Unfortunately, all too often, we think of customer service as placating an angry customer or personally dealing with company employees who just don’t seem to understand our problems. However, customer service encompasses much more than just dealing with situations gone awry. In this issue of the Baylor Business Review, we focus on the art of customer service. And it is truly an art form — a customer service representative has the power to paint a picture of his or her company using words and actions that can forever alter a customer’s perspective.
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.”
British novelist Arnold Bennett used these words to describe the tumult of the early 20th century, but his observation also crystallizes the upheaval within the realm of customer service today. Thanks to technology, transparency and a shifting power equation, customer relationships have never been more in flux or more confusing.
While customer service can take on many forms, Leon Gorman, chairman of the board at L.L. Bean, may have described it best as a “day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate type of activity.” We caught up with Hankamer School of Business alumni who demonstrate an unwavering commitment to consumers through the retail, health care, telecom and entertainment industries.
Every successful brand strives to become talkable. The reasons are simple yet profound.
Each week, the typical American consumer will mention 60 brand names with people online using social media and offline in conversations. Additionally, recent research indicates word of mouth is responsible for up to 50 percent of all purchase decisions made.
“Talkable brands penetrate the culture,” said Christine Cea, Brand PR Director for Unilever. “They become so seamlessly woven into the fabric of conversations that sharing brand-related information takes on a value of social currency.”
At some point during a student’s tenure at the Hankamer School of Business, most business majors will spend time studying and solving case studies in a variety of disciplines ranging from accounting and finance to management and marketing. Business students majoring in Professional Selling or Sports Sponsorship and Sales (S3) gain the advantage of taking a course called Customer Relationship Management where they write, present and solve their own case study as opposed to only analyzing textbook case studies.
A few years ago in a video, Jeff Bezos summed up “everything he knows” with guidance to employees to “obsess over customers, invent and think long-term.” Within Amazon, these ideas serve as guides to achieving our mission of being earth’s most customer centric company.
I have the honor of being part of the customer service leadership team at Amazon. I joined Amazon two years ago after a 13-year career in the financial services industry. While my entire career has been engaged in customer support roles, Amazon has offered the opportunity to think differently about the customer and customer service leadership by constantly obsessing over customers.
When designing a website, people often think of ways to make it user-friendly. There is much effort put into accessibility, ease of navigation and even how rapidly pages will load. But when Baylor faculty members Robin and Kirk Wakefield looked at design, they wanted to know what would make a website seem more social. They investigated how the perception of socialness contributed to how people felt about the site, and therefore, the company it represents.
An inconspicuous, brick loft building in the Main Street District of downtown Dallas, Texas, houses burlap sacks of coffee beans and big dreams. This is the headquarters for Well Coffee, a small business created by Brooke Bowen Ramsay, which she now operates with her husband, Jordan Ramsay.
Nothing in recent decades has changed the way businesses connect with their clients like the advent of social media. Internet access and 24-hour availability bring a range of customer service opportunities and challenges that can be difficult to navigate on your own. But two Baylor graduates are creating their own opportunities with companies designed specifically to help businesses not only manage their online customer service presence, but also develop strategies to create brand loyalty and credibility and turn their customers into brand ambassadors.
Responding to customers’ needs, though important, has become the status quo. Today’s customers, however, are seeking providers who help them go beyond what they ask for by proactively anticipating evolving needs. And that field is uncluttered, says Christopher Blocker, assistant professor of Marketing.
Americans live in one of the most consumer-driven societies in the world. It is not surprising, then, that Baylor faculty member James Roberts, the Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing, decided to take a closer look at our obsession with materialism, why we keep spending and the effects of this cycle.
Jim Hawkins, BBA, and wife Nell were honored with a 2011-2012 Baylor University Meritorious Achievement Award: Baylor Legacy Award. The award honors individuals who demonstrate extraordinary service and philanthropy to Baylor or causes that fit the university’s mission. Hawkins is a CPA, chairman of the board of J-Hawk Ltd, chairman of the board of AMC Financial, and retired chairman of the board and CEO of FirstCity Financial. He is a member of the Baylor Foundation and Waco Foundation Boards, and a member of 1845 Society, Presidents Club and Baylor Bear Foundation.
Hankamer School of Business Named Most Innovative Business School
European CEO magazine’s 2011 Global Business Education Awards named Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business the Most Innovative Business School for the Southern United States Region.
In naming Baylor, the magazine cited the school’s entrepreneurship, global perspective, student connections to the business community, family-focused values, high-tech collaborations, community service and well-rounded relevancy. Hankamer School of Business dean Terry Maness accepted the award at the London Stock Exchange.
The warm and fuzzy lyrics of “Getting to Know You” sung by Deborah Kerr in the 1950s was meant to inspire the notion of “feeling free and easy” as a schoolteacher became more acquainted with her young charges.
Today, getting to know you is the hallmark of customer relationship management (CRM). And while the goal is to know you enough to make you feel “free and easy,” as the song says, CRM becomes complicated as it takes on competing consumer desires.
In 1922, when 25 Army officers met in San Antonio, Texas, and decided to insure each other’s vehicles, they could not have imagined that their tiny organization would one day serve over 8 million members and become one of the only fully integrated financial services companies in America.