| Contact Center/CRM Views and Analysis

February 2008

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Canadian Call Center Woes

February 28, 2008

Here's an article from the Edmonton Journal about the closure of a Toronto Dominion Bank call center in the city, for a net loss of about 140 jobs.

Though this is a Canadian company shutting down a Canadian call center, there have been other Canadian call center closures that can be laid at the foot of the weak U.S. dollar.

Outsourcing to Canada (an important destination in the so-called "near-shore" outsourcing model) is no longer saving U.S. companies money due to the unfavorable exchange rates for the U.S. dollar.

A recent Datamonitor report covered on TMCnet by associate editor Patrick Barnard revealed that companies are truly starting to pack up Canadian operations.

Video Gaming Widows

February 25, 2008

Have you ever been thrown over on a Saturday night by The Horde?

The New York Times had an amusing...but true-to-life...piece recently about how video gaming, particularly online role playing gaming, affects romantic relationships.

Did you know they make children's clothing...even baby clothes... with World Of Warcraft themes?

Do I sound like I speak from experience?


Another Upside To Virtual Call Centers

February 21, 2008

As if we needed any more evidence that home-based agents and virtual call centers were the way to go, here's yet another: plan a physical, brick and mortar call center, and the neighbors start complaining that it will cause too much of an increase in traffic and parking congestion, not to mention scare the birds away.


Call Center Space Availabilities

February 20, 2008

Looking for ready-made call center space in the U.S. or abroad? It might be your lucky day. The Site Selection Group (www.siteselectiongroup.com) keeps track of vacated/available/ready for sub-lease contact center space and is reporting the following to be available:

Addison, Texas: 137,992 sq. ft.
Workstations: 600 expandable to 1,000

Austin, TX: 92, 633 sq. ft.
Workstations: 605

Salina, KS: 44,876 sq. ft.
Workstations: 250 expandable

Clarksville, TN: 52,000 sq. ft.
Workstations: Estimated 500

Tucson, AZ: 27, 255 sq. ft.
Workstations: 200 to 250

Hawkesbury, Ontario: 41,019 sq. ft.
Workstations: 420

Manila, Philippines: 366 workstations

For more info, contact The Site Selection Group directly at 214-271-0580.

Feeling The Love From Offshore Outsourcing

February 19, 2008

Here's a piece on TMCnet today that takes a look at the pitfalls, both obvious and hidden, of offshore outsourcing and how to overcome them. First, it's important to identify the problems.

My favorite snipped from this article was that one company discovered that an agent at one of its foreign call centers was ending customer calls with, "I love you." He thought it was a great way to show customers he cared. Sometimes...agents can care a little TOO MUCH.

The best way to make offshore outsourcing work for you is to get a better handle on training. Studies show that even if a foreign call center agent has a heavy accent, if he or she handles the call the way a North American customer expects (use the right words, strike the right tone and effect good results), accents are immediately forgiven.

And your customer will know you love them without you have to tell them, which...let's face it...is a tad creepy.


Improving Capacity Through Virtual Call Centers

February 15, 2008

Here's a scenario: how does a company gain10 times the call center capacity while reducing tech support and maintenance costs by 41 percent?

Virtual call centers. Here's a link to an article in ComputerWeekly.com detailing a Scottish utility company that managed to accomplish the seemingly impossible via its Siemens Hipath DX/Genesys integrated contact center to expand its base call capacity to 250,000 calls an hour on a "pay-as-you-go basis."


Call Center Jobs: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

February 14, 2008

So what happens when a political party promises the creation of call center jobs, then loses control of the government? The incoming government says, "Nah, nah, we didn't promise them. The previous guys did. Sorry!"

Something like this happened in Australia. I guess that's the price you pay for assuming "government" is all one entity...like "The Borg" from Star Trek.

Resistance IS futile.


Tight Retail Return Policies

February 13, 2008

Here's a customer service pet peeve that I've developed recently. If you have tried to return anything recently, you may have noticed that retailers have fairly seriously tightened up their return policies. I realize that the point is to catch "serial returners" who buy merchandise regularly knowing they are going to return it. But in my opinion, when the "net" starts to catch consumers with legitimate issues, it has been cast too wide.

According to the National Retail Federation, about 40 percent of retailers have tightened their policies.

My most recent aggravation?

The ATA Position On Do-Not-Call

February 7, 2008

You may have read that his week, Congress addressed two bills, H.R. 2601 and H. R. 3541, which will affect the future of the federal Do-No-Call Registry.  Currently, there are approximately 150 million people who have listed their phone numbers on the DNC Registry, and there has been a large political effort to ensure that consumer’s information will not be purged from this list.

Sneaky ISP Fees

February 6, 2008

Want something to make you slightly queasy this Wednesday morning? Here's an article on MSBNC detailing a sneaky surcharge switch many broadband providers tried to pull on their customers. Stuff like this really hammers home the importance of examining your telecom bills and understanding what all the surcharges are about. Thank your fellow hawk-eyed broadband users for exposing this travesty.

Read about what companies' "Departments of Creative Fees with Obtuse Names" regularly design for their customers.


2007 Outsourcing Market Trends

February 5, 2008

Outsourcing consultancy TPI keeps track of outsourcing trends across the globe and releases results on a quarterly basis.

This year's wrap-up for 2007 revealed a couple of interesting trends...with mixed results.

The fourth quarter of 2007 was the best since 2005 for number and annualized contract value of mega-relationships; however, the momentum insufficient to overcome early year softness; there were fewer total contracts and lower total contract value in 2007 compared with 2006. Interestingly, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) outsourcing surpassed the Americas for the first time in number and value of outsourcing contracts.

To view the presentation of the results for 2007, click here.

B-to-B Telemarketing

February 4, 2008

I often get questions about outbound telemarketing calls to places of business, and how companies can stop them. (Here's a piece from the Raleigh News & Observer on the topic.) The answer is, you probably can't, unless you ask each solicitor to list you on their internal do-not-call list. The Federal Do-Not-Call Registry is for personal, home phone numbers, not places of business.

Many companies hesitate to put their business numbers on any do-not-call lists, mindful of the fact that it could affect legitimate incoming business calls.

Outrageous (Call Center) Interactions

February 1, 2008

If you have been a call center agent for any length of time, there are probably some calls that you will never forget. Calls during which you started to wonder who was trying to upsell whom. Calls during which you felt more like a therapist than a customer service rep. Even calls that were so weird, you became convinced you were being filmed for a new "Candid Camera" reality show.

Interactive Intelligence wants to hear about them.

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