and more. According to Ian, there are two main takeaways from the growth of this technology: Customers are using self-service technology more, which means that calls coming into contact centers are things that a customer can’t answer on their own. Contact center agents are answering more difficult questions than they have before. Because customers almost always try to self serve before they call a contact center, traditional contact centers are now escalation channels. Customers calling in are often frustrated because their previous attempts to find answers have been unsuccessful. Agents are handling more difficult situations and are starting at a disadvantage versus where they were even just a few years ago. In response to many of these developments, a growing number of companies are turning towards a concierge approach to customer service. Instead of the traditional tiered approach where simple questions were answered quickly and the more difficult questions were passed on to the experts, many contact centers are following the example of hotel concierges by giving agents the power to follow any question through from start to finish. The concierge approach allows questions to be answered more thoroughly and quickly with better human interaction and is a better fit for more complicated, high-touch customer questions, like what most contact centers are receiving these days. Empowering agents also elevates them in the company and makes them more likely to provide a better customer experience when they are more invested in the company and its customers. The face of customer service and shopping is definitely changing. As technology continues to grow, companies will be forced to innovate with new ideas to provide a better customer experience. For companies considering adopting new customer service technologies, Ian’s best advice is to start small by testing one area of the technology before expanding it to more applications. Self-service technology has changed the face of customer experience and can be a great resource for many basic customer questions. By embracing technology and continuing to improve all aspects of the customer experience, companies can see continued growth and success.

What Is Transformational CX?
Dec 20 2016 30 mins  
It used to take customers a lot of effort to shop around—they had to drive from store to store to compare prices and spend time looking up reviews in books, magazines, and websites. These days, the power has returned to the customers—they can comparison shop, find reviews, and even purchase a competitor’s product from their smart phone while still standing in your store. If your company is operating under the old assumptions that customers don’t have any power, you are set up to fail, according to Harley Manning, vice president and research director at Forrester. To be successful these days, companies must go through a CX transformation by stepping back and looking at how they operate and then finding ways to engage and empower customers. With CX transformation, companies shift their focus to looking outwards and make customers the center of their business. New technology and social networks provide more ways to create a personalized experience for customers. However, to really have customers at the center of your business, you need to know exactly what they want. Companies can no longer simply start a program or roll out robotic personalization in an attempt to appease customers. Instead of thinking of something to personalize because it will create a great experience, companies should focus on creating a great experience and using personalization as one way to reach that goal. Taking the time to truly understand the customer and to know exactly what they want can help align their needs with the goals of your company. A major factor in making the transformation successful is getting executives on board. To be effective, executives must be fully engaged and aware of what is happening in their organization. Harley tells the story of a CEO who went undercover to his various stores. At one location, he noticed lots of people were walking out of the store without buying anything and had to walk past an employee smoking outside as they left the store. That employee turned out to be the store manager, who was leaving a bad image in the customers’ minds. By being present and aware, the CEO was able to take ownership of the situation and address the issue from the root cause by improving the hiring and training processes. However, many executives tend to dismiss customer experience thinking that it doesn’t directly affect their bottom line. In order to get on board with CX transformation and improving customer experience, executives need to see the direct relationship between increased customer experience and a customer’s likelihood to stay with the company, purchase more products, and recommend it to a friend. By putting money and statistics behind customer experience, executives are more likely to see how creating a strong customer experience can have a monetary reward for a company. Customer experience really comes down to putting the customer first and making their needs the center of the company. By getting everyone on board and staying aware of what is happening both inside and outside the company, you can start to enjoy the fruits of CX transformation and a strong customer experience.

Customer Experience In The B2B2C World
Dec 12 2016 29 mins  
The customer experience is far greater than just what a customer sees when they come into a store or visit a website. According to Peter Horst, former CMO of the Hershey Company, is a person can see it, touch it, hear it, or smell it, then it’s part of the customer experience. From marketing to strategy and everything in between, the customer experience is the totality of the efforts of nearly every branch of an organization. With a clearly defined customer experience ideal, all areas of the company can work to deliver on the goal. One of the first steps in creating a strong customer experience is to clearly define and understand the target customer. The levers and methods of customer experience vary greatly across companies and industries, especially when comparing B2B and B2C operations, but a clear understanding of the customer is always central to success. It can be tempting for companies to want to reach everyone with their product, but customer experience starts with a targeted core group of customers before expanding to other groups. With a cohesive target audience in mind, companies can then get a clear picture of their customers’ lives, including discovering what they are purchasing and consuming, why they are purchasing certain items, what they want those products to do, and more. The numbers behind sales and customers are important and can come from a variety of sources, but to truly understand a customer, you also need to connect with them emotionally and unite the quantitative data with qualitative understanding. Putting that customer understanding into practice can be a little tricky, especially at Hershey where direct interaction with customers is limited. Hershey sells the majority of its products to retail stores, who then sell it to customers, which means Hershey often can’t see who is ultimately buying the product and how they are using it. However, as more data becomes available, the company is able to connect the dots to see how various forms of media consumption and marketing drive end results. No matter if you are selling directly to customers or going through other retailers, the ultimate goal is still the same: to have a high-quality customer experience as the end goal of every aspect of the business. This is often done as various departments work together for the overall goal of the company. At Hershey, a command center that connected the PR team with customer service representatives allowed the company to monitor what people were saying about Hershey is real time and then connect that with customer service insights for a complete view of what is coming in from various sources. Customer experience should be the North Star for a company and the guiding force that connects everything about a brand. With a targeted effort and customer understanding, brands in all industries can make that happen.

The Connected Customer
Dec 06 2016 30 mins  
As technology grows and customers gain power to play a bigger role in their shopping and purchasing experiences, businesses must also join in the digital transformation. According to Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist at Salesforce, companies need to invest in a CRM (customer relationship management) platform to have a full, 360-degree view of their customers. Without understanding the evolving customer experience, companies won’t be able to stay connected to customers and compete. In today’s technology-driven world, especially as more companies adopt CRMs, the competitive landscape is defined by customer experience. Anything a company can do to improve that experience, including tapping into new technology resources, can make a huge difference to customers and profits. Vala narrowed it down to three keys brands can use in their digital transformations. The first is personalization—customers want a great experience that meets their needs and answers their questions. Similar to how technology like Spotify knows what music a customer likes, the future of business applications will involve other smart programs that can better understand the customers and create an accurate and personal experience based on their history and preferences. The second digital transformation key is immediacy. The growth of mobile has put everything at our fingertips and made customers demand everything quickly and accurately. Companies must take advantage of CRM technology to be able to monitor customer experience in nearly real time and to be accessible and helpful to customers at any moment on any channel. The third key is intelligence. According to Vala, artificial intelligence is the definitive technology for the 21st century, and we’re just at the beginning of realizing what it can do. Without accurate AI, brands can’t achieve mass personalization at scale. Digital transformations transition to the brick-and-mortar experience, as well. The lines between a company’s digital and on-site presence are blurring—what really matters to customers is that there is consistency in their experience. A customer should be able to have a very similar experience no matter if they are shopping in person or in store. To ensure that happens, companies should take advantage of digital opportunities within the store and the ability of many programs to unite a customer’s interactions in store and online. Each customer has a digital path they take on their journey to making a purchase or interacting with a company. Understanding that path is key to creating the ideal customer experience and competing on value and experience. By taking advantage of new CRM software and other digital resources, companies can transform the customer experience and take it to the next, forward-thinking level.

How People Analytics Improves Customer Experience with Dolf Berle, President & COO, Dave & Buster's
Nov 29 2016 28 mins  
What began as an entertainment experience has turned into an innovative way for people to have fun and make memories together. Dave and Buster’s was formed when friends Dave, who ran an arcade, and Buster, who ran a restaurant on the same street, noticed customers going back and forth between their establishments on any given evening. They took a risk to open the first combined food, drink, and arcade establishment and have had great success. Part of the reason for Dave and Buster’s strong growth and reputation is its focus on customer experience. According to president and COO Dolf Berle, Dave and Buster’s is focused on providing an entertaining environment where people can have fun with friends, family, and colleagues and take a break from the stress of everyday life. To be successful, Dave and Buster’s is constantly innovating, and it uses metrics to stay on top of customer experience. Using a program called InMoment, Dave and Buster’s tracks a comprehensive array of metrics on everything from a customer’s experience at the bar to their likelihood to return to the arcade. The ultimate goal of the metrics is to gauge customer satisfaction and a customer’s intent to recommend Dave and Buster’s to friends. To get quality results, Dave and Buster’s adds incentives to its survey invitations, usually in the form of a free appetizer or a reduced game card on a person’s next visit. It gets more than 50 surveys per store each week and then combines those metrics to get an overall look at the company. Dave and Buster’s looks at trends in the metrics as a way to measure and improve the customer experience. Dolf himself looks at the metrics on a weekly basis to see if guest satisfaction is building over time and if there is any variability between different areas of the establishment that can help him know where to focus the company’s strategic efforts. Dave and Buster’s has found that customers who have a better experience have more interactions with the staff, which fuels its corporate culture of fun. From its early days, Dave and Buster’s has focused on making employees an integral part of the customer experience—if the staff is involved and treated better, they are more likely to create a better experience for guests. To put that into action, employees go through a lot of training to help them feel like an important part of the corporate family. Employees also use the metrics provided by InMoment to see where they can improve and how they can better the guest experience. As Dave and Buster’s continues to lead the way for innovative entertainment, its focus will always stay on making sure customers have great experiences. With the help of a strong, metrics-driven measurement system, the company will always know exactly where it stands.

Building Better Customer Experiences With The Cloud
Nov 21 2016 31 mins  
Machine learning is a powerful way to access information about your customers in order to personalize the experience to meet their needs. James Staten, chief strategy officer for Microsoft Cloud, works with customers around the world and knows the importance of having a complete picture of how and when customers interact (or don’t interact) with a brand. Instead of simply sorting customers into basic groups, machine learning can access huge data sets through the cloud, including data your company might not collect itself, such as social media analytics and information from retailers. The cloud allows users to aggregate huge amounts of data to give instant insights and predictive analysis. European soccer team Real Madrid uses these tools to create an amazing customer experience. The team uses machine learning to analyze everyone who comes to their website or connects with them on social media and breaks them into sub-groups. For example, some people are fans of a particular player rather than the whole team, so that sub-group gets messages about player news, uniforms, and appearances. Fans who have never been to a game get information on how to watch the games online and can even get product recommendations based on what team gear they have purchased previously. By breaking their fans into micro-markets, Real Madrid can provide personal experiences to each fan that best meets their needs. Another of Microsoft’s cloud clients is a clothing company that uses machine learning to understand how and where customers are buying clothes. The company then uses that data to personalize recommendations and outreach, and the results have been amazing—many targeted customers say they are very impressed with their personalized recommendations. Machine learning opens up a new world of customer experience potential. Some brands are even leading the charge of cognitive analytics, which use facial recognition software and security cameras to detect who a customer is when they walk into a store. The system can then provide customer service and sales recommendations to associates in the store. However, cloud technology isn’t without its challenges. At the top of the list is dealing with multiple sources of data and turning it into formats that can be analyzed by the right technology. Data needs to be tested for reliability, and not using enough data can lead to incorrect conclusions. However, as machine learning grows and more companies adopt the practice, the challenges should subside. If you’re interested in using machine learning, James recommends considering if you have as much information as you can get about your customers. If not, gather data sets from inside and outside the company. Consider also what decisions your company makes that aren’t data driven and try to incorporate data into everything you do. Lastly, think about what you want to know next—there’s likely a machine learning and analytics solution to any problem. With innovative technology like the cloud and machine learning, the entire customer experience can be transformed to create a personalized approach with amazing results.

The CMO's Role In Building Customer Experiences
Nov 16 2016 24 mins  
With more than 20 million customers a year, Bridgestone Tires is well verse in customer interactions. The world’s largest tire and rubber company operates more than 2,000 retail stores around the world, as well as an extensive commercial tire business. So how does the company stay on top of the ever-changing world of customer experience, especially with so many customers involved? For Phillip Dobbs, CMO of Bridgestone Americas Tires Operations, it starts with knowing the customer. Since tires are something everyone needs at some point, Bridgestone customers fall into numerous personas and can be focused on anything from price to safety. Departments within the organization share their insights and research so everyone, especially marketing, can best understand the customer. Two of the main areas where Bridgestone focuses on the customer experience are in the store and via social media. Most customer interactions happen in a retail location, so the focus is on creating an experience that answers customers’ questions and is helpful and enjoyable. The customer experience is even a major consideration as marketing function when bring new products to market. Each retail store is given the power to make decisions when working with dissatisfied customers and can generally solve a problem as it sees fit, within the general guidelines of the company. As a whole, Bridgestone has a guarantee to make things right as quickly as possible. And although Bridgestone tries for a great customer experience every time, it doesn’t always happen, especially with so many customers. Instead of writing a letter to the CEO like people used to do, customers now take to social media to address their concerns and bad experiences. Bridgestone contracts with a service provider to monitor social media for any potential issues, which it then addresses itself or notifies the proper store or department. In one example, the social media monitoring company saw a tweet from an unhappy customer who was sitting in a Bridgestone waiting area. The company was able to call the store directly and let the manager know about the unhappy customer. The manager came out to talk to the customer and update her on the progress of her service, which greatly improved her experience. As we get immersed in emails and social media, we often lose sight of personal communication, which can be one of the most valuable customer service skills. Bridgestone also takes a proactive marketing approach on social media, especially when it comes to building brand loyalty and partnering with other organizations. At Bridgestone, maintaining loyal customers and developing new customers is a constant discussion. To do this, the company stays focused on the future of the customer experience and the role technology can play. By being strategic in which systems and technologies it uses, the company can maintain a great customer experience in the most efficient ways possible.

Leading The Future Of Customer Experience With FedEx
Nov 08 2016 33 mins  
Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada, knows the importance of customer experience. As a leader of more than 6,000 employees, her goal is to help them deliver the best possible customer service solutions. Meeting customer expectations wins business, but exceeding expectations leads to customer loyalty, which is the ultimate goal of FedEx Canada, even in the changing world of customer experience. There have no doubt been changes in how we work, especially in the shipping business, but at the end of the day, the most important thing is still the customer experience. To stay on top on current trends and new technology, companies need to be constantly aware of the customer experience they are providing. It can be tempting to implement new tactics quickly, such as apps and mobile programs, but if they don’t match or exceed the current customer experience, they should go back to the drawing board. The growth of e-commerce and social media has greatly changed how many customers interact with brands due to their increased amount of online shopping and the ability to get goods around the world. Brands who embrace customer experience, like FedEx Canada, know that customers want to communicate with companies in their method of choice, which is why many companies have seen huge growth in chatting and other online communication. One of the reasons FedEx Canada has been so successful in exceeding customer expectations is because of their corporate culture. Lisa spends much of her time interacting with employees because she believes a good leader has to get out from behind the desk and burn shoe leather. Many of her best ideas come from interacting with employees and going out on sales calls with customers. Employees are more likely to be motivated to build customer loyalty and have a great experience when they are invested in the company and feel valued. Because FedEx Canada employees feel they are part of the team through trust and respect, they deliver on impeccable service to customers. FedEx Canada gives every employee a “toolbox” they can use to give employees a great experience. Building off the culture is an internal program called the Purple Promise. Posters cover the company’s call centers reminding employees to make every FedEx experience outstanding for the customers as a way to build loyalty. Companies that are successful at evolving with the customer experience spend a lot of time and resources measuring their success because they know they live and die by the customer experience. At FedEx Canada, that involves periodically gathering employee representatives from all areas of the customer experience and talking about what can be done in each area to improve the process. Those meetings help management see the entire process and empower employees to do whatever it takes to please the customer. Lisa proudly tells the story of an employee who responded to a call from a customer whose package had been lost with special baby formula. When the employee saw the package was in transit but that the customer needed it right away, she called health food stores in the area until she found the formula, then purchased it on her own credit card and arranged for expedited delivery to the customer’s home that evening. By empowering employees and making the customer experience a vital part of your corporate culture, you can be prepared for industry changes and continue to create exemplary customer experiences.

How Customer Experience Is Shaped By Artificial Intelligence
Nov 03 2016 30 mins  
The consumer experience is transforming, and technology is at the center of it all. One company leading the way is health insurance provider Humana. There are a lot of options to focus on with the customer experience, but according to Geeta Wilson, director of customer experience at Humana, the company looks for where it can make the biggest impact first—by using technology to deliver a better experience to the customers. Humana breaks down its interactions with customers into two categories: assisted and unassisted. Assisted service is when a person needs help to answer their question or perform their task. This is usually done on a phone call or via a chat experience. Unassisted service is when a customer can get the answers they need without any intervention from a customer service representative. To streamline the process and help customers to have a good experience on their own terms, Humana is turning to artificial intelligence. The new Ask Humana tool helps customers get the answers they need by using an online tool similar to a live chat. However, instead of chatting with a human, customers are communicating with a machine that uses trends and previous knowledge to provide the right answers. One area where artificial intelligence tends to lack is with emotional connectivity. Humana has been working on building a better emotional experience by mimicking the connectivity customers have when talking to and chatting with real customer service representatives. There are a number of challenges involved with artificial intelligence, including making sure the information is updated and accurate, that the experience meets customer satisfaction levels, and that the program meets the company’s success metrics. What sets Humana apart in its quest to better the human experience is its approach. The company is focused on finding solutions through rapid experimentation to test their hypotheses. Once a hypothesis is found true, they continue to build on it. Humana starts broad to go narrow by framing the problem, making sure the team has a strong understanding of it, and then framing an experiment to test a solution for the problem. Because artificial intelligence is such an unknown area, the company is in uncharted territory and works to lay out the assumptions and let the results speak. To prove the technology, Humana relies on a number of metrics, including a unique emotional score. Because customers make 70% of their decisions with an emotional response, Humana uses a CPS-style approach to measuring emotion in AI interaction. The company has found that as emotional metrics improve, so do their other success metrics like overall satisfaction and the length of the call. As technology continues to develop, the customer experience will evolve out of necessity. Geeta predicts that advanced machines will be able to analyze data quickly, providing for improved automated processes and customized interactions with customers. Artificial intelligence is just one way that is happening.with customers. Artificial intelligence is just one way that is happening.

Outside In: The Power Of Putting Customers At The Center Of Your Business
Oct 11 2016 24 mins  
Kerry Bodine believes that happy customers lead to happy shareholders. Her book, Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business, helps business leaders understand the financial benefits of great customer experiences—and how their organizations must change in order to deliver them. In 2014, she founded Kerry Bodine & Co., a customer experience consultancy focused on customer journey mapping and experience design. She’s also a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and private corporate events around the world. Kerry’s ideas, analysis, and opinions have appeared on sites like The Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, USA Today, and Advertising Age. She contributes a regular column to Touchpoint, the journal published by the global Service Design Network. Kerry spent seven years with the customer experience practice at Forrester Research. As vice president and principal analyst, she led Forrester’s research on customer experience design and innovation. She was also the creative force behind the customer experience ecosystem, a framework that helps companies diagnose and fix customer problems at their roots. In previous roles, Kerry managed consumer research teams; guided the design of websites, mobile apps, and branded social networks; designed interfaces for robots and wearable devices; and, in 1995, developed a Web-based social shopping prototype for AT&T Bell Labs. In addition to her design background, she has completed stints as both a management consultant and an advertising executive. Kerry holds a master’s degree in human-computer interaction from Carnegie Mellon University.

Draw Customer Experiences To Win With Dan Roam
Sep 27 2016 32 mins  
Dan Roam will always be your most interesting dinner party guest, not just because he will explain complicated topics to you on the back of a napkin. For years he has been espousing the benefits of communicating through simple images. He broke ground with this bestselling book Back Of The Napkin, and has recently released a new book called Draw To Win: A Crash Course On How To Lead, Sell and Innovate With Your Visual Mind. In the book Roam provides the tools necessary to thrive visually, using step-by-step diagrams and easy-to-master lessons that will make you an expert in communication and creativity. Think this isn’t relevant for customer experience professionals? Think again! Simplifying content for customers should be priority number one for every brand. Gone are the days when customers had the attention span for long wordy documents explaining terms of service, how-to content, or self-help guides. Learn from Roam what you can be doing to improve your customer communication through images. An internationally bestselling author and the founder of the Napkin Academy, the world’s first online visual-thinking training program, Roam has helped leaders at Microsoft, Boeing, eBay, Kraft, The US Navy, Senate and many more solve complex problems with simple pictures. You won’t want to miss this episode of The Modern Customer Podcast. More About Our Sponsor Plantronics: Plantronics offers one of the industry's most complete families of corded and wireless products for unified communications. Widely recognized for their sound quality, reliability and comfort, Plantronics' audio solutions help companies extend the benefits of IP communications throughout the extended enterprise, fostering better business communication and efficiency regardless of where professionals are working.

Variability Is Opportunity With Ebay’s Chief Data Officer
Sep 20 2016 31 mins  
How important is it to organize your data around your customer? It turns out that variation in customer demographics can be a powerful thing, and you want to make sure you are taking that diversity of customer into account when building customer programs. Today on the Modern Customer Podcast Zoher Karu ebay’s Chief Data Officer talks about the importance treating different customers differently. He recommends integrating different internal and external data elements together and explains the art and science behind understanding customers. At eBay Karu believes every customer is different and your customer strategy should reflect that. Learn more in this episode of The Modern Customer Podcast. Zoher Karu is Vice President and Chief Data Officer at eBay where he works to drive more personal and relevant experiences on eBay Marketplace properties. Prior to joining eBay, Zoher served as Vice President of Marketing Analytics and Insight at Sears, leading efforts to drive customer behavior, loyalty and growth, both in-store and on-line. Zoher holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. More About Our Sponsor Plantronics: Plantronics offers one of the industry's most complete families of corded and wireless products for unified communications. Widely recognized for their sound quality, reliability and comfort, Plantronics' audio solutions help companies extend the benefits of IP communications throughout the extended enterprise, fostering better business communication and efficiency regardless of where professionals are working.

Driving A Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy With Omni Hotels
Sep 12 2016 31 mins  
Peter Strebel serves as chief marketing officer and senior vice president of sales responsible for creating and driving innovative branding, communications, marketing and business development strategies to increase awareness, capture market share and build revenue for the brand. Strebel stewards Omni’s centers of excellence including revenue management, global sales, e-commerce, customer loyalty, reservations and call center, branding, advertising, communications, web and digital marketing and market research. Previously, Strebel was the senior vice president of operations and oversaw the development of brand-wide property standards, guest rooms and other operational areas for the brand’s growing convention collection and resort portfolio. He also worked directly to support Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center, Omni Nashville Hotel, Omni Parker House, Omni Berkshire Place, The Omni Homestead Resort and The Omni Grove Park Inn. A long-term Omni veteran, Strebel rejoined Omni in 2009 as area managing director and general manager of the Omni Berkshire Place. In his role as area managing director, he oversaw all marketing, sales and operational aspects of Omni properties in the Northeast. During his previous tenure at Omni, he had a successful 10-year career in sales and marketing positions of increasing responsibility, ultimately leading to his appointment as vice president of sales and marketing. What You Will Learn In This Podcast: How Omni Hotels differentiates itself with so many disruptions coming to hospitality How customer experience is defined at Omni Hotels Who drives customer experience at Omni Hotels How is customer service organized at Omni Hotels More About Our Sponsor Plantronics: Plantronics offers one of the industry's most complete families of corded and wireless products for unified communications. Widely recognized for their sound quality, reliability and comfort, Plantronics' audio solutions help companies extend the benefits of IP communications throughout the extended enterprise, fostering better business communication and efficiency regardless of where professionals are working.

A Podcast With The Chief Customer Officer Claire Burns of MetLife
Sep 06 2016 27 mins  
The role of the Chief Customer Officer is not an age-old role. It’s a unique new role that’s set up differently at every organization. One example comes from MetLife who has seasoned industry executive Claire Burns running customer strategy. Burns serves as the Chief Customer Officer for MetLife which covers 110 million customers and 65K employees. The global company has an extensive and diverse product and distribution channels. Burns leads transformational change – tasked with shifting from a product centric corporate strategy to a customer centric corporate strategy. Burns, reporting to the CMO, has a “matrixed” managed team of 50 change agents around the world who are responsible for implementing these customer-centric programs. Burns’ task is aligning the entire company around the customer. She helps the company decide what kinds of products they need to create. Burns also evaluated what services are going well and what ones aren’t. She ensures the company is treating its customers as an asset—helping the broader organization gain clarity with their priorities and ensure they align. More About Our Sponsor Plantronics: Plantronics offers one of the industry's most complete families of corded and wireless products for unified communications. Widely recognized for their sound quality, reliability and comfort, Plantronics' audio solutions help companies extend the benefits of IP communications throughout the extended enterprise, fostering better business communication and efficiency regardless of where professionals are working.

Making Sense of Data Through Results-Proven Analytics With PopSugar
Aug 08 2016 28 mins  
Some of today’s most innovative brands are content publishers that are engaging customers with content in addition to finding smart ways to monetize their websites. Take PopSugar who are tapping into big data, machine learning and predictive analytics to make better decisions about how they engage with customers. PopSugar—a site that’s attracted more than 100 million visitors worldwide and 1.5 billion monthly content views—has more than one hundred editors creating content driven by site analytics, to discuss the impact that predictive analytics has had on its content strategy, readership numbers and conversion rates. A millennial publication focused on fashion, beauty and fitness—PopSugar turned to Adobe Analytics to make sense of its user data—including search and social behavior—to evolve and refine its content strategy. Listen to this podcast with Chris George SVP, Product Marketing and Sales Strategy at PopSugar. In this role, Chris has launched The Bakery, PopSugar's full-service creative shop; PopSugar Insights; and SNAP, PopSugar's native advertising platform. Chris joined from SpinMedia where he served as EVP, Marketing Solutions managing all aspects of revenue and sales solutions. He’s also held management positions at Fox Interactive Media where he oversaw advertising products, sales development and market intelligence for MySpace and others. He holds a BA degree in Advertising from Michigan State University.

Disrupting Customer Acquisition With Stella & Dot's Jessica Herrin
Jul 11 2016 29 mins  
Remember Mary Kay or Avon? These companies put bread on the table for hard-working women and their families. In fact today’s modern woman cannot always work a 9 to 5 job, and that’s precisely why Stella & Dot founder and CEO Jessica Herrin set out to create a company that was flexible enough for the modern woman to build a business for herself without working 9 to 5. As she says, “9 to 5 just doesn’t flatter.” Herrin is a successful serial entrepreneur having started the company known to many now as, the first company to put wedding registries on the web (it was sold to The Knot in 2006). Her second company was Stella & Dot. Stella & Dot’s business model—where women host parties within their homes and sell the Stella & Dot products (mostly jewelry and accessories)—is catching on like wildfire.Engaging communities is an important aspect of customer acquisition—today a company’s share-ability factor is everything because customers talk. Jessica Herrin is also a CEO on fire recently starring in an episode of “Undercover Boss” where she does things like spend a day undercover working in their “Delight Center” (contact center) and as a jewelry maker. She has a new book out called “Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier, and Achieve Success On Your Own Terms.” Listen to our podcast to learn about: How Stella & Dot provides an experience for both sellers and customers How companies can learn from the Stella & Dot business model Stella & Dot’s approach to customer acquisition and customer delight

The Job Of A Marketer Is To Make Markets: The Importance of Ideas with Ann Simonds, CMO, General Mills
Jun 13 2016 29 mins  
General Mills is a 150 year old company. You have definitely heard of their famous cereal brands such as Trix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and even their new cereal brand Tiny Toast. You surely grew up eating Cheerios, Betty Crocker cakes, Hamburger Helper and Häagen-Dazs ice cream. You might not know that today they also own Annie’s, Epic (amazing jerky), Larabar and Cascadian Farms. They produce and market more than 100 brands in 100 markets and there is one woman at the marketing helm of this enormous operation. Her name is Ann Simonds and she is the Chief Marketing Officer of General Mills. From content to social media to traditional advertising Simonds has a lot of responsibility. But that doesn’t stop her from taking the time to do things such as make frequent trips to the grocery store to watch her customers in action. In this podcast you will learn about how Simonds takes the roof of the house of her customers to get to know what their needs are. What you will learn in this podcast: A day in the life of the CMO of General Mills The number one challenge sitting on every marketer’s desk today General Mills approach to social media and customer engagement Why General Mills launched the #WeNeedTheBees campaign The various marketing approaches and customer personas for different brands, for example Annie’s, Larabar, Epic or Cascadian Farms versus Betty Crocker, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Haagen Dazs Advice Ann would have given herself at the beginning of her career

Being A Successful CMO Is About Asking The Right Questions
May 31 2016 31 mins  
B2B marketing is not for the faint of heart. Translating technical products and services and turning that into engaging content is not the easiest. Being a marketer in today’s complicated digital environment takes courage, patience and persistence. Being CMO isn’t for everyone—the average length of stay for a CMO is 18 months, not a lot of time to prove your worth. It’s important to turn results around fast and today’s podcast guest Susan Ganeshan knows how to do exactly that. Ganeshan has been CMO of text analytics and customer experience management vendor Clarabridge for two years and contributed to some of the major success they’ve had. Before that she held senior roles at a few different software companies and while there, she mentored four different individuals who all eventually rose to the rank of CMO. Ganeshan believes all tech marketers should be able to give a demo of any product their company is selling including the major components of the technology they’re supporting. Ganeshan believes that marketers fail when they can’t get the right metrics and measurements out of their campaigns. She has success to draw from and lessons learned, and in our podcast we talk about some of the major top of mind issues facing modern marketers today. In this podcast you will learn: The number one challenge sitting on every marketer’s desk today How to approach a global marketing strategy First steps to building a high level marketing strategy Susan Ganeshan’s one personal business secret Disclosure, Clarabridge has been a client of Blake Morgan’s.

Shaking Up Customer Engagement In Hospitality
May 16 2016 29 mins  
Most of us can't even conceptualize life before digital. In the “old days” people looking for a hotel would drive down the road. If the hotel was all booked up, they would drive on down the road to the next hotel. Enter Hilton, a 96 year old brand that has innovated at every turn. In the 1950s Hilton wanted to make it easier for customers to book rooms and created the world's first central reservations office where customers could book over the phone, telegram or teletype. The office consisted of a team of eight “agents” who would write on a chalk board to book reservations. How times have changed! In this week’s modern customer podcast we talk with Mark Weinstein, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Loyalty and Partnerships for Hilton Worldwide. There is much change to the travel industry, and Hilton has had to stay on its toes. The demographic of their travel has shifted with people traveling at younger ages due to increased accessibility—it’s simply much easier to get around than it used to be (see above paragraph around how one would find a hotel in the old days). There are market shifts such as the sharing economy that have altered the hotel industry. Hilton has created numerous programs in conjunction with the sharing economy including a partnership with Uber. It might make your head spin to think about Hilton’s scale, with 13 brands, spanning more than 4,500 hotels across over 100 countries and territories. That said, they are a fantastic case study in thinking about how today’s biggest companies are tackling the complex modern digital landscape. In this podcast you will learn: Hilton’s customer engagement strategy (including social and mobile) Hilton’s approach to surprise and delight Hilton’s thoughts on Airbnb

Engaging Influencers With the CMO of TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Company
May 02 2016 30 mins  
When it comes to industries where brand advocates play a key role, perhaps no industry does influencer engagement play a bigger role than in sports. Superstar athletes play a key role in driving engagement to the brand—we see it every day especially on social media. TaylorMade-adidas Golf company has seen a sales conversion rate of almost 3.5 times higher than the overall site average thanks to brand advocates. For TaylorMade the order value of customers who engage with advocates is 50% higher than the site average.Today on the Modern Customer Podcast we get advice from Chief Marketing Officer Bob Maggiore of the TaylorMade-adidas Golf Company. Bob oversees brand, product & consumer marketing efforts for TaylorMade Golf, which include advertising, public relations, social media, experiential, design and eCommerce functions. A 20+ year veteran of the golf industry, Maggiore, 46, has overseen nearly every key product launch since 2000. TaylorMade has been the number one driver brand played on the PGA TOUR for 15 years and counting, and its Tour staff includes Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, all of which are currently ranked in the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking. In this podcast you will learn: TaylorMade-adidas approach to influencer engagement on social media The CMO’s role in developing a customer strategy How a CMO new to the role can get started

Building New Consumer Relationships In The Digital Era: An Interview with the Former President of Digital at OWN Robert Tercek
Feb 22 2016 35 mins  
According to Robert Tercek, author of Vaporized: Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World and former President of Digital Media at the Oprah Winfrey Network “Every aspect of our economy and society is set to be reconfigured by technological forces that only a handful of increasingly powerful companies have mastered.” Tercek reveals the inner workings of the biggest cultural and economic change since the industrial revolution. Tercek is a business futurist and digital media pioneer. In his 22-year career, Tercek has launched startup ventures and served in executive leadership roles at major media companies including Sony and MTV. In this podcast he talks about how goods become information intensive they begin to lose the characteristics of physical products and take on the properties of a service. In this podcast you will learn: How has the connected consumer created the “activated audience” and the “activated consumer” When consumers are always connected, they become a force that commands the attention of marketing execs in every industry. What are the implications for brands that consumers now have the power to shape trends, influence product development and shape prices, access and product design How can brands in retail create innovative experiences including game-like experiences, digital delights and check-ins to engage the customer in the store? What does a “software-defined” society look like?

Hug Your Haters With Jay Baer: How To Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers
Feb 01 2016 31 mins  
When you work in customer service and you’re dealing with an angry customer—it’s likely the last thing you feel like doing is giving them a hug. However this is exactly what author Jay Baer encourages you to do to improve your customer relationships. Baer’s newest book is Hug Your Haters: How To Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. In the book Baer gives many examples of the various ways customer service has changed in today’s digital environment. Some of the challenges companies face include when "mom says yes and dad says no." When many companies do not have a good grasp of basic customer service is it a surprise that many of them are struggling with social customer service? Baer says, “We’re creating social media problems for ourselves because we’re not good at legacy customer service. Someone calls and it’s a 30 minute hold, or an email is sent and there’s no response for two days. Then they take it public—taking something that should have been easy to solve.” According to Baer 71% of all social media complaints started on another channel. Brands have enjoyed the privilege of control for 1000 years. In the past it was only phone or email or in-person interactions—since the caveman days. Baer says—because of social media—customer service is a spectator sport now. What You Will Learn From This Podcast: Why companies don’t hug their haters Where customer service has gone wrong and what you can do to fix yours How to hire and train for social customer service Examples of ways to hug your haters, and the benefits Jay Baer is the founder of Convince and Convert and the author of Hug Your Haters: How To Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. For more please subscribe to Blake Morgan's newsletter here.

Customer Centricity With Wharton's Dr. Peter Fader
Jan 25 2016 31 mins  
Customer centricity is something we all intend to do--it sounds like it means being "into" your customers. You are interested and focused on them right? Well not really. Customer centricity as defined by Dr. Peter Fader of Wharton might be different than what you think. I saw Dr. Fader speak at the 2nd Annual Customer Centricity Conference--there was a debate with the audience around the purpose of a brand. It quickly became clear everyone disagreed about customer centricity especially as it relates to the purpose of a brand. According to Fader, customer centricity is when the brand identifies the most valuable customers and surrounds them with relevant products and services. The brand creates enough influence with their key customers that these customers see the brand as a trusted advisor. Clearly there are differing opinions today about how you treat your customers. Do you take your most financially rewarding customers and spend all of your time creating services, products and loyalty programs for them? Or do you treat all of your customers equally? In this podcast you will learn: The role of big data in customer centricity The business case for customer centricity Case studies from the gaming community on customer centricity done right Dr. Peter Fader is Co-Director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative and taught marketing at Wharton for 29 years. He is the author of the book Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage.

People May Be Brands But Brands Are Not People: Building Influence in the Digital Age
Jan 18 2016 33 mins  
Peter Drucker's grandson Nova Spivack, CEO of Bottlenose, says that Drucker would have felt today that real influencers are not spending a lot of time on social media. In The Modern Customer Podcast this week we talk to Spivack who is an entrepreneur and investor who at six years old remembers being in line behind Jack Welch for an appointment to spend time with his grandfather, one of the most famous management thinkers of our time Peter Drucker. These memories are vivid for Spivack who today spends time thinking about the big business questions we face today. Spivack believes his grandfather felt real influence is not visible but built through face to face interaction. From personal branding and influence to building a brand’s influence, we cover it all in this podcast. There are many challenges Spivack sees for brands that are trying to build influence. He says while people may be brands, brands are not people. While you can "friend" a brand, this is not a bi-directional relationship. Brands have to recognize that they aren't people and the relationships they're building are not like human friendships. Brands need to become memes--virally replicating ideas that spread through cultures. Spivack says brands are more like viruses than they are like people. Spivack's grandfather coined the term the "non-customer." Spivack argues that you still need to understand these non-customers as much as you seek to understand your customer. It's your non-customers that represent your potential for growth. Brands today spend an immense amount of time but not enough time trying to reach their non-customers. Recently through there have been some debates around the focus on non-customers from a branding perspective versus purely focusing on the valuable top spending customers. According to Spivack one of the things brands need to do is think of the risk of having only one niche. If we look at evolution the species that have survived—if you can compare this to brands—are the species that were not confined to one ecological niche. They were able to colonize other niches. You can think of demographics and audience segments as niches. In this podcast you will learn The best ways to build influence as a brand How you can identify new market opportunities Examples of brands that are generating awareness through killer content

How Young People Can Be Successful In Technology: Advice From A Leading Game Designer
Dec 14 2015 30 mins  
We're at a crossroads in education. There is an increasing gap between the skills that are in demand in the workforce, and modern day education. It simply is not making the cut. Even though the education system today is largely an old machine, sometimes you come upon stories that give you hope. Enter Paulina Raguimov, a young creative gamer who at the age of 16 applied for an internship at JumpStart--a well-known game company--got the internship and ended up pitching a concept for a new game to the CEO, and getting that game produced. Now at the age of 20 Raguimov continues to do cutting edge work at JumpStart and finds time in her busy schedule to mentor younger people as well. Raguimov took the road less travelled by skipping college (so far) and wants to provide information and resources to others like her in school who don't know exactly what they wanted to be when they grow up. Raguimov has generated a lot of attention already with features in TechCrunch and Huffington Post. I have met Paulina Raguimov many times and am happy to have had the opportunity to share her story with Forbes listeners. What You Will Learn In This Podcast: Learn how a young person can navigate the waters of tech and seek gateway opportunities early on Learn about why young girls benefit from going into gaming Hear tips from Raguimov on how to generate opportunities with tech companies For more on Paulina Raguimov follow her on Twitter @PollyRag or LinkedIn here.

The X Factor In Customer Experience With Brian Solis
Nov 30 2015 30 mins  
In 2006 I was working at a conference company and I wanted to book Brian Solis as a speaker because he was the foremost thought leader on the topic of social media. Almost ten years later and Solis continues to be on the forefront of digital innovation. Solis, the Principal Analyst at Altimeter Group has recently published his new book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. He joined me for the Modern Customer Podcast to share more of his ideas and inspirations for his book. Solis says companies that compete on an experiential level can charge higher prices, generate and retain more customers and overall outperform companies that focus on shareholder value. Solis says we live in a time where there’s a confluence of technology and innovation that has an effect on societies. The idea of a brand is not what it used to be. Today’s brand is created and strengthened by visuals, images and business infrastructures. Additionally the modern brand now becomes a piece of someone else. In the podcast Solis also says we’re becoming an accidentally narcissistic society – a brand has to be relevant, understand who the consumer is and who that consumer wants to be. A brand has to become a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Experiences according to Solis are the new brand. Today we need experience architects not brand architects. Solis says a brand is measured in what he calls “expressions,” not impressions. Why is Apple the most innovative brand in the world? According to Solis it’s because Apple thinks strategically about experience architecture. Companies today need to think about experience architecture at every point across the organization just like Apple does. However the problem today is companies get caught up in quarterly pressures—it takes disruption or an influential change agent to make the case to do something different. Very few companies are thinking and acting about what Solis calls the “x” factor. If companies don’t innovate, they risk their business. For example Uber took the taxi industry because the taxi industry stopped innovating (or never really did). They stopped competing for relevance. Measuring success by impressions, conversions, sales, projections and revenue destroys the customer experience. To add insult to injury Solis says we use technology to get further and further from people. The biggest opportunity for innovation looks at how we fight for relevance. One example is Airbnb. Solis shares the story of Brian Chesky who read a book by Walt Disney and was influenced by the idea of storyboarding. Chesky brought in a Pixar artist to lead Airbnb through a storyboarding process to understand the different types of Airbnb hosts. He looked at different customer profiles as well. They took all the data from the customer and the host side and found friction—room for improvement. They then storyboarded out a new story—one for hosts and one for customers. Airbnb came up with their new logo, new positioning in the market and built a new community for their hosts (including an entire conference specifically for hosts too). We know how the story with Airbnb unfolds—they’ve achieved massive success. From Solis’ interview it’s clear that by understanding the customer experience your brand can accelerate customer acquisition and retention. Don’t miss our podcast where you hear from Solis what gives company the “x” factor! Follow @BrianSolis on Twitter

How Playboy Achieved Tremendous Growth By Revamping Its Digital Content Brand
Nov 20 2015 31 mins  
You might be surprised to hear that this week on Playboy’s website you won’t find nudes, but rather an article reading “Real Men Make Their Own Thanksgiving Pie Crust.” You will no longer find articles tweeted from their website with the hashtag #NSFW (meaning not safe for work). Playboy is now entirely safe for work. Playboy has been on a transformative “journey” for two years and recently announced something that hit the front page of the New York Times, the removal of nudity from the magazine This week’s Modern Customer Podcast guest is SVP of Marketing and Digital Media at Playboy Robin Zucker. Under Zucker’s leadership the magazine has achieved tremendous growth with the highly coveted millennial demographic. Playboy had a social audience of 11 million users when Zucker joined. They saw they were reaching a younger audience—and that audience was engaged. The Playboy digital team thought about their future strategy and considered the notion that nudity no longer had a role in the direction of the magazine. They started a discussion with the Playboy leadership board December 2013, and in August 2014 they launched as “a safe for work” lifestyle site. They had five million unique visitors in July 2014 and by December 2015 had 20 million unique visitors. They average in now at 16 million users a month. This brand turnaround and staggering growth is not easily achieved. If you’re interested in engaging millennials with lifestyle content, the Playboy case study is one you’ll want to hear about. In January 2014 the average age of the Playboy audience member was 47 but by August 2015 the average age was 30 years old. Additionally Playboy’s social media presence grew from 11m to 29m. The reason Playboy decided to pull nudes was they talked to consumers and advertisers and realized nudity was just a distraction for them. Nudity is provocative but not the same level as it was in 1953. There’s no shortage of nudity today around the web from a digital perspective. They realized this and broke from their long-standing tradition of nudity. As a sidenote did you know Playboy magazine was the seed for many things such as the film Hurt Locker? The film was inspired an article about one of the bomb experts, Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver entitled, “The Man in the Bomb Suit,” published in September 2005. You might be surprised to learn that in the past Playboy has published famous author of fiction Margaret Atwood. Learn more about Playboy’s digital journey in this week’s Modern Customer Podcast. More about podcast guest Robin Zucker: As Playboy's Senior Vice President Marketing of Digital Media, Robin leads the marketing for this iconic brand’s newly launched digital media properties. Playboy recently earned the recognition of Top 15 Social Brand. Before joining Playboy Robin led and created digital marketing strategy for leaders in the digital space demonstrating a proven track record of working on emerging digital platforms and translating them into meaningful business results. At Yahoo!, Robin was the Head of Social Marketing. During her tenure she built out social marketing as a key marketing channel for the Yahoo’s digital marketing mix. She worked across the teams on products and properties to integrate social strategies. In addition, while at Yahoo!, she held several roles to build advertiser and publisher relationships, with direct impact on multi-million dollar revenue streams. Robin started her digital career at Netscape where she built foundation for a multi-million dollar per year advertising business. Robin received her MBA from The Anderson School at University of California, Los Angeles. She has been recognized by the Internet Advertising Bureau with a Service Excellence Award for their Paid, Owned, Earned Media initiative. Robin lives in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California with her family. Robin Zucker on Twitter and Instagram. For more content and customer experience content stay in touch with Blake Morgan weekly via her newsletter.

Leveraging Data To Identify Customer Issues Early With Luxe Valet's Eva Khoo
Nov 13 2015 29 mins  
Customer service will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how to improve your products and services. This is the beauty of customer data—but more importantly how are you acting on that customer data? On-demand parking and valet services company Luxe Valet is an example of a cool new company that makes customer data a priority. They actually do something with it. They are also interesting because they are so committed to the customer experience they see the value in having more influence over their contract employees and the experience those employees deliver to customers. They’ve given their contractors full time status. This is a big deal in a time where many companies such as Uber and Lyft are still dealing with the courts over whether they have to give their contract employees the benefits that full time employees get. This week’s Modern Customer podcast guest is Eva Khoo Senior Director of Operations of Luxe Valet. For Khoo it’s about being able to really train and focus on the customer experience. One of the ways Luxe Valet enhances this is a required valet shift, where everyone from corporate headquarters has to act as a valet themselves. Luxe Valet raised 25 million in two rounds from 36 investors. Khoo was part of that process and she remarks that investors want to know “is your service solving a problem and how big is that problem?” Commuting is a big problem. According to the National Household Travel Survey, US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics almost 76% of commuters drive alone to work and 18 million of those commuters are driving from the suburb to the city. More than three million commuters drive almost an hour or more to work each way every day. That’s without looking for parking—and if you’ve ever driven into San Francisco (like I have) you know what a nightmare that is. Luxe Valet has partnered with parking lots all over cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Austin and New York. It’s good for the customer and good for the flow of traffic. From a customer experience perspective Luxe’s story is compelling because of their detailed attention to the customer experience. As a result they have a very high customer loyalty rate with the average customer using their service twice a week. Luxe tracks customer issues and focuses on root causes to solve the feedback loop with customers. They use Salesforce’s and have a continuous feedback loop with their internal product team. This means they are actually taking customer issues back to internal employees such as engineers to fix any problems. Many companies do not do this—it sets Luxe apart and drives their product quality. Luxe has a strong customer engagement strategy making it very easy for customers to get in touch with them. Customers within the Luxe app can call, text, tweet (or other social media) or email support. Podcast guest Khoo says Luxe wants engagement to be as absolutely easy as possible for customers. Data has brought to light recurring issues and opportunities for Luxe. For example sometimes they’ll release a product and they use data to uncover early issues with the product. They use this data to make the offering more fluid and intuitive. They use data to understand what drives customer service volumes. So many companies skip the step of looking at high volumes on specific FAQs and asking themselves what they could proactively do to make that volume go down. Luxe also uses data for ideation. For example Luxe noticed customers wanted to leave their cars in the city overnight because they wanted to do things like go to happy hour on a Thursday and take the train home (especially if they’d been drinking). Luxe figured that out and as a result came up with a service that drives the car all the way home for the customer—so the customer can enjoy a a cocktail out with friends and get home safely (Luxe also donates money regularly to Mothers Against Drunk Driving - MADD). If you’ve read my previous columns you know I believe customer experience in the sharing economy as a whole can be challenging. Customer experience is incredibly varied with companies like Uber, Airbnb or Instacart. According to Khoo customer experience is especially challenging in the world of the sharing economy—but more specifically on-demand services--because you’re dealing with issues in real-time and you’re “held to the same standards as everyone else.” Also your window of customer engagement has shrunk. Luxe doesn’t look at customers as “just transactions.” According to Khoo they are in it for the long haul and empower their team to make every customer experience a delightful one. Now they offer car washing and gas refueling and Khoo believes there is a lot of potential in the future to expand in the on-demand space. At the end of the day Luxe Valet can impact urban planning—parking lots take up valuable real estate. Khoo is inspired by Jack Welch who says that winning is the company’s social responsibility. Winning and making the company successful is Khoo’s goal for Luxe. More about podcast guest Eva Khoo: Eva Khoo is the Senior Director of Operations for Luxe, an on-demand parking and valet services app headquartered in San Francisco. In her role, Eva manages the company’s nationwide operations, overseeing live ops, logistics and customer support. Prior to Luxe, Eva was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs where she advised companies within the firm’s Technology, Media, and Telecom practice. Her primary responsibilities included the execution of M&A and financing transactions for software and networking companies. She also worked at Peninsula Capital Management, an investment fund headquartered in San Francisco. Eva holds an MBA from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and a BA from University of California, Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @EvaKhoo. Check out the Luxe app here.

Why This On-Demand Content To Commerce Model Is All About Customer Engagement
Nov 08 2015 29 mins  
I can personally imagine a world where I can get anything whenever I want it. Can't you? In 2015 we've seen a proliferation of successful on-demand companies whether it’s Shoes of Prey where you can design and order your own shoes or Blue Apron that delivers pre-determined ingredients so a consumer can make themselves the perfect meal. Even airports realize on-demand and no fuss services makes for happy customers and big profits. For example recently on a layover at Newark International Airport I ordered a turkey wrap from an ipad and only interacted with a person who wanted to see the proof that I had paid--they then handed me my wrap. The entire Newark International Airport is littered with ipads. It's eerie that there are very few humans actually working at the restaurants at all. But it's a taste of the future. In fact being able to order what we want when we want it is the future of consumerism. Today it's becoming easier than ever to get our preferences delivered to us directly whether we're at a fast food restaurant at an airport, or even at work or at home. I can personally imagine a world where I can get anything whenever I want it. Can't you? In 2015 we've seen a proliferation of successful on-demand companies whether it’s Shoes of Prey where you can design and order your own shoes or Blue Apron that delivers pre-determined ingredients so a consumer can make themselves the perfect meal. Even airports realize on-demand and no fuss services makes for happy customers and big profits. For example recently on a layover at Newark International Airport I ordered a turkey wrap from an ipad and only interacted with a person who wanted to see the proof that I had paid--they then handed me my wrap. The entire Newark International Airport is littered with ipads. It's eerie that there are very few humans actually working at the restaurants at all. But it's a taste of the future. In fact being able to order what we want when we want it is the future of consumerism. Today it's becoming easier than ever to get our preferences delivered to us directly whether we're at a fast food restaurant at an airport, or even at work or at home. Earlier this year in her “Internet Trends” report, American venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst Mary Meeker highlighted various “just-in-time” companies, mostly from the sharing economy, however there is a growing interest in on-demand companies of all kinds—even liquor. Mary Meeker cites a few reasons why on-demand services have taken off in the last few years that include, “smartphone adoption, mobile payment platforms and social authentication." Additionally the way millennials prefer to work--and the on-demand work suits millennials. The same report argues that changes in connectivity and commerce impacts the ways people can work, but it’s still early in the game. So now we have a proliferation of social networks, we have a proliferation of content sites, but we don’t have a ton of brands that marry both. How about companies that bring back-stories to whatever it is they help you create? There is a large maker movement happening today where people want to create their own stuff. Just because we can get anything pre-packaged or set up doesn’t mean we (especially millennials) like it that way. While some in the “Maker Movement” might be only referring to 3d printing or tools to make technology and robots, it also speaks to a growing interest in returning to creating all kinds of stuff--at home. These stories and content build community and create a direct connection to whatever it is you build-with the ingredients provided to you by the on-demand company. I won’t go so far as to call this a “back to the land” movement but I will say people are interested in doing things that come with a story—that have special meaning—that takes a certain amount of personal effort. According to TIME Magazine there are approximately 135 million U.S. adults who are makers, and the overall market for 3D printing products and various maker services hit $2.2 billion in 2012. That number is expected to reach $6 billion by 2017 and $8.41 billion by 2020. In a sense the on-demand market can be seen as parallel to the idea of the maker movement. Some of the smartest companies are not only building a following with an on-demand product and services model, they’re also building wildly imaginative stories that accompany these ingredients. They're empowering consumers to create their own imaginative things. For example, it’s possible that for my next cocktail party I will go on Pinterest, find a recipe I like and then head to the store to buy the various liquors, juices and sodas. However, what if you could find the recipe and have the alcohol delivered to you? What if that recipe was created by your favorite mixologist? This is precisely why the new on-demand liquor company Thirstie has had a ton of early success. On-Demand Services For Millennials Are About Much More Than Speed Devaraj Southworth--CEO of on-demand alcohol company Thirstie--believes catering to the millennial is about much more than speed of delivery. With Thirstie it’s about engaging the customer on a higher level, not speed. For Thirstie it’s about educating the consumer on what the product is about. What can you make at home with the product? They’ve put emphasis on not just a marketing platform to deliver the consumer the bottles of alcohol ordered in under an hour, but they focus on the content and community part of it. They launched The Craft on their main website—an editorial platform, in June 2015. The time spent on the Thirstie site went from 20 seconds to 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Clearly the millennial wants to learn about what they can make and what they can do on a hyper local level. According to Southworth, Thirstie believes in educating the consumer at the right time and the right place. In studies conducted by the company consumers want to feel “in the know” about trends. For example a trendy mixologist at a restaurant in Harlem, born in Australia--that was a producer of an amazing tequila--might guest post on their content site The Craft. Then the company Thirstie will deliver all the ingredients so readers can replicate the same cocktail recipe from that mixologist. Thirstie said adding recipes to their app increased engagement by 70 percent. Thirstie is growing 35 percent month over month. According to Southworth they "don’t want to be in 100 cities with 1000 retail partners—they’re moving slowly in a thoughtful way." Listen to our podcast for more from Devaraj Southworth. More about Devaraj Southworth: Devaraj Southworth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Thirstie, a leading national on-demand liquor, wine, and beer delivery company with a content driven commerce platform. Devaraj has been a leader in business, online media and mobile technology for close to 20 years, and is a serial entrepreneur with a number of successful ventures to his name. Prior to Thirstie, Devaraj built a digital agency to over $10M in sales, sold the Creative Services BU to an Inc. 500 Company, was a VP of Mobile Strategy for Amex, and is a former Deloitte and Accenture Strategy consultant. Devaraj studied Organizational Psychology and Investigative Journalism at Ohio Wesleyan.

How Connected Things Will Change The Future of Customer Experience
Oct 30 2015 31 mins  
According to Tim Joyce, Chief Innovation Officer of Xerox Customer Care, business success stories during the past 100 years were primarily about products. He says that now we're moving towards a world where success and value propositions will be based on service. Of course we'll still need products, but he says our purchases will be more about the services wrapped around them. Consumers will be permanently connected to sophisticated help desks that watch and anticipate customer needs. Joyce believes that technology in the future will make customer’s lives much better—and he doesn’t see technology replacing humans. Much like the people who at IBM run Watson, he believes technology will enhance the customer’s experience. Technology will eventually even prevent customers from having to contact customer care at all. Perhaps our products will talk to us and fix themselves for us. He says human agents will still be in the mix but their role will be very different from what it is today. People who run customer experience will still manage the brand's customer care architecture, drawing upon trends highlighted by their virtual counterpart, to maintain the feedback loop and action the necessary changes to better serve customers and better reflect the values of the brand. It'll be their job to ensure their virtual counterpart behaves and evolves appropriately, so that every customer experience is seamless. In this podcast we talk about this and much more. More about podcast guest Tim Joyce: Tim Joyce is the Chief Innovation Officer for Xerox Customer Care. Tim believes that the relationship between consumers and brands will change radically as artificial intelligence systems roll out. In this rapidly changing landscape, innovators will thrive and laggards will suffer. Tim was educated in Oxford and Durham where he studied Computing and Mathematics. In the early days of the web, he was an ecommerce specialist, pioneering online shopping in the UK. At Xerox he has lead software development, solutions, product and research functions, and now heads innovation. He is a strong believer in -- and has published several papers on -- Agile and Lean, and brings these disciplines to every engagement. Tim is passionate about building innovative software products and solutions that deliver a fantastic user experience. He lives on the Jurassic Coast in Poole, U.K., with his wife Jenny and 3 girls. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, cycling and playing chess. More posts from Tim Joyce: Five Products with Embedded Customer Care Seats Plus Software: The New Model For Customer Care

When Customers Design Their Own Experiences
Oct 23 2015 31 mins  
Today customers want products and services when and where they want them. Not only is timing and delivery key, but customers want to design their own experiences. Customers want the comfort and ease of ordering things via the web, but they want the option to create something that is specific to their tastes. That said, Shoes Of Prey, a website where you can order your own shoes, is becoming one of the hottest new trends. Partnered now with Nordstrom, Shoes Of Prey creates an in-store retail experience so customers can touch and feel the various fabrics and try on different looks, but the entire process is done via the web. It can be said the sharing economy has been so successful not just because of the diverse and authentic offerings, but also the ease with which you can order something on demand. Retail stores have complicated inventory processes. They can’t figure out a way to plan for variation in products or services. We’re used to on-demand software, we order books effortlessly on Amazon that are instantly downloaded to our device, but the idea of mass custom made products has yet to take off. People got very excited by the idea of 3d printers where you could print your own plastic figurine, chocolate or even custom limb—but this trend has slowed down. After all how many people have 3d printers in their homes? Not many. Today Shoes Of Prey is limited to women’s shoes, however you can imagine how a company like Shoes of Prey would expand its on-demand services. Today the company that can bring the most tailored authentic products and experiences to the masses will win. These are the experiences today’s consumers seek. This week on the modern customer podcast we feature Jodi Fox Co-founder and Chief Evangelist at - the world's first website where women can design their own shoes. Started just 4 years ago, Shoes of Prey broke even at 2 months, hit multi-million dollar revenue in under 2 years and today is a global multi-million dollar enterprise. She’s also co-founder of - an online optical fashion store focused on the Australian market. Jodie's creativity and passion is directed into guiding both companies product and communications. She was Telstra's 2011 business woman of the year for private and corporate, one of the top 30 most influential women in Australian retail 2014, one of the top 10 Australian female entrepreneurs for 2014 and a finalist for the 2014 InStyle Audi Woman of Style awards. She is a banking and finance lawyer by trade who explored the world of advertising before starting her own businesses.

Panel: How are we Engaging with Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives featuring Tate and Playboy
Oct 15 2015 46 mins  
national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art. It is a network of four art museums), Beatrice Burrows, Digital Marketing Officer for Tate, and Robin Zucker, the SVP of Digital for Playboy. The panel focused on four areas that include: Omni Channel Advertising Challenges in Creating Content for Different Demographics Social Media Challenges How the Rise of Digital Mobile Marketing Effect Consumer Behavior What happens when you bring together a publisher, a museum institution and a consultant? A lot of talk about engaging customer experiences, content strategy and stand-out social media examples. At the Los Angeles based Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in September Playboy, Tate and I met to do a panel on "Engaging Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives." The panelists were: Maria Pavlou the Digital Communications Officer for Tate (the Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art. It is a network of four art museums), Beatrice Burrows, Digital Marketing Officer for Tate, and Robin Zucker, the SVP of Digital for Playboy. The panel focused on four areas that include: Omni Channel Advertising Challenges in Creating Content for Different Demographics Social Media Challenges How the Rise of Digital Mobile Marketing Effect Consumer Behavior We talked at length about how important experiences are when marketing to millennials. For example did you know that 3 in four millennials would prefer to purchase an experience over buying a product? In the panel we also address the difficulty of social media marketing and how to do it well. We provide fun examples of really good content strategies in addition to drawing from our own companies. For example we discuss this GoPro video campaign - a fantastic example of how to inspire and engage. Tate is doing some very cutting edge work to engage their audiences. Did you know they encourage people to take selfies with the art? They are doing fantastic work with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook--and soon Snapchat. Playboy Magazine is an established brand with a growing digital footprint. Did you know Playboy Magazine is an esteemed literary publication having been the seed for many things such as the film Hurt Locker? The film was inspired an article about one of the bomb experts, Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver entitled, "The Man in the Bomb Suit", published in September 2005. Playboy has also published Margaret Atwood one of my all-time favorite literary geniuses. Playboy is a lifestyle brand and publisher that recently made news announcing it will no longer feature nudes in its publication. I personally thoroughly enjoyed moderating this panel and I hope you enjoy listening. Please see the player for the modern customer podcast below. Check out our panel in this podcast audio.

Customer Experience Leadership Conversations with Leyla Seka
Oct 09 2015 30 mins  
While every department needs a strong leader within the company, it can be said that customer experience needs an exceptionally strong leader. The reason being it’s not always intuitive for companies to invest in strong customer experience programs. Much of the budget goes to marketing or product or sales. That said, on the modern customer podcast this week we feature customer experience leader Leyla Seka. You might know the name Seka because she was a key influence on Marc Benioff’s decision to make equal pay for women a priority at Salesforce, a Fortune 500 company. She was integral to the Women’s Leadership Summit this year at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference. Whether it’s conveying Dolly Parton’s lessons about customer service or talking about empathy, Seka has a fresh and imaginative perspective on business that’s infectious. In this podcast we hear leading ideas on modern customer experience, an exclusive look into Seka’s views on career and much much more. Seka is a leader in the customer experience industry serving as SVP and General Manager of, Salesforce's all-in-one customer service app for fast-growing companies such as Yelp, SnapChat, Munchery, Bonobos, Dot & Bo and Luxe Valet. connects agents with email, phone calls and social channels. Salesforce had an immense impact on the way companies interact with customers, specifically how companies store and manage that customer data. Gone are the days where everyone in the company doesn’t have the opportunity to touch that customer interaction, and collaborate around it. plays a key role in the customer service side of customer experience. More about Leyla Seka Prior to her role as General Manager and Senior Vice President, Salesforce Seka was responsible for building and growing the Salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading business apps marketplace. In her eight years at Salesforce, Seka has held a variety of positions across product management, product marketing and business operations helping to build a scalable infrastructure to support the company’s business. Prior to Salesforce, Seka worked in product management and marketing organizations at Primavera Systems (acquired by Oracle), Evolve Software, Vivant and Eutron SPA. Seka also spent two years in West Africa as a Peace Corps officer in Mali. Seka holds a BA in International Relations and French from the University of California at Davis and a MBA from the Masagung School of Management at the University of San Francisco.

StubHub's Results Driven Approach To Managing Social Media In The Contact Center
Oct 01 2015 32 mins  
Since 1987 the share on consumer spending on live experiences and events relative to total U.S. consumer spending has increased 70%. Additionally 3 in 4 millennials would rather buy an experience than a product. All of that is good news for StubHub an online marketplace owned by eBay, which provides services for buyers and sellers of tickets for sports, concerts, theater and other live entertainment events. The events industry is a social industry, meaning customers that attend events are often tweeting or Facebooking. Randy Rubingh runs customer service for StubHub and built the social customer service strategy. The reality about social media is many companies fall into it the same way. A tweet was sent to the CEO or a PR flare-up happened. For StubHub there were misconceptions about what StubHub was. They were accused of being "scalpers" which StubHub is not. In order to clear these misconceptions StubHub started engaging on social media. StubHub took the opportunity to explain what StubHub’s role was. Today they make it a priority to be there where their customers are. He says at StubHub customer service has a strong partnership with marketing in order to run social media well. Marketing uses Facebook for promotions and--like many other companies--customer service responds to all mentions of StubHub on the web. Depending on the engagement, customer service will step in and store that interaction in their CRM (Siebel). When I interviewed Rubingh on the podcast he said that StubHub believes social media training is more about calibration than it is hardcore scripting. The calibration process includes a review of all the interactions. He says he took smart seasoned agents—and trained them on their tool that tracks and categorizes the mentions (Lithium). The agents then respond. Rubingh believes that on social media a customer service script is not helpful. StubHub gets about 50K mentions of StubHub, but the number StubHub responds to is only about 5% of those social media interactions. They manually categorize the sentiment. Rubingh (@rrubingh) is the Senior Director of Customer Service for StubHub and the author of “Call Center Rocket Science”. Randy has more than 25 years’ experience building, managing, and leading customer support organizations. He has led service organizations ranging from small start-ups with as few as five agents to leading a five-site, international customer service organization with thousands of agents. During the course of his career he has managed over 20 million incoming phone calls. Learn more about staffing, contact centers, customer service and how to create a killer contact center culture at StubHub in this podcast.

The Chief Customer Officer: Driving Customer Engagement At The Highest Levels
Sep 18 2015 28 mins  
It's counter-intuitive to most business practices to bring your customer in at the highest levels of the company to improve the company. However the members of the Chief Customer Officer Council are familiar with not only how to do this, but the many benefits of creating a seat for the customer right next to the other c-suite executives. Curtis Bingham, Founder and Executive Director of the Chief Customer Officer Council knows this well. He's this week's guest on The Modern Customer Podcast. In this podcast Bingham talks about how the Chief Customer Officer Council presents a collective crystal ball that tells where the customer is going and how can we chart a path to meet the customer there. Today customer experience is a known differentiator but it wasn't always that way. If we think about differentiators over time, it used to be who had the fastest cheapest product, then it was logistics such as who could deliver the product or service the fastest and most cost effective, then customer service became a known differentiator--though some companies still don't understand this concept. Now it’s about moving beyond the experience to see who is willing to engage customers and co-design and co-develop products with them? The Chief Customer Officer drives customer strategy at the highest levels of the company. The Chief Customer Officer is uniquely accountable for customers, like the CEO is uniquely accountable for shareholder value and the CFO is responsible for performance in financial markets. There’s a handful of objectives shared by all chief customer officers. One objective is to drive profitable customer behavior. How do we aquire the most valuable customers? How do we drive customer engagement and loyalty? How do we create a customer-centric culture? The responsibilities of the chief customer officer varies by job-type. Some chief customer officers have line authority which is officially sanctioned authority to issue orders to subordinates (small and mid-size companies this is popular), large companies focus more on retention. At the larger companies they might own the call center or professional services if they have line authority, or in some cases they’re a staff function. They’re there to improve processes across all the business units. There are common accountabilities of chief customer officers such as how they’re involved in customer issue escalation and resolutions. For the first year the chief customer officer is in the role they’re dealing with customer issues. They’re focused on gaps between desired customer experiences and actual customer experiences. The chief customer officer is focused on metrics and analyses. The chief customer officer unfortunately spends a lot of time proving their value which is a shame because they’re not able to do as much for the customer. They're busy playing politics. During the recession the chief customer officer was the first high level officer to get cut--unfortunately for these companies. The chief customer officer is also focused on deriving value from every customer segment, and determining what type of relationship you want to have with your key customers, and what do they want from you. They spend a lot of time addressing customer needs, and balancing those customer needs with the requirements of the business. The average tenure of the chief customer officer is thirty months. However it can take three or even five years to clearly demonstrate the value of the company. Short-termism hurts customers and the business. Wall Street loves it, but it’s hard to change customer attitudes in one quarter. It’s important to define customer engagement. Curtis Bingham says if you talk to marketing agencies, they define customer engagement as when you interrupt the customer's flow with a pop up on the customer's screen—the agency puts something in the way of the customer's workflow to post the company message. Customer engagement as Curtis Bingham and the chief customer officers of his council define it, it’s the willingness of the customer to devote discretionary time to the company for mutual benefit. What is the number of activities the customer participates in? To learn more about the collective crystal ball of the chief customer officer council--and other secrets about the CCO role, tune in to this podcast.

When Customer Service and Sales Are Managed Under One CCO
Sep 15 2015 29 mins  
Not every company's Chief Customer Officer has the same scope. For example at DoubleDutch, Chief Customer Officer Annie Tsai manages both the customer service and sales teams. In this podcast Chief Customer Officer Annie Tsai talks about her secret sauce to leading customer engagement for such a fast growth company with a unique stakeholder audience. She's a great example of how to lead when you're clientele is both B2B and B2C. She talks about how brands are making an effort to engage with customers via social media, and how DoubleDutch is adding a personal touch to community engagement (for not just B2B clients). Annie's work day starts around 5am. In our podcast she opens up to talk more about what it's like to have an exciting and demanding career and a young child at home. Annie is passionate about mentoring others and has solid advice on not only customer engagement but career advice for newbies to customer engagement. More about Annie Tsai: Annie is a customer experience focused executive with a "jack of all trades" mentality. She’s known as a balanced strategic and operational leader that loves to roll up her sleeves and get down to business. She’s also a published author and industry speaker. Prior to DoubleDutch she was Chief Customer Officer at Demandforce, an Intuit company where she oversaw customer success during DemandForce’s fastest period of growth. While at Demandforce, Annie transformed the way their customers used technology and social tools, building trust and community around the Demandforce product. At DoubleDutch, she spearheads a similar paradigm shift, increasing not only application adoption and utilization, but event return on investment for customers as well. DoubleDutch provides mobile applications and performance analytics for events, conferences, and trade shows for more than 1,000 customers including SAP, UBM, and Urban Land Institute. Founded in 2011, DoubleDutch was recently named to Inc. 5000’s list of fastest growing private companies, AlwaysOn’s Global 250 best-of-breed private companies in SaaS and Enterprise, and Forbes’ list of 10 hot companies to work for in San Francisco. DoubleDutch is based in the Mission District of San Francisco with regional offices in Amsterdam, London, Hong Kong, and Portland. DoubleDutch has raised almost 80 million dollars since its inception in 2011. Show note correction: Annie Tsai will be speaking at Frost & Sullivan this year but not Gartner For more customer experience content from Blake Morgan sign up for the Customer Experience Weekly here.

Pioneering A New Era of Customer Engagement
Sep 07 2015 38 mins  
Your brand is no longer defined by one marketing message but rather the daily interactions customers have with the brand. Brands today realize in an effort to differentiate with customer experience they need to go above and beyond with service. You can't talk about customer service without talking about the technology that's driven customer service for the last thirty years. Namely, customer relationship management (CRM) technology. According to Davy Kestens, CEO of Sparkcentral and this week's podcast guest for The Modern Customer, there are multiple misconceptions about the CRM space. CRM has become sales process optimization or automation software. Companies looking to leverage customer data for other reasons find themselves in a lurch. For many large enterprises CRM is the place where data gets dumped. With the repeated dumping of data, many large companies find their customer data unusable. The CRM space has bloated itself with many players with varying use cases. According to Kestens today's CRM is not living up to its expectations. This is why it takes so long to get help with you contact the contact center of a company. While you are on hold the agent is flipping through 15 different tabs. Kestens predicts in the future brands will be engaging in a battle of customer experience. But today's brands are a long way from there. Podcast guest Davy Kestens was called the next Aaron Levie by Forbes Magazine. Today his company SparkCentral has a clientele featuring the world’s largest brands including Delta, T-Mobile, Uber, Lyft, Lululemn, Dropbox, Arby’s and Emirates. Listen to our podcast to learn more about what he is doing to pioneer a new era of customer engagement. Disclosure: Sparkcentral is a client of Blake Morgan's company Flight Digital.

Chief Customer Officers: The Human Duct Tape Of The Organization
Aug 24 2015 30 mins  
Did you know that Chief Customer Officers are the human duct tape of the organization? Chief Customer Officers are one of the fastest growing roles within organizations today. The Chief Customer Officer reports to the CEO and is responsible for the end to end customer experience. While the Chief Customer Officer is a highly influential role within the company, you don't have to be a C-level officer within the company to impact change around the customer experience. But you do need to understand how to be a strong relationship builder, according to Jeanne Bliss. If you're trying to build influence at your company how do you go about getting meetings with people such as the CFO--and why would you want to do that at all? Bliss has some ideas around how you can do this well. Bliss is an author, speaker and consultant. She's recently published Chief Customer Officer 2.0: How To Build Your Customer Driven Growth Engine (Wiley). Bliss has real-world experience having held senior customer strategy roles at Lands’ End, Microsoft, Mazda, Coldwell Banker and Allstate Corporation. She is the President of consulting firm Customer Bliss, she’s the author of two other books including her first Chief Customer Officer (Josey-Bass) and I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions That Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty In Good Times and Bad (Penguin Group). She’s an experienced practitioner and thought leader who doesn’t sugar coat the facts.

Truth-Teller Augie Ray Talks Social Care, ROI and How To Win With Customer Experience
Aug 16 2015 36 mins  
Why don’t more companies understand if they get the “right” things “right” with customer experience success will come? Making money is not the goal but it’s the result when the company keeps the customer in mind. All companies today are in a foot race. Unless the company is obsessively trying to make the customer happy, the company risks losing. My latest podcast guest is Augie Ray, Director of VOC Customer Experience Action for a Fortune 100 financial services company. Augie writes frequently about customer experience. He recently wrote a post (that we discuss in this podcast) about how too many companies treat customer experience as a program and not a purpose--something to be assigned to a couple of employees while the rest of the company goes about its business improving efficiency, acquisition and margins. Augie--citing Forrester--says only 25% of CX professionals say their companies’ customer experience programs actually improve customer experience. He also shares a study indicating that 81% of organizations have seen their Customer Experience Management (CXM) initiatives fail in the last three years. Augie Ray doesn’t believe everyone in the company is a marketer, nor are they a salesperson. But he does believe everyone in the company should be focused on customer experience. Companies like Uber and Nest understand the power of customer experience and are reaping the benefits. In this podcast not only do we talk about customer experience case studies, we also take a deep dive into a discussion of ROI. Leaders often want to know of the ROI of a customer experience program. But what is the ROI of doing nothing? Even if you do nothing for the customer experience it will still cost you. There is an impact to not fixing what is broken about your customer experience. Examples of the negative ROI of doing nothing include loss of market share, the cost of ceasing to innovate, and the risk of not differentiating yourself from the competition. Short-sighted management and quarterly demands of "the street" are getting in the way of a clear vision--and hurting customer experience. In this podcast we talk about social customer care, why most companies are still struggling with call volume (and make it the customer's problem) and other major customer service fails.

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