The Modern Customer Podcast

Go behind the scenes with customer experience leader Blake Morgan to explore the secrets of the world’s most customer-centric companies. Blake is one of the world’s top keynote speakers, authority on customer experience and the bestselling author of “The Customer Of The Future” The Modern Customer reaches thousands of people each week conveying a message of how we make people feel - in business and in life - matters. Her weekly show explores how businesses can make customers’ lives easier and better, featuring experts that provide simple, tangible advice you can immediately apply at your own organization. Today’s customers have the luxury of choice. The answer is simple; choose customer experience and customers will choose you. Learn how to put a stake in the ground on customer experience by tuning into The Modern Customer Podcast each week with Blake Morgan.
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Jan 19, 2021

It seems nearly every company today has a loyalty program, but the meaning of loyalty itself is often still a mystery. 

Customer loyalty in 2021 looks different than it has in the past and even than how many companies view it. 

According to Bram Hechtkopf, CEO of marketing company Kobie, loyalty is more than just how a customer behaves. A customer who regularly purchases from the same company can appear loyal, but what matters more than the transaction is their emotional loyalty, or how they feel about a brand. 

Hechtkopf breaks emotional loyalty into three areas: status, habit and reciprocity. Measuring customers in those three areas, combined with behavioral data, provides companies with the best view of loyalty. That data can be used to drive better personalization and engagement. 

Focusing on emotional loyalty goes against how many companies have traditionally viewed loyalty. In the past, loyalty was all about transactions, and the goal of a loyalty program was to get customers to the next purchase. 

In 2021, however, loyalty is more than just transactional. Modern brands have to think about the emotional drivers of loyalty. Instead of focusing on just their most loyal customers, Hechtkopf says the best programs cast a wider net to reach out to all customers and then use tiers and gamification to segment customers. These brands build relationships and foster loyalty through more than just points and perks. 

Like many aspects of customer experience, loyalty programs have faced changes and challenges during the pandemic. With supply chain strain and economic uncertainty, customers are more willing to try new brands instead of their trusted favorites. Hechtkopf says that brands that have established loyalty programs have seen the most success because they have been able to leverage their programs as their businesses have pivoted. Instead of focusing solely on transactions, these brands have been able to embrace pandemic trends and outperform the competition while still delivering a personalized experience that meets customers’ needs. 

The companies that think about loyalty not as a program but as an outcome and enterprise strategy have the most success. Hechtkopf says the companies with the best loyalty programs have executives who realize that loyalty is crucial as more than just a transactional program. To tap into modern customer loyalty, brands need to ensure their loyalty strategy aligns with their brand strategy. 

Customer loyalty programs can be powerful drivers for relationships and revenue. But modern companies have to think about loyalty as a state of mind instead of just a program.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 


Jan 12, 2021

For many people, the days of going to the bank to make a deposit or cash a check are gone forever. Like in many industries, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a major shift away from in-person banking interactions towards digital services. 

The challenge now becomes how to pivot to best serve contactless customers. 

According to Holly O’Neill, Chief Client Care Executive at Bank of America, the switch to digital solutions was already in play for the company. The pandemic simply moved up the timeline. 

Bank of America’s strategy has always been to deliver world-class service in a way that is convenient and easy both in person and virtually. That high-tech, high-touch approach was tailor-made for the current pandemic. 

Covid increased the need for companies, including Bank of America, to undergo a digital transformation or speed up their timeline. O’Neill defines digital transformation as making things easy for clients by putting everything they need right at their fingertips. The goal is to make the mobile and online experience so intuitive that clients don’t need to go anywhere else because they have all the information they need right in front of them. And the ultimate goal is to have an experience that is so intuitive it answers questions before customers ask them. 

With a banking digital transformation, financial centers serve as a hub for advice and guidance instead of transactions. Everything else, like making deposits and checking balances, can be done virtually. 

Pivoting to reach contactless customers means understanding their needs and what they are really looking for. Bank of America leaned into its robust feedback program, which it rolled out a few years ago and has been crucial to understanding constantly changing customer needs. 

Each year, Bank of America sends out tens of millions of customer surveys. That information is collected in almost real-time and then sent to bank managers and the employees who are interacting with clients every day. Through a dashboard, these employees can daily changes in customer sentiment and feedback and then help customers in the most applicable ways. That feedback data is used to personalize the experience to give each customer exactly what matters to them, not to their neighbor. 

O’Neill says the real winners will be the companies that customize the experience for their clients. That customization comes from leveraging feedback data to pivot and quickly make changes as needed. 

The feedback data represents a wide range of customers, making it reliable and usable. Bank of America made a conscious effort to keep the surveys short and simple and deliver them through the mobile app, which has led to a high response rate. 

Although the pandemic has brought a major pivot to serve contactless customers, the digital transformation is far from over. O’Neill views building out and improving digital solutions as a continued evolution that will forever be a part of Bank of America. And as it continues to listen to feedback, personalize and deliver seamless digital solutions, the bank will be prepared to meet customers’ needs, even long after the pandemic.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Jan 5, 2021

It’s a common situation for customers: spending time on a company’s app or website and then having to call customer service for help. Even after spending time searching online, the customer still has to wait on hold, log in or prove their identity and then re-explain the situation and wait to get connected to the right person. 

In recent years, many aspects of customer experience have been modernized and streamlined, such as the growth of chatbots and AI. However, even with these advancements, most customer interactions have stayed stagnant and without context. 

But that won’t be able to continue for long. Modern customers realize the potential of their data and are increasingly becoming frustrated with companies that don’t offer intuitive and connected experiences. Especially in industries like banking, healthcare and hospitality, customers can easily take their business elsewhere if they have a bad experience. 

According to Vasili Triant, COO of UJET, customers may start with a brand because of the product or price, but they stay because of the experience. 

He says the future of modern customer interactions involves channel blending or meeting customers where they are within a brand’s app. Instead of pushing customers out of the app or website when they need to contact the brand, this modern approach stays within the app to seamlessly pass information to human agents. How a customer uses an app or how they search online provides rich data about their preferences, but brands are throwing that information away when they essentially make customers start over with each interaction. 

This approach not only saves the customer time by not requiring them to re-authenticate and then re-explain their situation, but it also makes it easier for brands to personalize the experience. If a customer is looking at a website in English, they shouldn’t have to choose a language on the phone, just like a customer who has already authenticated in the app shouldn’t have to do it again on the phone. 

According to Triant, leveraging in-app communication adds a vital aspect that is often missing from customer interactions: context. When a customer calls a company, the agent typically doesn’t have much information about why they could be calling. But by connecting with customers through channels they already use and leveraging that data, agents automatically have context around the interaction and can more easily provide the right solution. Very few brands contextualize their customer experience, but as personalization and the need for convenience grows, customers will come to expect it. 

In the smartphone era, customers do nearly everything on their phones. They want and expect a seamless transition from self-service to being able to contact a brand. The companies that can take the step towards modernizing their experiences and offer context around the interaction will lead the way in personalization and customer loyalty. This approach to customer interactions is the future, and companies need to get on board to deliver strong, modern experiences.

*Sponsored by UJET

UJET is the world’s first and only cloud contact center platform for smartphone era CX. By modernizing digital and in-app experiences, UJET unifies the enterprise brand experience across sales, marketing, and support, eliminating the frustration of channel switching between voice, digital, and self-service for consumers. Offering unsurpassed resiliency and the flexibility to deploy across leading public cloud infrastructures, UJET powers the world’s largest elastic CCaaS tenant at up to 22,000 agents globally and is trusted by innovative, customer-centric enterprises like Instacart, Turo, Wag!, and Atom Tickets to intelligently orchestrate predictive, contextual, conversational customer experiences. 

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Dec 29, 2020

It’s the time of year when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for the coming year. 

What do you hope to achieve in 2021? How do you want to improve yourself and your career? 

For many of us, it’s been a complicated year and we’re looking for some change and improvement. 

But too often we fall into the trap of thinking we have to reinvent the wheel and start completely fresh. If we want to make more money, we have to start a brand new business. If we want to lose weight, we have to go on a crash diet. 

But that’s not true—you don’t have to start completely over to find success and happiness. 

Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, I follow the 5% rule. Each day, I try to be 5% better than the day before. I’m not starting over from nothing; I’m building on what I already have and trying my best to improve every day. I don’t have to start over to get healthy or build a successful business. I work with what I have and improve it piece by piece. Over time, the 5% rule ends up increasing and accelerating the changes I’m trying to make. 

2020 was a rough year. Instead of beating ourselves up when we don’t achieve our lofty goals, we need to show ourselves grace and kindness. Talk to yourself kindly and do the best you can. Instead of feeling the pressure to create this big, amazing thing over night, the 5% rule lets you try your best every day and make small, incremental improvements. 

We don’t need more rules. Instead, we need to give ourselves love and nourishment. We need to check in with ourselves emotionally to really see how we are doing and how we can grow and improve. 

Make 2021 your year, but don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Be kind to yourself. Aim to be 5% better each day and simply do your best. Over time, you’ll find you’ve reached where you want to be and become the best version of yourself.

To keep improving yourself and continue your entrepreneurial journey in 2020, be sure to check out the BYOB Podcast and our YouTube Channel for proven tips and useful advice.  

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 


Dec 22, 2020

What’s the word of the year for customer service? 

According to business and CX expert Shep Hyken, it’s empathy. 

Hyken has years of experience in customer service and is a popular speaker and author. Like all of us, he saw the dramatic challenges businesses faced in 2020 and the pivots they had to make. Businesses and customers are adjusting to their new way of interacting and facing constant change, especially as we head into the new year.   

Here are some of Shep Hyken’s predictions for 2021: 

Customers Continue To Get Smarter

Today’s customers know what good customer service is. They experience it every day from companies like Amazon and Zappos and have come to expect and demand it from other businesses. Customers are learning from great companies and want that level of service in all their interactions. 

Customers Are Becoming Impatient

Modern customers want what they want now. They’ve gotten used to getting their shipments within hours or overnight and now want everything right away. Companies need to meet that demand with quick service and delivery. 

Customers Expect Convenience

Today’s busy customers are willing to pay for convenience. A study by Hyken found that more than 67% of consumers are willing to pay more for a convenient experience, and that number jumps to 90% if that experience includes delivery. Convenience matters and goes a long way with customers, and they are willing to pay for that convenience. 

Personalization Is Getting More Personal

Customers want an experience that is unique to them. They want and expect companies to know their preferences and experiences. Some companies are going further with micro-personalization that is tailored to each person’s unique experience with specific product recommendations and preferences, not just general genres. 

Companies Are Getting Automation Happy

Companies need a strong digital system to compete and deliver great experiences, but so many companies fall into the trap of relying too heavily on automation and not enough on the human experience. Hyken believes some companies get enamored with technology and use it to replace the human experience, which is a big mistake. The best companies create digital experiences but can seamlessly transition customers to humans if needed. There needs to be a balance between human and digital. 

Problems Can Be Predicted

In a perfect world, if a problem can be predicted, it can be solved before the customer even knows about it. The most successful companies are continually looking for potential problems big and small and then proactively solving them before customers even realize they have a problem.   

The bottom line of delivering great customer service in 2021 is simply to be nice. Customers expect convenience and personalization, but more than anything they want to interact with individuals and companies who are nice. No matter what happens in the future, kindness will always be on-trend.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Dec 15, 2020

Every year, I make predictions for what’s to come in the world of customer experience. After doing this for seven years, I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting trends that really do end up influencing businesses and customers.

But in 2020, no one could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic.  

It’s been a tough year. Between the pandemic, shutdowns and economic downturn, we’ve also faced environmental issues, a divisive election in the U.S., racial injustice and much more. 

These events might not seem tied to customer experience, but we don’t live or work in a  bubble—we’re affected by what happens all over the world. And we’ll definitely be feeling the effects of this year for years to come. 

With that in mind, here are my five customer experience predictions for 2021:

1 . How We Live And Work Has Forever Changed Thanks To COVID. Nearly every aspect of life and business this year was upended because of COVID. Although a vaccine is making great progress, we will be seeing the impact of the pandemic for at least the next five to ten years. Although most people want to get back to some semblance of normal life, they are hesitant to go back to how things were. 

2 . 2021: Year Of The Uncomfortable Conversation. 2020 brought about a lot of uncomfortable conversations on topics ranging from health and safety to layoffs, Black Lives Matter and supporting women and essential workers. These conversations will intensify in 2021 as individuals and companies will have to look inwardly to address these major concerns and help support underrepresented groups that have been hit especially hard this year. Customers will expect companies to take a stand and really make a difference.

3 . Putting Employees And Customers Above Profits. Many companies made huge efforts in 2020 to support their employees and customers, even if that meant their profits suffered. They invested in employee relief funds and increased benefits, while also listening to customers and providing great service. That trend will continue, and the companies that focus on people instead of profits will see great success.

4 . Ecommerce Rose Immensely And Touchless CX Makes Unignorable Leap. Companies were forced to pivot this year as stores were shut down and in-person shopping was limited. Companies across all industries have increased their e-commerce offerings. And now that customers have experienced delivery and pickup, they don’t want to go back to how things were. Touchless CX will make huge leaps in 2021 as brands work to build experiences for customers who feel vulnerable. In the coming year, brands will have to adopt digital models and creative touchless solutions.

5 . B2B Pivot. B2B companies struggled in 2020 because they depend on in-person conferences and networking that was cancelled or moved online. A number of B2B companies have already pivoted to new ways to connect with customers, and other companies must follow suit. B2B companies have to double down on customer experience through digital transformation and using thought leadership to generate leads because what worked in the past doesn’t work anymore. 

In many ways, 2020 has set the stage for CX in 2021. As we come out of a difficult year, customers are looking for ease and personalization. They want companies to adapt and make a real difference in society. These trends show just how much 2020 changed us and how we can continue to recover and evolve in 2021.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Dec 8, 2020

After a wild 2020, many companies are looking forward to 2021 and hoping to proactively engage with customers instead of reactively building or changing programs and services. 

But just because 2021 is a new year doesn’t mean 2020 is gone and forgotten. The global pandemic and unrest of the year will stick with customers for the long term and greatly influence how they interact with companies going forward. With more virtual events and interactions than ever before, customers want human connection. 

The 2021 Deloitte Global Marketing Trends Report highlights seven trends shaping customer experience and business growth in 2021: Purpose, Agility, Trust, Talent, Participation, Fusion and Human Experience. Understanding these trends can help brands drive connection and engagement. 

Although each trend is unique and stands on its own, Deloitte CMO Suzanne Kounkel says the trends also work together to support and influence each other. A company that has built strong trust will also likely have a strong sense of participation, for example, while a company lacking in trust likely won’t have as strong of customer participation or human experience. 

Of the seven trends, Kounkel says the most important may be purpose and agility. If a company or brand isn’t grounded in a purpose, it’s hard to land any of the other trends. Customers want to see the purpose of a brand and feel trust in an organization. It’s no longer just about making a purchase or doing business—it’s about building real connections with a brand, participating and believing in its greater purpose. 

Kounkel says that in a roller coaster year like 2020, it’s important for companies to have purpose as their guiding course. People need to understand why things are being done because how they are being done is changing so quickly. The purpose keeps employees, customers and organizations moving steadily towards a goal or vision, even with the turbulences of chaos and uncertainty. 

An organization’s purpose has to start at the top. Kounkel believes most organizations have a purpose, but many companies fall flat because their purpose isn’t embedded or understood in a way that helps the company move forward. She recommends organizations and leaders perform a soul-searching exercise to determine their purpose. Be pragmatic and dogmatic, but do it quickly, because customers expect companies to have strong purposes that resonate in everything they do. 

Agility is also a powerful trend going into 2021. The year 2020 showed just how crucial agility is as companies were forced to pivot quickly with little warning. COVID has changed customer expectations, and consumers now expect brands to be more agile than ever before. Now, as we work through the pandemic, brands are starting to get back to doing what they want to do. For months we spent time doing what we had to do, but the agility now in place gives brands more freedom to get back to what they and their customers actually want to do. 

A new year brings a new slate. Customers want more connection than ever, and companies that tap into these seven trends can make that happen. Start with a sense of purpose and build those strong connections that will last into the future.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Dec 1, 2020

2020 has been a strange year. Many people coped with the loneliness and uncertainty of lockdowns and quarantines by adding a furry friend to the family. Pet ownership is way up because of the pandemic and has caused the pet industry to pivot and adapt. 

As the number of customers has greatly increased, the pet industry has also had to deal with pandemic restrictions and changing health regulations. The only way to survive has been to stay close to customers, adopt digital solutions and pivot. 

Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital, said that although the way of doing business is now different, the company’s focus is still on building connections with pets and keeping its associates healthy while they continue to give care. 

As an essential business, Banfield Hospitals has stayed open throughout the pandemic, but the store had to create new measures to keep associates, pets and clients safe. One of its major changes was introducing curbside dropoff for pets. Instead of owners walking their pets into the store, they now drop them off at the curb where a Banfield associate takes the pet into the hospital to perform the procedure and then brings them back when they are done. To help customers feel comfortable leaving their pets, Banfield built on its trustworthy reputation and increased its communication so that customers are still involved in every step of the process. 

One of the most crucial aspects of pivoting during COVID has been digital transformation. Banfield was already working on a digital transformation, but it was greatly accelerated by the pandemic. Now, clients can schedule services and access their pet’s records online. Everything can be done through an online portal or app to remove concerns and make clients’ lives easier and simpler. 

The move to digital transformation helps both clients and associates, which then leads to a better experience for the pets. Instead of being weighed down by paperwork, Banfield associates can upload notes digitally to keep owners in the loop. Banfield is also working towards a green initiative to email all paperwork and receipts instead of printing hard copies. 

Garish believes Banfield’s digital transformation has been effective because it is rooted in empathy. In his mind, strategy without empathy is wasted. To create the most effective digital transformation, Banfield encourages and facilitates conversations with its clients and its associates. 

Digital transformation didn’t come about because it was a trend or an idea executives had—it came from listening to customers and having true two-way conversations. Banfield aims to be part of its clients’ lifestyles, even during a pandemic, but that can’t happen without real dialogue. Those conversations have continued during the pandemic as Banfield keeps in continual communication with its clients and associates about what is and isn’t working and how care can be improved. 

Garish doesn’t see the pandemic pivot as temporary. He believes changes made in the last nine months will forever change the company and industry and re-affirm the need to put customers at the center of everything. Instead of a standardized path, customers want individual attention. 

The pandemic won’t last forever, but the lasting effects of increased pet ownership will definitely stick around, and Banfield will be there every step of the way.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Nov 24, 2020

What has been the biggest shift in customer experience in recent years? 

It’s not the COVID-19 pandemic, though that has certainly played a large role. According to NICE inContact CEO Paul Jarman, the biggest change has been the democratization of opinion. Customers have more of a voice than ever before, which has forced companies to focus on experience. Brands learned that they have to provide an experience that individuals are excited about and will share with family and friends in order to gain customers. As Jarman says, the push towards customer experience has given more power to consumers in voice and choice. 

But what does customer empowerment look like in the midst of a global pandemic? Worldwide shutdowns and restrictions changed how companies do business and interact with their customers. It placed a larger emphasis on digital interactions and mobile service. And even after the pandemic is over, digital will still play a large role in customer experience, especially in the contact center. 

As companies navigate the new world with COVID-19, they need to know how things have changed and how those changes will impact the future. 

NICE inContact’s 2020 Benchmark surveyed contact center leaders across the country to get a sense of how customer experience has changed this year and where it is going in the future. Here are four main takeaways to lead CX into 2021: 

1 . A dramatic move to the cloud.

After years of the technology growing and becoming more reliable, companies are now realizing that it is easier to be agile and innovative in the cloud. Nice InContact’s survey found that 66% of contact center decision-makers plan to accelerate their move to the cloud because of the pandemic. Cloud-based CX technology allows for seamless service and a consistent experience across all channels. 

2 . Significant increase in digital channels.

Customers have gone digital, with 62% of contact centers reporting more digital interactions since COVID started. Even after the pandemic is over, customers will still expect to be able to communicate with companies digitally. Jarman says one of the main difficulties of companies going digital is that they have multiple systems that don’t work together. The push from COVID to interact with customers digitally shows the importance of a single unified system to simplify the digital experience for both contact centers agents and customers.

3 . More mobile apps.

Customers want to communicate with companies through mobile apps. Mobile apps saw the biggest growth in contact centers from 2019, increasing by 8% to 56% of companies using apps to communicate with customers. Mobile apps are especially important for younger consumers and Gen Z, who expect brands to interact with them in private social messaging apps. Effective mobile apps allow customers to contact a brand whenever it’s convenient for them. 

4 . Room for improvement for chatbots.

Chatbots have long been billed as the future of customer service, especially in contact centers, but many customers haven’t found chatbots to be reliable enough to use. Although many customers prefer self-service options like chatbots over other channels like talking to a human on the phone, 90% of CX practitioners believe chatbots need to get smarter before customers will be willing to use them regularly. Even with all of the digital growth in contact centers, the number of companies using chatbots stayed constant from 2019 at 46%. 

Customer experience is more strategic than ever before. Understanding changes helps companies build effective strategies as they allow contact centers to have more creativity and power to get things done. Jarman believes customer experience now needs to be the key focus for every company, but the good news is that the sky's the limit. With creativity and technology, brands can create powerful digital solutions that are boundless. 


This week's podcast is sponsored by NICE inContact

NICE inContact works with organizations of all sizes to create extraordinary and trustworthy customer experiences that create deeper brand loyalty and relationships that last.

With NICE inContact CXone, the industry’s most complete cloud customer experience platform, the company combines best-in-class Customer Analytics, Omnichannel Routing, Workforce Optimization, Automation and Artificial Intelligence, all on an Open Cloud Foundation to help any company transform every single customer interaction.


Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The FutureSign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here

Nov 17, 2020

How do you create an experience around an all-natural vodka that shows its history and sustainability? Learn to tell a good story. 

Belvedere Vodka has long been known for its great quality and super-premium product, but only recently has the company began to focus on its historic roots and sustainable efforts. Sharing the story adds to the experience and helps customers feel more connected to the brand. 

Shifting To Storytelling

Instead of simply rattling off talking points and qualities of its all-natural vodka, Belvedere turns to the power of storytelling. As customers are transported to the 110-year-old distillery where the vodka is made and learn the process of turning simple ingredients into amazing spirits, they build a connection with the brand that can’t come in any other way. 

Though the shift to storytelling has been in the works for a while, the pandemic has played a role in changing what customers are looking for. According to president and CEO Rodney Williams, luxury products like Belvedere Vodka are now less about exclusivity and more about the values the brand stands for. Customers are now more aware of the power of nature, what they’re eating and where it comes from. The focus on simple, wholesome ingredients is important to them. 

Belvedere’s success comes in turning its ingredients into a story. It’s one thing to list all-natural ingredients and say your brand is simple and wholesome—it’s another to show the power of your ingredients and what they can become.

Highlighting Sustainability

Belvedere’s new campaign, “Made With Nature” showcases the brand’s history of combining simple ingredients from nature into extraordinary vodka.  

Belvedere has been sustainable and all-natural since before it was a major issue for consumers. For the past eight years, Belvedere has hosted the Raw Spirits Summit to bring together scientists and farmers to study cutting-edge techniques around sustainable agriculture. The company has been able to build on its past efforts in a time when sustainability is top of mind for many customers. 

Williams says “Made With Nature” comes at a time where consumers are increasingly ready to listen to brands that embrace a natural philosophy and are working towards meaningful change. The world cares about sustainability now more than ever before. 

Using Stories To Build Experience

To start storytelling, Williams said the company looked at the brand’s DNA and discovered the long commitment to craftsmanship and sustainability. The brand has always been committed to quality and craft, but it hasn’t told the story directly before. Sharing that story resonates with younger consumers, who care about brands that are natural and have solid sustainability credentials. 

But sharing a brand story will land flat if it isn’t rooted into authenticity. Just like with their ingredients, customers also want realness in their stories and connections with brands. 

In today’s world, stories behind brands are what has lasting value to consumers. Customers are looking to build real relationships with brands and understand where they come from and what makes them tick. Focusing on authentic storytelling allows brands to connect with customers on a new level and build an amazing experience. 

Every brand has a story. If told well, that story can create an amazing customer experience. Like Belvedere Vodka shows, communicating your company’s DNA can make for a fascinating story and build a strong experience.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Nov 10, 2020

The backbone of a strong customer experience is feedback. And it’s never been more important than it is now. 

According to Tom Hale, president of SurveyMonkey, digital surveys and feedback have seen tremendous growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. With companies forced into new ways of doing business and interacting with their customers, feedback has never been more crucial. Surveys allow companies to check their progress and see what needs to be improved, especially at a time when so many things are new and changing. 

New research from SurveyMonkey found that 87% of CX professionals say customer feedback is more important now than it was before COVID. Customer experience and feedback has taken a higher priority because of the pandemic, and Hale doesn’t think it will ever change back. 

The struggle then becomes how to get the most effective and useful feedback. In order to get great feedback, companies must know how to create a great survey.

Here are five tips to creating the perfect customer survey:

  1. Start with NPS. Hales says the gold standard for customer feedback is a question about NPS (Net Promoter Score), which is an accurate way of measuring how likely customers are to recommend the company. A high NPS means customers are generally quite satisfied with the experience. Start the survey by asking, “Would you recommend this product/service to a friend?” and allow customers to rate their response on a scale from 0-10. 
  2. Leave space for open responses. Great surveys combine numerical answers and free responses. When asking about NPS, follow it up with an open text box to encourage customers to elaborate on why they would or wouldn’t recommend the company. Open responses can be used to elaborate on nearly any question and add more depth to the survey responses. 
  3. Think through the entire experience. The perfect customer survey isn’t just about the questions—it’s about the entire experience. Hale shared his own example of when he bought a new treadmill and received the follow-up survey just after it was delivered when he was in the thick of assembling the complicated machine. Too many companies ask for feedback at the wrong time. Hale’s response would have been very different if he had received the survey a few days later after he had time to assemble and try the treadmill instead of receiving it when he was distracted and stressed.
  4. Make it easy for customers to respond. Think through the entire experience of when a customer will receive the survey, how long it will take them to complete and how they will feel when they’re completing the survey. Customers are much less likely to respond to feedback requests that are too complicated or have too much friction, such as when they receive a printed receipt with a long survey link they have to type in themselves. Great, accurate customer feedback comes when it is easy for customers to give responses. As Hale says, much of designing the experience is the communication around the experience, including how you ask the questions.
  5. Give surveys throughout the entire customer lifecycle. Successful customer feedback doesn’t just come after a customer has made a purchase. SurveyMonkey surveys its own customers at all parts of the lifecycle to have metrics and feedback about the entire experience from start to finish. The surveys look slightly different based on where they are given in the customer journey, but the information pinpoints areas for improvement and helps prioritize what needs to be changed first. 

The root of the perfect customer survey is customer-centricity. When a company has a culture of being customer-centric, it comes through in their entire experience, including asking for feedback. When companies truly care for their customers and design experiences around them, it shows in useful feedback that guides the customer experience and improves all aspects of the journey.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here. 

Nov 3, 2020

If you’ve been to one of Shake Shack’s 300-plus locations around the world, chances are you’ve had to wait in line. The restaurant draws a crowd with its fresh ingredients and elevated take on fast food. The entire brand is built around great food and great service, and it’s a hit with customers.  

Shake Shack stands out because of its fine dining-inspired approach to burgers and fries. The restaurant uses real ingredients, fresh flavors, and great chefs to make food to order. The wait might be a little longer, but customers don’t mind standing in line to get amazing food. 

According to CMO Jay Livingston, delivering a strong customer experience has been part of Shake Shack’s brand since the beginning. The company doesn’t just want to use the fine-dining approach in its food, it also wants to use fine dining to inspire its experience. The company aims to provide great hospitality and an elevated guest experience. Employees offer personalized service and customize each meal instead of simply rushing to put food on the plate. 

Employees at all levels give their best to customers, no matter where they work or how busy they are. Every Shake Shack employee spends their first five days at the company working all the stations in a restaurant, including prepping the food, manning the grill, and working the cash register. Livingston says it instills in employees, even those who don’t work in the actual restaurants, the work that goes into delivering fine dining food to customers quickly and hammers home the brand promise. 

Shake Shack uses customer experience to build its brand by being transparent and authentic in every interaction it has with customers. The company is moving to become more data-driven to better understand guests and test ideas more quickly. 

That hasn’t changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Shake Shack has been forced to speed up the buildout of its digital products. Customers can now order online or through the app for pickup and delivery as a way to expand the experience to what customers need most. It even rolled out a DIY burger kit so customers can make their favorite Shake Shack burgers at home and will unveil drive-thrus in 2021—all in the name of delivering great food just how customers want it. 

Shake Shack has a strong online presence and regularly collaborates with top chefs on its social channels to show their process for making food. The collaborations give guests a behind-the-scenes look into how the food is developed and cooked. The goal isn’t to sell hamburgers, it’s to connect with guests on a deeper level and involve them in the many sides of Shake Shack. 

Customer experience is the foundation of Shake Shack’s brand. Continually developing CX and relating it back to the major brand promises of elevated food and service has helped Shake Shack see incredible growth.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Oct 27, 2020

For years, experts have talked about millennials and looked towards the future of Generation Z, the generation to follow. But Gen Z is now here and already having a massive impact, both as employees and as consumers. Marketers need to understand Gen Z to realize its full impact and to separate the truth from long held myths.  

Generational researcher Jason Dorsey is an expert on all things Gen Z. He studies generational behavior so that leaders, marketers, employers and others can understand the differences between each generation. But he warns against putting generations in boxes. The wide range of ages and life experiences means that within a generation are multiple different groups. However, generations offer powerful clues that can drive trust and help marketers create valuable experiences by bringing them one step closer to understanding their consumers.  

Contrary to what many people think, Gen Z isn’t made up entirely of teenagers. The group is growing up, so that the oldest members are now approaching their mid-20s. Gen Z is the fastest growing generation in the workforce. 

Most people view Gen Z as the next wave of millennials, but Dorsey’s research shows that Gen Z is actually very different. He calls Gen Z a throwback generation that actually has more in common with baby boomers than millennials. Gen Z is one of the most frugal generations. They are more likely to use coupons and find deals than their millennial predecessors. They want to graduate college without debt and tend to care more about their workplace benefits. A large number of Gen Z is even already saving for retirement. Dorsey’s research also found that Gen Z will soon leapfrog some millennials in the workforce, creating a strange combination of generations and ideologies. 

Gen Z is more likely to trust an influencer or someone like them over someone with advanced degrees. And because they’ve grown up with technology and smartphones, Gen Z values social media and the news it provides, but realizes it creates many mental health triggers. 

Gen Z doesn’t remember 9/11, which was the generational defining event for millennials. Gen Z doesn’t know life before 9/11, and their lives aren’t shaped by the changes that happened after the event. Gen Z doesn’t represent change because this is all they’ve ever known. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic will be the generational defining event for Gen Z and impact their mindset moving forward. 

So what does this mean for marketers? Understanding that Gen Z isn’t simply millennials 2.0 is an important differentiation. Gen Z values different things than millennials and has different priorities. They also aren’t the teenagers many have long considered Gen Z to be. Gen Z will have a tremendous impact on the workforce and the economy going forward as they become the most powerful generation. 

Understanding generations gives marketers clues and tools to know their consumers. With this understanding of generational cues, marketers can create more personalized experiences that best target this influential group.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.


Oct 20, 2020

In the midst of a global pandemic, pharmaceutical companies around the world are rushing to develop a vaccine to COVID-19. In an industry that typically takes years to create, test and market new drugs, the incredible time crunch for the COVID vaccine is pushing companies to their limits. 

But it’s not just pharmaceutical companies that are in the race to create a vaccine. There are also companies helping behind the scenes with digital transformation. NECI and its president Tom Ramundo are working with pharmaceutical companies to create a digital stack so they can bring their product to market much more quickly. 

Digital transformation and industrial automation greatly speed up the testing process by using data and predictive analytics to see how a vaccine performs in trial. Ramundo says that many of the companies working to create a COVID vaccine were born to be digital companies. They are taking the digital fingerprint of the protein that makes up the virus and utilizing it to develop their product. When working on a project that changes the timeline from months and years to days and weeks, companies must be digitally enabled. Without a digital transformation, companies couldn’t come close to creating a COVID vaccine in record time. 

Companies don’t need to be finding the cure to a global pandemic to undergo a digital transformation. Ramundo says it’s critical for every company, no matter the industry, to adopt digital solutions to improve their processes and become more efficient. 

Ramundo’s work on the COVID vaccine has highlighted three digital transformation trends: 

  1. It’s not all about technology. Digital transformation centers around digital tools and capabilities, but the people are equally important. Without passionate people, a digital transformation can fall flat. Ramundo says the COVID team at NECI all volunteered to work on the project because they are passionate about the cause, which helps things move even faster.
  2. Leadership must be engaged. Everyone has to be on board for a successful digital transformation. Starting from the top, leaders and executives must be engaged and lead the cause. Leaders also need to develop a plan for employee buy-in to get everyone on board and show the value of the changes. Digital transformation includes everyone, from IT to HR, finance and beyond.
  3. Don’t take your eye off the ball. Digital transformation is about smart, integrated technology, but at the end of the day, it has to solve problems. A digital solution that is flashy but doesn’t actually improve the company is a waste. What are the problems you are trying to solve? Ramundo recommends starting small, achieving business results and then repeating the process on other problems. 

Digital transformation is paving the way for a COVID vaccine to be introduced in record time. It can have an equally transformative effect on companies that focus on strategy and tie the digital offerings back to their business goals.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Oct 14, 2020

Most companies and consumers know they should fight against climate change and want to make a difference, they just don’t know how. 

With carbon emissions increasing across the globe, it can feel overwhelming to make a difference. Companies don’t know how to start or even if their efforts will pay off and actually have an impact. 

Austin Whitman is founder and CEO of Climate Neutral, a non-profit organization that makes it simple for companies to track and offset their carbon emissions and certifies companies that are actively working to reduce their carbon emissions. The goal is to provide companies a turn-key addition to their sustainability work and to start conversations with consumers about climate change. 

Whitman believes that the fight against carbon emissions is improved when companies involve customers in their eco-friendly initiatives. Not only does it empower customers, but it also creates a powerful partnership for good. Here are three ways to connect with customers on climate change:

  1. Make it simple for customers to make a difference. Modern consumers are overwhelmed by choices. Many consumers want to make responsible choices but simply don’t know how. Climate Neutral makes it easy for customers to purchase the most eco-friendly products. Companies that have gone through the certification process can put a label on their products to show customers their products are fighting against climate change. When customers are faced with options of products to buy, they can simply choose the product with the Climate Neutral symbol and know they are making the best choice. The goal of companies should always be to make customers’ lives easier, especially when it comes to making sustainable choices.
  2. Show customers change is possible. Whitman says it’s powerful when brands engage with their customers on climate change. Brands need to show consumers that fighting against climate change can lead to real results. Show customers that brands can still deliver high-quality items while reducing their carbon emissions. Focus on what’s achievable. Many consumers are hesitant to make eco-friendly purchases because they don’t want to change from their favorite products or dramatically alter their lives. But when brands showcase that progress can happen without taking away products and quality customers enjoy, it can lead to real change.
  3. Offer optimistic solutions. Instead of using scare tactics to engage customers in the fight against climate change, brands should stay hopeful and optimistic. The key is to start a conversation and provide solutions instead of just highlighting the problems. Many consumers feel they’re on their own to make the best decisions to limit their carbon footprints. Show them that it’s a collaboration between brands and customers and that together, we can all make progress. 

Climate change is a real problem for our world, but customers and companies can make a positive difference when they work together. Climate Neutral shows organizations that it’s possible to take a real stand against carbon emissions. When brands involve their customers in the conversation and action, the movement becomes even more powerful.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.


Oct 7, 2020

After months of quarantine and isolation, consumers are slowly starting to adjust to a new life with COVID-19. As stores reopen and re-adjust, they are faced with customers who are drastically different than they were just six month ago. According to Walter Robb, former co-CEO of Whole Foods, in order to transition and move forward, stores must re-build consumer trust. 

Moving forward in the pandemic starts by understanding what customers are thinking and feeling. Robb’s current company, S2G Ventures, recently published a report about the future of food in the age of COVID and uncovered many changes to customers’ mindsets. Today’s customers are out of their pre-COVID rhythm and are trying to find and settle into new routines while wrapping their heads around all the changes. Customers are adjusting and adapting by doing more things at home, leaning on different experiences and connecting with friends and brands digitally. 

Amidst all these changes, what customers really want is trust. They want the safety, security and transparency of trusting the companies they do business with. That includes things like knowing where their food comes from and understanding the manufacturing process for their clothes and home items. 

According to Robb, today’s retailers are at a tipping point: with a new generation of shoppers and a new world situation, companies have to contribute to solutions—they can’t just sit back. Retailers must actively work to build consumer trust by being transparent and authentic. 

Robb says retailers can re-earn trust and loyalty through three key principles:

  1. Act with integrity in every interaction. Customers interact with brands in a number of ways, from apps to in-store experiences and new digital platforms. Each interaction is a chance for a brand to re-earn trust and loyalty. Lasting trust comes from consistent actions. Customers have to know what to expect and that they will get great service every time they interact with the brand. Building trust doesn’t require huge actions—it’s the simple, everyday interactions that make a difference when they are authentic and consistent.
  2. Be willing to serve customers. Some customers say they want to be served in certain ways, such as grocery customers saying they want to pick up items in store or have certain things delivered. It’s up to brands to develop the capabilities to serve customers how and when they want to be served. Brands earn trust when they listen to customers and are willing to meet their needs.
  3. Use data to understand customers. Most customers are willing to share their personal information with a brand if it leads to more personalized experiences. Modern customers expect companies to know who they are and act according to their individual preferences. Brands can’t build unique experiences and establish trust if they don’t know their customers. 

COVID has changed how customers think and act, and retailers need to respond accordingly. To build trust, brands must understand modern customers and find ways to rebuild trust every day.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.


Sep 29, 2020

What do you do when everything about how you run a business goes out the window? 

Software company Red Hat is regularly recognized as one of the best places to work, in part because of its strong community and culture. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced employees around the world to work from home, the company had to find new ways to support its employees. 

DeLisa Alexander, Red Hat’s Chief People Officer, is leading efforts to stay connected to remote employees and support them to become their best selves, even in times of stress and uncertainty. 

Here are six ways to support employees during COVID-19 and how Red Hat has turned a crisis situation into an opportunity to continue to build its strong culture. 

  1. Start with yourself. Alexander says that leaders and managers have to breathe before they can help others breathe. If a manager is stressed with their own life, they won’t be able to connect with employees and help them work through their stress. Leaders at all levels need to build their resilience and take time to re-energize themselves so they can best lead others. Alexander regularly reminds herself and other leaders that it isn’t selfish to take time to do what you need to do to generate energy to lead your team.
  2. Let them grieve. Not everyone has lost loved ones, but the seismic changes to everyday life because of the pandemic have caused people to lose other things, including trips, family time and expected experiences. Employees are grieving for missed opportunities and the loss of their normal lives. Leaders need to acknowledge that it is fine to grieve and to work together to overcome those feelings. Red Hat hired a chaplain to create a grief framework to provide its employees with the best emotional outlets to handle these major changes to their lives.
  3. Give them time to recharge. With most people working from home, employees around the world are working more than ever and feel the need to be constantly available. Red Hat realized its employees needed more time to themselves but weren’t actually taking their available paid time off. Red Hat instituted Recharge Days when the company is shut down for one day a quarter and no one is allowed to work. Alexander says the two Recharge Days so far have worked wonders with employees and brought everyone back feeling refreshed and ready to jump back into work without feeling burnt out.  
  4. Allow for flexibility. With so much of the world in flux, leaders and organizations must be flexible to meet their employees’ needs. Managers need to lead teams in a way that people can be open and honest about their challenges. If someone needs to cut back on their work, someone else steps in, no questions asked. Teams work together to get the work done in whatever way that entails. Flexibility allows for employees to feel supported at work and that they can be their whole selves. Instead of feeling they must always be performing at peak levels, even amidst their many trials, employees know they can have an honest conversation with their manager to get help when needed.
  5. Build community. Even though employees aren’t together physically, they still crave human connections and community. Soon after everyone started working from home, a group of Red Hat associates volunteered to curate content for regular newsletters. The weekly employee newsletter provides updates and resources for everything from childcare to remote work. Red Hat also moved the viewing of its internal video program “The Show” online and had thousands of employees from around the world sign on to watch together and chat. Community improves productivity and is a huge boost to employee morale.
  6. Involve employees. Even as employees have settled into some sort of rhythm of working remotely over the last six months, there is still plenty of uncertainty for the future. As Red Hat works to solidify future plans, it regularly updates employees and requests their feedback. A team of employees is looking at the future openly and transparently with employees to think through the best options for the company. Alexander and her team are upfront with people that things have changed and include everyone in creating meaningful experiences that engage employees, no matter where they are working. 

No matter the global situation, Red Hat believes employees should always feel supported and empowered to bring their whole selves to work. COVID-19 has changed how that happens, but staying flexible and finding new ways to support employees has helped the company continue to grow its culture.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her new course here. For regular updates on customer experience, sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Sep 22, 2020

The B2B space is often an overlooked area for customer experience. But customer-centric experiences are crucial in the B2B world and come from listening to customers and continually evolving. 

When Kristi Langdon joined Daimler Trucks, she saw the company was incredibly product-focused, but not very customer-focused. The company was successful because of its great products, but Langdon knew B2B was shifting its focus to give more power to customers. She stepped into her current role as Daimler’s Head of Customer Experience and worked with the CEO to lead an effort to put customers at the center of Daimler’s B2B experiences. 

Daimler’s true first effort into customer-centricity came in November 2017 with its Customer Experience Day. All 22,000 Daimler employees around the world paused their normal work and spent the day listening to customers and learning about their experiences of doing business with Daimler. During those sessions, one customer made a comment that has become a driving force in the company: “You have great people and an amazing product, but your processes need work. We’ve got to work together on your processes.” 

Customer Experience Day also introduced employees to design thinking, Daimler’s new approach to customer experience. Employees broke into groups with trained facilitators to practice empathetic listening and creating prototypes to solve problems and improve processes. The entire day showed employees the true customer experience, what can be improved and how their work makes a difference. Daimler’s Customer Experience Day is now an annual occurrence and reminder that everyone in the company has a role to play in customer experience. 

By listening to customers, Langdon and her team learned that customers’ main pain points were a lack of communication and nearly everything about truck service and repairs. From there, the customer experience team looked for ways to automate processes to create smoother customer interactions and more self-service options. 

Leaning in to technology to better serve customers requires removing silos, especially between the business and IT sides of the company. As Langdon says, customer-centric models require partnerships between departments. Daimler is focused on shifting technology investments and increasing skills of the workforce so its people and developers know how to best serve customers and help with automation. 

Creating customer-centric experiences means being vulnerable and willing to listen to feedback that isn’t always pleasant. Langdon and her team discovered that Daimler customers have to contact the company an average of six times to get a problem solved, which was much higher than they thought. Daimler is working to lower the number so that customers only have to contact the company once or even not at all because of proactive service that reaches out to customers before problems arise. Getting regular feedback from customers and being willing to listen and improve the unpleasant aspects of the business helps Daimler stay connected with customers and constantly improve. 

Daimler’s push towards customer-centricity is continual. Building customer relationships, opening feedback channels and leveraging technology help the company deliver strong B2B experiences and create a competitive advantage.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

Sep 15, 2020

No one could have ever predicted what would happen in 2020. Aside from the pandemic and its impact on the global economy, unemployment, remote learning and a host of other issues, there are also widespread cries to end systemic racism, fires and natural disasters and a tumultuous presidential election. It’s more than anyone could ever have imagined, and it’s taking a toll on consumers. 

But even with these unique conditions, companies are moving forward and working to grow and provide great service to customers. The question many companies face is how to connect with customers when so much about the world has changed and people are facing so much stress. 

Amelia Dunlop, Chief Experience Officer at Deloitte Digital, refers to it as the emotional toll COVID-19 has taken on people. No matter how it affects each person, the pandemic and other crises have caused stress and exhaustion and changed people.  

Deloitte Digital set out to get a pulse on how customer behavior is changing amidst all of the chaos. A survey of 28,000 Americans introduced numerous stories about the changing human experience and showcased what Americans are going through, where they need help and what companies can do to stay relevant. It comes down to one key area: be human. Consumers want companies that are empathetic and see them as individuals in the middle of a crisis, not just shoppers who are the same as they were six months ago. 

Deloitte Digital’s results found three ways companies can become more human during a crisis:

  1. Build trust. Companies have to balance the natural tension between the safety of the group with each individual customer’s freedom in a way that builds trust with customers and is open and authentic.
  2. Signal safety. Customers are concerned about safety and often don’t know who to trust. Companies need to create a comprehensive safety plan and clearly communicate it to customers. People look for safety signs that they can see, feel, hear and smell.
  3. Redefine connection. Companies must change their approach to physical and virtual interactions to meet the human need to connect while still being safe. Customers still want connection, even if it comes in a different form.  

Being human requires companies to understand their customers and especially how they are reacting to challenges of the current crisis. The Deloitte Survey also found that people fit into three different clusters: 

  • Protectors: These are the people who are more concerned about health risks and tend to only trust themselves or their immediate family in regards to safety. They feel anxious and are acting with concern.
  • Prevailers: This group is skeptical about how long the crisis will last. They are optimistic about reopening the economy and are likely to be the first for in-person experiences. Prevailers feel skeptical and are acting with confidence.
  • Pragmatists: This group falls in between the others and tries to balance health and safety with a push to return to normal. People who fall into this category are feeling calm and acting with balance. 

Although everyone is going through the same crises, Dunlop says each person values different things. For companies to stay relevant and stay human, they have to build empathy and softer experiences for stressed consumers. 

Crises will always be part of doing business, even when they are as unpredictable as 2020 has shown. Keeping a good understanding of customers and staying human can help companies navigate crises and maintain strong relationships.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

Sep 8, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic may have upended nearly everything about how we live and work, but it hasn’t stopped innovation. 

While many people and businesses are struggling to stay afloat and work through their day-to-day issues, Lisa Bodell, founder and CEO of FutureThink, says there’s never been a better time to be innovative. She views COVID-19 as the great reset that has paved the way for innovative changes. Innovation is more important now than ever, but it requires a new approach in our new world. 

COVID-19 can act as a catalyst for innovation and allow us to turn changes we were forced into by a global pandemic into productive and long-term changes in our organizations. Here are three ways to stay innovative in the age of COVID-19. 

Question Assumptions

How we innovate is based on our assumptions. The key to strong innovation and being open to new ideas is to question the assumptions we’ve always had or that are part of society. For years, we’ve assumed certain things that are now being challenged. Many companies assumed they couldn’t have their employees work from home. But when they were forced to let go of those assumptions, they realized remote work can be effective for their teams. Questioning that assumption has allowed companies to create innovative remote work practices. 

As you set out to innovate, question the assumptions you hold personally or within your organization. Ask yourself why you think a certain way and why things matter. Innovation comes when people are willing to find creative solutions and re-create norms. 


When processes are inefficient or redundant, people can feel burnt out or too busy to innovate. The goal of simplicity isn’t to get more work done, it’s to do the work that matters. Bodell says anything can be simplified, but especially our processes, mindsets and schedules. Start by stripping things away to the essentials and only adding back in the things that matter most. Evaluate every aspect of your schedule or process to ensure it is valuable and not just busy work. Pharmaceutical company Novartis simplified its processes to drive collaboration and innovation. Video is now mandatory for all meetings, and any meeting longer than 30 minutes requires permission. Other companies are only allowing meetings to be scheduled on certain days of the week so that employees can focus on their own work the rest of the week. 

When your mind and schedule is free of pointless or busy tasks, you have more energy to dedicate to innovation and can clear the space for better ways of doing things. 

Know Your Skillset And Pivot

Innovation requires individuals and companies to pivot to something new. Successful innovation is often based on your skills and abilities. Instead of trying something completely new, you can pivot to an area where you know you will be strong. 

Bodell recommends knowing your skillset and pivoting within those boundaries. Start by examining your skills and abilities. Where are areas you excel or that you know you can thrive? Use those skills as a jumping off point for innovation. Bodell shares the example of Dyson, a company that has a well-established production process. When COVID-19 first hit, the company was able to easily pivot from manufacturing vacuums to manufacturing respirators. Because of the company’s expertise in manufacturing and established culture of curiosity, Dyson could pivot to a new product area and innovate. 

COVID-19 has proven to be a catalyst for innovation. To keep innovation moving forward, focus on questioning assumptions and simplifying so you and your organization can become agile and be able to pivot, no matter what is happening in the world.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

Sep 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic rocked companies and customers around the world. As businesses struggled to survive, many put focusing on their customers on the backburner. 

But that’s not the case for Workday. The software company is regularly ranked one of the best companies in the world for its customer service and boasts an impressive 97% customer satisfaction score. As the world fell into chaos, Workday stayed close to its customers and used the crisis as a chance to strengthen relationships. 

Emily McEvilly is Workday’s first-ever Chief Customer Officer. She views her role to be the chief customer advocate and ensure that the customers’ voice is present in everything the company does. Never has that been more important than during the global pandemic. McEvilly said Workday was faced with three main waves of COVID-19 response. The first wave was when stay-at-home orders were first issued. As companies tried to wrap their heads around working from home, Workday B2B clients were mainly focused on business continuity and keeping things moving forward. 

The second wave came later as companies and employees found a groove of working from home. They had managed to stay afloat, but now faced the challenges of adapting potentially long term. Workday continued its standard personalized approach to customer service but tailored it to meet the many needs of its clients. Employees known as Customer Success Managers were assigned to groups of customers to develop strong relationships with them. Those employees serve as a point of contact for customers and use their knowledge of each customer to offer personalized service. Instead of customers having to blindly call customer service, they have a single person they can contact directly to meet their needs. 

Workday covers clients in nearly every industry around the globe, and the different needs of those companies became clear during COVID-19. A one-size-fits-all response to the pandemic wouldn’t work with the differing situations. Instead, Workday divided its employees to each serve certain customers. During a crisis, speed is of the essence, and pre-assigning employees cut down on customers having to wade through red tape to find the right person to help them. 

McEvilly shared the example of one large U.S. retailer that wanted to give its front-line workers an hourly increase. Workday’s customer-centric response helped the company quickly make the change to best help its employees. Another much smaller company has a different type of global workforce that wasn’t used to working from home. Workday employees updated the client’s software to allow managers to easily track employee tasks and even provided consulting hours to help them make changes in their apps. Going one step further, Workday shared the experience in its customer portal so that any customer could see how the product could be tailored. 

According to McEvilly, the third phase of COVID-19 response hasn’t yet arrived. That will be when companies get back to working in person or with a long-term remote work strategy. In preparation for that phase, Workday is already building new partnerships to strengthen its products to deliver agile features customers will need. 

Like with many other companies, COVID-19 pushed Workday to implement digital programs earlier than originally planned. Workday accelerated the launch of its Digital Customer Experience, which optimizes all systems related to Workday applications. The applications themselves are powerful and efficient, but the programs that support the applications and educate customers needed to be refined. The digital approach is improving how customers search for information and learn about their Workday products to get the most value. 

Customer-centricity is never more important than during a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic shows that customers crave connection and want personalized service to keep moving forward. By offering personalized, digital solutions, Workday is able to keep its customers central to everything it does, no matter what is happening in the world.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by TTEC.

Imagine an interaction that’s so simple and easy, that you don’t even think about it!

TTEC calls this ‘mastering the effortless experience’… and it’s the future of CX.

When your competition is just a click away, how do you ensure your customers stay loyal? How do you keep your employees engaged and motivated? How do you make sure your brand thrives?

Managing over 3.5 million interactions daily, TTEC are CX experts who know what it takes to deliver amazing and effortless customer experiences. They combine CX strategy with proven-processes, award-winning people engagement and best-of-breed technology to deliver holistic solutions focused on driving real-world results for their clients every day.

Don’t get lost in a sea of competitors. Effortless is not a destination. It’s a journey. And TTEC can be your guide to an effortless future.

To find out more about how TTEC can help you transform your customer experience visit

Aug 25, 2020

What do you do when your entire business is built around parties and celebrations, but people can’t actually get together? 

That’s the question faced by Party City during the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of slowing down as social distancing severely limits gatherings, Party City is taking the opportunity to pivot and introduce new services to customers. 

After its stores closed in mid-March, Party City quickly pivoted to buy online, pickup in store and same-day delivery. According to CEO Brad Weston, the company already had these services on its omnichannel roadmap but had to quickly implement them in a few days instead of months or years as originally planned. Party City partnered with a leading digital fulfilment and delivery platform to enhance the delivery experience from start to finish. Delivery has been a huge boost for the company, especially for balloons. A common frustration for customers used to be going to the store to have balloons filled, only to find they didn’t all fit in their car. But with balloons being delivered, customers aren’t limited by the size of their trunk space. 

Even in a pandemic, celebrations still happen. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, new babies, holidays and a host of other things give people a reason to celebrate, just in a different way. COVID-19 has forced the store to pivot many of its products and experiences, especially around virtual events. It now offers kits for easy virtual and at-home celebrations, including a DIY movie night in a box, beach day in a box, graduation in a box and many more. Party City also expanded its online resources to help customers plan and host virtual parties with step-by-step guides. In many cases, customers didn’t need tons of supplies for a virtual celebration, but the resources helped build the experience and push Party City to its new experiential focus. 

Party City is in the business of helping people find and celebrate joy. Much of that starts online. Weston believes that to get customers’ attention, retailers need to provide aspirational and inspirational experiences to start customers down the journey instead of just making products available. In the case of Party City, that means providing inspiration for the entire party experience including entertainment, décor and food, instead of simply selling party supplies. Customers want a one-stop shop where they can plan amazing celebrations and be inspired. 

Party City’s pivot to experiential customer service starts online by providing ideas and planning services. The company is making the big shift towards adding a marketplace of services that customers might want, including balloon artists, caterers, musicians and more. The goal is to help customers with every step of the party process, from brainstorming and big-picture ideas down to the little details and vendors.  

Celebrations don’t stop because of COVID-19. Today’s customers are celebrating together while remaining apart. Party City’s pivot during the pandemic provides new resources and ideas for customers while also putting the company on the path to a more holistic, experience-based approach to celebrations of the future.

Aug 18, 2020

For decades, healthcare has had a reputation of being bureaucratic and difficult to work with. Customers expect to have to jump through hoops and wade through confusion to find answers to simple questions or manage their care. But the future of healthcare is anything but difficult—it puts customers first to create convenient, proactive and personalized solutions. 

Kathy Klingler is Chief Consumer Experience and Marketing Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and she brings decades of experience in banking and other consumer industries. Her approach turns the traditional healthcare model on its head to put customers first. 

Customer experience is crucial at Blue Cross Blue Shield. Klingler’s unique position puts her in charge of everything from brand strategy to digital marketing, customer experience and market insights. She works closely with the Chief Strategy Officer to integrate customer experience into the overall strategy of the company and the future of healthcare. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield’s strategy reaffirms that putting the consumer at the center of healthcare is the most important thing the company can do. The company’s customer-centricity plan breaks into three pillars:

1. Digital capabilities. One of Klingler’s main focuses since joining the company four years ago has been to build out Blue Cross Blue Shield’s digital capabilities. There used to be disparate systems without a place for members to understand their plans or how to get the most value. A new digital hub is personalized for each member’s needs and allows them full access to the information they need to understand and get the most out of their plan. Modern customers crave digital convenience and being able to get information on their own schedule.

2. Communication channels. For decades, the traditional way of communicating with healthcare customers was by phone. But modern members want to interact digitally and in more convenient ways. Blue Cross Blue Shield aims to meet customers where they are in channels they already use. Customer-centric companies create more communication channels to match customer preferences and ensure those offerings are seamless and convenient.

3. Data and analytics. Blue Cross Blue Shield leverages data in a way that allows it to engage with members in more meaningful ways. Data paints a picture of members and allows contact center agents to proactively suggest care that members might need. Data and analytics add a powerful tool to understanding and serving customers. During COVID, Blue Cross is proactively reaching out to members who are at higher risk or live in hotspot areas to ensure they get the care they need. 

The mission of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is to put customers first, and it’s something that the employees and leaders live and breathe. By staying in contact with customers and combining customer data, third-party data and behavioral data, the company understands what its members need and is constantly adapting to meet their needs. 

In the future of healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s customer-centric strategy will become the norm. Healthcare companies must become more transparent and make it easier for their customers to get the care they need in the way they want to access it. Instead of bombarding customers with information, that means delivering personalized information clearly and simply from an ally who can guide them. 

The difficulties of traditional healthcare are on their way out. In order to succeed in the future, healthcare companies must put customers first and deliver on the three main pillars of customer-centricity.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.


Aug 11, 2020

A customer focus and strong customer experience starts from the top. In order for companies to be totally customer-centric, they must have strong leaders. 

However, we’re facing a leadership crisis today where most leaders don’t know how to lead. Jacob Morgan (who just happens to be my husband) is a best-selling author and expert on leadership and the future of work. As he was conducting research for his book, The Future Leader, he came across this startling statistic: most people become leaders in their mid to late 20s, but they don’t receive formal leadership training until their late 30s or early 40s. That means most leaders go more than a decade without any training. No wonder we have such a lack of strong leadership. 

To be effective, leaders have to take training into their own hands. The first step is to create your own definition of leader and leadership. We are surrounded by leadership, but few of us can actually define it. Establishing a definition allows companies to create filters for who they hire and promote. Those filters ensure that the organization is filled with consistently great leaders instead of a mix of great and sub-par leaders. 

Jacob’s definition of leadership is being a lighthouse. The purpose of a lighthouse is to shine light on ships in the harbor and guide them to safety and success. Similarly, a leader’s purpose is to guide their people and organization to success. But a leader lighthouse is useless without ships. Leaders can’t just focus on themselves—they must focus on others. 

From interviews with more than 140 top CEOs, Jacob created the Notable Nine: the skills and mindsets leaders need to adapt to succeed in the future of work. These skills are crucial to becoming a customer-focused leader and creating a culture of customer centricity. 


  • Explorer: Become a perpetual learner, be curious and focus on agility and adaptability.
  • Chef: Balance humanity and technology.
  • Servant: Serve your leaders, your team, your customers and yourself by being humble and vulnerable.
  • Global citizen: Surround yourself with different people and look at the big picture. 


  • Futurist: Look towards the future and think through different scenarios.
  • Yoda: Practice emotional intelligence and empathy.
  • Translator: Develop listening and communication skills
  • Coach: Motivate and engage others and create effective teams across geographies and generations.
  • Technology teen: Embrace new technology and be tech-savvy. 

A common element for all leaders, especially those leading through the current uncertainty of COVID-19, is to focus on people, not profits. Successful leaders develop their people, set a vision, engage and coach them to be more successful. They are focused more on engaging their employees than hitting their quarterly revenue goals. As Jacob says, putting people first is a philosophy backed by a set of actions. Don’t just believe it—you have to show it. 

Customer experience leadership impacts the entire organization. In order for a business to succeed, leaders must focus on people and strive to become lighthouses that guide others to success.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Aug 4, 2020

For most people around the world, the excitement of attending an in-person event has been replaced by sitting in front of a computer screen. As the coronavirus pandemic cancels in-person events of all sizes around the world, more companies than ever before are taking their events online. But staring at a screen isn’t nearly as engaging as seeing something in person, and many companies and event attendees have struggled with the new format. 

Abhishek Vanamali, CMO of Zensar Technologies, is a strong believer in virtual events. Although they can’t exactly replicate in-person events, he believes virtual events are the future and have the potential to offer amazing, engaging experiences for organizers and attendees. 

Vanamali’s advice to create an amazing virtual event comes down to this: stop thinking about limitations and embrace what’s possible. 

Many organizations focus on what virtual event platforms can’t do—things like not being able to network one-on-one, raise a real toast or test out new products. But to plan a successful virtual event, no matter if it is a huge conference or a small team meeting, organizers must change their thinking to see what’s possible. Vanamali says that everything we thought isn’t possible virtually is actually possible in some form. The first step for event organizers and marketers is to educate themselves and discover the possibilities of virtual events. 

Virtual event technology has come a long way in recent years, even before the pandemic hit. There are numerous platforms available that offer features like registering attendees, facilitating breakout sessions and allowing attendees to chat with each other during sessions. 

When looking at the possibilities of virtual events, the sky's the limit. Technology makes it possible to create nearly any kind of event in a unique and memorable way. Vanamali shared the example of a high-end auction house that was forced to take its auction online. Instead of being weighed down by the idea of selling high-end art without customers seeing it in person, the company created a full-blown production. It ran an all-day virtual event complete with green screens, professional lighting, expert auctioneers and interactive content to tell the story of the art. The virtual auction wasn’t simply a recreation of an in-person auction—it was a new type of event that leveraged technology and helped the company sell $420 million of art online. 

One of the biggest challenges of virtual events is keeping participants engaged. It’s one thing to sit in a room with hundreds of other people and absorb a presentation, but it’s completely different to be alone at home with dozens of distractions. The Zensar Technologies annual sales meeting addressed this challenge when it added a gamification element for its 300 attendees. While the event was happening virtually on one screen, attendees were also using a companion mobile app to scan AR markers on presentation slides. The person who scanned the most markers over the three-day meeting won a grand prize, and participants got competitive as the leaderboard changed. Zensar also used the app for trivia contests and quizzes between sessions. Vanamali says participants were engaged by the unique gamification piece, which led them to pay more attention to the content and have a better experience. 

The global pandemic has put virtual events at the forefront of business, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Now that companies have seen the potential of virtual event technology, more events will stay virtual or adopt a hybrid model. To create a great virtual event, remember to embrace technology and consider its many possibilities instead of getting weighed down by its limitations.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Zendesk.

Things are a little weird right now. The sudden change in the world—and the world of business—has created new challenges. A lot of companies are struggling to keep up with what matters most: their customers. Zendesk is here to help. They put together a six-month complimentary Remote Support Bundle. To learn more visit

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