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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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Now displaying: March, 2021
Mar 30, 2021

The beauty world is full of customers who love to experiment with new products, watch makeup tutorials and spend time finding the best items. 

But what about customers who care about their skin and beauty but don’t want to spend the time finding and trying new products on their own? 

These are known as casual consumers. They want to try new things but are often overwhelmed or don’t have time for the number of products on the market. 

Most beauty companies market to serious consumers, making casual consumers an unserved market, says Ali Edgerton, Birchbox U.S. President. Birchbox was founded in 2010 as a way to provide casual consumers great products without them having to find and experiment on their own. Birchbox was the first subscription box—an incredible accomplishment when considering the thousands of subscription boxes now on the market. 

The innovative concept is relatively simple: each month, consumers receive a box with five deluxe-sized samples of beauty products picked just for them. The model works well for casual consumers who want to try new things and get the right products for their hair, skincare and makeup routines, but who don’t want to sort through products on their own. Birchbox has grown into a multi-faceted platform that allows consumers to subscribe for monthly products or simply buy products from the online storefront. 

Birchbox meets the modern customer where she is by creating a multi-channel experience that relies heavily on data and personalization. When users first subscribe, they answer a series of questions to set up their profile. Birchbox compares that data to how casual consumers relate to the beauty industry to put personalized items in each box. Customers also have the option to choose a few items on their own. 

Data continues after the box has been delivered with a robust review system that allows customers to give feedback for each item and gives Birchbox a better understanding of what is and isn’t working for each customer. As Birchbox collects more data, it provides an increasingly personalized experience. 

Birchbox also stays on top of trends that appeal to casual beauty consumers and puts together curated packages separate from subscription boxes. These products are designed to help casual consumers tap into new beauty trends and get everything they need in one place. One of the most popular recent discovery kits includes everything consumers need to fight maskne, or acne caused by constant mask-wearing. Casual consumers would likely be overwhelmed trying to find the best products on their own, so Birchbox makes it easy for them to get everything in one click. And the strategy is working—the kits are in constant demand and are flying off the shelves. 

Edgerton says Birchbox uses data to create a picture of what customers want and need. Her greatest satisfaction comes from introducing something to a customer who didn’t know they needed it. 

Relying on data to provide personalized experiences and meet customers where they are is a large part of the reason for Birchbox’s success. It hopes to continue its innovative approach to beauty and retail as it sets the example for other subscription models.  

To try Birchbox for yourself, Edgerton is giving The Modern Customer Podcast listeners a discount with code VIP50.

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.  

Mar 23, 2021

Running the largest adventure park company in the country comes with challenges—especially during a global pandemic.

There’s no playbook for this type of scenario. But Michael Browning, founder and CEO of Urban Air, knows that speed and innovation always win, which fueled his strategy to react to information quickly as it came in.

Reacting with speed allowed Urban Air to not only survive the pandemic but to thrive and find new ways to expand and grow. 

Browning encourages his franchisees and staff to stay close to customers and get their feedback. Although the indoor trampoline and adventure parks are aimed at kids, the company views moms as the customers and kids as the users. 

When states started opening back up, many customers weren’t sure what was safe. Urban Air surveyed moms to ask what they wanted for their kids’ activities. The more than 3 million responses helped establish health and safety guidelines for an Urban Air environment where moms felt comfortable bringing their kids.

Browning took it one step further. Three hours after a visit to Urban Air, the company followed up with the parents asking if the location met their expectations about cleanliness and safety. Most moms said it definitely did. Urban Air then asked moms to shoot a short video of their experience and put it on YouTube. The company got hundreds of videos of parents sharing their authentic reactions and experiences, which was powerful in encouraging other families to return to the adventure park. 

Feedback has been crucial to keeping Urban Air going during the pandemic. It also led to one of the company’s biggest pivots.

While visiting with neighbors at an outdoor happy hour early in the pandemic, Browning heard frustration from parents about kids doing remote school. That frustration led to the creation of the Urban Air Learn and Fly Program, which opened up Urban Air locations for kids to do their virtual schooling with the help of certified teachers. The program was successful in Browning’s home state of Texas until students went back to in-person school.

Again, Urban Air pivoted to meet a need. Browning learned that many parents were unsatisfied with after-school programs and overwhelmed with having their kids home while they worked. The Urban Air After School Program was born. Every day, busses pick kids up from school and take them to Urban Air locations, where they do their homework with supervision and have a chance to play until their parents pick them up after work. The program is being tested in Texas and will roll out to Urban Air locations across the country this fall, making it one of the biggest after-school programs in the country.

And that incredible growth came from pivoting during a challenging time.

Experiential retail is the future of customer experience, but it comes with unique challenges, especially during a pandemic. Urban Air shows that the key to surviving and thriving at any time—not just during COVID—is to listen to customers, invite their feedback and then find ways to pivot to best meet their needs.

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.  

Mar 16, 2021

A year ago, most of us were speaking in meetings full of team members or giving presentations to rooms full of people. 

But those faces have now changed to boxes on a screen, and our messages have moved from in-person to virtual. 

Being an effective communicator is a challenge on its own, but doing it virtually adds even more complications. According to Matt Abrahams, co-founder and principal at Bold Echo Communications Solutions, virtual communication only accentuates the challenges we’ve always had with public speaking. He says being an effective virtual communicator requires overcoming three challenges:

  1. Getting and holding attention
  2. Being clear and concise
  3. Maintaining engagement 

Attention is the most precious commodity in the world today. When people aren’t in the same room as the speaker, it’s much easier for them to get distracted. It’s up to speakers to hold their attention. 

Many of these challenges can be addressed by focusing on your audience. Abrahams says too many people are fixated on what they want to say instead of thinking about what would be valuable to their audience. He says speaking without focusing on the audience is like writing a love letter and addressing it To Whom It May Concern. 

Before preparing a speech or presentation, take time to reflect on who your audience is and what they need to hear. Once you understand your audience, you can structure your message to be clear and concise. Abrahams recommends structuring your communication to answer three simple questions:

  1. What? Say what it is.
  2. So What? Share why it’s important.
  3. Now What? Teach what you can do with that information.

Understanding the audience and following a structure creates a speech that is clear, concise and on message. People are much more likely to pay attention to clear content that applies to them. Doing the work upfront to understand your audience and structure your presentation can help overcome all three of the virtual communication challenges. 

Storytelling is also a valuable tool, especially for virtual communication. People connect with and remember stories far more than they remember statistics. Abrahams recommends having a goal for your story and telling it in six words. If you can convey your key point in six words, it can be your starting point for crafting a larger story. The best way to become a great storyteller is to practice and listen to other great storytellers.   

Even after the pandemic has subsided, virtual communication is here to stay. Abrahams believes that in the future we’ll see a hybrid approach with both in-person and virtual speeches and presentations. Being a successful communicator in the future will require these strong virtual communication skills.

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.  

Mar 9, 2021

Just weeks after Sarah Steinhardt had her first baby, she had to make a quick run to the store to get more diapers. On a New York City street corner, diapers in hand, she started crying. It was at that moment she realized how fortunate she was to be able to quickly get the necessities for her baby when mothers around the country didn’t have the same ability. 

That experience led Steinhardt to create Welcome Baby USA, a nonprofit focused on providing at-risk and low-income mothers with the essentials for their baby’s first month of life. Welcome Baby partners with clinics and hospitals across the country to provide boxes with diapers, newborn clothes, a baby carrier, and other essentials that these women would likely not be able to otherwise afford. Mothers receive the boxes during their third trimester so they have everything they need to bring a baby home. 

Steinhardt’s career started in broadcast journalism, which opened her eyes to the countless people and stories around the world. In many instances, these mothers and babies don’t have a voice and need advocates to support them and share their stories. Steinhardt says the Welcome Baby box is meant to alleviate stress for mothers who can’t afford necessities and hopefully gives the baby a level playing field in their first month of life that they can move from.  

But building and scaling a nonprofit hasn’t been easy, especially during a global pandemic when children face more needs than ever before. When she started Welcome Baby more than two years ago, Steinhardt and her co-founder packaged the boxes in their homes and hand-delivered them to local hospitals and clinics. As the organization grew, it partnered with a company to source, pack, and ship the boxes. But in the early days of the pandemic when supply chains were in chaos, it was nearly impossible to find some of the most important parts of the boxes, like thermometers. Steinhardt said she had to re-think logistics, but the new thinking and partnerships allowed Welcome Baby to scale and grow during a difficult year. 

New motherhood can be incredibly isolating, especially for mothers who don’t have basic necessities for their children. Steinhardt hopes her organization can take away some of the stress of having a baby by providing much-needed supplies. Her story shows how women can support each other and make a difference during the most vulnerable and important times in life.  

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. 

Mar 2, 2021

2020 changed the world in many ways, including a renewed push for racial justice and equality in the United States. That demand must now be echoed in how companies brand and market their products. 

With increased calls for racial justice, Kirstyn Nimmo saw how she could bring her marketing expertise and experiences as a Black woman to help brands act authentically and impact racial equality. Nimmo founded Good Worx and consults numerous big brands on social causes. 

Branding in the era of racial justice brings unique challenges, but also new opportunities to connect with customers and make meaningful changes.

A recent example of the need for inclusive branding comes from Aunt Jemima. The company, which is owned by Quaker Oats and PepsiCo, has received complaints for years about its branding and inclusion of a racist stereotype on its packaging. Those complaints grew in 2020 to calls for Aunt Jemima to change its name. Quaker Oats and PepsiCo responded by essentially erasing the history and changing the name to the Pearl Milling Company. Instead of engaging in a conversation with its customers and members of the Black community, it appears the company erased any reference to Black culture from its product.

Nimmo acknowledges that this is a complex issue, but also says that PepsiCo missed the mark. Although there was complicated history around Aunt Jemima, it was also Black representation on a popular product, which is important.

Rather than engaging in conversations with the Black community to understand the history and its significance, many companies take the easy route to delete issues. PepsiCo had the opportunity to evolve into a new brand identity that could have highlighted the Black community and its roots instead of just covering it up.

People don’t want to feel uncomfortable, but in this era of racial justice, those uncomfortable conversations need to happen.

Nimmo has three tips for branding in the era of racial justice:

  1. Be open to feedback from consumers. Brands need to create channels for feedback and listen to what customers have to say. Use the feedback as a way to connect with people on a deeper level and learn from their experiences.
  2. Take accountability for what is being called out. Too many brands only change once they face extreme public pressure. Brands need to be brave and acknowledge their past and see how they can change. Instead of ignoring the problem or trying to erase it, brands need to be accountable for their past actions.
  3. Reverse the harm. Brands should do whatever is needed to realize how their actions have harmed people. Nimmo says brands need to reverse the harm by swinging the pendulum the other way to create equity and equality.

This new era of racial justice is more than a passing phase—it is a lasting push for equality. Brands need to realize the importance of the current issues and listen to their customers from all backgrounds to successfully lead representation and change.

Links to further resources mentioned in the show: 

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.

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