• October 1, 2011
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

CRM in ‘Pursuit of Shared Goals’

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Once in a while, it’s helpful to see how other CRM professionals spend their days, to get an up-close look at what’s important to them, the projects they’re working on, their interactions with colleagues, and their customer engagement strategies. So, when American Express offered CRM magazine the opportunity to shadow one of its customer ser-vice executives for an entire day, we jumped at the chance. 

What’s particularly interesting about the company—aside from its size and brand recognition—is its commitment to improving customer care. American Express recently funded a survey exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service. The results were released in the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer in May.

According to the survey, “Americans are placing an even greater premium on quality customer service this year. In a stronger economic environment, seven in 10 Americans (70 percent) are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. That figure is up substantially from 2010, when [nearly] six in 10 Americans (58 percent) said they would spend an average of 9 percent more with companies that deliver great service.” For more information on the survey findings, read the release “Good Service is Good Business” (http://bit.ly/qdjGxz).

Considering these survey results, we wanted to see what American Express is doing to deliver excellent customer service. So, News Editor Leonard Klie flew to Fort Lauderdale to shadow Doria Camaraza, corporate senior vice president and general manager of the company’s Plantation, Fla., contact center. His cover story, “Customer Satisfaction: Don’t Leave Work Without It,” reveals the projects that she and her colleagues are working on and some of the opportunities and challenges associated with them.

One of the projects Camaraza is spearheading is an experimental social media strategy that includes Facebook, Twitter, and a social community site. Engaging customers through social media channels enables American Express to meet customers where they are, understand what they’re thinking, and respond in a way that is mutually beneficial.

Camaraza’s project reflects one of the crucial areas in which David Gergen urged leaders to focus during his keynote address at the CRM Evolution conference in August. The senior CNN political analyst and former adviser to four U.S. presidents said a leader’s job is to influence others to act (e.g., motivate customers to make a purchase). However, he stressed that leaders must do so “in the pursuit of shared goals,” not only the company’s goals. (Read our coverage of his keynote in the story “Keynoter David Gergen Urges Leaders to Listen.”

Responding in a way that is mutually beneficial to a company and its customers applies across the enterprise. Beth Fagan, director of communications and marketing at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, says, “I won’t take a step without doing research first. We must know what the consumer thinks and then test it internally to make sure our people believe in it.” Unlike Camaraza, Fagan isn’t able to leverage a strong brand name. In fact, she was hired to help build one for the hospital. To see how she’s accomplishing that, read the feature “Just What the Marketer Ordered.” 

We almost had a third story for our “Day’s Anatomy” feature package, but our freelancer reported that halfway through the day, the executive turned around and snapped, “Who are you? Stop following me.… Security!” So, the two features will have to do.

Editorial Director David Myron can be reached at @dmyron on Twitter or at dmyron@infotoday.com.


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