In 2007 1to1 Media honored Laree Daniel as one of its 1to1 Customer Champions. The Customer Champions program recognizes executives who promote customer centricity within their organizations, creating a culture that's focused on the customer. We reunited with Daniel in this week's 1to1 Weekly article about Aflac's customer and employee strategy. Her approach to customers and employees hasn't changed even though she has changed companies. Back in 2007 Daniel was a senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Assurant Health. Her approach to customer strategy was simple: "One of the things I strongly believe in is that your best ideas come from those who are talking to the customers, dealing with their issues, and interacting with them on a daily basis," she said. Her other priority was employee engagement. She instituted an employee incentive program and encouraged them to do right by the customer instead of focusing only on efficiency and process within the contact center. "I believe everybody wants to do the right thing," Daniel says. "We may not always know what that is or how to do it, but my job is to bring out the best in people by doing the right thing myself."
When researching companies that avoid customer service layoffs for a recent 1to1 Weekly article, we heard that Aflac is a company that has never had a layoff. Assistant Editor Jeremy Nedelka called the company to discuss some of its best practices, and learned that Daniel had moved to the insurance company, bringing her strong strategy with her.
"It's important for our reps to understand customers' emotional states and interact accordingly," she says. "We want our customers to be relieved they have Aflac in their time of need, and we don't want our interactions to add to their frustration."
On the surface it seems like a coincidence, but it's no surprise that we ran into her again. We at 1to1 Media are always on the lookout for companies that make the extra effort to be customer-focused. While some executives only provide lip service on the topic, some leaders have dedicated efforts to make the vision a reality. Our reunion with Daniel shows that she is about actions when it comes to customer retention as a tool for long-term company success.