SOCAP International


  • Join us on Thursday's Big Data Webinar!

    Posted on: 02/19/2013

    No one knows exactly who invented the compass, although the Chinese get credit for beginning to use magnetized rocks in 200 B.C. not only for predicting the future but also for determining direction.  These magnetized rocks, or lodestones, were the breakthrough innovation of their day.  Now fast-forward over 2000 years and we have something called Big Data.  It may not be the lodestone, but it's also not too much of a stretch to call this emerging phenomenon a mother lode of innovation for 21st century businesses.One just beginning to be explored.


    SOCAP is committed to helping its members step up to the Big Data challenge and seize the Big Data opportunity.  On Thursday at 2 pm ET, we will conduct a webinar, Big Data and Customer Care, featuring ConAgra Foods and solution provider Clarabridge.   Learn more and register for the webinar here.  We will also release our first white paper on the topic, one in a series designed to show how Big Data is making a big difference for customer care care executives in all industry sectors of the SOCAP membership.

    What is the challenge and opportunity?

    The phrase "Big Data" refers to:

    • The use of data drawn from enterprise information systems, third party data stores and social media;
    • Data created by both people interacting and machines interconnecting;
    • Data that exist in formats that are easily processed in their existing structure or data that are unstructured, requiring additional analysis and manipulation in order to be processed;
    • Data representing huge volumes, measured in terabytes, petabytes, and exabytes–units of measure that outstrip the ability of traditional database management systems.


    At a minimum, Big Data should be a strategy embraced by business to help define, enhance and leverage the customer experience.  Smart companies are using this technology to marshal data as a resource and to give front line customer care professionals all the information they need for decision-making that puts the customer first.  This type of business thinking breeds greater consumer satisfaction and loyalty over the long run.

    While this outcome alone could help companies dramatically transform their market presence, the potential of Big Data goes far beyond optimizing sales and support.  Smart companies are using Big Data to:

    • Capture the voice of the customer and share it with marketing, research, strategic planning, product development, operations, quality assurance, and other business units with a need to know;
    • Assess business performance, to flag exceptions and to take corrective action before small issues become big issues;
    • Monitor vast amounts of data in social media, not just to address consumer concerns and complaints or to protect brand reputation, but also to spot trends, assess the competition and to identify new business opportunities;
    • Visualize data in ways far beyond bar charts and trend lines, supporting new understandings and insights;
    • Predict market and consumer directions using powerful statistical algorithms for analysis, giving organizations an unprecedented ability to see around corners.


    With so much capability at stake, is it any wonder that more companies are beginning to chart their future using Big Data as the multi-dimensional compass?  Because so much of Big Data overlaps with customer care, I am convinced that those customer care executives willing to build effective partnerships around analyzing and understanding the power of Big Data and the technology needed to leverage results can also expect to step up into new leadership roles within the enterprise.

    In past years, we have witnessed customer care change from being a cost of doing business to a source of strategic business advantage.  With Big Data, customer care stands poised to become the well-spring of business itself.  We must rise to this challenge.  So I hope you will join us on this week's webinar.

  • Using mySOCAP for Professional Success

    Posted on: 02/12/2013

    SOCAP is all about networking with others you know from conferences and chapter meetings, but mySOCAP also allows for networking with new people that you don't know but who have similar interests and concerns. This expands the networking opportunities that I have at national conferences. Just register and check it out. It is a great resource.

    By Leslie Summer
    Manager, Product Integrity, General Mills, Inc.

    I jumped on the band wagon right away when mySOCAP was opened up to me, because, in my mind, it is a more private place to have a conversation with other SOCAP members without an outside organization running reports on what we are discussing.  SOCAP is all about networking with others you know from conferences and chapter meetings, but mySOCAP also allows for networking with new people that you don't know but who have similar interests and concerns.  This expands the networking opportunities that I have at national conferences.  Just register and check it out.  It is a great resource.

    mySOCAP complements local chapter meetings by allowing you to share resources between meetings.  It is a much easier way to touch base with each other, than trying to wade through all the corporate emails we receive every day.  It is also the best place to store all the materials and documents you need for a chapter or committee meeting.  After my year as President of the Minnesota Chapter, I had to remember to pass along all the minutes and other documentation to my successor.  Now I can just keep them on mySOCAP electronically.  This makes the corporate IT people happy because I am not using up computer space for documents and emails.

    There are some amazing groups to join.  There are articles and conversations that trigger something that might be going on in your career.  If there isn't a group for your interests, then you can create the group yourself.  At this time, we have a data analysis and reporting group, a running group and a golf group (just to name a few).  So you can set up a group for anything that you are interested in - even areas outside of customer care.

    I opted into a daily digest and have already found two articles to pass along to a new person who will be joining our team to deal with data analytics and reporting.  I also send these resources to others in my organization.  I check the latest updates each day for new contacts.  I think about what I can learn from them, and I connect with them.  It builds my community and helps me build my knowledgebase and career.

    For those who like competition there is a fun feature called the Leader Board or Your Reputation which allows you to earn points for everything you do.  It is just a fun little extra.

    Now the event calendars make it easier to see what is going on at both the local and national level.  For instance, if I am traveling to Georgia, I might just hop into one of their local events while I am in town.  mySOCAP opens up more avenues to see what others are doing and gives me the option of joining in.

    The community surveys area is great.  Anyone can put up a survey and find out how others are resolving an issue they are facing.  You find out what others are planning to do, what are their resources, etc.   I always try to participate in the surveys if I can.

    I like the pictures that are included.  It is a great way to connect faces with names.  I recently grew my hair and I want people to know my new look, so I put up a new picture.  I plan to use mySOCAP before the Symposium as a think-ahead tool to make sure I connect with certain people at the Symposium and I want to make sure I recognize them and they recognize me.

    So mySOCAP is my one-stop shop to address all of my SOCAP related needs, to build knowledge to enhance my career, to find resources for the team at my organization and to increase my networking.   Since it is just for SOCAP members, I feel confident in the privacy of it.  I encourage everyone to participate.  Set up a profile, connect and pretty soon you'll be pulled in just like I am.

    Leslie Summer is a Product Integrity Manager with General Mills (GM).  In this role and with over 25 years of experience at the company, Leslie leads four teams providing support to General Mills’ Consumer Services, including bringing resolution to out-of-court settlement for product liability claims, training and supporting the contact centers’ role in delighting General Mills’ consumers, providing detailed analysis and reporting of consumer preferences and issues, plus monitoring and analyzing social media data.

    Passionate about helping others, over the years Leslie has volunteered for organizations and communities across the United States (i.e. Habitat for Humanity, community missions in Mississippi, Simpson Housing, Special Olympics, and Second Harvest).  She also proudly serves the Better Business Bureau of MN and ND by serving as a Director At-Large on their Board of Directors.

  • SOCAP International Elects New Board Officers and Directors

    Posted on: 01/10/2013

    The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP International) announced today the new members of its 2013 Board of Directors.

    January 10, 2013

    For more information, contact:
    Marjorie Bynum, VP, Education and Communication

    Alexandria, VA- The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP International) announced today the new members of its 2013 Board of Directors.
    The 2013 Board Officers whose terms are effective January 1 are:
    • Chair of the BoardLinnea Johnson, Director, Consumer Services, Unilever
    • Chair-Elect - Kim McMiller, Associate Director, Consumer Relations, Kraft Foods
    • Past Chairman - Cheryl Duwve, Vice President, Customer Support, Roche Diagnostics
    • Treasurer - Marie Shubin, Director, Global Consumer Relations, E&J Gallo Winery
    • Secretary - Celine Dumais, Vice President, L'Oreal USA
    In addition, SOCAP welcomes five new directors and a special advisor to its Board:
    • Michael Boudreau, Manager, Workforce & Information Management, Eli Lilly & Company – Director
    • Jeanne Jones, Director, Consumer Affairs, ConAgra Foods – Director
    • Matt Sanders, Assistant Director of Operations, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts – Director
    • Thomas Siebert, Senior Director of Customer Service, Expedia – Director
    • Chris Wallace, Vice President of Sales, 24-7 Intouch – Director
    • Melanie Neumann, Leavitt Partners - Special Advisor to the Board

    "I am honored to work with such an outstanding group of business leaders on the SOCAP Board of Directors," said SOCAP's new Board Chair, Linnea Johnson of Unilever. "Our Board members bring a powerful blend of industry experience, customer care expertise and strategic vision to the organization, which will enable SOCAP to continue to offer effective solutions and professional resources to our members as well as increase our overall membership."

    The Board Officers were approved at SOCAP's Annual Business Meeting during the Association's 2012 Annual Conference in San Diego, California.

    "The talent represented on the SOCAP Board ensures that the organization is well positioned to lead and advance the important role of customer care in successful business strategy," said Matthew D'Uva, SOCAP's President & CEO. "The Board's leadership will allow SOCAP to have a critical voice in supporting consumers, improving interactions and advancing product innovation."

    The new Board members will join these current members of the SOCAP Board:

    • Lorraine Avery, Senior Vice President & Director of Customer Services, Associated Bank
    • Michael Biondo, Vice President, Customer Operations, Clear Channel Radio
    • Frank Eliason, Senior Vice President, Social Media, Citibank
    • Patrice Fehl, Senior Manager, Consumer Relations, The Hershey Company
    • Mark Hamilton, Vice President, Business Development, Inktel Direct
    • Helen Horsham-Bertels, Director, Consumer Affairs, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
    • Chris Irving, Assistant Vice President, Consumer, Government & Legal Affairs, Publishers Clearing House
    • Rosemary O'Malley, Manager, Consumer Affairs, Ford Motor Company
    • Iasha Rivers, Director, External Affairs, Macy's/Federated Department Stores
    • Jason Rosser, Manager, eCommerce Contact Center Operations & Consumer Services, Abercrombie & Fitch

    About SOCAP

    Founded in 1973, SOCAP International represents a thriving global profession of best-in-class customer care experts across all industries. SOCAP is a member-driven organization committed to promoting customer care and customer engagement as a competitive advantage in business. The Association's members include vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors of customer care and consumer affairs from top Fortune/Forbes 1000 companies as well as hundreds of business partner organizations.

    SOCAP provides the educational tools and professional resources to help its members to drive business transformation within their companies. Additionally, SOCAP's exclusive network gives members access to thousands of customer care experts across the globe.  Visit for complete SOCAP information.
  • 2012 SOCAP Board and Committee Accomplishments

    Posted on: 12/12/2012

    SOCAP International's 2012 Board of Directors and Committees have been working hard this year to deliver great programming and services for the association.

    SOCAP International's 2012 Board of Directors and Committees have been working hard this year to deliver great programming and services for the association.

    Here are highlights of the major achievements:

    Automotive Steering Committee
    Jim Moloney, General Motors-Chair; Rosemary O'Malley, Ford Motor Co.-Board Advisor

    • Hosted 2012 Automotive Summit (October 17-18) during the SOCAP Annual Conference.
    • Provided 4 webinars for SOCAP's Automotive Community members

    Canada Community
    Chris Wallace, 24-7 Intouch-Chair; Kevin Schofield, Unilever-Vice-Chair

    • Two Canadian Specific Webinars
    • Continued successful partnership with Les Affairs on customer care conference in March
    • Successful Annual Conference in Toronto in September at Maple Leaf Foods
    • Successful May Meeting at the Kellogg Company

    Chapter Relations Committee
    Robert Braun, Revelant Technologies-Chair; Adam Oberweiser, The Clorox Company-Vice-Chair; Lorraine Avery, Associated Bank-Board

    • Hosted 57 chapter events in 2012 with more than 1,900 attendees
    • 100% adherence to Chapter Accounting Policies and Procedures
    • Eight chapters won the Chapter Award in Recognition of Excellence (CARE) indicating outstanding effectiveness at the Chapter level

    Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Steering Committee
    Jack Sullivan, Unilever-Chair; Lynn Reilly, Pinnacle Foods-Vice-Chair; Patrice Fehl, The Hershey Company-Board Advisor

    • Completed 2012 Data Reporting Workshop, which resulted in record attendance (10% growth in attendance from 2011)
    • Launched and completed new Complaint Rate Benchmarking Survey for CPG companies in partnership with CCMC
    • Hosted 2 CPG industry sessions at 2012 Symposium and held CPG meeting at 2012 Annual Conference

    Education Committee
    Matt Sanders, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts-Chair; Sandy Jewell, Jarden Consumer Solutions-Vice-Chair; Helen Horsham-Bertels, Starwood Hotels and
    Resorts-Board Advisor

    • Completed 2012 Symposium (May 1-4), including focus on SOCAP's Industry Communities with new Trend Sessions and Skills-Based Workshops, which resulted in a 10% increase in industry brands from 2011
    • Completed two online training courses on New Agent Training (with 24-7 Intouch) and The Personalization of the Customer Experience (with WOMMA)
    • Completed 2012 Annual Conference (October 14-17) which included focus on customer loyalty, consumer diversity, and engagement channels, with more than 100 industry brands

    Executive Community Steering Committee
    Donna Carr, Reckitt Benckiser-Chair; Beverly Randolph-Meeks, The Clorox Company-Vice-Chair; Mike D'Alessandro, Consumers Union-Board

    • Completed two Executive Chat sessions on issues related to the future of customer care
    • Hosted executive sessions at the 2012 Symposium and Annual Conference on The Evolution & Future of Customer Care with active participation from various industry brands

    Member Services Committee
    Andy Begnoche, HOLDCOM-Chair; Shelley Elkins, Guthy-Renker-Vice-Chair; Rita Wood, Network Direct-Board Advisor

    • Completed 8 webinars for SOCAP's 2012 Webinar Series
    • Continued to build content for SOCAP's online library tool, PING Powered by Astute Solutions RealDialog
    • Supported the development of two new surveys on customer loyalty and SOCAP's Member Assessment Survey
    • Completed three issues of CRM Magazine, including online versions of each issue
    • Launched new SEO Task Force to improve SOCAP's web search positioning and increase the organization's overall visibility

    Membership Committee
    Mike Neeson, Andersen Windows-Chair; Heidi Kabbage-Vice-Chair; Patrick O'Shea, TX Utilities-Board Advisor

    • Achieved a 10% increase in membership from 2011
    • Realized a 14% increase in Corporate Member companies
    • Awarded the Membership Achievement Award to 10 chapters for meeting new member and retention goals
    • Developed and launched the SOCAP Job Board with input from Business Partner Advisory Council

    Resource Management Committee
    Marie Shubin, E&J Gallo Wineries-Chair; Tom Asher, SunRun-Audit Chair

    • Evaluated and hired a new audit firm to review SOCAP’s annual financial statements and supported the audit of the association’s 2011 Statements
    • Managed SOCAP Investment Accounts and Investment Advisor
    • Provided oversight to the budget and management of the association’s 2012 financial position

    Business Partner Advisory Council (BPAC) Steering Committee
    Chris Garrity, Astute Solutions-Chair; Angie Puthoff, Stericycle ExpertRECALL-Vice-Chair

    • Assisted in the recruitment of additional Fortune 1000 companies as SOCAP members
    • Worked with Membership Committee to develop and launch the SOCAP Job Board
    • Worked with Member Services Committee to enhance member engagement and learning opportunities
    • Provided content resources for PING, Powered by Astute Solutions RealDialog

    Hospitality, Travel & Tourism Steering Committee
    Anne Seeley, United Airlines-Chair; Helen Horsham-Bertels, Starwood Hotels and Resorts-Board Advisor

    • Produced industry-specific survey and presented results during two industry-specific sessions at the 2012 Symposium
    • Hosted 3 webinars for SOCAP's Hospitality, Travel & Tourism community members

    Bylaws Task Force
    Jeff Hagen, General Mills-Chair

    • Proposed a series of extensive amendments to the SOCAP Bylaws approved by the Board to modernize and streamline SOCAP’s governance structure

    Diversity and Inclusion Task Force
    Iasha Rivers, Macy's-Chair

    • Created a framework and definitions for Diversity and Inclusion within SOCAP
    • Drafted SOCAP’s first Diversity and Inclusion Belief Statement approved by the Board
  • Customer Loyalty and Big Data!

    Posted on: 12/09/2012

    A funny thing happened on the way to understanding customer loyalty.  SOCAP recently surveyed its members on this subject.  Going in, a reasonable hypothesis might be that companies understand what makes their most loyal customers, well, loyal.  Instead, what we found were differences in understanding based on the role the respondent plays in the enterprise.  Executives say they have a greater understanding; senior managers less so.

    A funny thing happened on the way to understanding customer loyalty.  SOCAP recently surveyed its members on this subject.  Going in, a reasonable hypothesis might be that companies understand what makes their most loyal customers, well, loyal.  Instead, what we found were differences in understanding based on the role the respondent plays in the enterprise.  Executives say they have a greater understanding; senior managers less so.


    Are those closest to the customer on a day-to-day basis (e.g., senior managers) likely to really know more about them–and therefore more apt to know what they don't know?  Are those higher up in the company likely to have a more commanding view, able to look out over the strategic landscape and understand what truly drives the loyalty relationship?  Either way, why should there be a difference based on professional level or career rank?

    SOCAP's loyalty survey offers plenty of insight, and I will be talking more about the survey results in the months to come.  But two things about this seeming disconnect strike me immediately.

    First, many of the companies in this survey have revenue of over $1 billion.  Big companies sitting on repositories of big data need to use this resource to see the road ahead and to see around corners too.  Customer care executives should be engineering the data analytics train, making sure that the best data generated from customer interactions becomes the business intelligence stoking customer relationships and greater loyalty.  And while everyone in the enterprise doesn't need to know every detail about the customer-certainly rules of privacy, confidentiality and common sense must apply-every manager and perhaps even every employee should know the key components of what makes loyal customers loyal.

    And so point two:  while managing big data is a big challenge, so is the opportunity of getting everyone in the company on the same page.the page marked Customer Loyalty.  Don't just gather and analyze the data.  Don't just hold it in organizational silos.  Share it across divisions and departments.  Use it to foster initiative, innovation and ingenuity.

    Companies with a mission solve their customers' challenges today.  Companies with a vision solve their customers' challenges of tomorrow.  And companies who will be around for the long haul are using their big data resources to navigate the future and appropriately sharing information about customer loyalty with their executives, directors, managers and other employees.