Like most of us at this time of year, I've been cramming in as much activity as possible before the summer holiday season starts.

My last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, chairing and speaking at conferences, all centred around the challenge of raising the bar in service and sales in the water, utility travel and financial service industries.

As ever 'there's more that unites us than divides us' to use current parlance; customers who have a smooth journey connecting with their bank for example will expect to have the same ease when connecting with a water company or a police force, housing association or retailer.

Amid the 'busyness' it was nice to be a delegate at an Institute of Directors communication lunchtime masterclass; a chance to absorb and savour brilliant 'aah' moments. John Hatfield, our presenter, reminded us that blogs were actually practiced by Julius Caesar who meticulously noted his daily activities, and viral marketing by Cicero who sent thousands of slaves to all corners of the Roman Empire immediately after every proclamation with the same message.

So is anything actually new or has technology simply amplified, magnified, exponentially speeded up and given a billion times more data than at any time in the intervening 2000 years?

Unquestionably our core need to be heard (liked?) and understood is as ever critical. John shared the example of the blind man sitting with a sign saying, “I'm blind – donate” wasn't successful until the message instead read, "Is it sunny? I can't see".  His donations increased several-fold; providing a context and actionable engagement for any communication is essential.

I was reminded of another useful insight, the 80:10:10 rule where in any group generally speaking 10% are leaders, 80% conformists and 10% are neither one nor other but can be disruptive. So provided your communications are well thought out and authentic, you are likely to get the result you want by appealing to the conformists, in other words don't be afraid to be directive and clear when you are sure of your message. This has a particular resonance when dealing with internal communications.

My week ended with a highly enjoyable discussion lunch supported by Plantronics with 10 senior women in our industry who between them had an awesome depth of experience. There was a highly stimulating discussion about management traits and cultural changes that are taking place in today's customer service world, in response to changing demographics and technological change. (Click here if you’d like more information on this topic.)

I've had what I would term a magpie week -  amassing loads of useful nuggets and shared experiences from and for the CCA network. One of those shared by Pauline Wilson from Virgin Holidays at the ABTA conference is the, 'would I like my mum to receive this service?’ test when designing new customer service journeys.

Thinking about our needs through a human lens forces us to shape services in a kinder way, acknowledging that we are all absolutely not all the same.

One of today's biggest challenges is finding space to get our messages heard, when everyone is connected to everything else. And so maybe we need to think more carefully about what to say, when and how to make it more personal and relevant to our audiences.

So if like me you are in a bit of a busy storm whilst dreaming of the calm, take a deep breath, slow down and remember the kiss rule, keep it simple stupid!

Have a great weekend!