National Consumers League

To have power means to have responsibility

This post originally appeared on SOCAP International's Web site Guest blog by Matt D'Uva, President of the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals I had the absolute privilege to attend the Trumpeter Award Dinner on Tuesday night hosted by the National Consumers League.  NCL, founded in 1899, is an inspiring organization.  They have been fighting the good fight for important causes such as workers’ rights, consumers’ rights, and equal pay for equal work.  Although the organization is well over 100 years old, this year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Trumpeter Awards Dinner which, of course, made me think about the interesting connection between this celebration and SOCAP’s own 40th anniversary.

Organizations like NCL have been a critical player in important movements in the history of our country, such as the consumer movement which helped create new legislation, practices and accountability which ultimately led to the creation of SOCAP and literally the customer care profession.  I believe that leaders like Florence Kelly, the first general secretary of the NCL (and the namesake of one of the Trumpeter Awards), would be thrilled to see the power of consumers today.  I believe she would be challenging organizations like SOCAP and our members to ensure that the Voice of the Consumer is alive, strong and elevated within companies on every issue.  Ms. Kelly once famously said, “To buy means to have power, to have power means to have responsibility”. This responsibility is born by consumers, by customer care executives and by organizations like SOCAP and NCL.  To that end, SOCAP has worked hard to build a partnership with the National Consumers League to ensure that we are living up to Ms. Kelly’s challenge of taking our responsibility seriously to consumers.  For example, SOCAP—working through our local chapters and our national members—actively supports NCL’s LifeSmarts program which works with young people in grades 6 – 12 to help them learn important skills to better and more educated consumers. 

Our members help write questions, volunteer their time, and donate funds to help the LifeSmarts program grow.  As SOCAP’s President and CEO, I also serve as a member of the Advisory Board. We have also been working with NCL on other programs such as their Fraud.org project protecting consumers from bad players who mean to do them harm, the very opposite of customer care.  Additionally, we have started important dialogue with NCL about the issue of consumer privacy.  Privacy is an important topic for customer care and business, especially as we see the great opportunities to use Big Data to build meaningful, authentic relationships with consumers.  It is through these important partnerships like this that SOCAP can contribute to your internal conversations.   To that end, I invite you to participate with us at our 2013 Annual Conference (October 27-30 in Scottsdale, AZ) where we will convene a panel session with NCL leaders as well as industry representatives from Microsoft and Publishers Clearinghouse to discuss issues around consumer privacy and what we can learn from consumer organizations and industry working together.  This will be the first of many discussions on this important topic and we hope you will join us. I am proud of SOCAP’s history of supporting customer care experts who are the heart and soul of industry and who bring the voice of the consumer to decision makers.  I am also proud to share a bit of our history with the consumer groups like NCL who have fought to push for the transparency and openness that customer care provides.  As we look to the future, our partnership will ensure that SOCAP members remain at the forefront of pushing our profession and service to customers through listening and engagement.