Issue 25 | April/May 2018

There are many technologies that can support and enable customer service. Many. A ton. And there are myriad decisions to be made around suppliers and solutions.

As a result, some customer service leaders throw up their hands and say, "Hey, our IT Department takes the lead on that for us." That's a mistake! If you are responsible for customer service, that must include building the right vision, direction and priorities around the technologies needed to support it.

Sometimes, the less you know, the better you are at asking the right "dumb" questions. The ones that really matter. "How does that make things better for our customers? Easier for our employees?" Don't get me wrong—become as informed as you can. But keep your eyes on the prize.

Not a techie? Great! Get out there and lead!

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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This is a fascinating time of technology development. Consider some of the advancements that are empowering customer service today:


Developments around how information travels, and the shared protocols and standards, have opened up a world of opportunity. For example, your service operation can easily be distributed, with multiple sites and even home-based employees. Hosted and cloud-based alternatives mean you don't have to own or manage the technologies required. You can partner with others to do that, scale capacity as needed, and have access to the latest system capabilities.


Today's technologies enable you to get any kind of interaction (phone, chat, text, social post, video or other) to the right place. And you can program in all kinds of routing criteria, such as information you have on the customer and employees who may be best suited for the interaction.


The customer's account number can pull up and enable your systems to deliver files and relevant information before the agent even says hello. This applies to any customer-facing environment—from the small pizza restaurant that immediately knows what a caller ordered last time, to the large tech support operation where reps can view and manage troubleshooting tickets without delay.

Workforce optimization

"Workforce optimization" refers to tools used for forecasting, staffing, schedules and reporting. In recent years, these capabilities have become far better at helping us pull together and incorporate customer-facing and back-office work. Popular tools include reports that highlight discrepancies between actual and planned schedules, and administration software that automates shift changes, vacation approvals and other tasks. Many of these systems now integrate directly with payroll and financial systems.

Quality improvement

Quality monitoring systems record interactions and enable review for quality improvement purposes. Today, both voice and screen activities can be captured, and coaches can insert voice annotations into original recordings for training purposes. You can include recordings in reports that go to other departments or senior-level managers. And speech analytics capabilities can quickly mine any number of interactions for critical issues and trends.

Customer relationship tools

There are many capabilities that can help you establish stronger relationships with customers. Today's tools enable you to see consolidated views of all the contacts they've had with your organization. Fulfillment and tracking capabilities can integrate functions such as shipping and provide proactive notifications to customers. Short customer surveys delivered in the channels they use can provide immediate insight and be correlated with other measures, such as internal quality monitoring.

Agent desktop

The computer desktop is a major area of innovation, with the latest systems providing a single, intuitive interface to what can sometimes be many legacy systems behind the scenes. Capabilities include accessing and sending documents, internal collaboration tools, and others.

Artificial intelligence and others

There are also important developments happening almost daily in knowledge management, speech and data analytics, and self-service capabilities. Artificial intelligence (AI) is making huge inroads into customer service, both in providing self-service capabilities and as intelligent assistance to service representatives.

Customers' technologies

All of these things considered, though, the most significant area of innovation—the one that rises above all others—is what's happening on the customers' end: the incredible growth in smartphones, and social and mobile capabilities. Our customers are making these investments, and, just as importantly, are taking the time to learn and use them. We often think just of what's happening on our end—the organization's end—of the equation. But the technologies our customers are using are becoming an essential part of what we could call our service ecosystem.

Get involved!

The capabilities available to you are limited only by your imagination and the realities of your organization's IT roadmap and budget. And with cloud-based services that are provided on a cost per-month or per-user basis, even the smallest companies have access to and can afford the most advanced capabilities.

My recommendation: get involved. Lead.

Observe how customers are using service. Take note of their perceptions. Ask your employees what's working well and where there are frustrations and gaps. And include them on your development team. They are closest to the work and know it best, and they will provide insight into capabilities that would be valuable.

This is an exciting and important time of development. You don't have to be a technology expert to be an effective customer service leader. In fact, I've observed that the some of the best leaders are decidedly not technology experts, but they aren't afraid to ask the basic questions: how can we make things easier for our customers? For our employees?

Recent Issues

80% of consumers indicated they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences. (Source: Epsilon Data Management)

68% of 18–34 year-old consumers have higher expectations for customer service today than they had just one year ago, compared to 56% across all age groups and 47% of consumers ages 55+. (Source: Microsoft)

74% of consumers said they are more loyal to a business that provides the option to speak to a human than to those that only support customer service through digital or self-service channels (Source: Calabrio)

Recently released online courses by Brad that are available through LinkedIn Learning: Customer Service Leadership and Working in a Customer Contact Center

Brad's TEDx talk, "Thriving in an Always-On World" is available here

Public workshop opportunity with Brad: Orlando Florida, ICMI Conference, May 21-23, 2018

See the frequently updated statistics page at, with sections on customer expectations, contact centers, and social/mobile/tech.

*Brad delivers private keynotes, workshops, and executive briefings to organizations and associations. For more information, contact

Brad has devoted his career to maximizing the value of customer-facing services. As a speaker, consultant, entrepreneur, executive, and president/CEO, he has seen change from many perspectives and has a deep understanding of the critical importance of customer service delivery to an organization's success. He has worked across 45 states and in 60 countries, and has been privileged to assist in the evolution of service delivery for clients such as American Express, Apple, Coca-Cola, USAA, and others, as well as for governments across the globe. Brad serves as a senior advisor to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI), and is an in-demand speaker and consultant.

To inquire about consulting or speaking, connect through any of the channels below.

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