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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Sep 18, 2015

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.

Sep 15, 2015

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.

Sep 7, 2015

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.

Aug 30, 2015

If you haven’t noticed GoDaddy has gone through a transformation in the last few years. GoDaddy leadership talk candidly about how their prior brand strategy generated a lot of attention but alienated a lot of their customers. GoDaddy realized most of its customers were actually female small business owners. GoDaddy’s new CEO Blake Irving has worked hard to shift its strategy to “represent them [women] proudly.” Today GoDaddy has many strong female leaders running the company including Barb Rechterman, Chief Customer Officer. GoDaddy has become a more customer-centric company. I know because I personally am a customer. Now when you call their call center a voice says “need customer support? We love helping customers.” Chief Customer Officer Barb has been instrumental in overhauling GoDaddy’s customer experience. Barb is not just a customer advocate she’s also a dynamic person outside of work who rides Harley motorcycles and trains her horses in her spare time.

Aug 24, 2015

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. 

Aug 16, 2015

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.


Aug 4, 2015

Fragmented customer experiences have made it challenging for customer experience professionals looking to leverage big data. Have you ever bought a pair of shoes online and then it follows you for a few months? This is the challenge with personalization today. Personalization hasn’t delivered relevance and hasn’t given us a different approach. What’s supposed to be personalized is still mass marketing; and with that mass customer experiences. According to Lisa Arthur, CMO of Teradata Applications personalization is not making the cut. Social media has forever changed the customer-company relationship. Many companies today lack a customer experience strategy. Companies today need to tear down siloes and untangle that data hairball—for the sake of customer experience. That means departments working collaboratively with their sister organizations—consolidating different data pieces. Customer service will need IT, and the rest of the company. In this podcast we not only address the plight of modern day customer service but we also talk about how recent data breaches (think Ashley Madison) have changed attitudes about privacy.   


Aug 3, 2015


It has been said that women do not support each other in the workplace because they are competing for a few positions at the top. While this might all just be in women's heads, in reality in sports inequality happens every day. The Ironman championship is another venue where inequality happens every year.  There are an unequal number of opportunities for women and men in the Ironman championship.

Women are told to #leanin in business but if our sports organizations still create unequal opportunities for women isn't that sending mixed messages? As a society do we truly believe men and women should have equal opportunities?


My guest on this week’s Modern Customer podcast is Ironman champion Sara Gross. Not only is Sara an Ironman champion but she also has a PhD- she completed her dissertation was about women's history. Today we talk about what the Ironman can teach us about leadership development and equality for women competing in sports.

In this podcast Sara and I talk about mental toughness and what it takes for women to not only be successful in sports, but also in their careers. Sara and I talk about confidence, the benefits of how “nobody really cares,” and how to start investing in yourself.

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