SOCAP International

Editor's Letter

  • Cover Story

The beauty of working in customer care is that we’re all customers. Every day, we have the opportunity to observe the factors shaping our own experience as customers. We can be delighted or appalled by how we are treated, reinforced in the way we do our business or determined never to emulate the foibles of businesses behaving badly.

Our goal with this issue is to present the bigger picture on customer experience. Even the best pictures are just two dimensional. The customer experience is anything but. As this issue makes clear, it has interpersonal dimensions and digital dimensions; it is characterized by business best practices and innovative new alternatives to business as usual; it can trigger behaviors that range from enormous loyalty to enormous upset. The customer experience embraces the human experience and is a multidimensional journey to its core.

Our journey begins with insights for improving customer interactions. Leslie O’Flahavan, principal at E-WRITE, offers 10 rules for getting chat right. As Leslie notes, there’s much more to chat than writing fast and pushing links.

And we’ve all been in situations where running up against an IVR system may seem like an intentional barrier to speaking with an actual person. In “5 Reasons Your Customers Want to Talk to a Human,” Jeff Kirchick, Next Caller vice president, suggests that when companies take steps to avoid customer conversations, it’s a problem.

That’s certainly not how Bonnie Harvey and Michael Houlihan do business. In a story that uncorks the secrets to their success, the founders of Barefoot Cellars explain their extended view of customer service—a view that not only embraces consumers, but retailers, distributors and anyone else whose opinion could contribute to the improvement of their product or its presentation.

The Barefoot wine sellers built a great brand not only by listening to their customers but acting on what they heard. The combination of listening and acting on the concerns helps give customers a sense of achievement. This leads to brand devotion—the stuff of customer loyalty. Unfortunately, many companies stop short of this goal, deciding that if surveys say customers are satisfied, they are loyal. Not necessarily so. In “If Herzberg Ran Affinity Programs,” loyalty consultant and author Chip Bell describes the important ways in which customer satisfaction and customer loyalty diverge.

As customer care executives, we need to know how to engender loyalty, but we also must know how to profit from lessons learned. In “The Voice, the Whole Voice, and Nothing but the Voice,” Nestle Nutrition’s Lori Hawkins reminds us that the voice of the customer is well worth listening to, terming it a “wealth of information” capable of driving actions and innovations that “promote sustainable growth.”

We round out journey with customer service guru Micah Solomon, who offers a handy list of his 13 most “cringeworthy” mistakes companies make in dealing with customers. And we get a personal view from SOCAP member Michael Boudreau, of Lilly USA, who oversees the firm’s contact center and shares the philosophies that drive his performance.

As always, we hope you enjoy this issue of CRM Magazine and look forward to seeing you at the SOCAP 2014 Annual Conference in Colorado Springs this October where our focus will be on The Customer Experience Journey! 

Marjorie Bynum, CAE

Managing Editor