OPERATIONS

Suvey finds most companies gives U.S. businesses high marks on service

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati –Most consumers hold strong positive attitudes on the quality of service they receive from U.S. businesses, according to new research from customer relationship management company Convergys Corporation. Among the top findings of the research: nearly nine out of 10 consumers believe that service improved or stayed the same over the past year, and an impressive seven out of 10 say they were either “extremely” or “very” satisfied with their most recent service experience.

“Efforts by service organizations to deliver an outstanding experience are paying solid dividends in higher customer satisfaction,” said Christine Timmins Barry, senior VP of global operations for Convergys’ customer management business. “Credit for this strong approval rating goes to companies that maintain a commitment to excellent customer service, and to the talented and dedicated people who work on the front lines with customers every day.”

The 2011 Convergys U.S. Customer Scorecard Research shows a correlation between corporate investment in customer service training programs and an employee’s confidence in his or her ability to deliver a superior service experience. Nearly half (49%) of employees surveyed report that training remained at the same level during the year, while another 29% say that training increased, and 11% say that training increased “significantly.”

According to Convergys, training is an important factor in determining an employee’s ability to deliver on service attributes that customers cite as most important, including addressing customer needs on the first contact, being knowledgeable about a company’s products or services, and treating people like a valued customer.

“In our survey, service employees showed a remarkable consistency in singling out and identifying the attributes that customers want most from the service experience,” said Barry. “At the same time, it is notable that nearly two out of five say they need more training in order to provide excellent service. In a market environment where service is now the single most important competitive differentiator, companies should heed this warning sign, and step up to employee demands for more training.”

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Sam’s Club offers holiday 15-week membership

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark. –Sam’s Club will offer a limited 15-week membership for $15.

The seasonal membership is available for purchase during regular club hours for a limited time between Oct. 4 and 10.

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Michael Francis leaves Target for J.C. Penney

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Longtime Target Corp. veteran and chief marketing officer Michael R. Francis on Monday resigned from the discounter and was named president of J.C. Penney Co., effective Oct. 4.

In his new position, Francis, 48, will be responsible for all merchandising, marketing, planning and allocation, and product development and sourcing functions. His appointment is seen as the handiwork of Penney’s incoming CEO, Ron Johnson, who is himself a former Target executive. Although Johnson is best known as the head of Apple stores, he previously served 15 years at Target, where he held various positions including VP merchandising.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for me to get back to department store retail,” Francis said in a statement. “I began my career working on the sales floor of the State Street Marshall Field’s in Chicago. It was there where my passion for retail began and my understanding of the power and potential of the department store was formed.”

Francis began his marketing career in 1985 with Marshall Field’s, which in 1990 was acquired by Target. He was promoted to EVP marketing at Target in 2001, and was named CMO in 2008. In January 2011, he was charged with overseeing with Target’s entrance into the Canadian market.

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