Issue 29 | April/May 2019

This past week, I had the opportunity at a conference to meet and introduce a childhood hero—Henry Winkler (the Fonz). What a genuine, warm and amazing person.

He's had many roles as producer and actor since Happy Days, and (something I recently learned) is also author of a best-selling series of children's novels. In every role, every project, his personality shines through.

Winkler somehow reminded me of advice that my mom used to provide often, especially when facing awkward or difficult challenges—"just be yourself." It was good advice then, and it still is now.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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When I was growing up, I used to love watching the American sitcom Happy Days. I'd occasionally get in trouble, and I knew it was really bad if I got grounded from seeing one of the shows. (These were before recording or on-demand options existed—if you missed it, you missed it.) My favorite character was, without question, the Fonz.

I had the chance this past week to meet and introduce Henry Winkler at an ICMI (International Customer Management Institute) conference. His portrayal of Arthur Fonzarelli on Happy Days won him two consecutive Golden Globe Awards and three Emmy nominations. He's since served as executive producer for a number of hit series, earned accolades for movie appearances, and recently won an Emmy for his role in the hit HBO series, Barry.

In 2003, he began writing series of children's novels. The books have become best sellers and are inspired by his struggle throughout his education due to his dyslexia, which would not be diagnosed until later in life. This experience has given him insight that he's used to help a lot of others with similar challenges.

However you're familiar with Henry Winkler, his career has been so impressive. He brings uniqueness and authenticity to everything he does. In every role, every project, his personality shines through.

Brad Cleveland and Henry Winkler

Winkler reminded me of advice that my mother used to give me, especially when facing awkward or difficult challenges—"just be yourself." It was sound advice then, and it still is now. And I believe it's good advice for our organizations, too.

Motorcycle company Harley Davidson has incredibly loyal customers. Riders join clubs and wear Harley clothes, and some even have Harley tattoos. Many CEOs and chief marketing officers point to Harley as the holy grail of customer loyalty, and wonder what they can do to be more like Harley.

The answer: don't be more like Harley. Be more like you. Connect with your customers in your own way to build excitement that is unique to your brand.

Here are two examples.

  • Northwestern Mutual, the U.S.-based financial services company founded well over a century ago, has built a reputation for stability. Their customer service is professional and effective. "Thank you, Mr. Cleveland. Enjoy the rest of your day."
  • MOO is a fast-growing London-based design and printing company. They encourage their team to (in their words) be passionate, lovely and ambitious. Their approach, like the company name, is more playful: "Have an awesome day, Brad!"

In both cases, these companies' unique personalities shine through—and it would create very odd customer experiences to swap their styles of service!

I'm sometimes baffled to hear plodding phone menus (the monotone "press one for customer service"). And I don't get service policies, goals, and metrics that, in too many cases don't reflect organizations' brands. It doesn't have to be that way. Those are not best practices.

I recently stayed at a resort hotel with my family on a short weekend break. We arrived on a hot Saturday evening, and my engine light came on as we pulled into the entry area. I mentioned the light to the parking attendant and he replied, rather brusquely, "If you have car trouble you need to move. We can't have your car sit here." No empathy, no suggestions on where I should go.

I later mentioned this encounter to a manager. She was visibly embarrassed, saying, "That's not our brand." Her concern in those few words was genuine and heartfelt, and I have a feeling they'll reshape the coaching and support they give their employees, to ensure their organization's personality shines through from the very first hello.

How's your organization doing? What's the experience you're providing? Take it from Mom: be yourself and good things will happen.

Recent Issues

According to Yelp, if a reviewer experiences poor customer service, they are likely to be harsher in their reviews. When service is mentioned (versus other factors that might be a problem), they are nearly 70% more likely to write a 1-star review. (Source: Yelp)

Businesses risk losing as many as 22% of potential customers when just one negative article is found by prospects. Four or more negative articles in search results can mean the loss of 70% of potential customers. (Source: Dan Hinckley, Go Fish Digital)

The gain of a star in ratings increases restaurant revenue by 5% to 9%. (Source: Harvard Business School)

A 1% increase in a hotel's reputation score can lead to a 6.9% increase in booked rooms and an 11% increase in room rates. (Sources: Hospitality Net and Cornell)

Is your organization's brand shining through?

Here's an exercise I encourage you and a small team of others to do during an upcoming lunch or meeting (i.e., keep it to less than an hour). Begin by discussing your organization's brand—how would you describe it, what makes you unique? Then have a short, free-flowing discussion about how well the following are aligned with your brand:

  • Strategic goals
  • Policies
  • Performance metrics
  • Training
  • Touchpoints

This short discussion usually provides good insight into how well your actions align with your brand.

LinkedIn Learning recently released the courses, "Motivating Your Team, and "Managing Customer Feedback," new online courses by Brad. For these and other courses, go here.

Articles covering trends discussed at ICMI's May conference:

Brad recently appeared in Convo, with an interview on bots, human agents and the future of customer service.

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 [email protected]

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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