Catalogers Urged to Be Customer-Centric

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SAN FRANCISCO -- In the first keynote speech of the 17th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition here yesterday, Karen Leland, co-founder of Sterling Consulting Group and co-author of "Customer Service for Dummies," discussed key issues about customer relations.

"The goal of business is to be customer-centric," Leland said.

Businesses should know that customers create their own realities based on the initial impressions they get about a company. After that point, their perceptions become real to them, she said.

Leland stressed that technology and people play major roles in customer experience.

Companies must look at how technology is used, she said. When used effectively it can create closeness with customers, but poor use of technology alienates customers and hinders communication.

The role of real people cannot be replaced by technological innovation, Leland said. Companies should train employees to be able to act without relying on technology.

"People want a multichannel approach," she said. Their experience should be consistent regardless of the channel.

Leland and her partner are currently working on their second book, "Cyber Service for Dummies," which is due in March of next year.

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