The Modern Customer Podcast

The Modern Customer Podcast is a show exploring the intersection of customer experience, social customer service and content. We will also dive into related leadership topics. The show is hosted by Forbes contributor and customer experience strategist Blake Morgan and features guests that include practitioners, authors, influencers and other tastemakers.
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Dec 27, 2016

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Dec 20, 2016

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.

Dec 12, 2016

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.




Dec 6, 2016

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.




Nov 29, 2016

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.





Nov 21, 2016

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.


Nov 16, 2016

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.

Nov 8, 2016

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.





Nov 3, 2016

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.

Oct 11, 2016

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.

Oct 3, 2016

There's a lot you might not know about ACE Hardware - for example did you know the world's largest Ace Hardware store is in Indonesia and is 160K square feet? This global company—known as #TheHelpfulPlace—has focus on service you can’t ignore. The service focus in addition to specialty items and authentic 1:1 experiences is their best weapon against competitors such as Amazon. The company is much bigger than you might realize – it has 85,000 employees and over 4800 stores.

ACE Hardware as of 2016 has been ranked by J.D. Power as the highest in customer satisfaction with home improvement for ten years straight. Their CEO John Venhuizen talked to me in this Modern Customer Podcast about what makes them so successful. Whether it’s trusting the locally owned Ace businesses to cater to their local communities or a less than in your face approach to social media marketing, the company maintains a service-oriented approach throughout. Listen to this podcast with ACE Hardware's CEO to learn:

What’s the CEOs role in shaping customer experiences

How does ACE Hardware remain competitive against Amazon

What is ACE Hardware’s approach to social customer service

Sep 27, 2016

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.

Sep 20, 2016

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.

Sep 12, 2016

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.

Sep 6, 2016

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.


Aug 29, 2016

The Dallas Mavericks are famous for a few reasons. They are the 9th most valuable basketball Franchise in the NBA valued at $1.4 billion dollars. The other unique aspect of the team is Mark Cuban their highly involved and enthusiastic owner. The Dallas Mavericks Chief Technology Officer--interviewed in this podcast--is used to hearing from Cuban whether it’s about engaging digital fans or a customer complaint Cuban found on social media. Management of the team make customer experience excellence a habit. The Dallas Mavericks continually invest in technology in addition to other leadership development practices such as the Disney Institute to maintain a strong level of quality throughout the Mavericks fan experience. Today’s Modern Customer guest, Chief Technology Officer Ken Bonzon talks about how he started his career with the Dallas Mavericks 17 years ago and the many transformations he's seen the team go through. Fan engagement has always been a priority for the team, and now with technology engaging partners and fans has become even easier. Learn about what the Dallas Mavericks are doing to engage fans and maintain brand relevance in this podcast.

Aug 22, 2016

Amazon repeatedly tops customer experience lists in addition to every other category for innovation. So what’s the secret? John Rossman was an early employee with Amazon and started with the initial leadership team in the early 2000s. In his book The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind The World’s Most Disruptive Company provides an inside-look at what makes Amazon so successful. Today Rossman serves as a Managing Director at consultancy Alvarez & Marsal. At a time when Amazon rarely talks to the press Rossman’s book looks at all the reasons why Amazon remains competitive and the decision-making that makes the company consistently high performing. Don't miss these critical tips in today’s modern customer podcast.

Aug 14, 2016

Why does it seem like start-ups are having all the fun lately? All too often big companies will launch an incubator or start-up environment in their company only later to close it once the company starts to feel nervous about their growth. In today’s Modern Customer Podcast we learn from Michael Docherty the author of Collective Disruption: How Corporations & Startups Can Co-Create Transformative New Businesses. In the book Michael reveals how the smartest corporations are learning to partner and co-create with startups for transformative innovation. The book provides established companies with a practical framework for plugging into the startup ecosystem to fuel and incubate new businesses. As CEO of Venture2 Inc., Docherty and his organization work with leading companies to transform their innovation capabilities, build innovation ecosystems and accelerate the commercialization of breakthrough new products, services and business models. He is a frequent speaker on innovation and corporate venturing and an active supporter of the entrepreneurial community.

Aug 8, 2016

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.


Aug 1, 2016

A new study from “The Math, the Magic and the Customer” found that inundated with troves of analytical data - today’s marketers often mistake the “algorithm” for the “person”.  Today’s marketers seek to have gotten so ROI-centric on every campaign according to Bain they are missing out on some of the magic of engaging with and understanding customers. The report says that “Humans, after all, are pesky creatures. We make decisions with our hearts as well as our heads. Our wants and needs can’t always be reduced to, or predicted by, data.” Today’s guest on The Modern Customer Podcast is Laura Beaudin, partner in Bain & Co’s San Francisco office - leading the firm’s Digital, Customer, Strategy & Marketing - as well as Telecom & Media practices could offer your listeners a fresh approach on how important it is to not get lost in the data and maintain connection to the customer as a “person”.  I thought this might make for an interesting show topic as it addresses a dilemma facing marketers today and offers proven strategies to deal with it. To access the report click here.

Jul 25, 2016

Are we living in the experience economy? In today’s episode of the Modern Customer Podcast I interview Joseph Pine, co author of The Experience Economy –a book that predicted we are living in the Experience Economy. The book was updated and re-released—and almost twenty years after its initial publishing it still provides excellent fodder for the customer experience conversation. It was the original book to hit on the subject of customer experience. The book provides a well-researched discussion of how businesses won’t survive by doing what they’ve always done. Businesses must look to some of the major inspirations such as Disneyland, Hershey's Chocolate World and other exciting experiences to engage the customer. To simply provide a product or service is not enough. In this podcast we revisit the principles of The Experience Economy. We see how businesses stack up today when it comes to providing the ultimate experience as defined by Joseph Pine in his book.

In this podcast you will learn:

What is a customer experience according to The Experience Economy?

Are we living in the experience economy today?

What can businesses do across their business to improve the customer experience?

Jul 19, 2016

Most of us hate flying. From delays to TSA lines to smaller and smaller seats on flights—flying is not what it used to be. Many of us enjoy the ease of using Uber on the streets but when it comes to the skies, the airlines—no matter how terrible they treat customers—appear disruption proof. Until now! Enter Surf Air, an All-You-Can-Fly private membership that provides business and leisure travelers with exclusive, hassle-free air travel. Today we talk airline industry disruption. Today on the Modern Customer Podcast we’re joined by Surf Air CEO Jeff Potter who talks about the Surf Air customer experience. Starting his career as an airplane cleaner, Potter eventually worked his way up to becoming President and Chief Executive Office of Frontier Airlines and a member of their Board of Directors during Frontier’s greatest growth period. He also held the Chief Executive Office title with Vanguard Airlines in early 2000. As CEO of Surf Air he oversees all operation and is instrumental in helping Surf Air to expand into new territories. His combined stellar aviation background and luxury product experience as Chief Executive Office of Exclusive Resorts makes him an invaluable part of Surf Air’s success.

In this podcast you will learn:

What is Surf Air?

How does Surf Air create a unique and exclusive environment for guests?

What are the disruption opportunities in the airline industry? 

Jul 11, 2016

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

Jul 5, 2016

Niels Aillaud, Head of Digital Marketing and Chief Digital Officer of Whirlpool knows the importance of customer reviews and takes them very seriously. Whirlpool, an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of home appliances, manages a wealth of solid brands such as KitchenAid, Maytag and many more—Aillaud is working to track all conversations about the various products and services within the Whirlpool portfolio. Whirlpool’s stock has been steadily increasing for the last almost 40 years. Clearly they are doing something right. Our guest today on The Modern Customer Podcast Niels Aillaud Niels Aillaud is responsible for Digital Strategy and Innovation for Whirlpool Corp. today. For the last 18 years, Niels has leveraged his deep understanding of technology and the evolution of consumer’s behavior to expand his clients’ success in the digital realm. Prior to Whirlpool, Aillaud was responsible for Global Digital Marketing at Logitech. Before that he led all digital marketing initiatives for LG Mobile, where he was the recipient of multiple awards (Webby, EFFIE, OMMA, Cannes Bronze Lyon).

 In this podcast you will learn:

Whirlpool’s approach to social customer reviews
How a to launch a company-wide data program
Whirlpool’s approach to customer journeys

Jun 27, 2016

Historically we've always looked for ways to evolve how we use our money. We've been transacting for thousands of years and we're getting savvier on how to enable consumers to transact with greater ease. Clearly mobile payments are becoming bigger. Skip Allums, Lead Designer at Paypal and today's guest on The Modern Customer Podcast calls it a rising tide.

In this podcast we address questions such as how do we make mobile payments more convenient and safe? Consumers are increasingly weary of their financial privacy and interested in how their data is being used. Designers need to think about the customer journey and how we're mapping the experience of the customer from the absolute beginning. Some companies are moving quickly with mobile payments. For example in Q1 of 216 the money consumers loaded on their Starbucks cards and app surged to $1.2 billion, up 22% since the third quarter last year, according to Starbuck's filings. Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay are all leading the charge today but it's only the beginning. Mass adoption of mobile pay hasn't happened yet but Allums believes it will happen in the near future. 

In this podcast you will learn:

Good mobile design
The mobile payment landscape
Best practices of mobile commerce


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