Darren Stavely, a 20-year financial services industry veteran who is obsessed with customer experience and solving big problems, passionately discussed getting back to the basics of remarkable customer service at the 20th Anniversary Customer Contact East: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange. Read on for a summary of his insights from the field and a fresh perspective on how to partner with technology to deliver the best human experience.

All humans desire connection

So many companies are obsessed with thoughts such as, “What can A.I. replace?” or “Who can A.I. replace?” Many are forgetting to address the question, “What can A.I. not replace?” From the most reclusive of introverts to the most outgoing extroverts, all humans desire connection and communication – that is, with each other.

Getting exceptional service used to be common. Now, mediocre service is the norm.

Now customers have to self-serve. What happened?  A personal touch has become rare.

Customer expectations for service are lower.

In today’s customer service survey world, businesses have overthought customer satisfaction with metrics like NPS scores.

Let’s get back to basics – genuine human connection.


  • We hear very little about obsessing over the customer experience
  • It doesn’t matter if they are customers, patients or members, it only matters if their problems are solved
  • You need to say, I want to meet my customer’s needs. The goal is to make someone remark on how good their experience was
  • People want the kind of service that makes them feel they are at their mother’s home. Moms don’t say, “I will call the manager. They say, “I will handle it”
  • If you have satisfied customers, you will have more satisfied employees


  • Empower your people to solve problems
  • A personal touch is a powerful differentiator
  • Handwritten notes are a great way to connect
  • Customers are not always right, but they are always the customers 


  • Reward your employees
  • An example shared: employees were given $2000 bonuses at the Ritz-Carlton
  • Give them authority
  • Let employees make decisions to delight customers without manager approval
  • Trust the team
  • Have faith in your staff’s judgment to do the right thing for customers
  • Move beyond metrics
  • Amid metrics and automation, human connection and empathy remain essential
  • Go beyond scores
  • Strive to truly connect with your customers, clients, members or patients


Agents can make or break the customer experience. Whatever situation a customer faces, simply listening and acknowledging will win them over (50%) and then you have the tools (empathy, sympathy) to bridge the gap. Agents must be obsessed with customer experience and want to do everything for customers and their happiness. To help put these ideas into action, consider this book recommendation: Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect.
As a 20-year veteran in the financial services industry, Darren is obsessed with customer experience and solving big problems. He has had the good fortune to serve the underbanked as well as the most affluent of clients. Passion for people and building relationships is what makes his energy so contagious and a sought-out speaker in the business community.