Page 1

S P O N S O R S Astute Lori Batterton

Kellogg Company Linda J. Pell

Cott Beverages Linda Compton

Levi Strauss & Co. Tom Asher

Coty Prestige Sheila Sullivan

McDonald’s USA Christopher Garrity

Customer First Call Centers Michael Roby

Network Direct, Inc. Rita Wood

The Dannon Company, Inc. Eileen Troise

RightNow Technologies Dan Nichols

General Mills Jeff Hagen

Telerx Linda Schellenger

InfoCision Dana Allender

Sponsorship:SOCAP International member companies play an integral role in the development and expansion of Customer Relationship Management through the sponsorship program.Sponsors can choose to support all four issues per year for $600 or one to three issues for $175 each.For more information on becoming a sponsor,contact the SOCAP International Office at (703) 519-3700.


CustomerRelationship Management VOL XI



Focusing on Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Leverage Consumer Contact Information n

Benefit from the Daily Use of Analytics


Defend a Recall Against Future Claims


Understand the 50-Plus Market


Tame the Uncontrolled Email Beast


Build a Foundation for Customer Trust


Trend Watch

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Are you a seasoned professional or an expert in customer care? Has your organization created a best practice that could be useful to other customer care professionals? Do you have a heads-up on the hottest industry trends? If you answered “yes� to any of these questions, then consider submitting an article to CRM Magazine! Writing for CRM Magazine allows you to communicate important views, ideas and trends to the entire SOCAP membership. It also increases your professional visibility in the consumer affairs marketplace. Whether you have an article completed or just the kernel of an idea, our SOCAP editorial staff is here to work with you to bring your ideas to fruition. Submit articles or ideas to CRM 2007 Publications Schedule Articles Due By

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CustomerRelationship Management 4

Leveraging Consumer Contact Information

By Julie Odejewski and Susan McKee Business-savvy analysts can turn your raw contact center data into critical insights and value-added information. Learn the steps for building an analytical team that can benefit your business.


Benefiting from the Daily Use of Analytics in the Contact Center, Part 1

By Art Hall Analytics can help contact center executives understand the needs, pains or problems that customers experience at the point of interaction.What solutions are available, and how do you build a business case to justify the investment?

12 Trend Watch By John Cronce In this installment of Trend Watch, studies show that customers still prefer the old-fashioned personal touch to high-tech customer service solutions, and offshoring gets more high-profile bad press.

14 The Best Offense Requires a Good Defense By Melanie Gilbert Recalls almost never retrieve all affected product from consumers. Instead you need to know how to prepare your company for potential litigation in the aftermath of even a perfectly executed product recall.

16 New SOCAP Report Offers Tips for Contact Center Sourcing Informed sourcing decisions are critical for your company’s bottom-line.This new SOCAP report helps take the guesswork out of finding the best sourcing for your contact center.

17 The 50-Plus Market: A True Competitive Advantage By Ruth Mitman The 50-plus market is rich in both assets and discretionary income. Understanding 50-plus consumers can give your company a critical competitive advantage.

21 Taming the Uncontrolled Email Beast By Jen Plamann and Patricia Sallee Discover how Kimberly-Clark reduced the time and resources required to respond to consumer email—and learn how you can do it too.

26 Customer Trust: The Next Big Thing in Marketing? By Don Peppers and Martha Rogers Which is the better long-term business strategy—building customer trust or aiming for immediate bottom-line impact? These leading authorities claim that customer trust adds more value for your company.

Silver Jubilee 25

Thank You to our many clients and partners worldwide who made Wilke/Thornton’s Silver Jubilee possible by...

Wilke/Thornton s CRS provides robust features and flexible functions custom-tailored to manage your ever-changing Consumer Affairs needs. To learn more, call 614-792-6900 x 176 and visit

Managing Editor Marjorie C. Bynum


Editor Cindy Collins Smith Advertising/Sales Azelia Cutts SOCAP President Matthew R. D’Uva SOCAP Publications Committee Chair: John Cronce, Jockey International Carla Baynard, Telerx Donna Carr, Reckitt Benckiser John Dzialowy, ATCC Jeff Hagen, General Mills, Inc. Jean Herres, Alta Resources Suzanne Ronner, Reader’s Digest Association Cindy Van Grinsven, Kimberly Clark Corp. Design Middour Nolan Design Customer Relationship Management is the magazine of SOCAP International, the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business. SOCAP membership is open to all professionals who are in some way responsible for creating and maintaining customer loyalty: vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors with responsibilities for consumer affairs, customer care, customer service, customer relationship management, inbound call centers, market research, information systems integration, sales and marketing, database management, new business development and operations. The magazine is a membership service created to support the professional development of the membership, while promoting the value of the profession and contributing to the growth of SOCAP International. Published four times a year by SOCAP International, 675 N. Washington St., Suite 200, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. Statements of fact and opinion are made on the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the officers or the members of SOCAP International. The opinions expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the official positions of employers. Materials may not be reproduced without written permission. COPYRIGHT© 2006 by SOCAP International. 675 N. Washington St., Suite 200 Alexandria, Virginia 22314 (703) 519-3700 FAX (703) 549-4886

Content: Articles should support the professional development of the membership, while promoting the value of the profession and contributing to the growth of SOCAP. This is achieved by reporting on emerging issues and trends, focusing on customer satisfaction, retention, and bottom-line benefits to the organization, and by complementing professional development initiatives of SOCAP. Treatment of the topic should be instructional and detailed, providing full explanation, strategies, and solutions (i.e., the focus should be on HOW to do it, not why it should be done). The article must not promote authors or other companies, or a particular brand of product or equipment. (For advertising information, call the SOCAP National Office 703-519-3700 or email Readership and Circulation: Customer Relationship Management is one of the longest-standing journals written to address concerns of corporate consumer affairs/customer care professionals. It is available only through membership in the Society and is currently distributed to SOCAP International members worldwide, then circulated by members to an average of six persons within their companies, exceeding a circulation of 15,000. Customer Relationship Management readers are typically management in charge of customer care located at the corporate headquarters. They are interested in topics including customer retention and loyalty, call center operations, consumer behavior and trends, consumer data management, general management issues, customer satisfaction measurement, consumer education and communication, internal corporate relations, regulatory issues, the focus of consumer advocate groups, prevention mechanisms, data analysis and proactivity. Acceptance: The Publications Committee and editorial staff evaluate all submissions for clarity, depth, and scope of the ideas presented. Simultaneous submis-

sions to other publications are not permitted. Submitted articles cannot be returned. Acknowledgment: The byline will consist of the author’s name. A short biography (60 words or less) will appear in the article along with a photograph if available. The article submission should include a biography, photo, as well as any graphic accompaniment. A maximum of two authors are allowed to receive a byline and/or photos for one article. Format: Graphs, tables, charts, photos, line art or other graphic representation are highly encouraged and should be submitted in high resolution jpeg or tif file format. Data sources and bibliographic references must be included at the end of the article. Email transmission of text is acceptable in Word or text format. Length: Minimum of 950 words, maximum of 2700 words. Shorter articles, case studies and FYI-type informational pieces are encouraged. Editing, Rights and Reprints: Articles selected for publication in Customer Relationship Management may be edited at the discretion of the editor. SOCAP protects all rights to articles published in Customer Relationship Management. Articles published in Customer Relationship Management may not be reprinted elsewhere without permission from SOCAP International. Editorial Calendar and Deadlines: Customer Relationship Management is published four times a year—in March, June, September and December. Email article submissions biography, photo, and artwork to Please visit SOCAP website for the 2007 publication schedule. SOCAP Publications Team: Marjorie Bynum— Cindy Collins Smith—





Leveraging Consumer Contact Information BY JULIE ODEJEWSKI AND SUSAN MCKEE


magine the following situation: a new product launches for your company. Initial consumer response is very strong, and sales for the first weeks or months of launch are above expectations.You are feeling confident that you have a winner on your hands.Then sales start to slip. Every week the sales numbers continue to decline, despite strong advertising and marketing programs. Eventually the new product that seemed so promising is dropped, and all the investment into research, manufacturing, distribution and marketing for that product is lost. The company is left reviewing test cases and focus group results to see if there were earlier warning signs that the product would fail in the market place. But what if the product didn’t have to fail? Every day, consumers around the world are contacting companies— from consumer packaged goods manufacturers to industrial suppliers—to say exactly what they like, don’t like, or want to see added to a given product line. If consumer comments for the failed product had been reviewed and responded to during its initial launch, could the company have made changes that would have led to the product’s success? Reviewing, analyzing, communi-

cating and course correcting to consumer feedback throughout the organization is critical not only for product success, but also for measuring advertising impact, corporate policy, and image/relationshipmarketing effectiveness. Consumer comments can dr ive packaging improvements, product line extensions and product quality. Close monitoring of consumer feedback can alert companies to emerging, potentially dangerous issues.

Information Analysts:The Internal Consumer Ambassador Gathering good consumer contact information begins at the contact center. If contacts are not coded properly and all the information necessary for both handling the contact and reporting on it is not gathered, contact reporting effectiveness will either be reduced or lost altogether. Consumer contact analysts feed the business by taking the data gathered at the center, converting it into meaningful, actionable information and forwarding it outward to all areas of the business. In their role of feeding information to the business, analysts become the internal consumer ambassador and the




voice of the consumer. In addition to aggregating contact data into meaningful insights, analysts report on important contact information, which includes reviewing data for numerically significant trends, new or unusual trends or serious and hot topics. In order for the analyst to be the consumer ambassador, the information needs to be used to drive changes or improvements based on the consumer perceptions and priorities communicated to the business.

Consumer comments can

Defining the Successful Analyst

drive packaging improve-

The following skills are required to be a successful analyst (i.e., able to recognize, interpret and communicate trends to drive change):

ments, product line exten-






sions and product quality & and can alert compa-

A Passion for Data. An analyst must be motivated and passionate about working with raw data. Successful analysts will be recognized data hounds, excited by the thrill of the hunt and by drilling through data to find the root cause of a trend. Ability to Read Data and See the Story. Not only must an analyst be able to understand how to read data, the analyst must be able to recognize the patterns and trends that give meaning to the numbers.Analysts can tell, seemingly at a glance, when something just looks wrong or different. Strong Communication Skills. Without strong communication skills, information can be lost in translation. The analyst needs to be able to communicate effectively through charts, graphs and pictures, reports and emails, and verbally at meetings and presentations. Not only do strong communication skills spread the message, they also lend credibility to the story being told. Business Expertise. Analysts are acknowledged business experts. They can tie together contact information changes with prod-

nies to emerging, potentially dangerous issues. uct changes, such as ad campaigns, packaging changes or formulation changes.They can predict consumer responses based on similar situations previously monitored. Business expertise makes the difference between a good analyst and an exceptional analyst. n

Strong Client Relationships. Building strong relationships with clients allows the analyst to better communicate all messages, even when the news is not good.

Contact Analysis: What’s in It for You? There are many compelling reasons to perform in-depth consumer contact analysis. The most obvious (and easiest to sell) is that analysis can provide real-time alerts to potentially high risk situations. Early alerts reduce company risk and minimize impact and cost in a volatile situation. Early knowledge of an emerging problem



gives the company time to prepare for contact volume. It also allows the company to prepare consumer responses as needed, and to pull product or cut production in severe cases. The few extra days’ warning from alerts can drive cost savings for the business and reduce potential consumer complaints. In addition to offering alerts, analysis offers the company other useful information. For example, measuring contact volume also gives insight into consumer product loyalty.A product or brand that consistently receives high contact volume often has a strong consumer following. Even unusually high complaints after packaging changes can indicate a strong consumer base for the product being tracked. Consumer inquiries and suggestions can identify line extensions and distribution channels that could potentially increase market share. For example, if “where to buy” inquiries are high on a particular product line, increased distribution may be justified. Or, if consumers consistently sing the praises of a discontinued product, reintroducing the product may be the answer. The nature of the consumer contact data itself helps define why analysis is so important. Contactors are people who have already purchased a product and tried it. They are so passionate about their experience that they are reaching out to the company and telling about it. In other words, consumers are giving this information away! While it is important to drive quality improvement projects or to identify quality problems, consumer contact analysis is not just complaint analysis. To dispel the “complaints only” myth, analysts should consistently indicate all contact types in reports and present the business with contact statistics showing the complaint, inquiry and praise ratios.At Kraft, for example, two-thirds of all contacts received are inquiries, not complaints. Another option to break the complaint cycle is to complete special reports that focus only on

suggestions and inquiries and to present the information in the context of growth opportunities.

How to Prove Analysis Value While contact information is a rich source of information, its value may need to be proven to the rest of the company. Dollars and cents speak louder than words, and there are several ways to illustrate the positive bottom-line impact of contact analysis. One way is to quantify early alert benefits and risk reduction. This can be done by calculating a per-incident cost on an escalated situation. Use historical examples to quantify potential savings by reducing the number of incidents. If situations can be caught early enough, the potential savings are well worth the investment. Another way to quantify the benefit of contact analysis is to compare it to other market research activities. Compare the additional cost of a consumer survey for a consumer who is already on the phone and engaged with a representative versus the cost of an outbound marketing research contact. The incremental cost of a survey is a fraction of the inbound contact cost or a separate market research study. Inbound consumer surveys also provide additional value as they can be specifically targeted to those consumers who have used a particular product almost immediately after use. In companies that have already committed to the benefits of consumer contact analysis, offering a summary of analyst successes can demonstrate dollar benefits. This summary should communicate to internal customers line extensions, product reintroductions and increased distribution that were due to analyst contributions. Aside from the bottom-line, contact analysis adds value both to the Consumer Relations (CR) function and throughout the business. For consumer relations, analysts can provide accurate budgetary forecasting

to drive staffing levels to forecasted volume and provide coupon projections. Analysts can also review contact channel effectiveness and costs for various types of contacts. For example, analysts can review IVR cost/benefit thresholds to deter mine when inquiries are best handled by an IVR or when they are most cost effectively handled by a live representative. As a part of the analysis, analysts can also review consumer preferences for various contact channels. Analysts drive product quality for the business by communicating consumer perceptions and priorities, alerting the business to quality concerns, and tracking notable situations. Analysts can also be used to analyze consumer responses to customized surveys on particular brands and reasons for contact.

Building a Strong Analysis Base Once the decision has been made to start reviewing and analyzing contact data, it can be daunting to begin. Here are some guidelines for getting started: n Focus on the basics. Begin by reporting on absolutes instead of indexed values (complaint rates per a set number of units sold). While indexed complaint rates add value and paint a better picture, it is more important for the first reports that the data be proven accurate and the business be sold on the report format and value. Also focus on standard time periods—weekly, monthly or quarterly. Once users are comfortable with the information, the time periods can be expanded into rolling time frames, daily reports or any combination of timeframes that suits the business. n Ensure accuracy. The most important point to prove on the initial reports is that the numbers are accurate. If coding issues or questions exist, now is the time to find and correct them. n Establish standard reporting practices. In order to produce consistent, repeat-

able results, the analyst must follow a uniform process to generate the report. If there are legitimate changes in historical data (e.g., email number increases due to a backlog load), the analyst must understand and be able to explain the discrepancy. If possible, the process should be reviewed to see if the data change could be avoided in the future. n Value added analysis. The real value of the analyst and of the reports is the commentary and analysis of the data—the turning of the data into actionable, business-critical information. Anyone can run a report. Only a skilled analyst can read the trends and dive into the data to provide insight to the company. The best reports to start with are monthly contact summaries, weekly alert reporting, and quality improvement project reporting. n Monthly contact summaries provide clients with a regular pulse check of what is hot for a particular set of products. Often these summaries drive further reporting requests as trends evolve or new topics start to appear. n Weekly alert reporting is a reliable way to keep clients abreast of potentially serious trends. If the report is set up as an automated process, the amount of analyst time required is minimal. This can be an extremely valuable service provided by the CR department. n Quality improvement reporting shows complaint levels for particular reason codes against initiatives to reduce those complaints. These reports are invaluable for evaluating the effectiveness of various changes. As report exposure grows with business clients, the clients will likely begin driving more and more analysis. Ad hoc requests and analysis can account for 30 to 50 percent of an analyst’s time. It becomes critical to balance client needs as the clients recognize the value of the information




at the analyst’s finger tips. To keep the clients happy, and the analysts from burning out, keep the analysts focused on value-added analysis activities. For example, if an analyst is spending time running a daily query and sending out the results, try to automate the process. Help clients set up their own reports and train them on the data. Not only will this help balance the workload as clients do their own simple reports, it will also help them become more familiar with the data. When multiple demands are placed on an analyst, have the client prioritize requests. Be sure to communicate difficult report times and focus on the value the additional complexity does, or does not, add. But above all, focus on what can be done, and communicate this frequently to the business client.

There is even a link embedded in the report to allow recipients to listen to actual consumer calls about the product. This report has been extremely well received by the business. n Predictive curves forecast the number of anticipated consumer responses and can be used in several different situations, such as new product launches, major product changes, and quality improvement projects. The predictive curve defines what normal consumer contact levels are and, having defined normal, the report illustrates when consumer contact levels indicate potential problems and the need for further investigation.

Information Innovations Keeping the Momentum

The key to successful analysis is to turn data into insights and to provide value-added information. To start, summarize notable information for the business. Don’t make clients dig through it themselves. Watch for anomalies and drill down to key drivers. On reports, look for trends that span several years; even if the data appears to be flat from year to year, looking at a broader period of time may reveal trends. Set up contact review meetings with clients, but look out for opportunities to present at business functions and other meetings as well. In written communications, use business terms and plain English; no one wants to guess at a report’s meaning. Lastly, survey clients to see what additional value the CR department and, in particular, the analysts can provide. Are client expectations being exceeded or not even met? Adjust to their feedback and survey again. Always remember: anyone can pull data. The successful Consumer Relations group provides businesscritical information and insights—all from information that consumers are literally giving away. At Kraft,

To keep analysts fresh, and to evolve toward meeting expanding client needs, the analytical staff should look for new information innovations that analysts can introduce. Information innovations are in-depth analytical reports that provide contact analysis using new technology or techniques to satisfy expanding business needs. For example, recently introduced innovations at Kraft include quality alerts, new product reporting and predictive curves: n Quality alerts are automated reports sent out when predefined conditions are met. Several different types can be set up based on business needs. Alerts are an effective way to notify all business units of any potential emerging issues.Analysts should follow up with detailed analysis on the alerts where appropriate. n Kraft added new product reporting on a consolidated basis in 2005.This report provides one-stop shopping by listing and comparing all major product launches on one page.


Turning Data into Insights



Consumer Information Analysts are the internal consumer ambassadors, as they feed consumer insights throughout the company to drive business growth and success. n

Julie Odejewski manages a team of consumer information analysts for Kraft Foods. The team delivers in-depth analytical reports that provide the voice of the consumer throughout Kraft Foods, supporting new product, quality, and marketing initiatives. Julie’s previous experience includes managing several Kraft commodities procurement optimization projects, managing healthcare software implementations for Epic Systems and electronic composition for Moore Business Forms. Julie has a BBA in marketing from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and an MBA from Edgewood College. Contact:; (847) 646-5581.

Susan McKee is Associate Director of Global Consumer Relations for Kraft. Susan’s team is responsible for delivering consumer insights to internal customers derived through the analysis of more than 5MM consumer contacts annually. Susan’s team in North America spans across five geographic locations and her responsibility globally is to build and leverage best practice reporting capability and delivery of brand building insights to global business partners. Susan has been with Kraft for more than 20 years. Her career at Kraft spans responsibilities in R&D, Quality, Manufacturing and Consumer Relations. Susan’s college degrees are in Food Science (U. of Illinois, Purdue). Contact:; (847) 646-3785.

Part 1

Benefiting from the Daily Use of Analytics in the Contact Center BY ART HALL This two-part series shows why Contact Center Executives should seriously consider the use of analytics as a key investment to understand (1) the needs, pains or problems experienced by customers at the point of interaction and (2) the process changes required to deliver a branded customer experience that creates enduring customer loyalty.

dous benefits in a variety of different ways for a variety of stakeholders across the organization: Like customers, not all contact centers are created equal. Stakeholder

Expected Business Benefit


Customers want an organization to recognize who they are and what the organization’s relationship with the customer has been throughout their relationship

Contact Center

Improvements in channel access and the ability to deliver great service


Improvement in service, cross-sell/up-sell skills; knowledge competencies/gaps


Insight in campaign effectiveness, competitive intelligence

Risk/Compliance/ Legal

Adherence to compliance and regulations, early warning system for customer complaints; insight on how well the contact center is protecting the reputational risk of the brand promise


Improvements in training curriculum, knowledge gaps

Human Resources

Insight in candidate sourcing, skill and career path development

Strategic Benefits from the Daily Use of Analytics in the Contact Center We are in the customer economy! In his book, The Agenda, Michael Hammer asserts that as organizations have gotten smarter and more effective in acquiring information, the Information Age has given way to a new era that is ruled by the demands of the customer, the Customer Age. The irony for contact center delivery models is that they are ruled by both information and the demands of the customer. The evolution of the contact center during the past 30 years has seen it transition from a channel that was mostly reactive to a model that operates in real time. In the past, the contact center created competitive advantage by achieving strategies of efficiency gains and economies of scale. Today, it creates competitive advantage by achieving strategies for meeting customer demands on a one-to-one basis and by understanding customer preferences and behaviors in real time. Analytics used in the contact center can provide tremen-





Today, the contact center creates competitive advantage by achieving strategies for meeting customer demands on a one-to-one basis and by understanding customer preferences and behaviors in real time.

While they are similar, each contact center delivery model has unique pains and problems. An investment in the right analytic solution should be driven by the pain(s) that you are trying to solve for your customers and your organization.

Gaining Better Insight on the Customer Experience Traditionally, Customer Relationship Management or CRM has been closely associated with a technology platform used to (1) manage customer interactions (also known as Operational CRM) or (2) to collect, target, profile and segment customer data for target marketing and cross-sell programs focused on optimizing transactions and business processes (also known as Analytical CRM). The problem lies in the fact that most companies have focused their CRM investments on tactical outcomes, using an “inside out” approach to decrease cost and improve revenue and profitability. Because this approach is internally focused (totally disregarding the way customers want to be treated at the point of interaction), the approach isolates many customers from an organization instead of increasing engagement rates among customers. With Customer Experience Management (CEM), customers become the focal point. CEM is a valid strategic approach in which value is created and delivered to the customer by answering a fundamental question from the customer’s perspective—“What’s in it for me?” If executives adopting CEM as a business strategy can answer that question with the customer’s best interest at heart, then an organization has a reasonable chance at succeeding in developing customer evangelists. For the contact center, CEM is partly defined as the following: n Going beyond handling customer interactions (calls, email, or chat) efficiently and in compliance with company policy. CEM means addressing all customers fully and resolving them completely in the customer’s best interest. n Going beyond having management tell frontline agents the right way to treat customers. CEM involves empowering frontline agents to decide at the point of interaction the right way to treat the customer and solve his/her problem. n

Going beyond solution providers, professional services and IT, ensuring the development of a great customer-facing application. CEM means



ensuring that in order to deliver a consistent and branded customer experience, the company must ensure that all customer-facing applications, all customer data, and all channels have a single view of the customer as an enabler. n Management going beyond developing effective right-channel strategies/policies, and beyond steering customers through the sales and contact center channels based upon the value of the customer to the organization. CEM means utilizing “real world” learning about customer preferences and ceding control to the customer, allowing customers to interact with an organization the way they want to. In other words, an organization would not penalize a customer’s preference if the preference does not fit the company’s preconceived paradigm. In short, CEM is about gaining additional insight into and visibility for the customer’s emotional experience, endto-end within a contact center delivery model. The use of analytics helps contact center practitioners understand both customer and agent behavior in real time, hence converting the delivery channel from reactive and slow to proactive and dynamic.

Building a Business Case: Justification of an Analytical Tool In today’s market, there are many analytic tools to consider.There are operational analytic tools, such as agent dashboards that offer a deeper understanding of key operational performance indicators for agents (such as average talk time, handle time, number of calls taken or first contact resolution). There are analytical tools that mine customer behaviors across a number of different data sets that provide the contact center with insight into customers’ propensity to churn or intent to purchase. The company can then develop operational strategies to address retention or crosssell actions or provide the management team with voice of the agent—how well frontline agents are adhering to compliance, or how best to develop targeted and customized training or coaching for one agent or a specific groups of agents. There are also behavioral analytics that provide a contact center management team with unstructured data about customers’ cross-channel behavior or competitive intelligence, such as after-purchase product functionality or competitive pricing comparisons that can be fed back into the organization for process reengineering, research and development, or product/service creation or enhancement.


With Customer Experience Management (CEM), customers become the focal point. CEM is a valid strategic approach that creates value by answering a fundamental question from the customer’s perspective—”What’s in it for me?”

Figure 1

Primary Goal:


Operational Insight and Performance Management

Voice Analytics

Survey Administration/ Voice of the Customer Tools

CRM, Customer Segmentation and Insight


Aspect Software Envision Telephony Knowlagent SIVOX IEX Corp Merced Systems NICE Systems Verint Systems eTalk Witness Systems VirtualLogger

Symon Inova Solutions Pilot Software

Nexidia Utopy Nuance Spoken TellME Intervoice eLoyalty OSI

Customer Relationship Metrics TARP CustomerSat Island Data SatMetrix

Click Fox SAS SPSS Cognos Business Objects Infor Unica Sigma Dynamics Tealeaf Technology Eloqua

Examining the Type of Need the Purchase Would Solve The need for an analytics solution should be dependent on the type of pain or problem that you are trying to solve. There are many analytic vendors in the contact center space, each offering a unique suite of products and services. Here is a partial list of vendors that offer analytic solutions for contact centers (See Figure 1). I have segmented and defined the solution providers under the following classifications: 1. Workforce Optimization (WFO)—Solution providers in this space typically offer a full suite of products ranging from call recording/monitoring, agent scorecard, speech analytics, agent scheduling and e-learning solutions. 2. Operational Insight and Performance Management— Solution providers in this space typically offer a suite of product solutions ranging from wallboards, dashboards, scorecards and performance management solutions. 3. Voice Analytics—Solution providers in this space typically offer highly scalable, highly accurate rich media search and speech intelligence/analytic software packages. 4. Survey Administration/Voice of the Customer Tools—Solution providers in this space typically offer survey tools to capture customer feedback through customer delivery channels, such as phone, email, direct mail or post-call.

5. CRM, Customer Segmentation and Insight— Solution providers in this space typically offer crosschannel customer analytics, automated decision support, predictive analytics, or a CRM platform with a featurerich analytics platform integrated within the solution. In the next issue of CRM, we look at justifying and purchasing an analytic system and at organizational change management n

Art Hall is the Vice President of Sales & Customer Care Operations for NetBank in Atlanta, Georgia. He also serves at the Atlanta President of the CRM Association (CRMA). Drawing on more than eleven years of call center management, customer service and default experience in the Retail, Small Business and Mortgage Banking segments, he understands the dynamics of managing the customer experience across all customer touchpoints, developing strategies to effectively improve the total customer experience (TCE) and developing metrics that are aligned to corporate strategy in a multichannel environment. Art is a member of the Atlanta Chapter of SOCAP. Contact:






Back to the Basics In a world of ever-proliferating CRM gimmicks and gadgets, contact center professionals are continually finding that it’s the old-fashioned basics that still score biggest with consumers. A new study published in Community Banker, for example, showed that while consumers increasingly enjoy newfangled online banking, they still prefer old-fashioned customer service. The study, commissioned by Discover Card, found that a whopping 73 percent of consumers surveyed prefer a toll-free call, while a meager 16 percent preferred email, and a mere 9 percent preferred online forms. Instant messaging netted a measly 2 percent.1 Of course, the financial services arena is a unique breed. Consumer anxiety about privacy shoots off the scale when it comes to personal financial data. But the financial services sector hasn’t cornered the market on privacy paranoia. Whether your company sells breakfast cereal or underwear, your contact center is facing the same concerns, albeit with varying degrees of intensity based on the goods or services involved.There are real cyber-crooks out there, and the more technology consumers must interact with, the greater the degree of risk.Talking to a real live human being seems safer. So while we continue to invest in new service solutions that appeal to tech-savvy consumers (and cost-cutting CFOs), good old one-on-one toll-free service remains irreplaceable—and may even become more critical as 21stcentury technology (and identity crime) grow. And regardless of such consumer jitters, the overriding reality is that the basic personal touch still adds value. According to a recent study in Hotel & Motel Management, the ultimate drivers of loyalty in the hotel industry remain the basics, including the staff ’s “can-do attitude” and the friendliness of the employees at the front desk. This is true despite the continuous infusion of new high-tech products and services available to guests.2



If the “carrot” proffered by studies like this isn’t inspiration enough, there are plenty of “sticks” out there—such as the $502 million, second quarter stock tumble at Dell, which was attributed in part to customer service woes.3 Or how about the consumer who called AOL to drop his subscription and got an agent who kept trying to talk him out of it? He anticipated an excruciating call, recorded it and posted it online.There was such a backlash that beleaguered AOL issued a public apology.4 The basics of customer service are hotter than ever, for better or for worse. n Notes 1

“For Customer Service, Old-Fashioned Methods Still Rule,” Community Banker, September 2006, 70.


Jonathan Barsky and Lenny Nash, “Low-Tech Services and Products Help Drive Guest Loyalty,” Hotel & Motel Management, October 2, 2006.


Arik Hesseldahl, “Dell Disappoints Once More,” Business Week, August 18, 2006, 7.


“We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore,” Reader s Digest, October 2006, 19.


Jane E. Galvin, “Inside an Indian Call Center: The Big Disconnect,” Christian Science Monitor, June 23, 2006.


More Bad Press for Offshoring P.T. Barnum once famously observed that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” but the continuing spate of bad press for customer-service offshoring would tax even Barnum’s legendary patience. The latest volley hurts a little more because it comes from an insider. Jane Galvin was excited about going to India to teach basic customer service skills and English to call center agents. But she was sufficiently disappointed that she wrote a less-than-favorable article about her experience in The Christian Science Monitor. The class Galvin taught included the predictable role-playing scenarios in which one student pretended to be a cranky customer while another attempted service recovery. But the agent cast as the cranky customer played the role with unusual gusto, exclaiming, “What are you doing? Playing computer games!? I’ve been on hold for 45 minutes! Get me an American right NOW!”5 Clearly these students had been in the trenches for a while. There was no naiveté about facing American consumers. Yet, the students weren’t completely hardened. Galvin was moved by continuously hearing the question, “How can we empathize with frustrated customers when we are so frustrated ourselves?”


The frustration included stories of mass rides to work that arrived an hour early, with rides home that would arrive an hour after the shift finished. Conjuring up images of Oliver Twist, agents’ dinner breaks were often deferred due to call volume, with some agents testifying that it was common to get one 15-minute break in a 10-hour day. It has become increasingly apparent that companies that opt for offshoring must reckon with managing a certain amount of bad press and public opinion. But Gavin put a face on it, and she did so from the standpoint of a disappointed insider. It’s a more intimate and compelling point of view that can either deter companies from offshoring, or motivate them to investigate vendors more closely for the types of behaviors and conditions that Gavin described (and publicized) so well. n

John Cronce has managed the contact center at Jockey International, Inc. since 1997. Under Cronce’s leadership, the company launched its first toll-free number, its first contact management system, its first Web-based consumer affairs contact mechanism, and its first in-house customercare service for the company’s business-to-consumer website. In addition, he serves as chairman of the SOCAP Publications Committee. Cronce is also president-elect of the Wisconsin SOCAP Chapter. Contact:

SANGs are Special Affinity Networking Groups—communities of SOCAP members with common professional bonds and similar interests and needs who want to share knowledge through a variety of venues. SOCAP currently has two SANGS: Executive SANG - Open to SOCAP members in top or senior positions within customer care or in a company that produces products and services for mass consumer consumption. Food & Beverage SANG - Open to SOCAP members in the food and/or beverage industry. SANG benefits include: n

24/7 Access to SANG members only page on the SOCAP website


Participation in listserv community


Access to special conference sessions, networking dinners, and more!

Visit for details.




The Best Offense Requires a Good Defense:

Even the Best Executed Recall Still Requires an Effective Defense Against Potential Future Claims



t 9:00 a.m., a manufacturer receives confirmation that the due diligence investigation is complete and one of its products poses a risk of bodily injury or illness to consumers. The company’s Recall Plan is set in motion. Exercising the utmost in corporate responsibility, this recalling manufacturer decides to employ all available communication means tailored to alert affected consignees and consumers of the recall. At 11:00 a.m. on that same day, the manufacturing company calls the regulatory agency with jurisdiction over its product. Within minutes, it sends a nationwide press release streaming over the AP wire.The company’s PR department proactively contacts newspapers to print recall notices and asks radio stations to broadcast the recall message. The company additionally deploys its internal sales force, combined with a third party recall retrieval firm, to retrieve the affected product from commerce in record breaking time—


well within regulatory, legal and industry standards. A week later, records indicate that all affected product in commerce has been picked up and properly disposed. The company compiles and sends reports to the regulatory agency governing the recall. Finally, the recalling company gets back into its normal routine, and the recall becomes but a distant memory (or nightmare, depending). And why shouldn’t it? It’s over-isn’t it? The answer to that question depends on your definition of “over.”It may be “over”from the perspective of the regulatory agency and possibly even in the court of public opinion, but it is not necessarily over in the court of law. If forced, the recalling company may admit that it made the decision to launch such a full-scale media notification campaign at least partly in order to reduce the potential for future legal exposure relative to the recalled product. Don’t misunderstand. This media



blitz is laudable, and similar media campaigns of this nature have been, and should be, conducted in specific recall situations. However, recalling companies should understand that rarely is a recall entirely effective—despite the myriad avenues (TV, radio, news, company and special interest websites) that a recalling firm employs to notify potentially affected consignees and consumers of a recall, and despite its Notes 1

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), “Summary of Recall Effectiveness Meeting #3: Measuring Recall Effectiveness,” September 9, 2003.


“See Summary of Recall Effectiveness Meeting #3.”


U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) (prepared by XL Associates, Heiden Associates), “Recall Effectiveness Research: A Review and Summary of the Literature on Consumer Motivation and Behavior,” July 2003.

flawless execution of the recall plan.The risk of future exposure is a reality. Statistics based on consumer response show that efforts to raise consumer awareness for recalls are far from 100 percent effective. To illustrate, a 2003 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study lists the overall recall effectiveness rate for consumer awareness of vehicle recalls at approximately 72 percent—arguably the highest level of awareness for any consumer product (likely due to the fact that vehicle ownership must be registered, allowing for targeted recall notifications).1 Inexpensive consumer products with a short useful life typically enjoy the lowest success rates for consumer response to recalls. For example, recent surveys reveal that 70-80 percent of consumers simply throw away a recalled product that costs less than $100 rather than follow the manufacturer’s instructions to return the product or apply for a refund.2 Effectiveness rates for consumer compliance vary based on several factors, such as the type of product, cost of replacement, useful life, severity of risk for injury or illness, and what steps consumers are asked to take in order to comply with the recall notice and receive a replacement or refund.3 Given the relatively low consumer response to recalls, it is not hard to imagine that future injuries or illnesses could arise through continued use of the recalled product. Recalled food could be consumed, causing illness; recalled auto parts could break, explode or otherwise malfunction, causing injury. In fact, potential legal claims may rear their ugly heads as much as six years into the future, depending on the individual state’s statute of limitations and other factors. If plaintiffs’ attorneys, representing claimants of these post-recall claims, call the recall process into question, the recalling company may find itself reliving the recall by having to justify its actions and explain why the recall was reasonable and effective. Therefore, consumer products companies of all kinds should be mindful of

the potential legal exposure that looms for a period of time after a recall otherwise appears to be “over.” Here are some tips that may prove useful in this regard: 1. Take your mother’s advice: Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it.” Choose your words wisely—from the initial complaint receipt, through the internal incident investigation and hazard assessment, to the customer recall letters and consumer press releases, as well as to post-recall activities. Often, your communications are discoverable in court. Be mindful that the email you send to your boss blaming the recall on internal people or processes could be blown up on a huge poster board as an exhibit for the judge, jury and public to see. 2. Follow your company’s records retention procedures. If in doubt, ask your company’s legal counsel how long to retain your recall records, complaint report forms, and other relevant written materials (including emails) in order to best protect your company against future claims. 3. Take corrective action. Fix, replace or otherwise address and correct the root cause behind the recall.Whether these remedial actions are admissible evidence in court is another discussion, but addressing the cause to prevent reoccurrence usually does more good than harm. 4. Plan for the future: Establishing a reserve in the event of potential future liability may be wise depending on the risk presented, the amount of affected product in commerce, the level of assurance that recall instructions were followed, etc. You should also consider product recall insurance (not to be confused with general liability insurance, which usually does not cover recall-related claims) to account for future risk.Talk with your risk management personnel and/or insurance broker about this possibility. 5. Have and Tell a Good Story. It is imperative that the recall was timely and reasonable in order to aid in future claims defense. Beyond simply retaining the piecemeal documents relating

to the recall, a recall team member should draft a concise, factual outline or summary of the events leading up to and occurring during the recall. Again, pay careful attention to the words used and reasons attached to decisions. In this era of high employee turnover, a short legacy document revealing the facts and showing that the company did the right thing may be helpful to a successor who may have to participate in future legal defense. (This document should be marked confidential and proprietary, with limited distribution to internal personnel only who have a need to know the information.)

Conclusion The apparent completion of a recall and the elimination of legal risk associated with it are not necessarily simultaneous events. Potential future lawsuits may arise well after a recall has been closed by both the recalling company and the applicable regulatory agency. Attention to the considerations contained in this article may help recalling companies defend themselves if a post-recall claim that challenges their recall plans should arise. n

Melanie Gilbert is responsible for all Crisis Management services at RQA, Inc., including both pre-incident and incident response services. PreIncident Crisis Management Services include crisis planning consulting, crisis simulations, crisis and food defense workshops, and other preincident consulting. Incident Response Services include Emergency Incident Response and Crisis Consulting on a 24/7/365 basis for RQA’s clients and partners in the insurance industry. Gilbert joins RQA from The Schwan Food Company, where she held the position of Managing Attorney, Commercial and Food Law. At Schwan, she counseled on food law and recall issues as well as all intellectual property matters. Contact:; (630) 512-0011.




New SOCAP Report Offers Tips for Contact Center Sourcing Whether your company is working with an outsourcer or is just starting to explore sourcing strategies, SOCAP International’s new report, Sourcing the Contact Center, provides contact center managers with the information they need to make informed sourcing decisions. While industry buzz often focuses on such strategies as outsourcing and offshoring, sourcing is not a one-size-fitsall proposition. Instead, contact center managers need to evaluate the unique characteristics and needs of their own centers in order to make the best sourcing decisions. Sourcing the Contact Center is designed to help them evaluate their centers objectively. In addition, the report provides an easy-to-use scoring system to help contact center managers evaluate their centers against the key factors used in making sourcing decisions—then explains the resulting scores in terms of the various sourcing models (insourcing, in-house resourcing, co-sourcing and outsourcing).

The report, compiled by TARP Worldwide, tackles the emergence of outsourcing as well as its advantages and disadvantages. Filled with detailed analysis and case studies, Sourcing the Contact Center addresses the following crucial topics: n n


Sourcing the Contact Center will help ensure that you are not insourcing when you should be outsourcing, or cosourcing when you should be re-sourcing. This important resource is now available for sale on the SOCAP International website.

Cost is $95 for SOCAP members and $150 for non-members.


Please visit





What Customers Expect from Service Best Practices for the Contact Center - People and Process - Telecommunications - Computer Systems Support - Field/Organization Support - Preventive Analysis Steps to a Successful Outsourcing Decision - Quantify and Analyze Workload - Understand Current Contact Quality - Insure Efficiency of Current Operations - Ensure Current Processes are Well Documented - Examine Potential Outsource Structures and Locations - Analyze What to Send Where The Outsourcing Selection Process (and Backsourcing Considerations) Some Practices that Lead to Success

The 50-plus Market: BY RUTH MITMAN

A True Competitive Advantage


oday, more than ever, businesses need a competitive advantage—something that sets them apart from others that sell the same products or offer the same services.A better understanding of the 50-plus market will provide companies with the critical competitive edge they need. The 50-plus market is large and lucrative. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of persons over the age of 50 will increase by 30 percent. This population owns more than three-fourths of all assets and earns half of all discretionary income in the United States today. 1 Despite these facts, many companies fail to leverage this golden opportunity. Why? They fail to appreciate that the mature market is diverse, complex and often misunderstood. Businesses, therefore, communicate in inappropriate and ineffective ways, resulting in lost sales, lost customers and lost profits. Three generations comprise the 50-plus market: the GIs, the Silents and the Baby Boomers. A generation is a group of

people who grew up during a specific time period and, therefore, share the same historic environment and similar life experiences. Consequently, those within the same generation develop collective attitudes and beliefs about such things as money, religion, politics and gender roles. Within a business context, they also share buying habits and customer service expectations.They carry these core values through life largely unchanged. While individual members of a particular generation are not exactly the same, an ability to recognize the generational influences of our customers will provide us with a broad context for understanding them. Let’s look at the three generations over the age of 50. GI Generation: Born between 1910 and 1932, the GIs grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. They experienced and were tested by an 86 percent drop in





the stock market. Social Security and the GI Bill were enacted. These events had a profound impact on the members of this generation. GIs are often frugal and cautious.They see debt, literally, as a sin.They believe their goals will be achieved by sacrificing, saving and working hard. Given their experience of the war years, they trust in government, big business and each other. Silent Generation: The Silents were born between 1933 and 1945.They are the less-known transitional generation bridging the gap between the GIs and the Baby Boomers. Relatively speaking, their numbers are small, as the birth rates during the Depression and World War II were the lowest of the 20th century. Silents grew up in easier times than the GIs.With rising prosperity, jobs were plenti-

ful. Older Silents tend to share their parents’ values and beliefs in hard work and the importance of saving, while younger Silents may identify more with Baby Boomer attitudes. Baby Boomer Generation: The current population of 78 million Baby Boomers was born between 1946-1964. Often called the “Me” generation, they demand attention simply because of their large numbers. They experienced the Vietnam War and attending conflict at home, as well as the civil rights, feminist, environmental and consumer rights movements.They saw the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the downfall of a president with Watergate. Boomers are the first generation to have access to credit cards, learning how to buy now and pay

The Generations Over 50 GIs







Age in 2006




Historic Events

Great Depression Stock Market crash World War II Pearl Harbor Social Security enacted

Korean War Cold War Race to space Peace Corps United Way Kennedy/Nixon TV debate

Booming birthrate Vietnam War Civil rights and feminist movements JFK/MLK assassinations Watergate

General Profile

Life was hard Frugal & cautious Dependable Needs of the group outweigh needs of the few Heroically fought foreign enemies Trust in authority & big business Patriotic

Transitional generation Rising prosperity Married early Inner turmoil civil rights, women’s, environmental and peace issues

“Me Generation” Buy now, pay later Educated consumer Competitive Question authority Will age rebelliously Sandwich Generation Status counts Lifelong learners




later.They are highly educated consumers and will question authority. Boomers will age rebelliously and bring a whole new meaning to any current definition of growing older. What does all of this mean for your business? Older consumers bring a variety of needs and desires into each customer interaction. Your ability to provide superior customer service, increase sales and retain hard-won clients depends on how well you can identify and address these varied expectations. Use these tips when interacting with the three generations over the age of 50: GI Generation: n Use the formal “Mr. or Mrs. Jones,” never “Henry” or “Helen.” They grew up in a time when manners and respect were the norm. n Expect that they will see you as an authority figure and ask for your advice and recommendations.The trick is to respect but not abuse their trust. n Use the age of your company and your years of experience to your advantage. This is important to the GI Generation. n If possible, take a little longer when serving these older customers. Personal service and relationship building is not simply a nicety but an expectation. n Understand that they will be concerned about money for the rest of their lives. Surcharges and late fees, no matter how small, will be very upsetting to GIs. n Expect to interact with more older women than men. Women live longer and are often forced to deal with business issues that their husbands had previously managed.This often means that they are less experienced in these matters and may need more attention.

Baby Boomer Generation: n Call them by their first name. Being called “Mr.” or “Ms.” will make them feel old when they want to feel “forever young.” n Understand that Boomers want to be in charge of business interactions. They will look to you to lay out the options and discuss various product benefits and features. They want to control the actual buying decision. n Save them time. Convenience is a huge factor for Boomers.They have active, busy lives. Boomers are called the “Sandwich Generation,” caring for aging parents at the same time that they are raising their children.You will grow your Boomer business by making their lives easier. n Offer multiple means of payment. Boomers see credit as a way of life. n Consider combining worthwhile non-profit causes, such as disaster relief, with your for-profit business. Boomers are anxious to make the world a better place. Offer ways that Boomers can give of their time, talent and money to help those who are less fortunate. Recognizing the generational influences of the 50-plus market is vital to your business success. This knowledge provides a broad context for understanding older adults and helps develop strong customer relationships. By appreciating the nuances of this affluent market, you can fine-tune your marketing strategy and communicate more effectively with this increasingly important market segment.This is not simply a “nice-to-have” but rather a critical bottom-line issue. n Notes 1

Silent Generation: n Be aware that this is a transitional generation and therefore harder to define. It is more difficult to know how they prefer to be addressed. However, their conversations around money will help you determine if they are more like the GI generation that preceded them or like the Baby Boomers who followed. n Set clear expectations, give consistent answers and stand by your commitments. Silents will expect you to honor your word. n Provide information on products and services in a variety of formats. While members of the GI Generation often prefer printed materials, Silents are open to learning of your products and services through the Internet, over the phone or in print. This generation will take the time to read your marketing literature. n Notice the increase in women’s knowledge about conducting business.There is a shift away from the belief that men are “the head of the household.”

Kurt Medina, “An Introduction to the Challenging World of 50+ Marketing,” 2003.

Dr. Ruth Mitman is a 50-plus market advisor and President of the Mitman Group LLC. As a national speaker and trainer, she helps companies increase their market share by understanding and speaking to older customers better than their competitors do—thereby increasing sales, improving customer service and retaining hard-won clients. Ruth has more than 25 years of mature market experience. She works with corporations, small businesses, non-profits and colleges and universities. She has a Ph.D. in Gerontology and Education from Michigan State University. Contact:; (860) 313-0056.




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Taming the Uncontrolled

Email Beast:

Kimberly-Clark’s Best Practice for Handling Consumer Response Email BY JEN PLAMANN AND PATRICIA SALLEE

Defining the Problem, Goal and Solution How would your Consumer Affairs department answer these questions? 1. Do you want to reduce the time and resources needed to respond to consumer’s emails? 2. Do you have a Contact Us page on your company websites? 3. Do you have an automated process to bring Contact Us page submissions into your consumer relationship system? 4. Do you respond to your consumers in a timely manner? Handling the growing volume of consumer response emails has become a significant challenge for the consumer affairs departments at many companies. As more and more consumers are choosing the Internet as their primary means for communication, companies are scrambling to adapt

their practices to meet consumer expectations. The rapid increase in consumer email correspondence can be overwhelming and can seem like an “uncontrolled beast that needs to be tamed.” Despite these challenges, our approach to handling email at Kimberly-Clark allows us to respond “YES” to each of the questions listed earlier.We have worked to develop best practices for managing our consumer email by handling consumer emails effectively and efficiently. We believe that we have “tamed the email beast” and hope that the insights and best practices we share here will help others facing similar challenges. At Kimberly-Clark, we recognized the need to manage incoming consumer emails to better meet consumer expectations and to maintain our high standard for customer care. In naming the challenge “uncontrollable email,” we acknowledged the difficulty of anticipating email volume surges caused by unforeseeable market situations and by the




product issues that can arise and impact the best of operations. Since initiating consumer email handling in 1996, our operation has experienced significant volume fluctuations. But after implementing our best practices, our center has effectively managed these fluctuations. (See Figure 1)

emails into our system and respond in a timely manner to address specific comments. We tested and validated this entire process after several years of use.





1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Figure 1: Annual Email Contact Fluctuation Since Program Start-Up in December 1996

The goal of Kimberly-Clark’s Consumer Services department is to meet our consumers’ expectations for a timely response by responding to at least 95 percent of incoming consumer email within 24 hours. In 2005, we exceeded this goal by responding to 98 percent of email within 24 hours.

Structured Emails from Contact Us Page In December 1996, when we first offered consumers the option to contact us directly, consumer emails were submitted on a Web form and transferred to a text file.We needed to copy and paste details into our consumer relationship system. When we developed our corporate website, the first step we took was to set up a structured Contact Us page. This proved an excellent solution. Submissions from that Web page are currently formatted so that our software program can read them automatically. We have used the same structured Web form for Contact Us pages on all our websites.This universal format provides consistent data elements and allows easy transfer of consumer data and comments into our global consumer relationship system. On our Contact Us page, we request that the consumer provide mailing address, specific product information and comments.We include input fields for the consumer to enter the department number and manufacturing lot code printed on product packaging.This enables us to collect detail that will expedite resolution of the consumer’s issue. We automatically import consumers’



Figure 2: Part of Contact Us Form includes fields for department number and product manufacturing code—data that helps representatives expedite issue resolution.

Automatic Import and Routing Since deploying the Web forms on our websites, we have nearly eliminated free-form emails. Consequently, we have reduced the time that our staff expends on data entry.Were we to allow free-form emails, each contact would require that we enter the consumer’s information into our consumer relationship system. Instead, the structured emails from our Contact Us pages are imported automatically, with minimal data editing during processing. The data import process creates contact records, then sorts and routes the records based on a number of rules. One process intelligently assigns the email contacts to specific workflow queues where the most appropriately-skilled representatives are ready to reply to the consumers’ inquiries.The representatives provide timely resolutions to the consumers’ issues with personalized, company-approved replies. Our consumer relationship software system is programmed to import new consumer emails submitted from our Contact Us pages every five minutes. After the appropriate replies are prepared, the system automatically sends them out every 30 minutes. With the success of a standard Contact Us Web form on our North American websites, we are now adding the form to our European websites. The new standard Web form is “validated”—no changes may be made to it without permission, formal review, documentation and testing.With this consistency in the Web forms, we can control what information consumers are prompted to enter, which helps us better manage and use the vast amount of information we receive.


summary view is a management tool that allows us to monitor progress in meeting our 24-hour response goal. (See Figure 4)

Consumers submit responses through Contact Us pages on Web sites.

Emails arrive at company email server inbox.

At Kimberly-Clark, our representatives not only process consumer emails, but they also alternate between handling telephone calls and replying to letters. Support resources for our email management include a library of more than 500 email-specific responses stored in our consumer relationship system. Representatives search for the most appropriate response for each email, and customize replies based on this catalogue of approved responses. In addition, Kimberly-Clark’s electronic reference manual provides a range of topical information including an “issues and answers” section that helps representatives identify appropriate replies. Inquiries are assigned by issue, and senior representatives provide expert advice for crafting replies to complex inquiries. Currently, consumers can reply to our responses with free-form email messages. Our system can automatically import free-form email, “reading” the incoming email, creating a follow-up contact, and linking the new email to the consumer’s initial contact record. Using the follow-up functionality of our consumer relationship system, our representatives make the final decision on whether to link the consumer’s follow-up comments to the original contact or to create a new unrelated contact record.Another option is to update the original contact when a consumer sends a brief “Thank You” reply.

Structured emails are imported automatically and handled according to our desired rules.

Figure 3: Automated Email Import Process

After importing the consumer’s email, our consumer relationship system automatically generates an acknowledgement email.Auto-acknowledgements are controlled by preestablished rules.The message in each acknowledgement varies according to the website and the priority of the issue. Each message contains a unique reference number and sets the expectation that the consumer will receive a timely and complete reply.The auto-acknowledgement provides verification that we received the consumer’s email and that we will reply.

Processing and Replying to Emails Emails imported into the consumer relationship system are sorted and routed according to handling rules for each issue. The system applies the rules as it “reads” the incoming records, populates the record with appropriate codes, and routes each email to the appropriate queue for a representative to process. For example, when an email contains specific keywords, it is routed to a queue designated for representatives trained to address the issues relating to those keywords. If we receive an inquiry from a country not handled by our center, that email is routed to a queue for such messages. Our system provides a summary view of the emails waiting in each queue, the date/time of the oldest pending email, and how many hours each email has been pending. The oldest emails are handled first. The queue status Queue

Monitoring Effectiveness Since one cannot control what one cannot measure, we constantly review our performance to plan for what the future will bring. In creating this best practice, we measured the effectiveness of our email management by using data available within our software system.We needed, for example, to determine the email processing time for a representative in a given period, the wait time between reply cycles for representatives, and the time it takes for replies to be sent


Oldest Item








Over 24



3/13/2006 8:30am













3/13/2006 8:30am











3/13/2006 8:30am











3/13/2006 8:30am














Figure 4: Queues - Representatives view the aging of emails at a glance. The system automatically opens the oldest item first.




to consumers. In short, we needed to determine the key performance metrics. As mentioned earlier, our performance goal for turnaround time is to handle 95 percent of the emails within 24 hours—from initial consumer email receipt (imported into the consumer relationship system) through issuing a reply. In addition, each representative has a target number of emails to handle per hour.

What Consumers Think of Our Practice Not only do our current practices meet our performance expectations, but satisfaction survey results and testimonials indicate that consumers are also pleased with our standards. Here are two examples of consumer sentiment: I want to thank you for your quick response. It seems these days companies do not worry about customer service, but I can see you don’t work for a company that feels that way.Thank you also for the coupons. That was not necessary, but a nice surprise. Please let your superiors know what great work your Consumer Services Department does. It definitely makes a difference for me.Thanks again. — Ossian, IN Consumer, January 2006

Wow! Thank you so much for your quick reply and your kind words. I wasn’t sure if I’d get a reply at all, let alone coupons! I truly commend you and thank you for your customer service. It means a great deal to me. It means that I will continue to be a loyal customer as it shows that you value my patronage.That’s sadly rare these days. Again, thank you. Rest assured I will share my positive feelings about your company! Take care.

1. Standardized Contact Us Web forms on all of our websites have eliminated most free-form emails and dramatically reduced handling time. 2.We used our consumer relationship system to automate inbound email sorting and routing as much as possible. We are now able to import consumer email automatically, sort it by predefined rules, and provide easy-to-find, issue-specific responses. We have also automated the process to send outgoing email every half hour. The functionality of our consumer response system helps us provide timely, accurate replies to our consumers, ultimately increasing their satisfaction and helping us meet our goals. 3.We have the right resources—people and tools. These have enabled us to manage an ever-increasing volume of consumer email much more efficiently. One way to begin developing your own email best practice is to apply the four questions posed at the beginning of this article to your own organization. Once you have assessed your email and Web channel situation, you can determine whether you face (or will soon face) your own “untamed email beast.” If you do, we encourage you to apply the three keys to success that we have listed above. Kimberly-Clark has tamed the email beast by implementing what we believe are best practices in email management.You can do it too! n

— Horseheads, NY Consumer, February 2006

Our consumer satisfaction survey results show that 98 percent of consumers surveyed had a positive overall experience when contacting us, and 98.9 percent regarded the timeliness of our response positively. Furthermore, 96.9 percent advised that they will continue to buy Kimberly-Clark products based on this experience, and 97.3 percent would recommend our products to others based on their experience.

Jen Plamann is Senior Operations Administrator for the Consumer Services Department at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. She is responsible for overseeing the departmental computer system in both North America and Europe, and ensures that all processes and procedures meet regulatory guidelines. Plamann has been with Kimberly-Clark for twelve years. Contact:; (920) 721-8036.

Continuous Improvement What are our next steps? We have begun making further improvements to our websites by adding more elaborate Question and Answer sections and an Item Locator service so that consumers can conveniently find information and identify where to buy our products in nearby stores.These self-help tools reduce the staff resources needed to reply to common questions.

The Beast Is Tamed Kimberly-Clark has succeeded with its email management initiative, primarily for these reasons:



Patricia Sallee recently retired as a senior consultant for Wilke/Thornton, Inc. As a member of the Application Support Team, she provided consulting services and software training, as well as general help and assistance from the Wilke/Thornton Help Desk. Patricia has concentrated on email processing and reference manual design in her work with CRS clients, and has presented numerous sessions on these topics and CRS functionality at annual CRS User Conferences. Patricia enjoyed a career in accounting prior to joining Wilke/Thornton.


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Customer Trust:

The “Next Big Thing” in Marketing? BY DON PEPPERS AND MARTHA ROGERS, PH.D.


ome remarkable things have been happening recently in the United States, and when you put them together you could get the feeling that sophisticated marketers are edging slowly toward an entirely new approach to customers.This approach, however, is not based on generating immediate profits, but on earning customers’ trust and long-term business—even when to do so sometimes requires a company to (Heaven forbid!) forego some current sales. Here are some examples: n Progressive Insurance has been running television and radio commercials encouraging prospective customers to shop around and compare prices, and to decide only then whether Progressive’s policy is the right one for them. n Blockbuster Video, the U.S.-based chain of video rental stores, has all but eliminated late fees, even though the fees made up a substantial portion of operating revenue.The new policy will clearly help the firm earn the trust of its customers, many of whom have always faulted it for making so much money on “consumer error.” n E-Loan, the online financial services giant, went against accepted industry practice to provide




For your business to be successful over the long term, you must balance marketing and sales efforts carefully, because initiatives designed to generate current-period earnings from a customer can often conflict with improving the long-term business that the customer might additionally generate.

consumers with access to their own credit scores. It also raised the bar for the entire industry by instituting regular, independent privacy audits, contending that stringent privacy controls were imperative if the industry hoped to gain the trust of wouldbe consumers. n Even General Motors—certainly no one’s pick for “most innovative marketer”—is experimenting with trust-building marketing initiatives.At a GM-sponsored car show, the salesman may suggest taking a test drive in a BMW, a Ford, a Volvo, or any one of a number of non-GM vehicles. If the

so willing to give up the opportunity to generate immediate sales, or to collect substantial late fees, or to send more targeted and effective marketing messages? Are U.S. firms now going soft, suffering from an excess of altruism? Not at all. Far from altruism, these firms are acting out of a highly refined sense of self-interest. Leading-edge companies are simply realizing that customers are no longer as plentiful as they were once thought to be. When you lose a customer, or an opportunity to acquire a customer, you can’t simply replace that customer with the next

computerized tool that evaluates your preferences recommends a competitive vehicle (which it does more than half the time) GM will make that vehicle available for you to drive, right there at their own show.

one. In fact, customers—the ultimate source of all value for any operating company—are perhaps the scarcest productive resource of all. So a smart company will try to create as much value as possible from each customer. The insight that drives smart companies like these to pursue customer trust as a marketing advantage is that customers actually create value in two ways. (1) The most obvious and measur-

What is going on here? Why would these otherwise intelligent and accomplished marketers forego current revenue from customers? Why are they

able way is by generating current sales or incurring current costs. This is the way sales and earnings are tabulated and reported. (2) A customer can additionally change his intent or likelihood to buy in the future based on his current experience, and this is a value-creating event that most firms simply overlook. Suppose, for example, that a customer calls your firm to complain, but for some reason his complaint isn’t resolved, and the customer hangs up the phone angry. His lifetime value declines immediately, and your company loses some of its value at that point—in the same way that your stock price would decline today if your CEO were to announce lower earnings expected two years from now. For your business to be successful over the long term, you must balance marketing and sales efforts carefully, because initiatives designed to generate current-period earnings from a customer can often conflict with improving the long-term business that the customer might additionally generate—including not only repeat purchases, but additional product lines, referrals and reduced service costs. Market too aggressively to pump current sales and you may cannibalize future business, or—even worse—irritate your customers into not wanting to do further business with you. On the other hand, if you invest too heavily into providing benefits today in order to improve your customer service, you may not know whether you’ll be able to recover these costs fully with future business. If you stop and think about what this view of customers implies philosophically, you’ll soon realize that one shortcut for finding the optimum set of actions to maximize the overall value a




customer creates for you is simply to earn the customer’s trust. Consumer research shows that companies with the best reputations for customer advocacy (that is, for taking the customer’s side and acting in the customer’s own interest) actually get a disproportionate amount of additional business from customers. This is only logical, because when a customer perceives you to be acting in his own interest, then he benefits every time he deals with you. USAA, the San Antonio-based direct-writing insurance company with a legendary reputation for customer service, employs a brutally simple rule for making decisions in all its marketing and customer service actions:“Treat the customer the way you would want to be treated if you were the customer.” USAA customers routinely swap stories of how a USAA service rep saved them money by recommending a less costly option or by selling them a less expensive product than they had been prepared to buy. The firm frequently gives up current fees in order to ensure that a customer’s long-term interest is served. Sure enough, a 2004 Forrester survey of 6,000 North American households found USAA at the very top of the list in terms of customer advocacy (defined by Forrester as “the perception by customers that a firm is doing what’s best for them and not just for the firm’s bottom line”).1 The research firm maintains that customer advocacy is “the best indicator of whether financial services companies are able to achieve cross-sell success to a customer base… Firms that score highest on the customer advocacy scale… are considered the most for future purchases of products and services.”2 Earning your customers’ trust can


One shortcut for finding the optimum set of actions to maximize the overall value a customer creates for you is simply to earn the customer’s trust.

about, or letting them compare competitive offers directly. Sooner or later, because customers are a scarce resource, every competitive business will be forced to make the connection between customer trust and shareholder value. Every competitive business will understand that in order to accomplish the business objective of creating the best overall result for shareholders, it will have to adopt a marketing strategy based on earning the long-term trust of customers. n Notes

have significant financial benefits as customer loyalty increases, cross-selling rates improve, and service costs decline. During the three-year period from 2002 to 2004,Verizon Wireless (a U.S. joint venture between Verizon and Vodafone) used a series of trust-generating programs and analytics-based marketing initiatives to cut monthly customer churn from 2.6 percent to 1.3 percent, substantially increasing the lifetime values of its customers. While Verizon Wireless reported $13.7 billion in operating earnings during this period, the increase in customer loyalty alone created more than $8 billion in additional customer lifetime values.3 Counting both reported earnings and this increase in the asset value of customers,Verizon Wireless created value each year during this period amounting to about two-thirds its actual value as an operating business at the beginning of the year. What customers value more than anything in today’s complex world is to buy from a company they can trust to respect their interests. And that may translate into giving them a better deal than they might otherwise have known




Quote from Forrester’s press release: “New Research Unveils Financial Services Winners and Losers in Customer Advocacy Ranking,” June 10, 2004. To review the complete study, see Bill Doyle, “What Satisfies Financial Services Consumers: Firms That Demonstrate Customer Advocacy Overcome Mistrust,” The Forrester Report, June 2, 2004.


Forrester’s press release.


Increased LTV (lifetime value) calculated by Peppers & Rogers group using publicly reported data from 2002-2004.

Don Peppers, who lives and works in London, and Martha Rogers, Ph.D., are Founding Partners of Peppers & Rogers Group, a division of Carlson Marketing. Together they have written seven books on one to one marketing and customer relationship issues, which have collectively sold more than a million copies in 14 languages. Their latest is Return on Customer: Creating Maximum Value From Your Scarcest Resource (Doubleday, 2005).

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