Have You Seen These 4 Inspiring Customer Service Conference Talks?

By John Hughes

The number of top-notch talks available online has never been greater. Though wide-ranging keynote presentations from big hitters such as Matt Mullenweg tend to grab the headlines in the world of WordPress, there is a huge range of incredibly informative material across all manner of niches out there just waiting to be explored.

In this piece, we’ll shine a light on the world of customer service and support by highlighting four conference talks packed full of inspiration and actionable insight you can apply in your own business.

Settle in with some popcorn and you’ll be treated to masterclasses on the crucial role of customer support in building a future-proof business, the interaction of culture and customer service, bulletproof day-to-day operational tips, and a whole lot more.

Let’s kick things off with a keynote.

1. Richard White on Customer Care as the Future of Business

As one of the founders of UserConf (now rebranded as Elevate Summit) and CEO of UserVoice, Richard White obviously has customer support very much on his mind at all times. In this 2012 keynote, he presents a clear, data-driven distinction between old world monolithic customer support, and the new generation of responsive, customer-focused businesses.

White kicks off a compelling presentation with the astute observation that many aspects of what was previously defined as luxury in terms of customer service are now what savvy consumers expect as standard. He then goes on to tear through a list of extremely convincing arguments for why customer service will be at the heart of most modern businesses’ struggle for survival.

There’s plenty of food for thought here in the sections on customer support as a sales opportunity, the challenge of retention in the age of Software as a Service (SaaS), and the tendency of millennials to reach for self-service options by default. Give this one 20 minutes of your time and you’ll come away with a set of core concepts to chew on, and a renewed faith in the overall importance of customer support for your business.

2. Tony Hsieh on Customers and Culture

Zappos have revolutionized online retail in the last 15 years, and listening to CEO Tony Hsieh speak at the Vator Splash conference, it’s not hard to see why – the commitment to both company culture and customer support are simply off the scale.

In this barnstorming talk, Hsieh walks through the history of Zappos and delivers insight after insight into how he created a billion dollar e-commerce behemoth based largely around world-class customer service.

It’s an excellent mix of anecdote and inspiration, packed full of intriguing insights on areas such as hiring and Zappos’ visionary decision to put the majority of their marketing budget directly into customer support.

3. Chase Clemons on Trying New Things

Our first two selections leaned towards the big picture overview of customer support, but this 2012 UserConf talk from Chase Clemons of Basecamp gets right down to the nitty-gritty of day-to-day operational implementation. It’s no less inspiring for that, however.

Over the course of an incredibly detailed 40 minute talk, Clemons moves through all the major modern support channels, and delivers rock solid evergreen tips on each one. The mixture of pragmatism and innovation that Basecamp is known for as a company shine through in every section.

On the practical side of things, you’ll get a stream of solid ground rules such as moving email tickets to phone calls if they’re not solved after three interactions. If you’re looking for left field ideas to take your customer support to the next level, Clemons’ breakdown of Basecamp’s experiments with in person meetups and online classes make for fascinating viewing.

4. Elizabeth Tobey on the Wider Role of Customer Support

This 2015 UserConf talk from Elizabeth Tobey does a wonderful job of making the case for customer support not being an operational island, but rather an integral (and inseparable) part of marketing, public relations, and community management.

Drawing on her past in the games industry, Tobey begins by zipping through a number of entertainingly presented case studies on the wider impact customer support can have. She then goes on to give some eye-popping insight into her role in streamlining customer support at Tumblr.

You’re unlikely to be operating at that sort of scale, but there are many interesting takeaways to learn from here on the importance of automation and bucketing teams into separate specialities. Her closing section on how best to sell customer support internally is also top-notch.


With great speakers like the ones we’ve highlighted above, it’s hard to beat a fast-paced conference talk for a quick dose of inspiration and encouragement.

The increasingly central role of customer support shines through in each of the presentations, but each speaker offers their own unique set of takeaways to ponder further.

Let’s recap some of the highlights:

  • Richard White drives home the long-term value of customer support in helping businesses survive, then thrive.
  • Tony Hsieh shows the crucial importance of making customer support an integral part of company culture at every level of the organization.
  • Chase Clemons lays out a series of detailed operational breakdowns every business can learn from.
  • Elizabeth Tobey’s take on delivering delight at scale offers excellent tips on automation and team building.

Are there any great customer support conference talks we’ve missed? Get in touch via the comments section below and let us know!

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