Why do you want to be a part of Tuft & Needle?

Tuft & Needle is creating a new type of American company and I want to join you. I want to be part of a company who’s creating something amazing. I’m at a point in my life where I don't want to build my resume. I want to take risks and build something meaningful.

I want to learn new things and say goodbye to the traditional work experience. I want to keep expanding my universe by working with a group of diverse thinkers and creators. If there is a possibility of bringing the Tuft & Needle product, work life and retail experience to Jacksonville. I'd love to be a part of that. 

Name two companies that you think give exemplary customer service (excluding Tuft & Needle and your current employer); tell us why you think so.

1.) A&A Automotive in Historic Springfield: All my life I’ve been hesitant to trust auto mechanics. Something as basic as an oil change results in upsells, guilt and insecurity about the simple act of maintaining your vehicle every 30K miles. That is until I met Mike at A&A Auto. Mike is a mechanic in my neighborhood and much like Tuft & Needle Mike offers a fair service for a fair price. He’s gained my trust through transparency and honesty.

I remember one time I needed 4 new tires and I was talking to Mike about how expensive it would be. Mike quoted me a great price and I was floored because it was much less than I thought it would be. I found out through some research that Mike gave me the new tires at cost with no markup. When I asked him about this he simply told me “I take care of my customers Joey”. I remember another time my battery was dead and I called Mike asking for a tow. He drove to my house with jumper cables, jumped my car, then proceeded to drive my car to his shop so he could replace the battery. It was a surprising, delightful experience. It's one I recall each time I hear someone talking about finding a new mechanic. I always recommend Mike whenever I can.

#2) My second example is Mixpanel. They have quick response times and a friendly tone, but those two things are just the backdrop for my story of great service. 

I was working on a project using the Mixpanel API to analyze some customer data. I was just learning Python and a little unsure of the right way to parse the information the API was returning. I reached out to support asking for help and I expected a basic response pointing me to the API docs. What I received instead was a snippet of Python that did exactly what I needed. I was blown away. I was able to jump right back into my analysis and complete my project. To me it was one of the best experiences I ever had using a SaaS product. To this day I still recommend Mixpanel to anyone I meet.

How have you seen rules and policies impact (negatively or positively) the customer experience at your current or most recent job?

At my previous employer we had a policy in place that encouraged us to get out of the building and talk to customers. This positively impacted the customer experience in three ways:

  1. Going to see the customer gave us important face-to-face time. There’s no substitute for talking to people in person when you are doing product development. We brought food and shared a meal while we listened to their problems. Over lunch we listened to their problems and talked about our personal lives. Through this we were able to empathize with our customers and connect on an emotional level.
  2. We could watch how our products were being used in the real world. Slow internet speed at the customer site was not something we had anticipated when we were developing the product. We went back and made changes to decrease page load times for everyone. A simple change that made a huge impact in the customer experience.
  3. We formed bonds and built strong relationships. We showed them we were real people who cared about solving their problems. Sharing stories and a few laughs allowed us to humanize the product we were building for them. We were no longer a tool they used day to day. We were were people with names and families. 

What should Tuft & Needle do next: expand our product line (sheets, pillows, etc.) or expand our business internationally? Pick one and explain why.

Based on your mission and vision I would say expanding your product line would be a solid next step for Tuft & Needle. While you say the future of retail is about selling less, I don’t think we need to interpret those words so literally. A company with the mission of becoming the most loved bed company in the world could learn so much by focusing its efforts right here in the U.S. for the time being. While still earning healthy revenues to invest back into your team and your products. You said it yourself:

If we built a fence around Arizona and didn’t allow any sales beyond the state, we could still be an enormous business...

Expanding internationally brings new customer service challenges such as new time zones, languages and international shipping rules. These new factors, while offering a lot of learning about international business, could strain the customer service team, impact the customer experience and negatively impact your NPS. 

At some point I think international expansion will come, but I don’t think it would be your immediate next step.

What does growing and advancing within a company look like to you?

Growing and advancing in a company to me means earning the trust and faith of your colleagues so you can take on the important issues facing the company. If you work somewhere you love, with people you love, you’ll seek ways to improve the company and make it stronger and better for everyone. 

I want to work somewhere where I can contribute to defining the future of the company. I want the freedom to learn new things but also have the ability to fail. A company that’s looking out for my growth will allow me to look at something that needs to be improved, come up with a plan, and make it better. It would allow me to mentor, train and manage teams of people. Growing and advancing in a company means everyone moving in the same direction tackling roadblocks, together, that stand in the way of your mission.

What do you make, build, or create outside of work?

I’m passionate about my community and neighborhood, so I invest my time and energy in projects to improve my city. My most recent project was a collaboration between the local AIGA chapter and a non-profit called Jax Young Voters Coalition. I organized a political poster show called Ballots and Brews that featured over 400 local and national posters. The event had two primary goals: engage the community to provoke thought and discussion around the upcoming election and register young voters. 

The poster event is an extension of two ongoing efforts: 1) increase voter turnout for people ages 18-34 in local, state and national elections and 2) advance design as a vital cultural force in the city. 

There are three other projects I’m currently working on. I facilitate classes on design thinking for local nonprofit organizations through the Jacksonville Nonprofit Center. I will soon be serving on the board of directors for my community’s historic preservation organization: Springfield Preservation and Restoration. Lastly, I volunteer my time in the community to help a group called Groundwork Jax. Their mission is to restore our urban waterways and connect our historic communities through an urban bike trail called the S-Line.

What aspects of the Customer Experience role excite you?

The first aspect that excites me is being the eyes and ears of the customer. In my most recent position we called it being the voice of the customer. Our team was integral in the product development process by providing information and analysis to help them continually tweak the product. We built relationships with our customers before problems cropped up. This lead to a good rapport and trust with our customers and the product team.

The second thing I am excited about is having the opportunity to lead a team. I’m not only passionate about helping customers, I’m passionate about helping to build better team members and a stronger company overall through goal setting and open communication.

Finally, I am excited about bringing a new type retail experience to Jacksonville. This is a city I love and if I can play a role in improving the quality of life, improving the retail mix and help bring a progressive new business to our town, what could be greater? Nothing, that’s what :)