Academic Center Studies Call Center Industry
Kelly Shermach | www.CRMBuyer.com | posted Nov. 11, 2004
I see is the creation of a blended contact center," said
Elizabeth Herrell, a Gartner analyst. "Routine functions,
like help desks, can be easily outsourced. But in the cases
where companies need to add value, increase revenues or position
call centers for thriving customer retention, they don't want
to give those functions to offshore call centers."
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recent regulatory developments in the industry and routine call
center functions moving to offshore teleservices vendors, there
is no time like the present for the Call Center Research Laboratory
established at the University of Southern Mississippi a few
CCRL, led by USM professor David Butler, aims to be the first
international research facility dedicated to the collection
of trend data, technology development and call center education
with the application of an academic, scientific methodology.
isn't a marketing spin factory -- in other words, politicizing
the push of low-paying, low value call center jobs to vendors
in India and the Philippines. The laboratory's mission ties
it to all stakeholders in various parts of the world and expects
to arm them with data from vendor partners, industry associations
such as the National Association of Call Centers and academic
short, we want to be the repository for solid research-based
and valid data for the industry," Butler told CRM Buyer.
Call Center Shifts
the call centers employed by U.S. companies have handled routine
customer transactions -- address changes, membership or subscription
renewals, product orders inspired by catalogs or television
ads and complaint collection.
tasks required nothing but the simplest training, often with
a focus more on attitude than expertise.
the advent of reliable call center automation, an increasingly
global marketplace and greater corporate interest in retaining
existing customers rather than spending to acquire new ones,
the traditional functions of call centers have gone to automated
teleservices systems and foreign call centers where labor is
less expensive. Traditional call centers, in turn, have adapted
to these changes by nurturing higher value customer service
I see is the creation of a blended contact center," said
Elizabeth Herrell, a Gartner Latest News about Gartner analyst.
"Routine functions, like help desks, can be easily outsourced.
But in the cases where companies need to add value, increase
revenues or position call centers for thriving customer retention
Latest News about customer retention, they don't want to give
those functions to offshore call centers."
Growing at Home
and the clients they serve have begun applying new strategies
to on-shore contact centers Latest News about Contact Center,
segmenting calls by importance and value, and keeping cross-sell
and upsell opportunities in-house. High-priority calls are thus
answered by higher paid reps who tend to stay in their jobs
longer than their minimum-wage earning predecessors.
a result, industry activity is growing not only overseas but
also here in the United States, as contact centers position
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tools. "There is not singular growth in one or the other,"
call centers here in the U.S. also benefit from technological
advances that loop call transactions into CRM, enterprise resource
planning and other corporate systems that optimize operations
and profitability, said Herrell.
Change in Mindset
USM's Butler agreed. "The call center industry is growing
both domestically and overseas. It is also evolving from a neophyte
industry into a more mature industry."
the example of direct-response TV The Future of Broadcasting:
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with Mobile TV! marketers. When these popular merchandisers
began, they often instructed their phone center representatives
to take orders and rush customers off the phones to open up
the lines for new calls.
however, they seek to extend the transactions, suggesting to
callers interested in a necklace just featured that they also
consider the matching earrings and bracelet. These representatives
may position themselves as stylists, for instance, rather than
simply order-takers or accessory salespersons. In this way,
they may build relationships and revenue, not just process transactions.
use of the telephone for service is growing, and that's good,"
Herrell said. The growth comes from better tools, better call
center software and better marketing programs to understand
consumer behavior, she said. The industry changes take responsibility
for call centers out of IT and enhance it with marketing intelligence.
"Maybe the best role of our business is not to get rid
of the customer as quickly as possible," she concluded.
"It's a whole change in mindset."
CCRL Answers Call
said this evolution of the industry requires solid data and
information that will enable stakeholders "to make well-informed
and educated decisions about the direction and trajectory of
CCRL, he said, will provide this data and analysis. Butler insists
the laboratory will also remain objective.
we are an academic institution and produce academic-quality
research, we do not enter research projects with a bias toward
keeping call centers on shore or moving them offshore,"
center will leverage the resources of University of Southern
Mississippi, including faculty, staff and graduate students,
as well as reach out to the industry -- and other academic institutions
-- at home and abroad. Butler says the CCRL will grow to accommodate
projects as they come.