- University of Michigan, B.A., Political Science, 1969, Magna Cum Laude/Phi Beta Kappa
- Harvard Law School, J.D., 1972
- Nearly 40 years
- TARP US, Founder & Chairman
- TARP Europe, Founder & Managing Director
Professional Affiliations & Distinctions
- Co-Founder, Customer Care Alliance
- Past Chair, Board Of Trustees, American Craft Council
- Advisory Board Member, The Furniture Society
- Advisory Board Member, The Textile Museum
- Past Board Member, The James Renwick Alliance
- Past Board Member, The Founder’s Circle Of The Mint Museum Of Craft + Design
Pioneer. Innovator. Influencer. Three words that convey the authentic and continuing impact of Marc’s body of work. His legacy is firmly rooted in nearly four decades of service to some 500 companies around the world.
In the 1970’s, the results of Marc’s landmark research for the White House Office Of Consumer Affairs created no less than a paradigm shift in business practice. Refuting the prevailing wisdom that customer care was a cost center, his seminal study substantiated and quantified the marketing and brand loyalty benefits of effective customer care.
In the 1980’s, Marc’s entrepreneurial work became a cornerstone of corporate America’s efforts to deliver a better customer experience. He developed proven methodologies for measuring customer care ROI, created best practice frameworks for benchmarking customer care effectiveness, designed leading edge customer care training programs, and created a software solution that was a forerunner of today’s CRM applications. His consultation was pivotal to launching some of America’s inaugural toll free customer care centers and ongoing customer satisfaction tracking programs.
In the 1990’s, Marc helped shape a global interest in a better customer experience, working with companies in South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.
Marc’s legacy of cutting-edge work continues today. He provides strategic consulting to leading companies that seek a better ROI for their customer experience investments.
Marc and his wife Diane reside in Potomac, Maryland.
Most memorable professional moment
Some years ago, I was asked to review the customer care programs of a major American auto maker. Truth be told, they were doing a mediocre job of executing those programs and, in the process, spending tens of millions of dollars to LOSE billions of dollars of sales. Sitting in a meeting with senior leadership, I said, “If I were your boss, I’d fire you.” Following a moment or two of awkward silence, they agreed! As a result of this “AH HA” moment, the company changed course 180 degrees and adopted a series of new programs that became state of the art in the auto industry. Their change of heart came from a realization that improved customer care translated into increased sales and a fantastic ROI.
Most treasured professional accomplishment
Authoring the Complaint Handling in America study for the White House Office Of Consumer Affairs. This study demonstrated that companies could make a substantial profit and ROI by effectively handling customer complaints. The results of this study had a much greater positive impact on the marketplace than all of the consumer protection regulation and legislation adopted during that period. It was this study that convinced me and, more importantly, corporate America that treating customers fairly was actually “good business.”
If I wasn’t helping the marketplace move from measuring to managing the customer experience, I’d be…
I first became interested in the field some 40 years ago while a student at Harvard Law School. Thank goodness. I probably would have ended up practicing corporate law. So I suppose you could say that my interest in improving the customer experience saved me from a fate worse than death.
Letting my hair down…
I’m likely visiting my grandchildren, traveling, or cavorting about the art world.
More from Marc
Everyone talks a pretty good game today. If only the customer experience were half as good as the lofty public relations campaigns. Being a customer-driven company isn’t about professing an unwavering commitment to providing an extraordinary customer experience. That’s a nice mission statement or marketing campaign, but it won’t sustain customer loyalty. Behaving like a customer-driven company is more about applying the ROI litmus test. It’s pretty simple. Ask and answer two basic questions about every investment made to improve the customer experience. First, did you get a positive ROI for your investment? Second, what actions must be taken to improve your ROI? If you’re not asking and answering these two questions, you might be committed to be being customer-driven but you won’t be executing on this commitment.
If you’re going to lead, you need to measure. Assuming you measure, you’ve got to do it the right way. Companies make three basic mistakes when measuring. First, they measure a laundry list of items instead of the few things that really drive loyalty. Second, they spend far too much money measuring the wrong things. Third, since their results aren’t actionable, they collect scores instead of taking action.
The first order of business is getting consensus to use ROI as the measure of consequence – everyone needs to buy into using ROI as the arbiter of success – no matter how you calculate it. Second, all else being equal, you’ll get a better ROI if you concentrate on improving those elements of the customer experience that are most vital. Too often, companies spend their finite resources to improve in areas that don’t have bottom line impact. And, by definition, you can’t optimize your ROI for improving the customer experience if you don’t focus on the so called key drivers of customer satisfaction and loyalty. You optimize ROI by targeting your limited resources so that you improve where it truly counts.
Net promoter has stirred up significant controversy. Having used the recommend intention question for some 30 years now, I’m an advocate of its relevance. Yet, apart from increasing awareness about the recommend intention metric, net promoter has probably done more harm than good. I appreciate senior leadership’s fascination with a single number, but the idea that managers know for certain what drives that number is a risky assumption at best. If your managers are confused about what to do to make that number move, no theory which says they should already know what to do is going to help. Our own research unequivocally suggests that good diagnostic measures are a prerequisite to creating actionable data and improving the customer experience. You don’t have to measure everything; but at least measure those few things that really count.
It has actually become increasingly easier to use a good customer experience as a competitive advantage. Despite the sugarcoated claims of marketeers, our research shows that companies are nonetheless leaving a lot of satisfaction and loyalty points on the table when it comes to creating an extraordinary customer experience. If you want to leverage the customer experience for competitive conquests, you’ve got to know where your competition is besting you on the key drivers. Knowing how you’re performing on the things that matter most is essential to competing.
Do it right or don’t do it. The number one goal is managing the customer experience – not just measuring it. And while there’s a lot of suspect measurement out there, the biggest barrier to managing the customer experience isn’t imperfect science – it’s uncertainty and fear about how to use the data. And this probably explains why companies spend so much time collecting data and so little time utilizing the results. At the risk of oversimplifying, I’ve found that answering three questions leads to successful action. First, what improvements to the customer experience will most increase loyalty? Second, which specific actions should be taken or policies adopted to achieve those improvements? And third, what will it cost to achieve those improvements?