Issue 20 | January/February 2017

I was recently invited to deliver a TEDx talk on the "always-on" world: Is being always connected a blessing or curse? How do we take back control of our lives?

In the weeks since, a number of friends and colleagues have expressed interest in doing their own talks. (Here's an illustrated speaker's guide on the process.) As the guide puts it, "This is a showcase for speakers presenting well-formed ideas in under 18 minutes. Why 18 minutes? Because it works."

This project reminded me of the importance of brevity and clarity. We all depend on effective communication every day with our families, co-workers, clients, and others. It also underscored the passion, creativity, and fresh perspectives so many are bringing to address the challenges and opportunities facing our fast-changing world.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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Being always it a blessing or a curse? Are we in charge, or are we slaves to our smartphones?

For the past three decades, I've been privileged to work with a diverse range of organizations—from small startups to national governments and multinational corporations—in shaping their customer services. Consistently delivering great experiences has become a daunting challenge for many, due to several underlying trends:

  • Communication channels continue to proliferate, and can include any combination of in-person, web-based, mobile, phone, chat, text, and countless social sites and communities.
  • Customer expectations are 24x7 and evolve daily—the innovations customers experience with any organization raise their expectations for all others.
  • Bad customer experiences, even if a small percent of the organization's overall interactions, can do enormous brand damage as they quickly end up on reviews and in social posts.

Some organizations do an amazing job. Others—as their customers are painfully aware—miss the mark too often.

I've been surprised to find that success (e.g., as measured by customer reviews and loyalty) isn't directly correlated to company size or the financial resources dedicated to customer service. There are deeper principles at work. The organizations we most love as customers harness them to turn a challenge into a powerful differentiator.

Many of us face similar challenges on a personal level—a constant deluge of messages, expectations, and needs. It's easy to fall into a trap of "trying to keep up," but we can't be everywhere or instantly responsive to everyone.

I began wondering, asking and studying: Can the principles used by the most customer-focused organizations help? Do they apply? The exciting answer: a resounding yes!

Recent Issues

  • There are now 8 billion active mobile subscriptions – more than the population of the planet. (Cisco)
  • Mobile data traffic has grown 4,000 fold in the past ten years. (Cisco)
  • There will be 200 billion connected smart devices by 2020. (Intel)

Watch the TEDx talk and think through these questions, in the context of how you approach being "always connected, always on":

  • What's your focus?
  • How will you learn and adapt as new things come along?
  • How will you engage with purpose?

Draft a simple strategy (one sheet of paper) for how you will engage, and the channels and approach that makes sense for the "stakeholders" in your world.

Public workshop opportunity with Brad: Scottsdale, AZ, March 14–17, 2017; courses include contact center strategy and management.

Brad recently joined 12 other speakers at TEDxSunValley, with topics geared around three themes: local innovation, youth and technology driving disruption, and stories that inspire.

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

*Brad delivers many 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.

© 2017 Brad Cleveland   All Rights Reserved