Issue 26 | July/August 2018

This past spring, my family and I visited Staniel Cay, a small island in The Bahamas. The main attraction? Author T.R. Todd describes it this way:

"For decades, this archipelago of 365 islands would remain largely unknown to the world. It would not be a ruthless pirate, pioneering loyalists, or a notorious drug kingpin that would unveil Exuma to the world, but rather the most unlikely of creatures... the Swimming Pigs of Exuma, in the Bahamas, have become a bucket-list sensation."

The pigs will certainly be a lifelong memory. But just as impressive was the service from locals at every turn of the trail.

We had made our reservations last-minute for peak season, and accommodations, boat rentals, restaurants, you name it, were hard to come by. Everyone we met went out of their way to make our experience great—including working with competitors when necessary. It was like the whole community of Staniel Cay was focused on a strategy that ensures visitors have a great experience.

Want to know if your strategy is working? There are some telltale signs. I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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There are many ways to approach customer service strategy. But there are some common characteristics among organizations that have the most success.

One characteristic of an effective customer service strategy, and I bet this is no surprise, is that it is action-oriented. It's put to use!

The best strategies help inform every decision and every aspect of day-to-day operations. What you don't want (and something I've seen too often) is to put a lot of work into a strategy that no one uses.

Some get really caught up in how strategy should be documented and presented. Want to commit yours to paper? My recommendation is to keep it simple. Whether slides, or a word-processed document, or any other design, it should be crisp, inviting, and summarized in as few pages as possible.

Next, an effective customer service strategy has widespread, enthusiastic support—from top management to those delivering services. Sure, you can do some good if you develop and use strategy within just the customer service functions. But creating great customer experiences involves the entire organization.

So, whether yours is an interior design company with five people who all wear multiple hats, or a multinational company with thousands of employees, strategy needs to be cross-functional. And that requires enthusiasm and support from the top and on out through the rest of the organization.

Third, a successful customer service strategy helps encourage and prioritize innovation and improvements to services, products and processes. Here's a longstanding example of what I mean by that.

FedEx, which consistently ranks as one of the world's most admired companies, is in the business of shipping and logistics. But their strategy is built around an inspiring promise, which they write in first-person: "I will make every FedEx experience outstanding."

They have for years called it the Purple Promise. They view every opportunity to serve, and every potential initiative to improve service, through that lens. Priority is given to the initiatives that best contribute to that promise.

Finally, an effective customer service strategy leads to results that matter most. These can include improvements in revenue, market share, customer and employee engagement, and others. You know, the BIG things you're really after. (In the case of Staniel Cayand the swimming pigs, mentioned in the welcome, these include customers spreading the word and return visits.)

I will add that in every case I've seen, and every company I've worked with, the enthusiasm that customers have about the organization is the ultimate measure of how effective the approach to strategy is.

Creating an effective strategy doesn't guarantee your customers will wear tattoos of your brand, as some Harley Davidson customers do. But whether yours is a small firm, a government agency, a large company, or anything else, they will feel the alignment between their experiences and your vision and brand.

Your service will resonate, and they'll tell others great things about your organization.

Recent Issues

Customers that continue to support your brand over time will spend 67% more than new customers. (Source: Edelman)

Compared to disengaged employees, highly engaged employees are 5.3x more likely to make a recommendation about an improvement and 4.7x more likely to do something good for the company even if it is not expected of them. (Source: Temkin Group)

The top two departments left off the CX team that marketers felt would add value: Operations (49%) and finance (40%). (Source: Verndale)

LinkedIn Learning just released "Customer Service Strategy," a new online course by Brad.

Public workshop opportunity with Brad: San Diego, October 1-4, 2018; courses include contact center strategy and management.

Keynote, ICMI Demo Conference, Las Vegas, November 12-14, 2018

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

*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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