The Modern Customer Podcast

The Modern Customer Podcast is a show exploring the intersection of customer experience, digital transformation, and the future. We will also dive into related leadership topics. The show is hosted by Forbes contributor and customer experience futurist Blake Morgan and author of the new book The Customer of the Future: 10 Guiding Principles for Winning Tomorrow's Business. The show features guests that include practitioners, authors, influencers and other tastemakers.
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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.

Nov 13, 2015

Customer service will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how to improve your products and services. This is the beauty of customer data—but more importantly how are you acting on that customer data? On-demand parking and valet services company Luxe Valet is an example of a cool new company that makes customer data a priority. They actually do something with it. They are also interesting because they are so committed to the customer experience they see the value in having more influence over their contract employees and the experience those employees deliver to customers. They’ve given their contractors full time status. This is a big deal in a time where many companies such as Uber and Lyft are still dealing with the courts over whether they have to give their contract employees the benefits that full time employees get.

This week’s Modern Customer podcast guest is Eva Khoo Senior Director of Operations of Luxe Valet. For Khoo it’s about being able to really train and focus on the customer experience. One of the ways Luxe Valet enhances this is a required valet shift, where everyone from corporate headquarters has to act as a valet themselves.

Luxe Valet raised 25 million in two rounds from 36 investors. Khoo was part of that process and she remarks that investors want to know “is your service solving a problem and how big is that problem?”

Commuting is a big problem. According to the National Household Travel Survey, US Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics almost 76% of commuters drive alone to work and 18 million of those commuters are driving from the suburb to the city. More than three million commuters drive almost an hour or more to work each way every day. That’s without looking for parking—and if you’ve ever driven into San Francisco (like I have) you know what a nightmare that is.

Luxe Valet has partnered with parking lots all over cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Austin and New York. It’s good for the customer and good for the flow of traffic.

From a customer experience perspective Luxe’s story is compelling because of their detailed attention to the customer experience. As a result they have a very high customer loyalty rate with the average customer using their service twice a week.

Luxe tracks customer issues and focuses on root causes to solve the feedback loop with customers. They use Salesforce’s and have a continuous feedback loop with their internal product team. This means they are actually taking customer issues back to internal employees such as engineers to fix any problems. Many companies do not do this—it sets Luxe apart and drives their product quality.

Luxe has a strong customer engagement strategy making it very easy for customers to get in touch with them. Customers within the Luxe app can call, text, tweet (or other social media) or email support. Podcast guest Khoo says Luxe wants engagement to be as absolutely easy as possible for customers.

Data has brought to light recurring issues and opportunities for Luxe. For example sometimes they’ll release a product and they use data to uncover early issues with the product. They use this data to make the offering more fluid and intuitive. They use data to understand what drives customer service volumes. So many companies skip the step of looking at high volumes on specific FAQs and asking themselves what they could proactively do to make that volume go down.

Luxe also uses data for ideation. For example Luxe noticed customers wanted to leave their cars in the city overnight because they wanted to do things like go to happy hour on a Thursday and take the train home (especially if they’d been drinking). Luxe figured that out and as a result came up with a service that drives the car all the way home for the customer—so the customer can enjoy a a cocktail out with friends and get home safely (Luxe also donates money regularly to Mothers Against Drunk Driving - MADD).

If you’ve read my previous columns you know I believe customer experience in the sharing economy as a whole can be challenging. Customer experience is incredibly varied with companies like Uber, Airbnb or Instacart.

According to Khoo customer experience is especially challenging in the world of the sharing economy—but more specifically on-demand services--because you’re dealing with issues in real-time and you’re “held to the same standards as everyone else.” Also your window of customer engagement has shrunk. Luxe doesn’t look at customers as “just transactions.” According to Khoo they are in it for the long haul and empower their team to make every customer experience a delightful one.

Now they offer car washing and gas refueling and Khoo believes there is a lot of potential in the future to expand in the on-demand space. At the end of the day Luxe Valet can impact urban planning—parking lots take up valuable real estate.

Khoo is inspired by Jack Welch who says that winning is the company’s social responsibility. Winning and making the company successful is Khoo’s goal for Luxe.

More about podcast guest Eva Khoo:

Eva Khoo is the Senior Director of Operations for Luxe, an on-demand parking and valet services app headquartered in San Francisco. In her role, Eva manages the company’s nationwide operations, overseeing live ops, logistics and customer support.

Prior to Luxe, Eva was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs where she advised companies within the firm’s Technology, Media, and Telecom practice. Her primary responsibilities included the execution of M&A and financing transactions for software and networking companies. She also worked at Peninsula Capital Management, an investment fund headquartered in San Francisco.

Eva holds an MBA from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and a BA from University of California, Berkeley.

Follow her on Twitter at @EvaKhoo.

Check out the Luxe app here.


Nov 8, 2015

I can personally imagine a world where I can get anything whenever I want it. Can't you? In 2015 we've seen a proliferation of successful on-demand companies whether it’s Shoes of Prey where you can design and order your own shoes or Blue Apron that delivers pre-determined ingredients so a consumer can make themselves the perfect meal.

Even airports realize on-demand and no fuss services makes for happy customers and big profits. For example recently on a layover at Newark International Airport I ordered a turkey wrap from an ipad and only interacted with a person who wanted to see the proof that I had paid--they then handed me my wrap. The entire Newark International Airport is littered with ipads. It's eerie that there are very few humans actually working at the restaurants at all. But it's a taste of the future. In fact being able to order what we want when we want it is the future of consumerism. Today it's becoming easier than ever to get our preferences delivered to us directly whether we're at a fast food restaurant at an airport, or even at work or at home.

I can personally imagine a world where I can get anything whenever I want it. Can't you? In 2015 we've seen a proliferation of successful on-demand companies whether it’s Shoes of Prey where you can design and order your own shoes or Blue Apron that delivers pre-determined ingredients so a consumer can make themselves the perfect meal.

Even airports realize on-demand and no fuss services makes for happy customers and big profits. For example recently on a layover at Newark International Airport I ordered a turkey wrap from an ipad and only interacted with a person who wanted to see the proof that I had paid--they then handed me my wrap. The entire Newark International Airport is littered with ipads. It's eerie that there are very few humans actually working at the restaurants at all. But it's a taste of the future. In fact being able to order what we want when we want it is the future of consumerism. Today it's becoming easier than ever to get our preferences delivered to us directly whether we're at a fast food restaurant at an airport, or even at work or at home.

Devaraj Southworth 01

Earlier this year in her “Internet Trends” report, American venture capitalist and former Wall Street securities analyst Mary Meeker highlighted various “just-in-time” companies, mostly from the sharing economy, however there is a growing interest in on-demand companies of all kinds—even liquor. Mary Meeker cites a few reasons why on-demand services have taken off in the last few years that include, “smartphone adoption, mobile payment platforms and social authentication." Additionally the way millennials prefer to work--and the on-demand work suits millennials.  The same report argues that changes in connectivity and commerce impacts the ways people can work, but it’s still early in the game.

So now we have a proliferation of social networks, we have a proliferation of content sites, but we don’t have a ton of brands that marry both. How about companies that bring back-stories to whatever it is they help you create?

There is a large maker movement happening today where people want to create their own stuff. Just because we can get anything pre-packaged or set up doesn’t mean we (especially millennials) like it that way. While some in the “Maker Movement” might be only referring to 3d printing or tools to make technology and robots, it also speaks to a growing interest in returning to creating all kinds of stuff--at home. These stories and content build community and create a direct connection to whatever it is you build-with the ingredients provided to you by the on-demand company. I won’t go so far as to call this a “back to the land” movement but I will say people are interested in doing things that come with a story—that have special meaning—that takes a certain amount of personal effort.  According to TIME Magazine there are approximately 135 million U.S. adults who are makers, and the overall market for 3D printing products and various maker services hit $2.2 billion in 2012. That number is expected to reach $6 billion by 2017 and $8.41 billion by 2020. In a sense the on-demand market can be seen as parallel to the idea of the maker movement. Some of the smartest companies are not only building a following with an on-demand product and services model, they’re also building wildly imaginative stories that accompany these ingredients. They're empowering consumers to create their own imaginative things.

For example, it’s possible that for my next cocktail party I will go on Pinterest, find a recipe I like and then head to the store to buy the various liquors, juices and sodas. However, what if you could find the recipe and have the alcohol delivered to you? What if that recipe was created by your favorite mixologist? This is precisely why the new on-demand liquor company Thirstie has had a ton of early success.

On-Demand Services For Millennials Are About Much More Than Speed

Devaraj Southworth--CEO of on-demand alcohol company Thirstie--believes catering to the millennial is about much more than speed of delivery. With Thirstie it’s about engaging the customer on a higher level, not speed. For Thirstie it’s about educating the consumer on what the product is about. What can you make at home with the product?

They’ve put emphasis on not just a marketing platform to deliver the consumer the bottles of alcohol ordered in under an hour, but they focus on the content and community part of it. They launched The Craft on their main website—an editorial platform, in June 2015. The time spent on the Thirstie site went from 20 seconds to 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Clearly the millennial wants to learn about what they can make and what they can do on a hyper local level.

According to Southworth, Thirstie believes in educating the consumer at the right time and the right place. In studies conducted by the company consumers want to feel “in the know” about trends. For example a trendy mixologist at a restaurant in Harlem, born in Australia--that was a producer of an amazing tequila--might guest post on their content site The Craft. Then the company Thirstie will deliver all the ingredients so readers can replicate the same cocktail recipe from that mixologist. Thirstie said adding recipes to their app increased engagement by 70 percent.

Thirstie is growing 35 percent month over month. According to Southworth they "don’t want to be in 100 cities with 1000 retail partners—they’re moving slowly in a thoughtful way."

Listen to our podcast for more from Devaraj Southworth.

More about Devaraj Southworth:

Devaraj Southworth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Thirstie, a leading national on-demand liquor, wine, and beer delivery company with a content driven commerce platform. Devaraj has been a leader in business, online media and mobile technology for close to 20 years, and is a serial entrepreneur with a number of successful ventures to his name.

Prior to Thirstie, Devaraj built a digital agency to over $10M in sales, sold the Creative Services BU to an Inc. 500 Company, was a VP of Mobile Strategy for Amex, and is a former Deloitte and Accenture Strategy consultant. Devaraj studied Organizational Psychology and Investigative Journalism at Ohio Wesleyan.

Oct 30, 2015

According to Tim Joyce, Chief Innovation Officer of Xerox Customer Care, business success stories during the past 100 years were primarily about products. He says that now we're moving towards a world where success and value propositions will be based on service. Of course we'll still need products, but he says our purchases will be more about the services wrapped around them. Consumers will be permanently connected to sophisticated help desks that watch and anticipate customer needs.

Joyce believes that technology in the future will make customer’s lives much better—and he doesn’t see technology replacing humans. Much like the people who at IBM run Watson, he believes technology will enhance the customer’s experience. Technology will eventually even prevent customers from having to contact customer care at all. Perhaps our products will talk to us and fix themselves for us.

He says human agents will still be in the mix but their role will be very different from what it is today. People who run customer experience will still manage the brand's customer care architecture, drawing upon trends highlighted by their virtual counterpart, to maintain the feedback loop and action the necessary changes to better serve customers and better reflect the values of the brand. It'll be their job to ensure their virtual counterpart behaves and evolves appropriately, so that every customer experience is seamless. In this podcast we talk about this and much more.

More about podcast guest Tim Joyce:

Tim Joyce is the Chief Innovation Officer for Xerox Customer Care.

Tim believes that the relationship between consumers and brands will change radically as artificial intelligence systems roll out. In this rapidly changing landscape, innovators will thrive and laggards will suffer.

Tim was educated in Oxford and Durham where he studied Computing and Mathematics. In the early days of the web, he was an ecommerce specialist, pioneering online shopping in the UK. At Xerox he has lead software development, solutions, product and research functions, and now heads innovation. He is a strong believer in -- and has published several papers on -- Agile and Lean, and brings these disciplines to every engagement. Tim is passionate about building innovative software products and solutions that deliver a fantastic user experience. He lives on the Jurassic Coast in Poole, U.K., with his wife Jenny and 3 girls. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing, cycling and playing chess.

More posts from Tim Joyce:

Five Products with Embedded Customer Care

Seats Plus Software: The New Model For Customer Care

Oct 23, 2015

Today customers want products and services when and where they want them. Not only is timing and delivery key, but customers want to design their own experiences. Customers want the comfort and ease of ordering things via the web, but they want the option to create something that is specific to their tastes. 

That said, Shoes Of Prey, a website where you can order your own shoes, is becoming one of the hottest new trends. Partnered now with Nordstrom, Shoes Of Prey creates an in-store retail experience so customers can touch and feel the various fabrics and try on different looks, but the entire process is done via the web. It can be said the sharing economy has been so successful not just because of the diverse and authentic offerings, but also the ease with which you can order something on demand. Retail stores have complicated inventory processes. They can’t figure out a way to plan for variation in products or services. We’re used to on-demand software, we order books effortlessly on Amazon that are instantly downloaded to our device, but the idea of mass custom made products has yet to take off. People got very excited by the idea of 3d printers where you could print your own plastic figurine, chocolate or even custom limb—but this trend has slowed down. After all how many people have 3d printers in their homes? Not many.

Today Shoes Of Prey is limited to women’s shoes, however you can imagine how a company like Shoes of Prey would expand its on-demand services. Today the company that can bring the most tailored authentic products and experiences to the masses will win. These are the experiences today’s consumers seek. This week on the modern customer podcast we feature Jodi Fox Co-founder and Chief Evangelist at - the world's first website where women can design their own shoes.

Started just 4 years ago, Shoes of Prey broke even at 2 months, hit multi-million dollar revenue in under 2 years and today is a global multi-million dollar enterprise. She’s also co-founder of - an online optical fashion store focused on the Australian market.

Jodie's creativity and passion is directed into guiding both companies product and communications. She was Telstra's 2011 business woman of the year for private and corporate, one of the top 30 most influential women in Australian retail 2014, one of the top 10 Australian female entrepreneurs for 2014 and a finalist for the 2014 InStyle Audi Woman of Style awards.

She is a banking and finance lawyer by trade who explored the world of advertising before starting her own businesses.

Oct 15, 2015

national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art. It is a network of four art museums), Beatrice Burrows, Digital Marketing Officer for Tate, and Robin Zucker, the SVP of Digital for Playboy.

The panel focused on four areas that include:

  • Omni Channel Advertising
  • Challenges in Creating Content for Different Demographics
  • Social Media Challenges
  • How the Rise of Digital Mobile Marketing Effect Consumer Behavior


What happens when you bring together a publisher, a museum institution and a consultant? A lot of talk about engaging customer experiences, content strategy and stand-out social media examples. At the Los Angeles based Digital Marketing Innovation Summit in September Playboy, Tate and I met to do a panel on "Engaging Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives."

The panelists were: Maria Pavlou the Digital Communications Officer for Tate (the Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art. It is a network of four art museums), Beatrice Burrows, Digital Marketing Officer for Tate, and Robin Zucker, the SVP of Digital for Playboy.

The panel focused on four areas that include:

  • Omni Channel Advertising
  • Challenges in Creating Content for Different Demographics
  • Social Media Challenges
  • How the Rise of Digital Mobile Marketing Effect Consumer Behavior

We talked at length about how important experiences are when marketing to millennials. For example did you know that 3 in four millennials would prefer to purchase an experience over buying a product? In the panel we also address the difficulty of social media marketing and how to do it well. We provide fun examples of really good content strategies in addition to drawing from our own companies. For example we discuss this GoPro video campaign - a fantastic example of how to inspire and engage.

Tate is doing some very cutting edge work to engage their audiences. Did you know they encourage people to take selfies with the art? They are doing fantastic work with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook--and soon Snapchat.

Playboy Magazine is an established brand with a growing digital footprint. Did you know Playboy Magazine is an esteemed literary publication having been the seed for many things such as the film Hurt Locker? The film was inspired an article about one of the bomb experts, Sergeant Jeffrey S. Sarver entitled, "The Man in the Bomb Suit", published in September 2005. Playboy has also published Margaret Atwood one of my all-time favorite literary geniuses. Playboy is a lifestyle brand and publisher that recently made news announcing it will no longer feature nudes in its publication. 

I personally thoroughly enjoyed moderating this panel and I hope you enjoy listening. Please see the player for the modern customer podcast below.

Check out our panel in this podcast audio.

Oct 9, 2015

While every department needs a strong leader within the company, it can be said that customer experience needs an exceptionally strong leader. The reason being it’s not always intuitive for companies to invest in strong customer experience programs. Much of the budget goes to marketing or product or sales. That said, on the modern customer podcast this week we feature customer experience leader Leyla Seka.

You might know the name Seka because she was a key influence on Marc Benioff’s decision to make equal pay for women a priority at Salesforce, a Fortune 500 company. She was integral to the Women’s Leadership Summit this year at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference. Whether it’s conveying Dolly Parton’s lessons about customer service or talking about empathy, Seka has a fresh and imaginative perspective on business that’s infectious. In this podcast we hear leading ideas on modern customer experience, an exclusive look into Seka’s views on career and much much more.

Seka is a leader in the customer experience industry serving as SVP and General Manager of, Salesforce's all-in-one customer service app for fast-growing companies such as Yelp, SnapChat, Munchery, Bonobos, Dot & Bo and Luxe Valet. connects agents with email, phone calls and social channels. Salesforce had an immense impact on the way companies interact with customers, specifically how companies store and manage that customer data. Gone are the days where everyone in the company doesn’t have the opportunity to touch that customer interaction, and collaborate around it. plays a key role in the customer service side of customer experience.

More about Leyla Seka

Prior to her role as General Manager and Senior Vice President, Salesforce Seka was responsible for building and growing the Salesforce AppExchange, the world’s leading business apps marketplace. In her eight years at Salesforce, Seka has held a variety of positions across product management, product marketing and business operations helping to build a scalable infrastructure to support the company’s business. Prior to Salesforce, Seka worked in product management and marketing organizations at Primavera Systems (acquired by Oracle), Evolve Software, Vivant and Eutron SPA. Seka also spent two years in West Africa as a Peace Corps officer in Mali. Seka holds a BA in International Relations and French from the University of California at Davis and a MBA from the Masagung School of Management at the University of San Francisco.


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