Keys to Achieving Customer Service Excellence – UTEP P3 course

customer-service-300x213Keys to Achieving Customer Service Excellence – UTEP P3 course

“Customer service excellence leads to consumer evangelists” – the importance of this statement for start-up businesses, business owners, retailers and managers in service industries will serve as the starting point for this course. The entire customer service process will be discussed, identifying areas most likely to result in service failures for various industries. Service recovery strategies and the role of social media in the customer complaint process will be explored in depth. The role of logistics, management and marketing strategy in achieving excellent customer service will be discussed.

Hands-on exercises will allow participants to identify customer service strengths and weaknesses at their own organizations. Guidelines for establishing a systematic customer feedback program will be offered as a starting point for customer service excellence.

Dates: October 2-9, 2013
Meets: W from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM, 2 sessions
Hours: 5.00
CEUs: 0.50
Location: Miners Hall, Room 301
Instructor: Norma Mendoza
Fee: $99.00
Workshops: Workshop Listing

Part II of Michael Hissam’s column about our Cross Border Research – featured in the El Paso Times

Part II of Michael Hissam’s column about out Cross Border Research – featured in the El Paso Times

Michael Hissam shares the second part of his interview detailing Merka’s Cross Border research findings.


Michael Hissam: Surveyed Mexican shoppers prefer EP
By Michael Hissam / Special to the Times El Paso Times

One never knows what consumers will buy.

Last year, a consumer survey by Norma Mendoza, president and CEO of MerKadoTeknia Research & Consulting with support from a Mexican media partner, revealed a few surprises destined for El Paso’s cash registers. The survey of 662 respondents revealed that “they shop for apparel, they shop for groceries, they come and buy electronics and home appliances,” she said in listing the top categories for shopping.

“Surprising” to Mendoza and her team was the origin of the respondents.

As expected, the bulk came from Ciudad Juárez. If you know what “tapatío” means, you see that some came from unexpected places to spend in El Paso.

Those consumers could have gone elsewhere down the rio and saved some mileage.

As promised last week, a “Quickie Quiz” might also offer a few surprises when it comes to what goes back with the consumers on the return trip.

Q What is the dollar value of merchandise that can be imported into Mexico by a shopper without having to declare?

A. $150 per person

B. $500 per person

C. $1,000 per person

D. $10,000 per person

A The correct answer is $150 per person. This is an interesting question that we asked because during the Christmas season the restrictions are relaxed and every person can cross up to $300 in merchandise value per person, per car. If you have a car with four individuals, you can actually multiply 4 times $300 and your merchandise value can be up to $1,200 without having to pay any taxes.

Q When Mexican shoppers come to El Paso, what percentage of them stays two days or more?

A. 3.1

B. 5.4

C. 9.5

D. 11.2

A The answer is 9.5 percent. That is to say, a number of our shoppers come here and stay to shop specifically for more than two days. This means that they stay at hotels; they require meals. They require additional services, and our market should be very sensitive to this kind of pattern.

Q How far did shoppers travel to shop and spend in El Paso?

A. 160 miles

B. 253 miles

C. 537 miles

D. 954 miles

A The answer is D, 954 miles. This is the distance from Guadalajara, Jalisco, which is a city in southern Mexico and these folks were coming all the way to shop in El Paso. Given that they could have gone to any other border town, we were very surprised and quite happy to see that they are choosing to come to El Paso to spend rather than go to Laredo or to any other border town.

Q What percentage of people spends between $500 and $1,000 during each shopping trip?

A. 1.7%

B. 3.3%

C. 5.7%

D. 11%

A The answer is 5.7 percent. While a larger group of people spend between $100 and $200 every shopping trip, there is a significant group of people, 5.7 percent, who spend $500 to $1,000 during each shopping trip. So, if they are coming every week or every month, that’s how much they bring with them to spend in El Paso.

Q “Typical” and “average” are dangerous words in journalism when it comes to describing people. However, based on your study, how would you characterize a shopper coming over to El Paso from Mexico?

A If we were to summarize the typical cross-border shopper in the El Paso region, we would say it’s a male, between 36 and 45 years old, who is coming to spend between $100 and $200 every shopping trip. They return that day or if they stay overnight, they stay with family and friends. They come specifically for shopping, though a number of them also come for entertainment.

Q Your findings seemed to challenge a paradox: “There’s nothing to do in El Paso”?

A About 29 percent of the people come for entertainment despite El Paso’s reputation of being a sleepy town, with nothing to do. When we asked the people what sort of entertainment they come to patronize in El Paso, they mentioned sporting events, concerts, outdoor events, museums, the zoo and this was beyond shopping. That’s an entirely new category that I don’t know that we fully understood. They come for restaurants, they come for nightclubs. They come on a regular basis to seek different types of entertainment that they might not find in their native land.

Q Reader feedback from last week said the results could be significantly different if you went to other crossings and conducted the same survey. To what extent are you and your team ready for that challenge?

A We are very inspired and we are very excited at the response we got in only two days, so we are going to repeat the study in all the border crossings, in Zaragoza and the Downtown bridge, and in Santa Teresa. We are going to do it again in the summer, anticipating that in the summer we are going to see a pattern that are more related maybe to traveling, to tourism or maybe back-to-school shopping patterns. We are also going to conduct focus groups in Juárez and Chihuahua, which are the main two areas where people are coming from, to address issues of customer service and issues consumers would like to see improved when they come to shop in El Paso. Ultimately, this benefits our economy locally and we want to make sure these shoppers come, spend and return often.

Footnote: During an interview at last week’s Supply Chain Summit, one executive reinforced the Guadalajara note. He and his family fly into Juárez, rent a car and then head into El Paso to spend.

He told me, “It is easier and better than San Antonio.”

Sorry, Riverwalk.

MerKa Research study featured by El Paso Times columnist

Michael Hissam: Border shoppers are from near, far

By Michael Hissam / Special to the Times
Posted: 04/07/2013 12:00:00 AM MDThat nearly $100 billion-a-year economy of the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez metroplex has a few surprises. Just take a closer look at the parts adding toward the big sum.

Many northbound cars from Mexico convey people who want to spend mucho dinero. One would be surprised as to the distance some travel to spend money and have a good time. Starting points for these spenders often start well south of Ciudad Juárez, Samalayuca or Villa Ahumada.
Norma A. Mendoza, Ph.D., president and CEO of MerKadoTeknia Research and Consulting, led a team to study the planned spending patterns of cross-border shoppers.
In this case, Mendoza and company did not have to travel far and wide to get the research sample. Her team simply stationed themselves strategically along the ubiquitous line at the Bridge of the Americas. Plenty of drivers and passengers agreed to take her survey as they waited to clear customs and head to the malls or stores of El Paso.
However, with any study come the sample and the methodology.
Q Your organization partnered with one from Mexico to take an unusual survey about spending patterns. How did you select the sample?
A We sampled people crossing the bridge from Juárez to El Paso on the International Bridge of the Americas. On their way to get on the bridge, we handed them a survey about a mile back and were able to collect 662 responses. We would ask them to raise the questionnaire out of their car
window when they were done for us to pick up further along the bridge line wait.

Q This took place when?
A This took place in November and December of 2012, during the Christmas season rush.
Q Statisticians might say the survey you took was not “perfectly” random. However, due to special considerations at the border, you felt it was the right sample. Please explain.
A We went ahead and consciously selected cars that had license plates called fronterizas, or border license plates, or nacionales, which are license plates that can travel all around Mexico. Every so many cars, maybe every five cars, we would pick a Texas license plate because we know that there are those who live in Juárez who are able and allowed to drive with Texas license plates legally.
We would go ahead and ask them politely if they would participate. Those who said “yes” gave us their information on a totally anonymous basis.
Q Let’s jump ahead to the outcomes, the spending patterns from this group. What can you tell us?
A The No. 1 thing that stood out for us was the fact that they come and spend two days or more — at least 9.5 percent spend two days or more — when they come shopping, even though 80 percent come and return on the same day. When we asked them what they are spending on, the majority said they come to shop. They shop for apparel, they shop for groceries, they come and buy electronics and home appliances. Those are the top categories for shopping.
Q One thing that you pointed to is the frequency of crossing per auto. Let’s go a little further into that.
A One of the questions we asked them was, “How often do you come and visit El Paso?” We had that the largest percentage — 28.4 — crossing once a month; 21 percent come once a week. We have people in visiting patterns that range from every day to once a year, and we saw it all. But the majority is in the combined classifications of once a week or once a month.
Q As you took a look at the license plates, there was a surprise that people come a longer-than-expected distance to spend in El Paso. Take the story from there.
A We asked them, “How far have you traveled to come to El Paso,” and we were shocked to see some people came all the way from Guadalajara, Jalisco, a southern state in Mexico which is 954 miles away. About 74 percent come from Juárez; 14 percent come from Chihuahua, the capital city. We had a representation from states surrounding Chihuahua, all the way to the south of Mexico: Durango, Zacatecas and Jalisco. This was shocking to us because they could very easily travel to other border towns.
Michael Hissam is president of Trans-National Executive Communications. He may be reached at

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