SOCAP International


  • SOCAP Great Lakes Chapter Event Wrap-up

    Posted on: 09/20/2012

    SOCAP Chapters are a rich source of exciting and relevant content for our members.  I just returned from Battle Creek, Michigan where I attended the SOCAP Great Lakes Chapter Meeting with presentations from Chrylser, Ford, Kellogg, Nestle Nutrition, ONSTAR and the State of Michigan Department of Treasurery.

    I just had the great pleasure of attending the SOCAP Great Lakes Chapter Meeting in Battle Creek, Michigan at the Kellogg Global Headquarters.   The SOLD OUT Event was fantastic in terms of attendance, content and hospitality provided by the amazing team at Kellogg.

    It was very exciting to also see so many attendees who had just recently attended the wonderful event at United Airlines with the Chicago Chapter the previous day and the SOCAP Canada Community Event last week in Toronto as well as many others who I will be joining next week at the Wisconsin Chapter Meeting at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI or attending today’s event in New York!  I am inspired by and grateful to the many dedicated volunteers that run our chapters across North America.  The content at these meetings are exceptional and attendance and evaluations are showing that members agree!

    Thank you so much to all of you who support our chapters by serving as members of local chapter Boards and especially to those who serve in positions like President, Vice President of Programs and Membership.  Your support and passion for SOCAP contribute in profound ways to the membership value proposition of our association and to the strong sense of community and connection that we all feel to each other as members of SOCAP.


    As I mentioned, the program in Michigan was phenomenal with speakers from organizations like Kellogg's, Ford, Chrysler, ONSTAR, Telerx, Nestlé Nutrition and the Michigan State Department of the Treasury.   It was a jam-packed day complete with visits from Tony the Tiger AND Ernie the Keebler Elf (photo attached).

    During the day, I was struck by a few key themes that resonated with me:

    1. Empathy:  We heard a lot about empathy in the contact center.  Training, hiring and measuring empathy in customer contacts.  What an important but challenging discussion!  We discussed whether an individual can be trained to be empathetic, how a person's capacity for empathy can be assessed at hiring and also, how do you protect empathic agents from just plain stress and overload?  The discussion was rich and seems to me to the beginning of a theme that I would like to SOCAP explore further as a topic at a national meeting.  Stay tuned!
    2. Reducing the complexity:   Another theme that struck me was the many ways that companies are reducing complexity to better serve consumers.  One organization discussed how they were able to drastically reduce the number of toll-free numbers made available to consumers creating a more consistent and higher level of customer care.  Another organization discussed how they worked to created consistency among all centers and brands on key contact center metrics.  As a result, they were better positioned to ensure that all business lines and centers where able to produce at higher level through improved benchmarking and a truly shared vision.

    At the end of day, we are all committed to creating meaningful and positive customer experiences.  We want the "transaction" to be successful but we are also working towards making the customer's experience and recollection of the exchange with our brands both memorable and positive.  This is achieved through working and tweaking all aspects of the business from streamlined processes to enhanced metrics to imporved technology in the contact center.  Whether it is the ONSTAR advisor who just experienced a life-threatening accident or a young parent who is calling at 3:00 AM regarding their young child's baby formula, we want to connect them with the help that they need and in a way that creates a meaningful moment for the customer. This is achieved through technology, streamlined complexity and measurement but mostly through an authentic and empathetic represenative on the other side of the phone or screen!


  • Membership Recruitment Success: Back to Basics!

    Posted on: 09/14/2012

    The idea of membership recruitment can seem like a task for the adventurous and intrepid. However, Leslie Summer from General Mills, president of SOCAP Minnesota, shares with us that if you keep things simple and stick to the basics, then you too can achieve membership success!

    The idea of membership recruitment can seem like a task for the adventurous and intrepid. However, Leslie Summer from General Mills, president of SOCAP Minnesota, shares with us that if you keep things simple and stick to the basics, then you too can achieve membership success!

    Leslie Summer, SOCAP Minnesota, and SOCAP International welcomed Best Buy as a new member in February 2012. It took a team effort to finally welcome Best Buy, a power player in the region, aboard.  Lisa Jemtrud, Vice President of SOCAP Minnesota volunteered to connect the chatper’s leadership with a contact at Best Buy and asked them to host a chapter event to share their customer care success story.

    While it was not easy to organize and plan the event, Leslie explained that Shannon Buesgens, Program Chair at the time, was diligent in her efforts to connect with Best Buy. It took monthly and weekly communications with the company to stay on top of the new relationship and to create the successful event. It was worth the investment of chapter resources.

    Prior to the event, Leslie spent time with representatives from Best Buy to discuss the details of their upcoming meeting. It was there that she planted the seed about greater participation in SOCAP. She shared with Best Buy executives the value of SOCAP membership and the benefits of SOCAP networking and professional development opportunities. By the time the event took place, Best Buy had become a member and the event's success affirmed their decision.

    For SOCAP Minnesota, the keys to its success involved getting back to the basics of recruiting. They activated the prospect's participation in the chapter. This involved inviting the prospect to host their event. Sharing the value of SOCAP through engagement in the chapter community and SOCAP programing was a win for all involved. Face-to-face interactions and relationship development also contributed to this success. Inviting a prospect to lunch or coffee for face-to-face interaction has value that should not be underestimated.

    SOCAP Minnesota members took the time to develop a relationship with Best Buy as a prospect and this relationship was then enhanced by the value of SOCAP membership and programming! We learn from this example to keep it simple. If we focus on the relationship first, then recruitment success is attainable.

  • Let's Build the SOCAP Team

    Posted on: 09/14/2012

    As customer care professionals, we all experience the same kinds of business challenges. SOCAP is the place to address them because your colleagues are willing to share their knowledge.  In our daily life when we interact with others, we need to be asking, "Are they a member of SOCAP?"  Then it is up to us to sell the organization as a benefit to them personally and professionally.

    By Elizabeth Tanis, Hillshire Brands 

    I always say, "To build a great business, you must first start with a great team within to lay the foundation and build it together." I believe the same holds true for the growth of a great organization like SOCAP in that it is the quality and greatness of the members we acquire that truly leads to the build of a great organization.

    As a long-time member of SOCAP International, I believe that SOCAP is your team.  It's your team of dedicated customer care experts providing professional networking, education and support to members across the globe.  That is why I talk to everybody about SOCAP.  If I get great service on a trip, in a restaurant or in a department store, I frequently ask individuals if they have ever heard of SOCAP.  On the other hand, if I get less- than- stellar service, I ask the same question and then tell them the value of SOCAP-promoting world-class customer care.  I believe that every member has the opportunity to build the SOCAP team and help it to grow. As busy professionals, we spend most of our time doing business where we come into contact with individuals who could benefit from SOCAP.  Recently, I was speaking to a group of people from a large grocery chain and I asked, "Do you belong to SOCAP?"  When they said no, I explained specifically why they should join and the great benefits offered by SOCAP.  This group later joined the association and now these individuals thank me for introducing them to SOCAP and the great benefits received.

    Just think about the SOCAP value to you.  For example, upper management asks about your complaints per million (CPM) rates and your CEO wants to know how we are doing.  With SOCAP, you can benchmark your rates with other brands without revealing specific results and report this information to the CEO.  Without SOCAP, you would just be comparing yourself to previous results.     However, the even greater value is that you are building your own team-a team of colleagues across many different industries to share ideas and best practices.  A team to help you do your job better.   Because of SOCAP, I have a lot of people to talk to because I am in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) Industry Community with other major food & beverage brands like Sara Lee.

    SOCAP is so unique because the value and success is driven by people working together to help you become more successful.  Although we do not share proprietary information, we share best practices and successes so that others can be as successful as we are.  After all, we all want to deliver great service that makes our customers say, "WOW!"  Good customer service is not proprietary; it is something we all want to achieve.  We learn so much at the SOCAP conferences and the information is relevant because the members determine the topics and present in the sessions.  I know because I am on the CPG steering committee and I also serve as Vice President of the SOCAP Chicago Chapter.  We listen to our members and ask them what they want at these conferences and chapter events.

    As customer care professionals, we all experience the same kinds of business challenges.   SOCAP is the place to address them because your colleagues are willing to share their knowledge.  In our daily life when we interact with others, we need to be asking, "Are they a member of SOCAP?"  Then it is up to us to sell the organization as a benefit to them personally and professionally.

    Any time I encounter someone who is involved in customer care, I get his or her contact information. When I get back to the office, I send the individual an email and copy the SOCAP National Office for further follow up, which hopefully includes having that person join the association. It is an easy process and one that every member needs to do.   If just 100 more members were as engaged in building membership as I am, we would double our numbers in a short amount of time.  The more members we have, the more people we can collaborate and learn from.

    What is going to get the creative juices flowing?   SOCAP is very special because the members are special.  It is a win-win for everybody to belong to this organization.  So join me in growing our team at SOCAP.


  • We are all in this TOGETHER!

    Posted on: 09/11/2012

    We all share the same consumers.  People buy laundry soap, stay in hotels, shop at the Apple Store and yes, fly on airplanes.  When they have a bad consumer experience, we all suffer!

    I read an interesting article a few days ago that reminds me how interconnected we all are as customer care professionals.

    The article is entitled:  ”The truth comes out:  CEO says ‘stupid’ consumers deserve hefty fees.”

    The article focuses on the comments of Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary describing some of his customers as ‘idiots’ and makes the claim that Mr. O’Leary’s comments echo the private thoughts of other CEOs, claiming that Mr. O’Leary is “hardly the first to think it”.

    First, I am not a huge fan of Mr. O’Leary’s public comments.  I can appreciate that he might be frustrated, but I think that there is likely to be pretty wide consensus that using words like “idiots” and “stupid” to describe customers is not a best practice through pretty much any cultural lens.

    Second, I personally am not in a position to express what is in the heads of Fortune 1000 CEOs around the globe, however, I do soundly reject the notion that Mr. O’Leary’s comments in any way summarize the private thoughts of Corporate CEO’s.  Many of these companies are members of SOCAP and are focused on the needs of their consumers.  There are countless examples of CEO’s empowering their customer care departments to advocate for their customers and to go to great lengths to be there for their customers.  The fact that customer care executives have such an important voice and strategic influence in companies explains the desire of c-suite executives to understand and relate to their customers personally and through the customer care function.

    Finally, after reading this article, I am reminded once again how connected we are as a community of customer care professionals.  While we often think of ourselves as part of a specific company or brand or exclusive to a particular industry, we all serve the same consumer who seamlessly interacts with our products, services and brands each day.  A negative customer experience is a negative experience and taints the consumer’s view of customer care broadly which is bad for all of us in the customer care business.  SOCAP exists as a professional community we are all connected and committed to the goal of putting custmers first.  We need to work together as professionals to continue to elevate service and care for customers by harnessing best practices, technology and systems to ensure that we ready to listen and serve.

    At the SOCAP Annual Conference in October, we will be engaged in lengthy conversations about how customer care professionals can continue to elevate care across the organization, build collaborative relationships within their organizations and with customers and, finally, how to measure and build loyalty among consumers.  The fact that so many companies and brands will be in attendance suggests that CEO’s across the globe understand the value of their customers and regard them as savvy partners.

    See you in San Diego!

  • Here we go!

    Posted on: 09/06/2012

    Welcome to my blog! My goal is that we can engage in a dialogue about customer care, SOCAP and the important work of building meaningful customer relationships.

    Starting a blog is certainly nothing new. In fact, I am well aware that I am getting into the blogging game a bit late!  However, as SOCAP continues to grow, there is so much going on with the association that it gets more and more difficult to share all of the exciting news with each of you, our members.  In the same way, customer care and the important work of our members are changing at such a rapid pace that this seems like a great way to better keep up and keep connected with all of you.  I am interested in hearing from you to gain your sight and perspectives on current events, other blog posts or industry insights.

    I hope that my blog will provide an opportunity for conversation among our community about customer care and how SOCAP can continue to serve you in your career.  I look forward to hearing from all of you.

    As you all know, I have never been known as someone who is shy or reserved so that will either translate well into interesting prose or aimless ramblings.  Hopefully, I can hit it somewhere in the middle.