The 2017 Compete Through Service Symposium has now concluded. Check back for updates on the new program and registration. Our 2018 program will take place October 24-26, 2018 at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort. Mark your calendars to attend!

The information below is from our 2017 Program – New information on our 2018 program is coming soon!


Do you have speaker ideas or a speaker recommendation for the 2018 Symposium? We’d love to hear from you!  Please click on the link below to fill out the form and we will be in touch regarding future speaking availability.

Submit Ideas

Speaker FAQ

Simplifying the Customer Experience

Breakout Workshop
Coherence: Building a Harmonious Service Experience

Salvador Bravo
Experience Design Strategist
Cast and Hue
Customer experience journeys are complex and unique. Different phases of a customer experience are typically owned by different divisions and departments of an organization, which often leads to service experience strategies which can overlap or create gaps in the experience, resulting in inconsistent and disjointed service experiences. Much like a how branding directs the voice and expression of an organization, experiences also need direction so that journeys can be created to feel consistent and crafted to meet the emotional and functional needs of consumers. In this workshop, we’ll learn how to identify and develop experience themes using tools like Jobs-to-be-Done and principles from behavioral economics. 

Breakout Workshop
Customer Experience and the Innovation Imperative

Rob Leavitt
Senior Vice President
Orchestrating a consistent, value-focused, increasingly digital customer experience is hard enough for service organizations. But now add one more ingredient: Innovation. The more we move into the connected economy, the more our B2B clients and customers prioritize business innovation. And the more they value service providers that continuously feed them with new ideas and approaches which they can use to deliver more value, make life easier, and build loyalty with their end customers.  This session will explore the innovation imperative and identify successful new approaches to build collaborative innovation programs into the end-to-end customer experience, especially with your most important accounts. Based on ITSMA research and case study examples from some of the world’s leading technology and business services organizations, the session will provide participants with practical advice and lessons learned to develop and improve their own co-creation initiatives.

Building an Award Winning CX
Rick McCombie
Executive Vice President
Chief Client Officer
Paul Mlodzik
Vice President Marketing & Communications
The Co-operators


Rick and Paul will describe the Co-operators’ journey to improve the client experience and move from being an average provider of client service to an industry leader.  They will share before and after stats from JD Power, along with some of their own internal surveying. Real world service examples will be shared that show how they were able to identify necessary improvements to measurably improve the client experience. In their work, they were able to understand and determine the important ingredients necessary to understand their clients’ experience: i.e., developing client personas, engaging in journey mapping, improving staff engagement, and setting the right goals in order to successfully put into an action plan to achieve successful outcomes and meet their goals.

Highlights from the 2017 Customer Rage Survey – Small Uptick in Problems, Less Rage, Improved Complaint-handling, BUT Still a Failing Grade Affecting Billions of Dollars of Future Sales
Marc Grainer
Customer Care Measurement and Consulting
The Customer Rage Surveys are a follow-up to the mid 1970’s White House sponsored Customer Complaint-handling in America Study.  This research has shown that effective corporate complaint-handling can lead to a significant positive ROI.  Conversely, ineffective complaint-handling is responsible for billions of dollars of lost sales.

The 2017 Rage Survey found that there was a small uptick in customer problem incidence, less rage, improved corporate complaint-handling, but these policies still received a FAILING grade.  Complainants generally get bupkis.

Practical recommendations (call center practices, non-monetary remedies, word of mouth marketing, etc.) are presented to upgrade complaint-handling practices.

Improving the Customer Experience
Leanne McDaniel
Vice President of Global Services and Support
Ron Moyer
Senior Project Manager
Alaska Airlines

Leanne and Ron will discuss how we modified and used the Agile development methodology to configure and launch a 24x7x365 day of operations Crew Tracking system at Alaska Airlines. We will share what made the launch successful as well as areas where we plan to adjust and improve the methodology. Please join us for a candid discussion on key elements that are required to continue to improve the customer experience.



The Paradox of Choice
Barry Schwartz
Author of Practical Wisdom and one of TED’s Most Popular Speakers
The logic behind the presumption that if some choice is good, more choice is better seems compelling. But in his ground breaking work, Barry Schwartz has found evidence that there can be too much of a good thing-that a point can be reached at which options paralyze rather than liberate. From consumer products, to Medicare prescription drug plans, media choices, travel options and even financial services, Schwartz’ research has shown that when confronted with overwhelming choices the vast majority of us will either end up unhappy with the choice we make, or choose to not make a choice at all. Symposium attendees will receive a free copy of  The Paradox of Choice, and Barry will be available for a book signing during the event.

Mastering Disruptive Change

The Future of Support
Aileen Allkins
Corporate Vice President, Customer Service and Support
The world of support is changing. Customers are more sophisticated and have increasingly higher expectations, new and innovative technologies are enabling companies to transform how they provide support, and unprecedented access to customer sentiment and behavior provide valuable insights into opportunities to improve our support models. Aileen Allkins will share how Microsoft is not only mastering, but also fostering, disruptive change and digitally transforming their support strategy.

Mastering Technology Disruption
R. Gary Bridge
Managing Director
Snow Creek Advisors LLC
Formerly SVP and Global Lead, Internet Business Solutions Group
Cisco Systems, Inc.

Eventually, all services will be transformed by advanced technologies. Developing software, communications, artificial intelligence algorithms, and robotics for services means new jobs for some, but automation is displacing even more people.

These trends raise key questions for service leaders:
• What is the development path of the technologies driving these upheavals? How will technology change our current business?
• Which industries are most and least vulnerable to technology disruption?
• Which jobs are most and least likely to be automated?
• Why is it so difficult for legacy companies to navigate disruptions successfully – why do the attackers win 70% of the time?
• What is the best way to respond to an attack?

The ultimate question is this: In every story of disruption there are winners and losers. What career decisions do you need to make now in order to end up on the winning side? 

All In: How Great Leaders Develop a Culture of Belief and Deliver Big Results
Chester Elton
Founder, Bestselling Author, Speaker
The Culture Works
In this interactive and engaging session based on the New York Times bestselling book All In—Chester Elton will teach leaders how to Engage, Enable and Energize their workforces. The formula of E+E+E outlines how high-performance organizations deliver extraordinary results by creating a vibrant, productive culture where people believe that what they do matters and they can make a difference. In this presentation, Chester will relate fascinating stories of leaders in action that vividly depict just how these powerful methods can be implemented. Audiences will learn:

  • The 3 characteristics of the world’s most productive organizational and team cultures
  • The 7 steps today’s most successful managers use to generate buy-in
  • How managers at any level can build a productive workgroup culture

Breakout Workshop
Managing Disruptive Change:
Everybody Loves Change, They Just Hate Changing….
Christine Hill
Executive Vice President and Co-Founder
Robert B. Hobbi
Founder, President and CEO

In today’s fast and furious, constantly moving/shifting business environment, change management has become even more important than ever. Throw in a major overhaul of the new software system, a merger & acquisition, or some other major disruption and as a leader, the required changes are overwhelming when trying to navigate our teams.

In this interactive session, we will highlight key changes that impact our world and environment. We will review various change management tools and techniques. Change is changing!! Come with some of your challenges with regard to disruptive change.

Breakout Workshop 
Leaping from Disrupted to Disruptor: How to be Ready, Willing and Able to Seize Your Moment

Jim Rembach
Beyond Morale
The deck is stacked against you.  Experts say that 60% of the organizations in existence today will cease to be viable entities in the next 20 years. And what you’re being told you need to do to control your future may actually accelerate your demise.  In this workshop, you’ll learn about the keys to surviving and thriving in an unforgiving marketplace by leveraging ancient wisdom, wilderness survival skills, and neuroscience.  You’ll discover key attributes about yourself and how to become more creative and innovative, so you can leap forward faster.  The choice is yours: be disrupted or be the disruptor.  Which will you be?

A Ride on the Uber Rocketship: Lessons Learned in Building the Support Function for a Company that Breaks (Almost) All the Rules
Janelle Sallenave
Head of Uber Support, North America

Uber started in 2010 to solve a simple problem: how do you get a ride at the push of a button? 7 years and 5 billion trips later, we operate a global ridesharing platform in 76 countries on 6 continents. During this time, our support organization has gone through multiple reinventions; everything from from part-time staff to work-from-home staff to outsourcing models to centers of excellence to machine learning in dozens of languages. Join Janelle as she shares practical lessons learned from a support organization driven by disruptive innovation and what it takes for an organization to thrive in this environment.

Instilling a Customer Centric Culture

Building a Guest Focused Climate
Neil Farmer
Vice President, Operations
A & W Food Services of Canada
Everyone is trying to differentiate themselves on the basis of products or services, but the only thing which truly differentiates one firm from another is the people.  Neil will talk about how A & W manages to create a climate of “caring for guests” with over 20,000 employees at 900 locations in Canada.


Breakout Workshop
Leveraging Employee Experience to Drive a Client-Centric Culture

Bill Gessert
International Customer Service Association

If building and sustaining a client-centric culture is your objective, then your focus should be on proactively providing positive employee experiences.  This highly interactive breakout session will focus on actionable steps you can and should take to craft highly positive employee experiences. Empirical evidence will be presented connecting the dots between engaged and loyal employees, and a client-centric culture that produces long-term customer loyalty.  You will come away from this session with the ability and tools to build end-to-end strategies that result in fully engaged employees who will drive the client-centric culture you are seeking.  Bring your challenges and successes to this session and be ready to share!

Breakout Workshop
Build a Better Culture…by Developing a Better Team

Donavon Roberson
Culture Architect
AlbaCon Technologies

So often culture seems to be elusive and eccentric, in this session we will discover how we can impact the culture by raising the standards of our team.  Discover how to chart a course for excellence and encourage your team to perform at a higher level.

In the Dedication to Service…Can we Lose our Ethics?
Marianne Jennings, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor
Arizona State University

Service makes the difference. From the time of The Service Edge, we have worked hard, told the inspirational tales, and recited the mantras. The value of service can consume other values. When that consumption happens, trust is lost and reputations harmed. Learning how to spot and stop that slow consumption of values is the key to ensuring that ethics are not lost, yet service values excel.

Putting Them in Their Place: Creating a Customer-Centric Culture for Success
Ron Zielinski
Vice President, Global Customer Service
Coherent, Inc.

At 50 years old, Coherent Inc. achieved new levels of success having shattered the $1B revenue “barrier”, surpassed $5B in market capitalization and completed the largest acquisition in the history of the Photonics industry.  This presentation covers the journey of building a customer-centric culture within a high technology product company, how it enabled business success and facilitated the highly complex new company integration process.

Do you have speaker ideas or a speaker recommendation for the Symposium? Our 2017 program is now full, but we’d still love to hear from you. Please click on the link below to fill out the form and we will be in touch regarding future speaking availability.

Submit Ideas