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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Jun 6, 2016

For today's Modern Customer Podcast we are joined by Erin Walline, the new Executive Director of Global Customer Programs for Dell. With a unique background in product engineering and user experience (UX), Erin looks to apply human-centered design philosophies to business strategy and operations across internal organizations, ensuring Dell’s customers have a seamless experience at every touchpoint. 

After receiving her Ph.D. in Engineering from Texas A&M University, Erin started as a user experience engineer with Dell 13 years ago. Members of her team have unique background ranging from cognitive psychology to anthropology and UX design.

In this podcast you will learn: 


How to drive customer experiences through company culture
How to use both qualitative and quantitative data to improve your customer experience
How to build a customer journey
How to build influence as a customer experience executive 

May 31, 2016

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.

May 23, 2016

There’s never a dull moment at Yahoo! The company is in the news daily with rumors on who will purchase it, what Marissa Mayer is up to, and it’s been like this for years. You can imagine it might affect the employees that work at Yahoo from day to day. However according to Yahoo’s SVP of Global Operations John Devine, this is not the case. With a redefined approach to customer care that is directly impacting the development of Yahoo’s core products. Instead of just being reactive to user problems, this program is designed to channel the feedback, wants and needs of 1B+ users to product teams in a meaningful way that evokes material changes. Today’s guest on The Modern Customer Podcast is leading the effort of enriching the company’s product roadmap through user feedback.

In this podcast you will learn:


Who Yahoo’s modern customer is

How the company manages the external noise internally

The ingredients of Yahoo’s company culture

The strategy for Yahoo's VOC program

Marissa Mayer’s management style


May 16, 2016

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
May 10, 2016

You might have heard of @Veronica because she has 1.76M followers on Twitter. While she frequently speaks on topics like listening to your customers on social media she rarely uses social to complain herself. The only time was when she hosted the Season 6 Premier of Game of Thrones on Facebook Live and her dress showed up with a hole in it. As a writer, producer, and speaker, Veronica’s primary goal has been to educate both savvy and mainstream audiences about how technology can improve and enhance their lives. A guest on this week’s Modern Customer Podcast she gives golden advice to brands on how to make a fan in a moment of failure.

-Brands that are doing social media right
-Why brands fail at engaging with their customers on social media
-How brands can maintain authenticity on social media with customers


May 2, 2016

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



Apr 26, 2016

When Chris McCann President and Chief Executive Officer of 1-800 FLOWERS.COM was sitting in the F8 keynote with Mark Zuckerberg, he had no idea Zuckerberg would be including 1-800 Flowers in the presentation. The reason 1-800 Flowers was everywhere in the press is the announcement of the chatbot release. 1-800 Flowers has always been on the brink of technology innovation. They were the first to allow customers to call them to make an order for delivery in the early 80s. They were the first retail company to have an ecommerce presence on the web in 1992 when they partnered with AOL. Now they are one of the first to take advantage of the Facebook chatbot release. Facebook will now allow businesses to deliver automated customer support, ecommerce guidance, content, and interactive experiences. 1-800 Flowers uses a few different technologies to run its large ecommerce operation that includes brands such as Harry & David and seven more.  

In this podcast you will learn:

Understand the process of launching the Facebook chatbot for 1-800 Flowers.  

How 1-800 Flowers ensures the quality of suggestions delivered by the chatbot

Learn about 1-800 Flowers customer service strategy  


Apr 18, 2016

You don’t hear the word simplicity very much when it comes to customer experience. But according to Siegel+Gale CMO Margaret Molloy simplicity is the key to running a strong operation. Molloy is responsible for all marketing, communications, and business development initiatives globally. She is a modern Business-to-Business CMO with 15+ years as a marketing leader, a must-follow marketing minds on Twitter (Forbes). Molloy has led marketing organizations at Siebel Systems—where she was a member of the Siebel Systems CEO’s Circle—and served as vice president of Marketing at Telecom Ireland US (eircom). She has her MBA from Harvard Business School.

In this podcast you will learn:

The one customer experience challenge sitting on every CMOs' desk today

The changing role of PR and advertising as consumer behavior changes

Golden advice for personal brand building

Apr 11, 2016

This is the 2nd post in a two-part series featuring Fidelity thought leaders. Find the first post here.

It seems that every innovation story you hear today comes out of a start-up. Big companies are often described as dinosaurs, slow with trouble pivoting. So what can big companies do to ensure they too make it a habit of creating an environment for disruption? Big companies today would benefit from thinking about what they can do to prepare for a new environment where business changes at ever corner. What can big companies do to make themselves more nimble, better able to pivot and competitive in the marketplace? Evan Gerber, VP of Digital Strategy and Mobile at Fidelity knows a thing or two about disruption. He believes big companies can be just as innovative and disruptive as small companies—they just need the right approach.

An avid technophile and self proclaimed device geek, Gerber is fascinated by the interplay of business, technology, and consumer behavior. Evan's first engagement in the mobile space was over a decade ago, and he has been at the forefront of developing customer experiences across multiple devices ever since.

In this podcast you will learn:

  • Key patterns or trends that disruptors offer
  • The conditions for an organization to disrupt
  • How can brands move faster to be the disruptor, not the disrupted
  • How large brands can leverage their size to cause disruption


Mar 29, 2016

Imagine a small rural village in Sweden. It’s nighttime and a new dad drops the only remaining bottle of baby formula on the floor as his hungry son wails. The closest grocery store will take at least 40 minutes round-trip. That was the moment that technology expert Robert Illiason started thinking about alternatives. He realized living in a rural part of the world, where shops close early puts a strain on customers. He came up with the idea for Näraffär (meaning “shop nearby”), the first unmanned grocery store where customers can buy small items such as baby food at any time of night or day. The store is run using a mix of cameras, apps and other technology which he describes as fairly simple to set up. In this podcast you will hear from Illiason, who is an IT consultant specializing in databases and business intelligence, mainly working with automating processes and data flows. He has worked with customers such as Ericsson, TeliaSonera and, mainly, IKEA. He is also a writer and who keeps his finger at the tech pulse for several Swedish IT magazines.

In this podcast you will learn:

The key components of an employee-less store

Surprising insights into customer behavior

Future predictions around retail technology



Mar 24, 2016

There’s a major challenge today facing every B2B company, and that’s customer engagement. Gallup has recently released a new guide discussing some of environmental factors causing B2B companies to ask themselves about their customer engagement strategy. The guide is based on in-depth interviews with hundreds of thousands of customers and analysis from measuring the engagement of 18 million customers. B2B companies need to work to be just as agile and ready as B2C companies when it comes to how they engage their customers—and how engaged those customers actually are. In this podcast I speak with Ed O’Boyle Gallup’s Global Practice Leader who oversees strategic vision for the company’s worksplace and marketplace practices. Ed brings more than 18 years of marketing and branding experience to Gallup. He previously served in roles in brand management, strategic planning, and innovation at Diageo, Capital One, and Frito-Lay. 

In this podcast you will learn:


  1. The biggest risk B2B companies face today
  2. Gain tips on how B2B companies do to improve customer engagement?
  3. How companies are playing defense because they don't know what their customers want
  4. The social media strategies of leading B2B companies
  5. What successful global B2B have that others don’t
Mar 8, 2016

Everywhere we look we see more people and brands raving about Snapchat. But we don't hear much about anyone using Snapchat for customer service yet. However one company has recently generated some attention in Social Media Today for actually responding to customers that need help via Snapchat. The company is called iOgrapher—a company iOgrapher sells cases, lenses, microphones, tripods, and LED lighting to turn almost any iPhone or iPad owner into a traveling video producer. The company’s motto is “Life, Camera, Action.” Founder David Basulto invented the iOgrapher ipad mini case for filmmaking. The company has generated a lot of attention—Steven Spielberg is reportedly a customer.

David is a former teacher and had a successful career producing feature films and television for firms like Icon Entertainment and Lifetime Television. His films have won awards at many film festivals, including the Toronto Film Festival. After seeing the shift to digital, he dove head first into learning as many tools as possible and fell in love with the iPad.

In this podcast you will learn:

The art to doing customer service well on Snapchat.
What big companies can learn from a start-up about killer customer service.
Meeting customer expectations on Snapchat

Mar 4, 2016

This week on the Modern Customer Podcast we talk about all things mobile innovation. Our guest is Christophe Gillet Vice President of Product at Vimeo. In this capacity he leads the product vision for the brand, including oversight and ongoing development for Vimeo’s creator platform tools and overall viewing experience. Under his leadership, the team has introduced new subscription tools for creators selling on Vimeo On Demand, rebuilt Vimeo’s search functionality and made significant updates to Vimeo’s suite of mobile and connected TV apps.

Christophe joined Vimeo in 2014 from Adap.TV, which was acquired by AOL in 2013, where he launched and led product for their programmatic linear video advertising platform. Christophe has also held product positions at Ebay, Vuze, and Ipreo. He holds six patents across media and ecommerce, and was awarded the CES Innovation Award in 2012 for the Fan TV iPad app.


In this podcast you will learn:

How the industry needs to rethink native mobile video products

How Vimeo aggressively ramped up its mobile efforts to service both creators and


How the mobile digital content space is evolving



Mar 1, 2016

Le Tote is a lot like Netflix—you pay a monthly fee and get unlimited deliveries of clothes and accessories. This company has been growing like crazy. Le Tote shipped 1.7 million products to customers in 2015. They predict they will send out 400 million dollars worth of product in 2016. Revenue grew 600 percent last year. Over 90 percent of their customers are repeat purchasers. Not bad for a company that initially launched with the intention of allowing pregnant women to share clothes!

efore Le Tote the CEO and founder Rakesh Tondon’s wife was going through her second pregnancy and they agreed it would be wonderful if pregnant women could swap clothes with one another. Women generally have to buy tons of larger clothes they only wear for a few months and then toss. Le Tote creates an option for women who would prefer to borrow clothes for this temporary physical change. Rakesh and his cofounder Brett Northart decided to go from a mainstream model offering regular women’s clothes and branch out to a niche model offering both regular clothes and maternity-wear. I had the opportunity interview to Rakesh on The Modern Customer Podcast. You won’t want to miss this one.

In this podcast you will learn:

The Le Tote customer service strategy vision
How to create a winning customer service strategy
Why the subscription model is hot now

Feb 22, 2016

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?



Feb 15, 2016

If your food could talk to you what would it say? Would it help you cook? Would it provide some tasty pairing ideas for dinner? Or would it just tell you you’ve got a devilish smile and you’re ready for a night on the town? This is precisely what Absolut, the Vodka company, is currently mulling over in pursuit of a bottle that talks to its customers. Their digital innovation manager Markus Wulff said he believes Absolut will become a more service-oriented company because of the Internet of Things. Absolutely! Many companies will follow suit. I had the chance to interview Markus on a podcast where he talked about what Absolut’s vision is for their products and the internet of things.

In this podcast you will learn: 

-The inspiration for the internet of things program at Absolut
-The landscape of the internet of things; what will those vodka bottles look like in the future?
- Expert predictions around how brands of the future will engage with consumers via the internet of things


Feb 9, 2016

What is the purpose of a brand? This is a question I’ve been asking to a handful of thought leaders. Ryan Hanley--the VP of Marketing at, speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon bestseller, Content Warfare--was someone I discovered through his show on Periscope where he took it upon himself to dissect an article I had written on the purpose of a brand.

 The purpose of business–according to Peter Drucker one of the most popular management gurus of the 20th century–is to create a customer. But what about the purpose of a brand? How does this popular management quote apply to business today?

In this podcast you will learn:

How to create a successful content curation program

How to be a successful content curator

The modern purpose of a brand


Feb 1, 2016

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.


Jan 25, 2016



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.

Jan 18, 2016

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


Dec 23, 2015

Kevan Gammage is senior manager for MailChimp’s social and Pro support teams. After joining MailChimp’s support team as an agent in 2013, he now helps manages the company’s overall support strategy and shapes the way agents communicate with Pro customers and users through social channels every day.

Dec 14, 2015

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. 

Dec 7, 2015

Darren Pleasance leads the Global Customer Acquisitions team for Google, dedicated to driving Google's growth in the global SMB space across a diverse set of countries and industries. In this capacity,he’s responsible for guiding Sales, Marketing, Market Intelligence and Support teams globally to attract small and mid-sized businesses to Google's many services. His goal is to make businesses aware of how Google's services can help them succeed and to provide the highest quality on-boarding experience in the industry. In his previous role as a leader in McKinsey and Company's North American Marketing & Sales Practice, and the founder and co-leader of McKinsey's global Small- and Medium-sized Business (SMB) practice, he specialized in helping senior executives in their efforts to build high-performing sales, marketing, and support channels for serving SMB customers. He serves on the board of the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California and on the board of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Nov 30, 2015

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


Nov 20, 2015

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.

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