An Interview with Cerida Corporation’s Jeanne Lambert

Recognizing the critical need for teleprofessionals who could focus on driving the entire sales cycle — from marketing to sales to customer development — Jeanne Lambert founded Cerida Corp. (formerly TeleSales, Inc.) in 1993. As President and CEO, she has built up an impressive client list that includes IBM PartnerWorld, Cisco Systems, and Texas Instruments. Here, Lambert shares her insights on customer service, CRM and what she’s learned recently about branding.

SAM: Define expert customer service.

JL: We refer to our expertise as Customer Development as opposed to pure customer service. … Our emphasis … is to focus on up-selling, cross-selling and other revenue opportunities. … We consider ourselves sales cycle experts, going from the objective that a marketing side of the organization is trying to target, qualify, educate — moving through to sales and further education — and closing business by going back to your existing customers to sell, and up-sell while they’re going through that customer service center.

SAM: From the client perspective, the benefit to up-selling and cross-selling is obvious, but in terms of the customers, how would you define an excellent experience?

JL: … First [make] sure that customer service is easily accessed, and gives you all kinds of channels, so that as a customer, you select how you want to be serviced. The choices in the market today are about the customer.

[Also critical is] the sophistication of the customer service experience … Do not send me a blanket e-mail response that says “thank you for your request, we will be processing that” and then take credit in the market for having a fast response! You didn’t answer my question, you just acknowledged the fact that I sent you one.

SAM: What else is important?

JL: … You don’t have to go through this “could you hold, I need to get my supervisor to talk to you about this.” We learn good quality customer service and we go over those things with clients first, so that as we’re going through training with our clients, we’re aligned with them.

SAM: So you try to be proactive?

JL: [If there are problems with a product] we work with them on an answer level. … very quickly we are able to train the agents so that they can deal with those as soon as a customer calls and complains … Usually you disarm the issue … when you’re on top of it.

SAM: That makes a lot of sense. What about your company’s marketing strategy? Prior to this you were working under a different name, why the change to Cerida?

JL: …We were getting feedback … that our name [“Telesales”] was deceiving and limiting in its perception in the market. … I’m Irish. … I found this site that had Irish goddesses: Cerid, the Irish Goddess who imparted knowledge and intelligence to humans. … It’s that thing that I think describes what we as a company are trying to do.

SAM: Now will the essence of the name be part of the branding that you’re doing?

JL: Absolutely. …. It’s … right under our logo. “Our name, Cerida, is derived from the name of the Celtic goddess Ceridwen, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. We carry this name because it symbolizes what we do best, apply business knowledge and sales wisdom at any (and every) point in the contact sales cycle.”

SAM: It’s perfect. In your field, especially, there are a lot of company names that are either confusing or nonsensical.

JL: … I just started to really understand and I’m learning every day and reading a bunch of books on what the word branding means. That was a foreign concept to me. My background is mostly sales and now that I’m now getting involved in marketing and understanding more about it and the concept of branding is everybody’s responsibility in the company. I never really understood that before.

Originally published in SAM Magazine in September 2001.