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Disrupting the Way You Buy Mattresses: Interview with Tuft & Needle’s Head of CX

By Gavin Gustafson

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We are excited to announce Aaron Bata, Head of Customer Experience at Tuft & Needle, as a speaker at Opentalk18 in San Francisco, November 7-8. Aaron is responsible for leading the Tuft & Needle customer experience (CX) team and finding new ways to connect with customers at the award-winning, Phoenix-based mattress company. Previously, he was a part of the Ninja Service and Operations teams at Bonobos, a New York-based e-commerce driven apparel company. Aaron has provided thought-provoking insights through past speaking engagements at several customer service industry events including NextCon and NGCX.

Aaron will use storytelling to illustrate notable surprise-and-delight cases, explain Tuft & Needle’s approach to finding the voice of the customer, and the infamous “Hate List.” Aaron’s belief is that if you are looking to better understand and empathize with your customers, it’s essential to see the customer experience from their perspective. For the team at Tuft & Needle, that meant going to a traditional mattress store, making their own “Hate List” to see the shopping experience through the eyes of the customer, and translating it into a positive customer experience that is primarily digital.

Tuft & Needle is disrupting the mattress-buying industry’s customer experience and has taken an equally revolutionary approach to customer service from within. Instead of focusing on the traditional, quantitative contact center metrics such as number of calls answered and average handle time, Tuft & Needle first uses a qualitative approach to assess customer interactions. As Head of Customer Experience, Aaron wants his agents focusing first on these three goals:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Problem-solving
  3. Quality and empathetic communication with the customer

Once those goals have been met, Tuft & Needle applies traditional metrics with a customized twist to drill down the interactions and show agent efficiency and productivity.

Cutting to the core has been part of the Tuft & Needle culture since its inception. After one of the Tuft & Needle founders had a particularly unpleasant mattress-buying experience that resulted in a very expensive purchase (followed by a handful of uncomfortable nights), he attempted to return his newly purchased mattress. Despite being within the “trial period” time frame laid out in the return policy, his return was denied. He and his friends were curious about the source of discomfort so they took out their tools and cut open the mattress to see what was inside. After careful analysis he determined that this $3,500 mattress only cost roughly $300 to make. He and his cofounder set off to make a better mattress that they could sell for less—and they were determined to do so while providing a pleasant and pressure-free customer experience.  

Does your customer experience have pain points? Does it cause you toss and turn all night? Join Aaron Bata as a speaker at Opentalk18 to share your story of incredible customer success or entrepreneurial inspiration. Together we will find and relieve the customer experience pressure zones that keep you, and your customers, up at night.


Gavin Gustafson

Gavin is PR Manager at Talkdesk. Outside of the office, Gavin can be found golfing, skiing, and enjoying Utah's great outdoors.