Lessons from NextCon’s Customer Experience Roundtable

March 6, 2018 3 min read

Nicole Small

Nicole Small


Those who sat in the audience on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 at NextCon in Scottsdale, Arizona, were treated to an hour of incredibly valuable information when a powerful group of customer service superstars took to the stage for a panel titled CX Unplugged: Lessons Learned from Legendary Customer Experience Teams.

Moderated by business consultant and television personality Carol Roth, the panel consisted of marketing and employer brand strategist Lane Sutton, Nordstrom SVP Lois Evers and Ritz-Carlton general manager Liam Doyle. Each person shared customer experience insights so valuable, the audience could barely keep up as they jotted down notes.

Roth started the conversation by asking Sutton, a member of the Gen Z generation (born in mid-90s to early 2000s), if companies needed to alter customer service techniques based on the generation of their clients.

“I do think expectations have changed,” said Sutton. “Older generations are often happy to use email, or even snail mail, when a customer service issue arises. But younger generations want instant gratification. They want to use Snap or Instagram Messenger or a chat bot to communicate with brands, and I think companies need to adapt to these changes.”

With representatives from two of the companies most famous for customer service, Nordstrom and Ritz-Carlton, on stage, Roth asked about the tenants of delivering a good customer experience.

“Our orientation process and selection process is different than most companies,” said Ritz’s Doyle. “We live and die by orientation. So many businesses will talk about their mission and credo in orientation and then never mention it again. At The Ritz-Carlton Company, we talk about it every single day. The customer is always central to every decision we make.”

Nordstrom’s Evers explained that one of the best things a company can do to boost customer service is to empower employees to make decisions themselves. “The trick is not making our problem the customer’s problem,” she told the audience. “It’s about paying attention and taking care of the customer. They shouldn’t know the obstacles that you have to go through to fulfill a request. Just take care of them. That is what we try to do every day.”

Hiring, onboarding, and the candidate experience was also a hot topic during the session. Sutton noted that, while advances in marketing and sales have grown over the years, human resources has failed to keep up and many companies are struggling to create positive experiences for job candidates.

“There is an amazing case study about Virgin Media where they found that 10 percent of their customers were candidates and 6 percent of those customers were switching cable providers because they’d had terrible customer experiences,” he said. “This led to a $5 billion loss in revenue, which made them realize that they needed to treat the candidate experience like the customer experience.”

Measurement, or the use of data, was also brought up. Roth noted how fascinating it can be to look at the numbers when quantifying a customer’s experience and how a company is doing.

“We measure everything, and I really mean everything,” said Doyle.

He told a story about how his hotel received a negative audit a few years ago. Instead of pushing it away, the company embraced the feedback and worked to see where improvements could be made. The negative comment was focused on in-room dining. After checking the phones—Ritz checks everything at least five times—they found that the positioning of the phone in the lobby (dubbed the “living room”) was at a height that was inspiring people to unplug the phone to plug in their smart phones.

“We never would have noticed that if we didn’t dig deep into our data,” he said. “That information helped us make changes that then improved the customer experience.”

To close out the session, Roth asked the panel to give the audience one piece of customer service advice.

“Think about the customer experience, the employee experience and the candidate experience,” suggested Sutton. “How do they come together? Make sure they are aligned and consistent.”

“Always look at your business from the eyes of the customer,” said Evers.

“We stand on three pillars of success,” said Ritz’s Doyle. “We have surgically clean hotels; not clean, but surgically clean. We have world-class food at all levels, and we have happy people. If you have happy people, you can change the world.

Nicole Small


Nicole Small

Nicole Small is a former marketing communications manager for Nextiva and is passionate about growth, company culture, and the promise of Amazing Service. Outside of marketing, Nicole enjoys cooking easy and healthy recipes, taking care of the office plants, and hanging out with her cat.

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