Brad Cleveland

The Edge of Service® Newsletter


Issue #41

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A Humbling Lesson in Customer Experience

One of my first jobs was working for a company that provided business communications systems—telephone and computer systems. My usual task was to run cable. So, I spent a lot of time underneath the floors of corporations and hospitals and other buildings. Much of my days were spent with a headlamp, crawling through dark spaces, squeezing past utility pipes and through spider webs. It was dusty, hard work.


As I was learning, my supervisor emphasized quality. If you install or connect a cable the wrong way, it could fail months or years later. That wouldn’t be a great customer experience.


There were times I worked directly with customers, helping them use the new equipment. On those days, I wore a collared shirt and was coached to smile. One day, I got scolded—I mean, really scolded—by my supervisor for leaving fingerprints on a computer monitor. “They are excited about this new system, and the first thing they are going to see is your fingerprints!” 

"And yet, something as small as smudges could impact the customer’s perception and experience.”

He was right. That organization had made a big investment. They had spent months planning and preparing. And before that, teams around the world had contributed to the design of this cutting-edge system. And yet, something as small as smudges could impact the customer’s perception and experience. 


It was a message I needed to hear. In fact, it inspired me. I became fascinated with customer experience and studied what successful companies were doing. I remember reading Moments of Truth, by Jan Carlzon (Harper Business, 1989). This classic book was a forerunner to many of today’s works on customer experience. Carlzon would use examples with his employees. If a customer boards a plane, and they find a coffee stain from the last flight on their fold down tray, they might wonder, “Is that how they maintain the engines?” Read more

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

86% more likely to repurchase from the company

77% more likely to recommend the company to others

79% more likely to trust the company

62% more likely to forgive the company

Source: Temkin Group

More stats

More Insights from Brad

Gathering Frequent Employee Feedback

Video: Want to improve your customer service?

Look at your processes

From Contact Center to "Insight Center"

Resource Spotlight

Customer Experience Leadership Glossary

This glossary of terms in the area of customer experience also includes acronyms and abbreviations. It is excerpted from the book Leading the Customer Experience: How to Chart a Course and Deliver Outstanding Results.

More resources

Customer Experience Leadership Glossary
Customer Experience Leadership Course