Issue 27 | October/November 2018

I recently led a panel discussion at an ICMI conference that included Frankie Littleford, VP of Customer Support at JetBlue, and Joseph Ansanelli, CEO of Gladly, a company that JetBlue has invested in and that provides the customer service platform.

JetBlue topped the list of US carriers in the American Customer Satisfaction Index last year. Frankie joined JetBlue in 1999, before the carrier's first flight, as a founding member of the original management team (and if you call JetBlue, it's Frankie's voice you'll hear in the greeting).

Joseph is CEO and Co-Founder of Gladly, a firm JetBlue is investing in to enable "a centralized view of conversations with the customer." Customers can move from one communication channel (phone, text, chat, email, Twitter, Facebook) to the next without needing to repeat previous conversations.

This is one example of an exciting trend. As Frankie and Joseph put it, customer service is best when it's a conversation.

I hope you enjoy this issue.

Warm Regards,

Brad Cleveland

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An important aspect of building customer relationships is managing customer feedback. This includes both short- and long-term objectives: it involves responding to feedback as it happens and collecting and analyzing feedback from many customers to look for recurring problems and opportunities.

Let's look here at what it takes to manage customer feedback as it happens. There are five important steps.

The first step is to identify feedback that requires you to respond as it is occurring. This can happen via in-person settings, feedback through surveys (especially transactional surveys that immediately follow service), posts on social sites such as Twitter or Facebook, ratings and feedback through sources such as Amazon, Yelp and Google, feedback through email, text, phone or other channels, and, potentially, many others.

I'd suggest brainstorming this with your team. Where are conversations taking place, and where do you need to respond quickly?

Second, you'll need to identify and train employees who will be involved. When service is delivered in person, it will obviously be those employees who are best positioned to respond. But what about feedback through surveys, posts on social sites and other sources? This might require a group you set up, or it could involve leveraging your customer service team (for example, your contact center).

In a larger organization, this effort frequently begins in marketing, but I've seen time and again that it can quickly outgrow what marketing can handle from a resource perspective, so a collaborative effort with customer service often makes sense. This person or team will need training in how to respond and how to represent your brand consistently.

The third step is to establish supporting technology. You'll need to set up tools that pull in feedback from all of the various sources, deliver it to the person or team who will respond, and enable you to document the feedback as part of your strategic approach.

Brad with Frankie Littleford and Joseph Ansanelli

JetBlue (see welcome letter) is going all in, and has established a technology arm to invest and build. The partnership with Gladly is one aspect of this effort.

But this doesn't have to require a large investment. Just as an example, there are low-cost tools that monitor social sites and provide you with the means to engage in those conversations. You'll need to determine what's right for your organization.

Find out what technologies you already have, and the capabilities you will need. My encouragement is to focus on the doable—get started right where you are with what you have.

A fourth step is to forecast and plan the workload. Responding to feedback in a timely manner requires that you have the right resources in place at the right time. So you'll need to begin forecasting the workload and making sure you've got the right people available. And you'll need to monitor and manage the work in real time so that issues don't fester.

Finally, you'll need to adjust and improve—in other words, assess how things are going and make adjustments as you go along. My encouragement is to see responding to customer feedback as a way of doing business.

The Walt Disney Company provides a longstanding example. When Disneyland was first built in the 1950s, Walt Disney expressed the service vision as "We create happiness." The strategy his team put in place saw the entire theme park as a stage, and employees as "cast members." This inherently focused every employee on customers.

It's incredibly powerful when an entire organization is in tune with customers and working with each other to respond to their needs.

Recent Issues

Fully engaged customers represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared to the average customer. (Source: Gallup)

74% of customers use three or more channels for customer service related issues. (Source: ICMI)

80% of customers who switched companies due to poor service feel the company could have done something to retain them. (Source: Accenture, 2015)

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Source: Walker)

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

LinkedIn Learning recently released the course, "Managing Customer Feedback," a new online course by Brad. For this and other courses.

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

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

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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