SOCAP International

SOCAP Blog

  • 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.

  • 2010 Annual Conference Recap

    Posted on: 11/04/2010

    By Carla Baynard

    Expansive, suspended cables appear harp-like as we approach the incline of the bridge. As our bus rolls over the bridge, I view Alcatraz from the distance. For that one moment, the light mist from the rain makes the scene appear like another world. Then.it hits me! I am in San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, heading towards the Napa Valley. Destination: Sterling Vineyards. The Sterling wine tour was the start of my 2010 Annual Conference experience. Other attendees, like me, launched their conference experience on a second wine tour at William Hill Estate Winery. Later that evening, the official kickoff for the Annual Conference was held at the Welcome Reception hosted by Levi Strauss at the company's beautiful store in Union Square.

    With just the right blend of networking opportunities and educational workshops, this year's SOCAP Annual Conference had something for everyone! While each attendee's own conference experience may be different, I am pleased to share some personal highlights from the general sessions at SOCAP's 2010 Annual Conference:

    Susan Baranowsky, SOCAP's 2010 Board Chair, gives opening remarks during the 2010 Annual Conference

    Conference Highlights

    Day 1 – Morning

    The Annual Conference opened with an announcement from SOCAP Board Chairman, Susan Baranowsky of The Campbell Soup Company that conference attendance stood at 500 people! Susan said that this number marks a record attendance for SOCAP at an annual conference. There's a lot of excitement and buzz from the audience!

    The welcome remarks provided by Businessweek.com Columnist Carmine Gallo set the proper tone for this year's conference focus-Customer Engagement: Social Media - Customer Care Meets Marketing - Sustainability. Carmine reminded us that being engaged means being creative. He shared Steve Jobs' quote "Creativity is just connecting things" and expounded that it is about connecting things from different fields and applying it to "your thing." In this age of customer engagement, we must be innovators. Innovators have three common qualities. They are passionate, visionary and creative.

    Carmine's address paved the way for the featured address from keynote speaker, Charlene Li. Charlene is the author of the books Groundswell and Open Leadership. Her keynote address focused on Relationships in the Era of Social Technologies. Charlene asked us these key questions as it relates to engaging with customers with social media:

    • When something goes wrong, what is the first thing you do?
    • Are you proactive or reactive?
    • How do you give up control?

    She advised us to create a strategy around the customer relationships you are going to form and reminded us that it's not about who owns the tools or the technology. It's about who owns the relationship. Everyone in the organization is responsible for the customer relationship. Once this idea is realized within the company, then fighting over who owns the technology becomes a moot point.

    Charlene shared four goals that leaders should have in using social technologies:

    • Learn from your Customer.
    • Dialogue with Them.
    • Support Them.
    • Innovate with Them.

    Charlene wrapped up the address by highlighting some key points from her book, Open Leadership.  She discussed a case study about Best Buy where Barry Judge, the CMO, started Best Buy's Blue Shirt Nation-which created a culture of sharing among the employees. The idea was to practice internal networking before external engagement takes place. She talked about leadership and challenged the audience to ask this important question: How are YOU going to lead differently?

    She ended on the topic "preparedness" and asked how do you roll up your sleeves and get the job done? But she didn't leave the question unanswered. She recommended these three things:

    • Discipline is needed to succeed.
    • Ask the right questions.
    • Prepare for Failure (and quoted Google's mantra, "fail fast, fail smart").

    Day 1 - AfternoonJohn Gerzema

    The afternoon's keynote address was presented by John Gerzema, Chief Insights Officer, Young & Rubicam. John spoke to us about Spend Shift: How the Post-Crisis Values Revolution is Changing the Way we Buy, Sell, and Live.

    John highlighted these observations:

    • In today's economically strapped highly technological society, we are moving from mindless to mindful consumption.
    • 55% of Americans are driving the "Spend Shift" MovementTrust in brands declined by 50% over last 6 years; people began to rethink the value of the brands they used.
    • Kindness and empathy increased by roughly 400%.
    • We are connecting with old values and virtues but are "powering" them with new technologies.

    He wrapped up by sharing five spend shift scenarios and shared key results of the Spend Shift Movement:

    • We are moving from a credit to a debit society.
    • There are no longer consumers only customers.
    • America is an emerging market for value-led innovation.

    The Spend Shift Movement is about moving capitalism from being about "more" to being about "better."

    Social Media Panel, 2010 Annual ConferenceDay 2 - Morning

    The second day of the conference was just as informative as the first! This time around the interview format was used. First up was Craig Newmark, founder, craigslist. Rohit Bhargava, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ogilvy PR, conducted the interview with the craigslist founder. In the interview, Craig elaborated on the culture of craigslist. He said his company's culture is simply to give people a break and to treat people like you want to be treated.

    Craig's overall business philosophy is to keep it simple when it comes to communicating. The primary tool for talking is to send people an email. Here's how Craig responded to question about the craiglist website:

    "We intentionally keep the site basic and uncluttered and without graphics to make it easy for users to move around in the site. Unnecessary graphics slow things down.The site is community-driven. Our philosophy is simply to listen to people and act. We are looking to begin use of ideation tools to help us segregate the good ideas from the bad ones."

    Craig also talked about the importance of being authentic and the importance of leading by example. His final thoughts can be summarized in these three bullet points:

    • Treat people like you want to be treated.
    • Get good ideas from your people.
    • Management follow through is imperative.

    Following the interview with Craig Newmark, Rohit then switched gears and moderated a social media panel discussion featuring Frank Eliason, Senior Vice President, Social Media, Citibank; Helen Horsham-Bertels, Senior Director, Consumer Affairs, Starwood Hotels & Resorts; and Bryan Rhoads, Senior Digital Strategist, Intel HQ. The panel gave some helpful tips about the role that customer care should be playing in engaging with consumers using social media.

    Day 2 – Afternoon

    The closing general session at the Annual Conference included the presentation of SOCAP's 2010 Chapter Awards. We also heard from two great keynote speakers-Don Knauss, CEO of The Clorox Company and Dan Roam, author of THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN.

    Dan Roam's main message was that many of the problems we face can actually be solved with pictures! He showed audience members how to draw ideas on a napkin and then use these ideas to identify solutions to challenges. This presentation gave a whole new meaning to my concept of doodling!

    Carla Baynard is a Client Services Director at Telerx where she designs and manages service care programs on behalf of several major national companies and one non-profit company. Telerx is a teleservice bureau specializing in contact center solutions for customer and consumer care. Carla is a member of SOCAP's Publication Committee. Her full article on the SOCAP Annual Conference will appear in the December issue of CRM Magazine.

    Visit www.socap.org for additional highlights from the 2010 Annual Conference.

  • Do you get what you pay for?

    Posted on: 09/07/2010

    The most frequent question that I am asked relative to customer care and service is what consumers should do when faced with a difficult challenge. Reporters, friends and consumers all ask me about options when they are dealing with a difficult customer service issue. What options do consumers have when they are not getting the answers that they need?

    Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question.Nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution. Websites are available to consumers who wish to search with "tricks" on avoiding IVRs to speak directly to agents.

    In reality, the customer relationship is established at the point of purchase. As consumers, we purchase goods and services daily and with these purchasing decisions, we are establishing relationships with companies large and small. The real customer service question is, "How do we, as customers, evaluate service in our purchasing decisions? Do we stop and evaluate a company's commitment to customer care at the point of purchase as an evaluative tool such as price?" I believe that the answer should be an emphatic "yes!" If not, then we are making a decision long before the customer service issues becomes apparent later in the product life cycle.

    As a parent of a three-year-old who has recently been diagnosed with allergies to all tree nuts and peanuts, I have become even more acutely aware of the importance of food labeling and the presence of a customer service toll-free number on packaging. I try hard to support companies that support effective communication channels with customers. For me, it is a source of comfort that the products in my pantry have connection points - whether to the farmers at my local market or to customer care professionals at much larger companies. For me, I know that I might need to find out more information about my food for the safety and well being of my family.


    Matthew D’Uva is the President of SOCAP International.