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March 2008

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Ergonomics For Call Center

March 26, 2008

Are you protecting your call center agents' backs? Sitting all day long can be hard on the back, and back problems are one of the most common causes of employees calling out sick.

Fellowes, in partnership with BackCare, a U.K.-based "charity for healthier backs," has launched Ergonomix, a nationwide (in the U.K.) month-long campaign aiming to help reduce the risk of RSI, back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders by raising awareness of workstation assessments and ergonomics in the workplace. To achieve this, the two organizations have set up a dedicated Web site, www.ergonomix.info, with detailed information on how companies can protect their workforces by conducting regular workstation assessments and providing ergonomic products.


Canadian Call Center Strategies

March 24, 2008

A recent article posted by CBC news, recognizing the danger in the devalued U.S. dollar to the Canadian call center market, has postulated that the Canadian call center industry needs to refocus itself and concentrate on high-value customer care (financial services) rather than business that concentrates on low-value transactions.

"Economists are warning that global competition, the high value of the Canadian dollar and the tight labour market are reshaping the future of the call centre business, especially in the Maritimes. David Campbell, an independent economic consultant in Moncton, N.B., says New Brunswick should take a page from Nova Scotia's business plan and put more emphasis on attracting financial service and hedge fund centres, which pay bigger salaries."


The End Of Customer Service

March 20, 2008

This week's TIME magazine has on its cover "10 Ideas That Are Changing The World." Number one on the list is "common wealth": sustainable development, ecologically sound industry, population stabilization. The number two world-changing idea? The end of customer service, thanks to both increasingly sophisticated self-service technologies and increased customer willingness to use these technologies.

Read "The End Of Customer Service" here.


Arthur C. Clarke

March 19, 2008

Twice in my life have I become teary over the death of people whom I had never met. The first was over George Harrison, as I was a fan of the "Quiet Beatle." The second time was yesterday, upon hearing of the death of Arthur C. Clarke.

It was in eighth grade...Ms. Wheeler's English class...that I was obliged to read the book "2001: A Space Odyssey." Most of my classmates approached it with dread. It had a boring cover. It had lots of science terms on the synopsis.

Call Center Industry Growth

March 17, 2008

Good news for those of us who live and work in the contact center industry. The global call center market is expected to reach $195 billion by 2010 according to industry analysts Global Industry Analysts, Inc. This conclusion appears in a report titled, "Call Centers: A Global Strategic Business Report." The study analyzed past, current and future market data and analytics over the period 2000-2010 and long-term projections (2011-2015) for regions including the North America, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and others.

For specifics and a break-down of numbers, visit the summary on the company's Web site.

Canadian Call Center Shut-Down

March 13, 2008

We've noted, via various news reports recently, that several large American call center operators are shutting down Canadian call center operations because the weakness of the American dollar against the Canadian dollar means there is no longer a cost savings to locate a call center "nearshore" in Canada.

West Corp. is the most recent company to fold up a Canadian call center. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company plans to shut down a call center in British Columbia by summer, putting 450 workers out of a job.

New article about the shut-down can be found here.


Better-Than-Expected Teleservices Financials

March 12, 2008

Outsourced call center services provider Sykes this week posted better-than-expected financial results (revenue of $197.7M was ahead of the consensus $189.9M estimate, and OPM of 7.7 percent was above the 7.2 percent consensus estimate). Analyst group Stifel Nicolaus Business Services (www.stifel.com) has chalked it up to the fact that the company is experiencing "sustained, broad-based demand (across all verticals including financial services) from both new and existing clients, and the company plans to add 3,000-4,000 additional seats over 2008 and into 2009 to meet this demand."

This demand, according to the Stifen Nicolaus report, is good news for the outsourced contact center service provider market as a whole, and indicates that "clients continue to spend on customer service work despite broader economic issues."


Cable Company IVR Crimes

March 10, 2008

I got my online version of the ASRNews and was interested to read about two cable giants: Charter and Comcast, and the fact that ASRNews tested their IVRs and found that the data customers feed in to the system is not used for CTI screen-pop purposes. Basically, Charter and Comcast are using their IVRS merely to annoy customers at the front end.

Said the newsletter, "This month we tested Charter Communications.  No CTI.  They gather ID information from the caller and then throw it away. Comcast does the same thing. These folks should either implement CTI of get rid of their IVR that is doing nothing other than irritating callers."

More high-quality customer service from the cable companies.

First-Call Resolution Podcast

March 5, 2008

First-call resolution, as a call center principle, gets a lot of attention, and for very good reason. While 10 different call centers may not agree on their management, hiring, training and technology approaches, all 10 will probably agree that first-call resolution is far and away the most important metric to master. Why? It's a realistic way to achieve increased customer satisfaction at lower operating costs.

D&D Creator Gygax Dies

March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax, co-creator with Dave Arneson of the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons died this (Tuesday) morning at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin at age 69.

Read CNN's brief obituary here.

Marketing Salaries Guide

March 4, 2008

Crandall Associates, a company that does executive recruitment for the direct marketing and telesales industries, has released its "2008 National Salary Guide, Direct and Interactive Marketing."

The guide keeps tracks of salaries (high and low ranges, sub-divided by years of experience) nationwide for job titles such as:

Internet Marketing Manager
Market Research Director
Media Planner/Analyst
VP of Marketing
Customer Service Managers and Directors

The full report can be ordered online at www.crandallassociates.com.


Call Center Life Saver

March 3, 2008

Next time you're getting heated with a call center agent, calm yourself down by thinking about this story: a man telephones a call center for a routine address change. While on the phone, he suffers a massive brain hemorrhage. The call center agent, recognizing the threat, calls emergency services and provides them with the caller's home address (which she has on her computer screen). Emergency services saves the man's life.

OK...maybe it's not a COMMON scenario, but it happened recently.

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