Consumer Complaints Conference 2013

2013 GMA Consumer Complaints Conference

Preliminary Program of Events

*check regularly for program updates


Wednesday, May 8

5:30 - 7:00 pm Registration

6:00 - 7:00 pm Welcome Reception

Thursday, May 9

7:00 am - 5:00 pm Registration

7:00 - 8:00 am Breakfast Buffet

8:00 - 9:00 am General Session
Complaint Levels - How Good is Good...and Is it Good Enough?

Every complaint department produces complaint rate data by product and product group. Many also produce data on praise levels and praise-to-complaint ratios. Internal customers, like quality and brand then ask, where do we stand and is this level good or bad? In this session, John Goodman, Vice Chairman of Customer Care Measurement & Consulting (CCMC), will report top-line results from a September 2012 benchmarking study of complaint and praise rates based on 46 major CPG companies for the Society of Consumer Affairs (SOCAP). He will address how this data can be used, as well as raise questions on the value of some currently used metrics, including Customer Effort, Net Promoter and praise-to-complaint ratios. Goodman will also recommend a method for helping quality and brand decide when quality is “good enough”.

John A. Goodman, Vice Chairman, Customer Care Measurement & Consulting

9:00 - 10:00 am General Session
Handling the Unhappy: Today’s Best Practices in Managing Customer Complaints
As the country’s largest third party claims administrator, Sedgwick Claims Management Services handles over 1.8 million new claims and $11 billion in payments annually. Much of the company’s success depends on its colleagues’ ability to empathize with the person on the other end of the phone at a time of unexpected injury, loss or damage. In this session, Sedgwick will discuss how it has developed a reputation for masterfully handling customer complaints and how you can too. Learn some of the company’s proven practices for communicating openly and transparently, establishing and managing expectations and resolving potentially costly claims in a fair and consistent way.

Leslie A. Grever, ARM,  Vice President, Client Services, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc.

10:00 - 10:15 am Refreshment Break

10:15 - 11:00 am Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Session A:
Product Liability 101 for Claims Handlers

In order to fully evaluate a consumer product claim, claims handlers and managers need to know and understand the applicable legal issues. Join GMA's Steven Leslie for an overview of product liability law as it relates to food, beverage, and CPG claims. Topics include the basic framework of product liability litigation, common misperceptions about evidence and important differences in various state and Canadian laws.

Steven Leslie, Director and Counsel of Claims Program, Grocery Manufacturers Association                                                 

Session B:
Laboratory Testing and Resolving Consumer Complaints

Whether a claim involves foreign material, product contamination, or a defective container, laboratory testing is a vital step in resolving consumer complaints. In this session, Dan Howell will share what he has learned about testing claims samples during his 20+ years of experience in the GMA Claims Laboratory. This discussion will cover the types of equipment and testing used for various types of claims, examples of both common and unique claims that he has worked on, and how scientists and claims management professionals can work together in resolving consumer complaints.

Dan Howell, Director, Claims Laboratory, Grocery Manufacturers Association

11:00 -11:45 am Concurrent Breakout Sessions

Session A:
Food and Beverage Litigation Update
Food and beverage manufacturers face potential consumer protection lawsuits for a variety of reasons, including product contamination, labeling claims, marketing practices, agricultural residue and ingredient and toxin disclosure. In this session, Ann Havelka of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP will provide an overview of recent and ongoing litigation facing the industry.

Ann Peper Havelka, Associate, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP

Session B:
Six Sigma in the Modern Contact Center

In this can’t-miss session, attendees will learn how Six Sigma is more than meets the eye - and how it’s not just for manufacturing anymore. In particular, Alta Resources will explore its history of success and show how the tried-and-true methodology can benefit today’s contact center, much like Fortune 500 companies in the CPG, entertainment and healthcare industries. In addition, participants will see how all roads lead to the final destination — improved processes, policies and profitability — enabling them to walk away with real-world insights and practical applications for improving their businesses.

Patrick Nicholson, Vice President, Business Development, Alta Resources

Steve Seidl, Managing Director, Alta Resources

Noon - 1:00 pm Luncheon

Sponsored by:


1:15 - 2:15 pm General Session
Turn Complainers into Loyal Customers Using Social Media & Voice of the Customer Analytics

Now, more than ever, complainers can negatively affect your brands. During this session, explore how to use social media and voice of the customer analytics to turn complainers into loyal customers – and why is it crucial to do so. You are listening, aren’t you?

Spencer Geren, Vice President, Business Development, Advanced Analytics, Telerx

John MacDaniel, Senior Director, Voice of the Customer, Telerx


2:15 - 5:30 pm General Session
The 7 Rules to Regaining Customer Service Goodwill after Customer Service Failures
This presentation builds an indisputable case for the urgent need for companies to rethink and redesign their processes for handling problems and complaints to retain more customers, improve customer satisfaction and increase profits. Your team will learn company specific steps for completely restoring customer confidence after service failures occur, including: The elements of the perfect corporate apology; empowerment levels; finding complaints about your brand in social media; and the art of surprise and delight.

Myra Golden, President, Myra Golden Media

3:00- 3:15 pm Refreshment Break

5:30 - 6:30 pm Networking Reception

Friday, May 10

7:00 - 8:00 am Breakfast Buffet

8:00 - 9:00 am General Session
Protecting Your Brand: Pre, During and Post Recall
When dealing with a recall, it is imperative to protect your most valuable asset – your brand. In this session, Jim Badalati of Stericycle will present techniques to protect your brand during a recall, by focusing on the following topics:

  • Ensuring you are sufficiently prepared for an effective recall to avoid one that negatively impacts your brand and bottom line
  • Developing the art of recall management throughout all levels of the organization
  • Minimizing the impact and maximizing the opportunity in the event of a recall

Jim Badalati, Director, Stericycle ExpertRECALL

9:00 - 10:00 am General Session
Improving the Consumer’s Ability to Report Food Safety Concerns to USDA and FDA
In September of 2012, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) released a new online tool, the Electronic Consumer Complaint Form (eCCF), to enhance its current surveillance of its regulated products. The eCCF offers all consumers, including state and local departments of health and schools, an additional channel to report complaints to FSIS available 24 hours a day. Increases in consumer reporting will enhance FSIS’ surveillance activities and abilities to characterize, prevent, and respond rapidly to potential threats to FSIS regulated products. In this presentation, FSIS will demonstrate how the eCCF can be utilized as a tool for consumers to report foodborne incidents and a preliminary analysis of information obtained from eCCF data.

This session will also cover the numerous ways FDA allows the public to report product complaints, specifically through the consumer complaint reporting system managed by 19 FDA District Offices nationwide. Consumers across the country can report complaints to FDA via phone, e-mail, letter or fax. This reporting system is interactive, and allows the complaint coordinators to ask consumers questions and gather information to help understand the problem and react accordingly. Get an in-depth view of this complaint reporting system and the value it provides to FDA in their mission to protect public health.

Dr. Jessica Forshee, United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service, Office of Field Operations

Linda Gilchrist, Consumer Complaint Coordinator, Food and Drug Administration, San Francisco District Office


10:00- 10:30 pm Refreshment Break

10:30 am –12:00 pm General Session
Consumer Complaint Management Roundtable: Practices and Procedures to Protect Your Brand
In this discussion, representatives from three manufacturers and a prominent industry defense attorney will discuss procedures for handling consumer complaints with the end goal of avoiding litigation and protecting your brand. Topics will include responding to media threats, dealing with difficult or unreasonable demands and dealing with attorneys. Additionally, the panel will take questions from the floor about responding to specific problems encountered by attendees.

Jamie Robinson, Partner, Ungaretti & Harris LLP (moderator)

Donna Skidmore, Director Consumer Services, Dole Packaged Foods Company

Deborah Sommers, Consumer Advocacy Manager, Blue Diamond Growers

Vivian Garcia Montalvo, Quality Assurance Scientific Affairs, H-E-B Grocery Company


12:00 pm Closing Remarks/Meeting Adjourned