Lisa Diehl – Manager, Consumer Advocacy – Global Retail Division, North America Consumer at Blue Diamond Growers

Nick Glimsdahl 0:07 

I’m excited to be joined by Lisa deal. Lisa is the manager, consumer advocacy, global retail division at Blue Diamond growers, and a Board Chair of the National Board of Directors at SOCAP. Welcome podcast, Lisa.

Lisa Diehl 0:22 

Thanks, Nick. Thank you for having me. I’m really, really excited to be here today.

Nick Glimsdahl 0:26 


So one of the things that I noticed on LinkedIn was you actually had an associate’s degree in travel and hospitality. So what has been your favorite place to travel?

Lisa Diehl 0:40 

Oh, my gosh, I’ve been blessed to be able to travel the world, through my years in the in the travel industry. And, you know, I started many, many moons ago. And that’s really where, you know, I got my entrance into customer service was, you know, I, my passion was definitely around travel. And so about five years ago, my daughter and I had a chance to go two weeks to the Mediterranean. And just being able to, you know, see so many great things. One of the things that was on my bucket list was to see the Acropolis in Athens, the bridges sighs in Venice, and of course, we got to go to the palm pay, which was just an amazing place to visit. And so just really, really blessed to be able to have those opportunities and really enjoyed it. So yeah, Java has always been my passion.

Nick Glimsdahl 1:29 

That’s so awesome. I always like to ask people where their favorite places to, I might have to add that everybody’s podcast. But I got to travel the Mediterranean spend a little bit time in Barcelona and did the Pompeii. And Capri Sorrento, all that stuff. So gorgeous. It’s amazing. Yeah, I look forward to going back. But yeah,

Lisa Diehl 1:50 

What am I what am I he’s always favorite sayings was, you know, I want to see as many places in this world before I leave it.

Nick Glimsdahl 1:57 

Yeah. And so awesome. So going back to when you first started, how did how did you get started in customer service?

Lisa Diehl 2:06 

You know, I actually started back right out of high school, you know, after I’ve gotten my degree in, in, in travel, what it was back in that time. And so I started a mom-and-pop agency, you know, just selling travel. And so that was my introduction to real customer service. And after a few years, I decided to make the jump into the corporate travel world, in downtown Chicago. And so it was, you know, it was good. You know, and so it was in a contact center. And so I was on the phone for, you know, several years and eventually worked my way up to a senior operations manager. So got a lot of experience, you know, in the contact center, starting on the phones, and then working my way around the company. And so I was with that company for about 15 years.

Nick Glimsdahl 3:02 

And you were a corporate counselor, yes, within that call center, what does a corporate counselor do?

Lisa Diehl 3:09 

So corporate counselor is so when it’s not so much true today, but you have to think back before the internet and all of that. So there would be companies that would have traveled departments. And so when any of you know, let’s, let’s say, you know, for blue diamond sake, let’s say that they had to travel to wherever the case may be, they had travel people that would book all of their travel. And so we were in a sense, in today’s world, we were kind of an outsource BPO and so we handled the travel for certain companies, and I worked at different accounts. And at that time, I actually worked on the golden-green account. And so rice a Roni was the big one. And it was long before it was taken over by you know, some other company. And so yeah, but it was a lot of fun just being able to do all of their travel.

Nick Glimsdahl 4:01 

Wow. That’s it sounds like a pretty neat career. So um, you know, one of the things that I’d mentioned at the intro was, you belong go are on you’re the board chair at SOCAP, which is Society of consumer fare professionals. We had Chris Drury, who was also on the board, join us on a previous podcast. But what does the board chair what’s that role consistent.

Lisa Diehl 4:28 

So the role really consists of your you know, as the board chair, you’re the leader of the board of directors. And so you’re helping the organization to set policy look at things strategically and what the next move is. I’m also the leader of the Executive Committee, which are all the officers that are on the board, and also the CEO CIO cap reports into the board chair. So you’re basically leading the organization from the board from the member perspective.

Nick Glimsdahl 5:00 

Then, this year, obviously a lot has changed with this craziness that’s going on, which means that we can’t really meet in person. How did you guys kind of transition? You guys just recently had a virtual meetup or a virtual program? Can you tell us more about that?

Lisa Diehl 5:19 

Sure, we did. And so this is, you know, a really hard decision to make, because toecap, in its many years of being in existence has never had any type of virtual event. And so we pivoted quickly, we were originally supposed to have an event in Indianapolis, back in April. And with COVID-19 and all of the things surrounding it, we decided to move to a virtual event. And we called it CCS live Customer Care summit live. It was a three-day event. And, you know, we shortened the hours to make it reasonable and easy for members to attend. You know, making it only three or four hours each day, instead of it being a full-day event. And it was very successful. We got some great feedback, we learned a few things, you know, what we can do moving forward, as it was our first event, but did very, very well and always appreciate the support of the SOCAP members and helping to keep the organization going.

Nick Glimsdahl 6:20 

Yeah, no, it sounds good. I, I spoke to Marjorie, the CEO of the organization, and sounds like it was a success. So congrats on for you guys, and look forward to hearing more about those virtual events. To circle back of when you first got started, you’ve obviously started, you said a long, long time ago, right? Like, what do you wish you knew? What do you know, now that you wish you knew when you first got started?

Lisa Diehl 6:47 

You know, back when I first started, automation wasn’t where it is today. And I think along the way, there was a lot of, you know, resistance to change. And in the world today in Customer Care, you have to really adapt and pivot very quickly, as we did with SOCAP. As we do continually today. At that point, we had thought that Oh, well you bring in automation, it’s going to replace all of the agents and all of that. And really what we find is, automation really can help a lot of the mundane types of tasks. You know, when it comes to a contact center, or it comes to, you know, a customer advocacy area, and, you know, so being able to adapt quickly, is something that I learned along the way, and really try and promote that. So if I would have known that back then that don’t be resistant, you know, make sure you’re adapting and, you know, technology can be your friend. Don’t fear it. You know, it’s something that, you know, if I could go back and do it again, you know, looking at things a little bit differently.

Nick Glimsdahl 8:00 

Yeah, no, that’s, that’s great advice. You know what, we’ll talk a little bit more about that. But for the listeners that don’t really know what Blue Diamond growers is or might know, but maybe isn’t aware that it’s on the on the bag that they’re eating or drinking. Tell us more about what you guys do.

Lisa Diehl 8:22 

So Blue Diamond growers is a California agricultural cooperative and marketing organization that specializes in almonds. Our company is have was founded back in 1910. As the California almond growers exchange and they a lot of the almond growers really came together created this exchange. And I think it was actually back in the 50s or the 60s because they wanted to be known as the best. And blue diamond is of course the rarest of diamonds, you know change the name from the California almond growers exchange to Blue Diamond growers. And we manufacture Blue Diamond almonds, Blue Diamond, Almond Breeze, almond milk, and Blue Diamond nuts and almond crackers. So basically we deliver the benefits of almonds to the world.

Nick Glimsdahl 9:08 

Met is so awesome. I didn’t know that the blue diamond was the rarest diamond. Probably because I couldn’t afford it. But you know what? You’ve always spent a little bit of time there. What is your favorite flavor of Allman?

Lisa Diehl 9:27 

Oh, actually, my favorite is the sweet Thai chili. It’s got such a nice flavor, a little bit of a twang to it and I could sit down and open the can and actually just forget that I just you know you’re eating you’re working and next thing I know the can is entirely empty. And so then you know you’ve got a really good product and I’m like whoa, did I see that? Okay.

Nick Glimsdahl 9:52 

Yeah, I think I was telling you prior to recording is me and a buddy we’re sitting on hanging out And we’re destroying a bag of smokehouse almonds and then I didn’t even notice, but I have a really good dark chocolate. It’s almost like a dusting one, your guy’s flavor, and it’s, its way better than, than the ones that are actually dipped in. And they’re better for you too. But it kind of lasts and it has that flavor for you. So highly recommend those two for those who are getting started. But I’m definitely checking out the sweet Thai chili,

Lisa Diehl 10:28 

Oh, good. You like they’re really good. They’re addicting.

Nick Glimsdahl 10:32 

It sounds like it. But so the main topic I want to talk about is how blending technology and human touch creates that ultimate experience. And for both the customer and the employee. You know, when it comes with any new technology, people tend to be cautious around the technology until they realize that it might actually be a benefit to them instead of a threat and potentially replace them. And I believe the same is true in customer service.

Lisa Diehl 11:02 

Yeah, absolutely. Like, you know, what, what I’ve found through the years and, you know, the things that I’ve done in my current role is, you know, we’ve added quite a bit of technology, and to, you know, coming to a company that is, you know, been around since 1910. And really see the changes. And so it was adding a lot, you know, to the organization and to how we connect with our consumers. And so you know, adding a chatbot Oh, that goes into a live chat. You know, and so right, there is the best way of looking at technology and the human touch. Because the chatbot is there for you know, self-service. And you know, the consumer can come in, get what they want, you know, they’re on our website, I’m looking for a recipe I’m looking for, you know, ingredient information, allergen information. But if I get to the point where I’m just like, I’m not getting what I want, we have an easy Connect over to a live chat with a human being. And that’s part of my team. And so that’s where the blending comes in. And probably the best example of where you can get the best of both. And we also know that there can be certain situations, especially working for a food company where there could be you know, somebody could ingest something that didn’t agree with them or just wasn’t, you know, there was foreign material, whatever the case may be. And so our bot is trained for certain keywords to be able to say, Okay, I’m going to stop here, and I’m going to send you over to a live agent. And, you know, so having that technology again, it the bot can handle those types of mundane requests, Hey, can you send me a coupon? Or hey, can I find this information? Versus, I really need to talk to a human because it’s a little bit more complicated issue.

Nick Glimsdahl 12:49 

Yeah, yeah. When it comes to the chatbot to the call center agent or the customer service representative, doesn’t enjoy answering the mundane tasks anyways, they’d rather be focused on the skill tasks that are semi-unique, or maybe need a little bit more attention. And, you know, the things that as a consumer, I always try to think of it from the opposite side to is, as a consumer when I’m going into a chat, unfortunately, sometimes, I call them Dumb, dumb bots, right? The dumb chats where you actually are yelling into the phone, or you’re chatting and saying, are you a real human? And if not, then find a way to answer my question. If you can’t answer my question, then provide that ability to go to that next Rep. And unfortunately, some people are just saying, hey, we need a chatbot. Because that’s what the people are asking for. And they kind of just do the checkbox, instead of actually listening to them saying, what are you doing and maybe doing a data dip into a knowledge base? So you can go through those FAQs. But you know, why? why there are some organizations, kind of just doing the best effort, and not actually doing training because a chart of chart a chatbot actually learns and improves, because you can say was that helpful? Yes or no?

Lisa Diehl 14:10 

Yeah, absolutely. And so one of the responsibilities that I have is, I’m the administrator for our chatbot. And so, you know, looking at the questions that we don’t match, and you know, what is it the consumer is asking for? And how could I have put that in there differently? So you really, you’re training the chatbot. So it’s like training a puppy is where I always look at it, you know, there, it needs attention, and you need to understand, you know, how it’s learning. And so how can it be better than next time? And so those are things that I work on quite a bit. And you’re absolutely correct, you know, the agents would rather not have that those mundane tasks, and so making sure that your chatbot is interactive, is really important. And going back to what you said, you know, are you real, and are you not real? You know, we make sure that we say that we are a virtual assistant, we’re not real, but we also give the consumer the option. And we also know that the consumer will know that, hey, we’re passing you over to a human at this particular point. And, and anytime that to our least to our process, the, you know, the consumer can say agent, and it will automatically stop the key one of those keywords, they Okay, I’m going to pass you over to an agent, because there are many times that I’m screaming into the phone to agent, Agent, I just want to talk to an agent.

Nick Glimsdahl 15:34 

Yeah, and the best part to about these Chatbots, right is, in theory, if done correctly, you actually have the context behind that conversation. Instead of saying, hey, this is Lisa, how can I help you? And you’re like, wait, I just had a five-minute conversation with this chatbot that I didn’t get my answer for. So I didn’t fix it in the channel on my choice. And now you want to start it back over? So very important to do that, you know, one thing that I had a question on, but I had a there was a story of Crayola, that decided and was thinking, Hey, I wonder if we should create a, a text option in our, in our one 800 number. So they didn’t tell anybody else about it. But they put it on their website, and they started putting it, and they opened it up. And they didn’t tell anybody about it. And they started receiving texts. And they’re like, how long? Was my consumer texting? My one? 800 number? And I didn’t know that. Yeah, so I’m very, very crazy. But um, you know, when it comes to putting in these, the automation and the AI and the Chatbots. For you, what channels did it increase and give you additional bandwidth inside these other channels? Or what was that experience for you?

Lisa Diehl 16:54 

You know, it’s actually really interesting that you asked that, because, you know, when I first started out on this journey in looking at a chatbot, the problem that I was trying to resolve was to reduce our call volume. And but what I found was, I ended up reaching a different subset of people within my chatbot. You know, my chat grew the, you know, the people that we’re able to track how many people come to our website, and how many people actually interact with our bot. And then, of course, we have our thumbs up, thumbs down, we know how many, you know how many of those were actually went over to a chat, you know, we also push the transcripts over to the agent so that they don’t have to start all over again. And but what I found was my call volume didn’t reduce at all. But my chat volume increased. And so again, what that told me was, is I’m reaching a different subset of consumers that wouldn’t otherwise call us. But now we’ve opened a channel for them to communicate with us. And so we thought that was really, really important as we look to grow, and in possibly adding a text to our 800 number as well, you know, how many people are right now are texting us that we don’t know, and he’s not going anywhere. And what was really interesting about what we found with our bot is we really, you know, similar to Korea, we really didn’t advertise that we were there, other than at the bottom of the website is just as How may we assist you. So we’re not blinking lights, we’re not, you know, popping up and saying, hey, we’re here. But we’ve got quite a bit of following and we get, you know, several 100 chats a month, that we didn’t expect, or, you know, to really even take off. And so it’s and again, my other channels have not slowed down at all. So,

Nick Glimsdahl 18:46 

yeah, well, that’s, it’s actually interesting, you know, my, my thought is, is, as a consumer is, how many times has somebody went to your guy’s website, or now that you guys have it, somebody goes to your competitors or somebody else’s website? And they didn’t have chat to answer that question? How many of them are going to just leave to that next organization? Right. And so it’s a, I call it kind of the silent killer, because, you know, it’s the customer that should have been if you would have just been available?

Lisa Diehl 19:20 

Yeah, I don’t totally, totally agree. And that’s certainly something that we learned with all of this is, you know, reaching, you know, more and more consumers, you know, trying to meet them in the channel that they prefer to you then, and we know that, you know, you could say the millennials and Gen Z and all of that, that they would rather do, you know, self-service. And, you know, I think to some extent, that’s going to be the case moving forward. But we’re in an era right now, where we still have the boomers in who call us, you know, on a regular basis, again, because we’re a very old company. I don’t have old is the best word to say, but we’ve been around for a while. And so we’ve got you to know, certain demographics, there are people that are used to picking up the phone and calling us and asking us, hey, can you send me some coupons versus, you know, the younger generations? I’m not calling them I would rather just let me go to their, their website? Oh, look, there’s a way that I could do this online, and continue on with my day. And so, you know, we’re kind of lucky when we’re dealing with so many different generations. And, you know, where’s that going to go? And how can we prepare for that next generation of Gen Z and beyond? Yeah,

Nick Glimsdahl 20:30 

Yeah, I would 100% agree. It’s, it’s not just the gen Z’s are millennials. It’s if I’m on driving, I’m probably not texting, my, the company that I’m trying to get ahold of them probably on the phone, if I’m in the middle of a Starbucks, I’m probably not on the phone, I’m probably, you know, trying to do something else. So, so important to try to find the right option for you. But, you know, when it came to when it comes to, you know, automating these mundane tasks, what was the ultimate goal? Was it to reduce effort on both the customer and the employee? Or what was that? What did that look like?

Lisa Diehl 21:10 

Yeah, I think that you know, yeah, definitely, we’re trying to reduce effort, you know, specifically for the employee, but, you know, making that ease for the consumer. And so automating, you know, a coupon request process, you know, was certainly, you know, what we did, so we added that as part of our Contact Us page, you know, it’s part of our bot that somebody can actually just come in and, and request coupons. And so it helped on the fulfillment side because we’re still getting those requests, and we still need to push that out. But as far as my call center agents, my contact center, that’s, you know, that’s where we’re seeing that it’s a little bit less of those, and the people that are actually calling us are, you know, more inquiries and complaints, and, you know, hey, I need some help. And I need somebody to be able to talk to you about it.

Nick Glimsdahl 22:02 

Right? When does it make sense not to use technology?

Lisa Diehl 22:10 

Well, you could always say the phone is technology, but I won’t go I won’t. It is, but I think the phone still, you know, when somebody has a life-threatening situation that has come up when somebody has found something that’s not supposed to be in their product? Or they’re just not sure, you know, hey, you know, my daughter is severely allergic to peanuts, are there peanuts in your product? You know, there are other tree nuts, things like that. Those I think, are the times when you really need to have human interaction. And I think from the consumer’s perspective, that’s what they’re looking for, they’re looking for somebody that’s going to give me the correct answer, they’re going to have empathy around, you know, Hey, I just had a terrible experience around your product. And I don’t want the bot to say, oh, sorry, you know, you’re going to want that, to hear that empathy, you’re going to want to hear what we could do to make it right. And what we can do to fix it, and a lot of times people will come to us for guidance, you know, Hey, I just didn’t just did this. And we’re saying, go talk to your doctor. Right? And then call us, you know, we’re so you know, we’re directing them, because it’s really interesting how many consumers will call the manufacturer before they will call their physician. And, you know, we’re, you know, we’re not in the place to be able to give medical advice. And so we’re pushing that back. And, you know, hey, can I give? Can I give my nine month old, you know, almond milk? I don’t know, call your pediatrician. Yeah, type of thing. And so you know, those, those are where you technology really doesn’t work in those situations. And it you know, it makes the consumer feel better. It’s like, Oh, you’re right. Yeah, let me call my pediatrician before I do this. And, you know, that, that, just to have that human connection, I think is really, really important.

Nick Glimsdahl 24:00 

Yeah, yeah, one of my partners and I steal it all the time. But he says human is the heart and machine is the mastery. And I love that because if somebody needs that empathy, somebody needs to be heard, and by it and additional human and say, here’s what I’m going to do. This is what I’ve heard you say? Or just listen, right? Don’t have Don’t be recorded by your average handle time, but actually pay attention to what they’re saying, saying I’m sorry to hear that or maybe not even apologize and just say, here’s what I’m going to do for you instead.

Lisa Diehl 24:30 

Yeah, absolutely. And, and, you know, that’s something that we do here. I don’t put as much emphasis on average handle time that a lot of companies do because from what I’m trying to, the message I’m trying to put out to consumers is we are war of a center of excellence. And when we want to hear we want to talk to you, and we want to understand and if it takes 10 minutes to have that conversation versus you know, three minutes and get off the phone type of thing. I would rather my agents really you know, really concentrate on what the consumer is saying? How can we resolve it? And if it takes 10 minutes to do so then so be it.

Nick Glimsdahl 25:07 

Yeah, it’s good. Good to hear. So what innovative technology are you most excited about in the coming year to, to help improve efficiencies inside the contact center?

Lisa Diehl 25:18 

You know, there’s a lot of things that we’re looking at, you know, we’re, we’re, and my team handles the social media, as well. So looking at, you know, different partners out there who could really help us with, you know, gaining some ground in social media, you know, looking at some text, tenant analytics, you know, some advanced reporting, you know, being able to, you know, being the voice of the consumer, and really being able to bring that back inside the organization to say, Hey, this is what our consumer is saying, you know, so being able to have some advanced reporting around that’s going to help our consumer insights team, it’s going to help our marketing team to really understand you know, which products are having the most issues, you know, which products are we getting, you know, a whole lot of praises on? You know, it’s really interesting, because, you know, one of our products, you know, is right now during COVID is kind of put on the backburner. And the social media outcry is like, where is it? We can’t find it, how come you’re not making it? You know, and we’re all like, wow, I guess consumers really liked that product. And so there are things that you see, that are more voice of the consumer that you’re going to get from your consumer advocacy teams and your consumer affairs teams that you may not see in other areas. So very valuable there. And so excited to be able to be looking at more advanced analytics, advanced reporting tools.

Nick Glimsdahl 26:48 

Yeah. Sounds interesting. So I wrap up every podcast with two questions. Okay. The first question is, what book or person has influenced you the most in the past year? And then the second question is, if you could leave a note to all the customer service, or all the customer experience professionals, what would it say?

Lisa Diehl 27:07 

You know, it’s really interesting, um, you know, so going to your, to your first question on, you know, who has influenced me the most, you know, I’m a very people person, and, you know, which is some of the beauty of, of SOCAP. And really doing a lot of that work and really reaching out to some of the experts in the field. And, you know, Marie Cubin has been such a mentor to me and reshoot, formerly a director at E and J. Gallo. She’s now retired living happily in Arizona, and I miss her dearly. And she has always been one that I could whatever question she’s also former board chair of SOCAP. And so if I ever had a question, whether it was so calculator, whether CPG related, whether it was anything I could reach out to Marie in 1000 different ways, and she would be there to answer those questions. And so really, have evolved, you know, over the last few years, just knowing somebody like Marie Shubin has really helped me to reach, you know, some of my goals and in that in being board chair and how to get there. And, you know, she had a, you know, some to do with, you know, when I, when I came out to California, and joining Blue Diamond, and she was very strategic in helping me to make that decision to come out here when I, for 15 years. And when, when that, you know, my position eventually got eliminated as that company was bought out. And so what I was looking, you know, to make a move out of Chicago to come all the way to California, you know, Marie was very instrumental in helping me make that decision. So very, very important person for me. And so if I could leave a note, for other customer care professionals, you know, embrace change, it is the one constant in Customer Care is change. And if you embrace it, and look at things like at more of opportunities, instead of Oh, my God, what is this going to do now? And oh, my God, I can’t believe I can’t do this, again. It’s going to make your life so much easier and so much better. And there always is something better down the road that will create an opportunity for you and your teams, to continue to provide essential oils for not only your consumers but for inside your organization and really understanding, you know, what consumer advocate advocacy teams can bring both externally and internally? Is really big.

Nick Glimsdahl 29:42 

Yeah, no, that’s great advice. Where can my listeners connect with you and follow you or what’s the best way to get a hold?

Lisa Diehl 29:49 

Yeah. Um, so yeah, absolutely. So I’m on Twitter, my Twitter handle at Lisa Marie 11165 and in my Email Address LDL D iy HL at bd And of course, everyone can find me on Facebook. A lot of people follow me there. And they’d like it because I’ve got four names is Lisa Levin are a big deal out on Facebook and usually when I’m posting a lot of my travels, it’s there. So if anyone ever wants to find where in the world I am, it’s usually on Facebook.

Nick Glimsdahl 30:23 

It’s not where in the world is common San Diego, it’s where in the world is Lisa do?

Lisa Diehl 30:28 

Exactly. And Jim Maloney had to head said it best. He said, if you ever want to find out where Lisa is just check her Facebook account.

Nick Glimsdahl 30:37 

That’s awesome. Lisa, I really appreciate you joining me today and best of luck moving forward here. Blue Diamond.

Lisa Diehl 30:44 

Great. Thanks, Nick. I really appreciate it.


The Press 1 For Nick podcast is both educational and engaging, and each episode offers listeners a dynamic blend of insightful stories, best practices, and invaluable lessons.

Nick’s guests – each with a unique wealth of knowledge – include leaders from a variety of backgrounds and industries. Some of his guests include:

  • Customer service & customer experience leaders
  • A hostage negotiator
  • Award-winning authors
  • Home Depot’s Senior Director of Customer Care
  • Former VP of Disney’s Magic Kingdom
  • Lyft’s Head of Partner and Customer Engagement
  • Deputy Chief Veteran Experience Officer from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

On every episode Nick asks his guest two questions:

  1. What book or person has influenced you the most in the past year?
  2. If you could leave a note to all the Customer Service and CX professionals, what would it say?

You can find all the podcast guests’ answers under their episodes below.

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