SOCAP International

SOCAP Blog

  • Florida and Nashville Blossoming

    Posted on: 06/21/2011

    Both Florida and Nashville will hold regional events to gauge interest in having regular events or maybe even forming a SOCAP Chapter in the future. In a change from previous practice, areas without existing chapters are holding meetings/events of interest to the members in their area. This concept of focusing on the event is being used in Ohio and New England with positive results.

    In Florida, Rita Wood with Network Direct has initiated conference calls with existing members to plan an event in the Miami area this Summer. Following this, there will be an event tied to the SOCAP Annual Conference, Oct. 16-19, 2011 in Orlando. After two calls with the members in Florida, August 1 was established as the meeting date and Carnival Cruise Lines stepped- up to host the event. Members will come to Carnival's Miami Terminal, register and then board the Carnival Cruise Ship, "Imagination." There will be a lunch followed by a program on aligning corporate culture with call centers. A panel of experts will interact with those in attendance for a valuable networking and educational event.

    Leslie Skybo with Mars Petcare has become the driving force behind an event in the Nashville area. After hearing about the value of chapter events in other areas, she reached out to SOCAP staff about starting a chapter in the Nashville area. Mars, Paralax, iostudio, Nissan and Support Seven representatives met by conference call on June 7th to discuss how best to initiate interest in their area. They will hold an event in downtown Nashville the first week of August.

    SOCAP currently has 17 chapters that add significant value to SOCAP membership. Members can follow the events that each chapter is holding and are welcome to visit any chapter event that interest them. For instance, the Georgia Chapter held an annual event that brings members and others from across the country. It has grown into an industry event that attracts hundreds of professionals involved in consumer affairs and contact center operations.

    The Great Lakes Chapter invited members from adjoining chapters to their Technology Summit that was held in May and their June 9th golf outing.

    There are numerous ways to get involved with SOCAP on the local/regional level. Just review the write-ups in this e-newsletter or check the SOCAP Website at your convenience. If you are interested in holding an event in your area, contact Ike or Chad at SOCAP.

  • A Member Speaks: Customer Care in the Hospitality Industry

    Posted on: 04/12/2011

    Chris Zoloth is the Director, Global Customer Care for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).  Chris has been absent from SOCAP for a few years as he focused on  repositioning IHG's overall customer care strategy to better support guests and hotels.  We caught up with Chris and asked him a few questions about how things have changed in his world.  Here is what he had to say:

    SOCAP:  Tell us about InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and your role there.
    IHG is an international hotel company whose goal is to create Great Hotels Guests Love.  The big picture is 7 hotel brands, over 146 million room nights per year, more than 640,000 rooms and over 4,400 hotels in 100 countries and territories around the world.  Our Brands include: Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental, Staybridge, Candlewood and Indigo.  And let's not forget about Priority Club Rewards, it is the world's first and largest loyalty program with over 56 million members worldwide.

    As for me, I've been with IHG for just over 18 years and my current responsibilities include directing IHG's global Service Recovery Teams and Priority Club Rewards operational support.  These teams are responsible for protecting the integrity of IHG's brands and driving guest loyalty. My teams handle 4+ million guest interactions and transactions per year; answering questions related to Priority Club Rewards as well as pre and post stay support for our guests.

    SOCAP:  You have been away for a few years, what enticed you to come back to SOCAP?

    I came from Hotel Operations and Franchise Support, so I originally joined SOCAP as a way of ramping up my customer care contact center knowledge by networking  and attending webinars, symposium and conferences.  After gaining additional insight from colleagues, I took an internal deep dive and completely restructured IHG's service recovery processes globally.  I introduced One Contact Resolution to reduce guest effort and a hotel fee based support system that financially rewarded high performing hotels and eased the burden on IHG system funding of Service Recovery.  We went from an answering service function to a fully empowered customer care service recovery team.

    IHG's business model focuses on managing and franchising hotels and has over 3,000 owners around the world that are passionate about their property and protective of their investment.  The goal was to deliver contact center service recovery solution that would drive guest preference, increase the owner value proposition and guarantee long term sustainability of a corporate Customer Care Operation.

    Our new processes have been in place for 2 years and it's time to start reaching out to the industry to benchmark our success, share best practices and learn from other successful companies.  SOCAP is a great way to do this.

    SOCAP:  SOCAP has several industry communities including the Hospitality, Travel, Tourism Community.  How do you intend to use this community?

    I'm looking forward to engaging in the Hospitality, Travel, Tourism Community Discussion Board by posting questions related to current challenges and hearing what other companies are doing.

    SOCAP:  You are attending the SOCAP Symposium in Las Vegas, what do you hope gain there that you can use when you return home?

    Yes, there will be a few of us attending and we are really looking forward to the networking and having face to face discussions with experienced customer care professionals.  Also I am interested in the online engagement session. As contact volume continues to shift to online channels, I'm interested in hearing what other companies are doing to better communicate with customers through these channels but also how to better manage the people resources that manage these channels.

    SOCAP:  Your offices are located in Utah, which makes it difficult to attend a local SOCAP meeting.  How will that influence your continued membership?

    That's a great question and we did struggle with this in the past.  I'm going to re-evaluate the chapters, to see if we can participate in one based on who is in the chapter rather than the location and try to attend a few meetings throughout the year.  I know Hyatt is involved in the Heartland chapter which is only a few hours away.  Starwood is involved in the New York Chapter, so we will just have to see which is best for us.

    SOCAP:  Anything else you want to say about SOCAP?

    IHG Global Customer Care is looking forward to active membership and taking advantage of the tools and relationships available from SOCAP.

  • SOCAP Chapters - A Great Place to Meet

    Posted on: 03/08/2011
    Cindy Fritton, ConAgra Foods and SOCAP Chapter Relations Chair

    Cindy Fritton, ConAgra Foods and SOCAP Chapter Relations Chair

    SOCAP Chapters cover different regions of the United States and Canada.  They serve as a local gathering place for those consumer affairs professionals who want to build on their professional development.  SOCAP Chapter meetings also compliment SOCAP National events by providing a setting to learn from each other.

    SOCAP chapter events are opportunities to really network and grow.  In the Heartland Chapter, we cover 4 states and usually meet in Omaha, Nebraska.  At these meetings I have the opportunity to network and learn how other businesses view good customer service and how they operate.  I am in food and beverage, but since we don't have a lot of companies in the food and beverage industry in the Heartland Chapter, I have the opportunity to learn from other industries.  This gives me a broader view of customer care.  Before I really got involved, I didn't know what I had at my disposal - both nationally and locally.  I have been able to benchmark our operations, use people as a sounding board and share my experience.

    Over the last four years, I have grown as a person by taking on leadership roles within SOCAP.  Public speaking often comes to mind when assessing the value of leadership, but there are so many other avenues you can travel to develop your leadership skills.  For instance I have learned what is most important in budgeting, program development and meeting planning.  As president I try to impact every individual who shows up at a meeting.  I want those people to get a great return on their investment of time and money.

    Our meetings are valuable because we drive meeting content depending on what is most important to members.  Because of our strong connection to SOCAP national, we know the most important topics nationally and as a board we look to impact people on the local level.  We want them to come away with something actionable that will positively influence their job.  We survey the members and our board has lively discussions on what is timely in the industry.

    Meeting content is only part of the experience.  It is critical to meet and greet as many as you can at a meeting.  Our Heartland board tries to reach out and touch every member.  We try to give new members a real cooks-tour of what is going on with the chapter.  We also make sure we are giving them what they want.  We explain how we want them to participate and that they have a voice - we learn so much from each other.

    At a typical Heartland Chapter meeting the board members greet everyone and check them in.  Then we introduce them to others and help them mingle.  The first 15 minutes is the President's greeting and an explanation of the agenda for the day.  We have a program in the morning with a break, then one hour for lunch.  After, and sometimes during lunch we often have round-robin table topics.   Then there is an afternoon session that always ends with door prizes.  Sometimes there is another social event after that.

    Most chapters have a board of directors with officers, however some newer chapters get started by holding meetings a few times a year until the interest grows into becoming a more formal organization.  I understand the reluctance to take a leadership position, but in Heartland we really support each other so that the burden is not too great on any one person.  We will come to the aid of anyone who has a work conflict or whatever prevents them from performing their duty.  Although the board members are willing to contribute on all levels and all are committed to a successful meeting, we all realize that work comes first.

    I find that members often need a nudge to participate.  You search for people who are engaged, want to make a difference and want to make SOCAP successful.  But you don't have to be a leader or a board member to make a difference.  There are opportunities to speak on panels, for sponsorships, for planning a meeting or bringing in a new member.    The key is to get involved, because what you get in return is immeasurable.

    Your total SOCAP experience is most intense when national services are combined with those you receive in the local/regional SOCAP Chapter.  If you do not have a chapter in your area and would like to start one, get in touch with our national office or me.

  • Looking Ahead to SOCAP in 2011

    Posted on: 01/11/2011
    Matthew D'Uva

    Matthew D’Uva, President, SOCAP International

    Happy New Year!  In 2011, our goal is not only to increase both the amount of information and programs available to you as members, but to also offer multiple and diverse access points for you to interact, engage and benefit from SOCAP!

    Within this e-newsletter, you will hear directly from your volunteer leaders, Susan Baranowsky (Campbell Soup Company), your 2010 Board Chair, and Cheryl Duwve (Roche Diagnostics), your 2011 Board Chair.  In both messages, you will hear a common and familiar theme - member engagement.   The success of SOCAP relies on your engagement, input and energy.

    In Cheryl's 2011 message, she articulates a clear vision and direction for SOCAP as well as a key challenge to all members - "Say Yes to SOCAP!"  As your professional staff team, we are working hard to maximize the opportunities for you to be engaged, involved and active within SOCAP.   To that end, we are broadening the programming options available to you as well as expanding and diversifying our communication channels to provide you with access and information to the resources you need to advance your company and your career.

    Our 2011 programming calendar will be expanded.  In addition to enhancing our two national conferences with innovative programming and relevant keynote speakers, expanding our Data Reporting Workshop and our Automotive Summit and adding new programs through our SOCAP Chapters and Communities, we are also continuing to expand our online resources through:

    • Enhanced Webinar Series - We have increased the frequency of SOCAP webinars and will be making them available at no cost to all SOCAP corporate members.
    • New Online Courses - For a deeper look at relevant topics affecting our profession, we will launch three online courses:  Managing recalls effectively, operationalizing your social customer strategy and understanding the basics of customer care in a more engaged, social world.
    • Improved SOCAP Website - We will be adding new online resources to our website, including more podcasts (like the one included in this newsletter), white papers from our various communities, a new online resource library to be launched later this year, and a digital version of CRM Magazine to enhance your ability to access, research and archive the important information in our magazine.  (Note:  We will continue to publish the magazine in hard copy.)

    As we increase the value of your membership, we hope that you will say "Yes" to these great programs and resources that will support your professional growth.

    Additionally, we need your involvement, time and talents to help SOCAP flourish.  There are so many ways for you to say "Yes" and, as Cheryl points out, you reap the benefits of participation when you:

    • Renew Your Membership: All memberships coincide with the calendar year.  Therefore, if you have not renewed your membership, contact the SOCAP Office to ensure that your membership is current.  Email Chad Fawcett (chad@socap.org) if you are not sure if your membership is current.
    • Serve on a National Committee: I invite you to serve on one of our national committees.  SOCAP committees support all of our national programs and communities.  Email me directly (matthew@socap.org) if you are interested in more information about serving on a committee.
    • Share Your Success: We need your case studies, best practices and content expertise to help us enhance our program offerings, which includes providing ideas for articles in our magazine, podcasts and our website.  Email Brian Cheung (brian@socap.org) to share your successes with us.
    • Engage With SOCAP: Join us on the SOCAP Blog (http://www.socap.org/Networking/Blogs.aspx) and share your thoughts and ideas regarding the profession.  Also, participate in our discussion boards or engage with us on Twitter (@SOCAP) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SOCAP).   Your thoughts, comments and questions are always welcome.

    The last few years have brought tremendous change, opportunities and challenges for nearly everyone, including SOCAP.  We understand that the number of projects, goals, budgets, and contacts that you are managing continues to increase while the resources available to manage these priorities may remain steady or decline.  We also recognize that your time is a valuable and treasured asset, and we hope that you will give some of your time by saying "Yes" to SOCAP and give us a chance to support you in your role as a customer relationship expert.

    I look forward to speaking to you regularly throughout the year from my new blog and via our other online channels.  In the interim, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2011. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

    Matthew D’Uva

  • SOCAP Membership Is a Good Deal For You

    Posted on: 01/11/2011

    By Cheryl Holtzen, Omaha Steaks, 2011 Membership Committee Chair

    When I attend a SOCAP International event, I am always amazed at the wealth of knowledge and experience within our membership. As the Membership Chair for 2011, I envision a SOCAP of the future with a large and growing membership, made up of the leading companies and service providers in our profession. I invite you to join me in making this vision reality.

    Our 2011 goal is to grow SOCAP membership by 10%. That is achievable if each of us spends just a few minutes each month thinking about bringing another customer care expert into SOCAP. I am not asking for a lot of your time - just a few minutes to call a prospect and ask them to join. If you need help, just call the national office at 703/519-3700.

    A real key to our growth in 2011 will be in the SOCAP Chapters. I hope everyone is attending chapter events on a regular basis. Chapters are a critical ingredient to what makes SOCAP special, and for that reason, each chapter has a representative on the SOCAP Membership Committee. These valuable volunteers will support our grass roots efforts and improve coordination between local chapters and the national membership efforts. Each chapter and every member is important to the future of our professional assocaition.

    Another key to our future growth is our industry communities. You will have the opportunity to attend an industry community meeting at the 2010 SOCAP Symposium, May 1 - 4 in Las Vegas. I participate in the Food & Beverage Industry Community which is one of the strongest communities. The SOCAP Board and I are committed to growing the other industry communities in 2011. The Board started by establishing a New Member Markets Task Force to form a new community in financial services and to strengthen the communities we now have. Are you involved in an industry community? Do you have a colleague at another company that should be involed? If so, reach out and invite them to participate in your professional association, SOCAP. As we network and learn from each other, our companies reap the benefits of new ideas and, each of us benefits personally by continuing our customer care education.

    2010 was a very good year for SOCAP. Our corporate memberships allowed us to increase our reach within member companies and welcome many new faces. We will continue to build our membership as we grow the number of corporate members. Think about a corporation with which you would like to interact, find the person at that company who is in charge of customer care and send their name to the SOCAP National Office. Give them a call if you feel comfortable, share your SOCAP expereince and invite them to a chapter meeting. This gives you another company to network with, provides SOCAP a potential new member and moves the customer care foward as a profession. All in all a good deal for everyone!

    I ask each of you to make membership growth part of your 2011 plan. SOCAP belongs to each of us and a stronger SOCAP means more professional development for you, more new ideas for your company and more clout for customer care as a profession. Let's take ownership in 2011 and make our SOCAP even stronger. With your help, I look forward to reporting our successes through-out the year.

    Cheryl Holtzen

    Cheryl Holtzen is the Director of Inbound Sales & Consumer Services for Omaha Steaks International. She is responsible for the Customer Contact Center including Customer Care, Inbound Sales, Quality Assurance and Operations. In addition, Cheryl has Corporate responsibility for overall Customer Satisfaction and Social Media monitoring and reporting. Prior to joining Omaha Steaks in 2001, Cheryl's 20 years of experience included various customer care, operations and project management roles in hospitality and insurance. She is currently serving as the Chair of the 2011 Membership Committee.