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Internet Retailing 2011 Interview: Jo Causon of the Institute of Customer Service

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In the latest preview of our annual conference, Internet Retailing 2011, we talk to Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service about how online retail has changed the nature of good customer service.

Online has changed the balance of power when it comes to customer service, says Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service. No longer does the retailer call the shots – instead, today customers are in charge. “One of the big things I’m seeing,” says Causon, “is that we as consumers want more input into the experience. Through social media and other channels we have that opportunity to do it.”

How a retailer handles this interaction has a “significant impact” both on their reputation and their brand, says Causon. At the same time, customers want to contact an organisation in a variety of ways, many new.

It’s to this changing landscape that retailers and other online organisations need to adapt. In her presentation to Internet Retailing 2011, Causon will be explaining how companies should be adapting their strategies to meet these changes. Customer service, she says, is no longer a bolt-on but a strategic issue that should be felt across the organisation. Her presentation will consider how the board needs to take a holistic approach to crosschannel customer service.

One example of that change is that consumers not only want to talk to retailers and brands in new ways, says Causon. They also want to be involved in developing new ideas collaboratively. “If you think Asda last year got over 18,000 people involved in product development,” says Causon. “You can also create your own coffee through Starbucks and this idea of us engaging far more with the experience I think is quite a big change – it’s not about mystery shopping any more. It’s about how can I as a consumer be far more involved in the overall process?”

The Institute of Customer Service has 350 members, including some two-thirds of the FTSE 100, who span the private and public sectors, representing every type of industry. Members include Starbucks, Asda, Sainsbury’s and BMW.

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service will be presenting at our annual conference, Internet Retailing 2011, which will be held at the Novotel Hammersmith in London on October 4. She will be speaking on The Evolving Customer in track one at 11.20am.

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