Issue 24 | Jan/Feb 2018

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Australia Zoo, which is owned by the family of the late Steve Irwin. Irwin's documentaries on wildlife and conservation helped make the zoo a popular tourist destination.

As they describe it, "the Australia Zoo is a team of passionate conservationists working around the clock to deliver an animal experience like no other." And do they ever! I held a koala, patted a two-ton white rhino, and was awed by the expertise of the zoo's veterinarian hospital team, who were preparing to operate on a short-beaked echidna (porcupine-like animal) that had been injured by a car.

"These experiences are hand-tailored by our customers," explained our guide. "It's in serving them that we learn how to shape and improve education and visitor packages." Well put. And that opportunity is available to any organization.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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Ensuring that your organization is getting maximum benefit from the effort and investments you're putting into customer service is an important leadership opportunity. Let's explore ways you can boost the value of customer service.

There are three levels on which effective service creates value.

The first is efficiency. Accurate workload forecasts and schedules, good quality that prevents rework, and effective self-service systems are all aspects of ensuring that customer service is efficient.

A second level of value is contribution to customer loyalty. If you measure customer satisfaction before and after a customer service interaction, effective service should translate into higher scores. In a study often cited in business schools, Marriott found that 89% of customers who had no problems were likely to return, while 94% of customers who had problems that were resolved were likely to return.

A third level of opportunity is strategic value. Here, customer service contributes value to other functions across the organization. Let's look at this one a bit deeper—this is where customer service can drive innovation.

Every day, your customer-facing services have visibility on the organization's products, services and processes. I love discovering inspiring examples of how organizations leverage these opportunities. For example:

  • The Australia Zoo turns customer inquiries into ideas for custom visitor packages (such as the koala experience and the wombat encounter), which has boosted revenues per visit and repeat visits.
  • Moen, a manufacturer of faucets and fixtures, mines customer interactions to guide how-to videos on YouTube.
  • Intuit uses customer insight when designing accounting packages for specific types of businesses.
  • Bose Corporation analyzes customer inquiries for ideas on simplifying product design and improving the clarity of user guides.

A practical way to identify these opportunities is to build a cross-functional team to analyze the reasons for customer service interactions. Graph the frequency of top drivers to discover trends. And then act on what you're learning.

There are two categories of information that are essential. One comes from the interactions themselves. What are the drivers of customer service issues, the reasons customer need help? And what do you learn in the course of handling interactions?

A second source of information comes from assessing the impact of improvements. For example, how many calls are avoided as you improve self-service? How are customer reviews influenced by service improvements? While there's no one report for cross-functional benefits, it's important to make estimates on the value of these contributions.

Candidly, only a small percent of organizations harness the potential value of customer service. And only some go the extra step to quantify the impact. So as you develop this area, you'll be among the few and the best. And you'll be taking the conversation around the value of service to a whole different level.

Recent Issues

For companies that provide an excellent customer experience, customers are:

  • 62% more likely to forgive the company
  • 77% more likely to recommend the company to others
  • 79% more likely to trust the company
  • 86% more likely to repurchase from the company

(Source: Temkin Group)

58% of customers will go out of their way to buy a product or service from a company they know will offer excellent customer service. (Source: Northridge Group)

In surveys, 83% of executives believe that their service department plays a strategic role in the overall business. (Source: Salesforce)

Assemble a small cross-functional team to explore how well your organization uses insight from customer interactions to improve products and services. Discuss where and how information should be captured, how it can be mined for relevant insight, and how to strengthen cross-functional communication. Have the team prepare recommendations on how to further leverage these opportunities.

New online courses by Brad that are available through LinkedIn Learning: Customer Service Leadership, Customer Advocacy, Customer Service Metrics

Brad recently presented at TEDxSunValley, on "Thriving in an Always-On World"

Public workshop opportunity with Brad: Dallas, March 19-22, 2018; courses include contact center strategy and management.

*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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