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Looking into the crystal ball ... the dawn of a new era in fast-growing contact/CRM centers!

As the publisher of the industry's Number 1 publication since 1982, which laid the foundation of the present multibillion-dollar contact center/CRM industry, here are my visions for 2005:

* The future of our industry has never been better!

* I see 10 to 12 percent growth in high-end B-to-B enterprise sector.

* I see 6 to 8 percent growth in B-to-C, mostly in the financial services sector.

* I see 15 to 20 percent growth in domestic outsourced teleservices growth, inbound and outbound combined.

* Early adopters of VoIP (i.e., companies using IP contact center solutions) will not only save 80 to 90 percent on telecom costs, but they will drastically increase their technological superiority and capability over competition.

* Early adopters of speech technology will also benefit not only from 80 to 85 percent labor cost savings, but also, they will gain considerable superiority in competitive advantage and productivity.

* The other winners are the enterprises that outsource what is not their core competency to high-quality, reputable and domestic outsourcing teleservices companies.

* The future belongs, by and large, to the companies that are customer-centric and those that focus on customer experience management.

* To be successful in 2005 and beyond, the companies need to be able to think outside of the box, because innovation is the key to survival.

* The successful companies of the future are the ones that place far greater importance on the quality of customer service and customer care as opposed to focusing on cheap labor.

Justification For The Above Vision

When the do-not-call directive came from the FTC, many people had the mistaken belief that call center growth would be reduced substantially. As it worked out, nothing could have been further from the truth, because the livelihood of every corporation, regardless of size or type of business, depends on having an outstanding call center that will support every facet of business.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In short, no company can exist without the following services, and the following is not attainable without having an outstanding call center:

1. The functionality of an effective sales department is nearly 100 percent, depending on the principles of outbound and inbound telemarketing. This is the undeniable fact of business survival regardless of what the FTC thinks about it.

2. As we indicated above, the successful companies of tomorrow are those that are customer-centric and those that focus 100 percent on customer experience management. As such, none of these goals can be achieved without having a powerful, well-trained and professional call center.

3. No CRM can be possible without having an effective and reliable call center.

4. The credit collection department of every company depends 100 percent on having a successful call center and no company can exist without having an effective credit collection call center.

5. In any environment, fund-raising is an extremely important part of a civilized lifestyle. And ... we all know that effective fund-raising simply cannot exist without an effective outbound call center.

6. The American Red Cross has proven time and again that effective blood donation drives for our soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere, as well as for the civilian population, simply cannot be organized without an effective call center. In fact, when I was invited by the American Red Cross to make a speech on telemarketing with the members of the American Red Cross, the keynote room where I made my presentation was decorated with signs that read: "Telemarketing is the link to life."

7. The main ingredient of cutting-edge marketing today is integrated marketing, and a major part of integrated marketing depends heavily on the call center.

In short, as I have outlined above, without exception or qualification, no company can exist without all of the above functions, and none of the above functions are possible without an effective call center.

This is what convinces me every day of the week and every moment of the day that our great contact center/CRM industry is here to stay, and it will continue to prosper for years to come.

The facts behind my predictions for growth as stated above are not based on an unemployed college dropout who calls himself or herself a market researcher (in my opinion, the findings of most market researchers are practically useless to those of us who really know what is going on). Rather, my conviction for the growth of the industry comes from the only reliable source that exists in our industry: day-to-day direct contact with the senior management of the call center industry, with whom. I have a very close relationship, since we helped to pioneer the contact center industry with our flagship publication called Telemarketing[R] magazine back in 1982. Indeed, most manufacturers are reporting significant increases in sales, particularly in the latter half of 2004. The same is true for the outsourcing companies (teleservices companies) which are also reporting significant increases in business in the latter part of 2004 and that growth of approximately 15 to 20 percent seems to be a reality for 2005 and beyond (barring unforeseen developments).

The Impact Of New Technologies

Perhaps the greatest evolution in the call center industry is that of emerging new technologies that have now become extremely functional and useful for the success, survival and rebirth of the call/contact center/CRM industry.

Technologies such as IP contact center solutions and speech technologies can not only reduce the cost of telecommunications and labor by a combined 175 percent, but together, they will substantially enhance the ability of contact centers to conduct their business in a far more cost-effective and technologically superior manner. Both in customer service/CRM and sales and marketing efforts, the above technologies will give the early adopters a powerful competitive advantage that cannot be matched by any conventional technologies. Consequently, the most profitable leaders and market share dominators of the future are those who embrace these technologies immediately and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Another extremely important benefit of the early adoption of the above technologies is that they provide the capability to produce outstanding call center services at even lower costs than offshore services and thus, they eliminate the necessity of going offshore and sending the lifeblood of our companies, such as our customer databases and our customer service and sales and marketing functions, to foreign countries. It is unthinkable that anyone would want to outsource such vital functions as sales, marketing, customer service and CRM, not to mention parting with the lifeblood of the company, namely, their customer database, to faraway countries with considerable exposure to geo-political problems, not to mention language problems, cultural problems, rudeness, lack of proper management, fraud and worrying about such extremely important matters as privacy and compliance with regulatory requirements (e.g., do-not-call list, etc.) And above all, without having any assurance that their customers will be treated professionally. The more I think about it, the more that valued conventional wisdom comes to mind, which says, "Don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish."

For more information on the above matters, I urge all of our valued readers to refer to my Publisher's Outlook columns for the last three years to find considerable in-depth information on all of the above.

New Source Of Growth

As I have indicated in the last dozen or so editorials, the phenomenal business growth of several reputable teleservices companies has been so powerful that many are actually turning down business. When asked the question, "To what do you attribute this unprecedented growth during a slow economy?", most senior management replied that many of their customers who outsourced to India, for example, were extremely dissatisfied and they have now become even more loyal customers to domestic teleservices. Some even indicated that the returnees are willing to pay even higher prices than they paid prior to outsourcing to the other countries.

The Growing Economy Also Helps

Obviously, the growing U.S. economy, along with higher productivity, will further boost the growth and need for call center services.

The Views Of Industry Leaders On the Above Predictions

As always, I prefer to consult with other industry leaders to get different opinions on this extremely important subject matter. For this editorial, we have contacted five leading companies as follows:

1. Concerto Software

2. Envision

3. Hispanic Teleservices Corp.

4. Nuasis

5. Verint Systems, Inc.

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the assistance provided by all of the above leading companies.

Before proceeding with the outlook and predictions of the above companies, I would like to begin with an abstract of comments made by Nuasis, which in my humble opinion, clearly define the need for being an early adopter in order to gain a powerful competitive advantage:

"Nuasis predicts that 2005 will be THE year of the Great Migration to IP. Companies that continue to have a wait-and-see attitude for deploying IP contact centers are at great risk of losing customers to their pro-IP competitors. IP opens the door to more cost-effective, faster deployment of CRM applications that give customer service contact centers the power to be more service-oriented, thus increasing new and current customer satisfaction levels resulting in greater customer loyalty and greater customer retention. Lastly, the ease with which IP links CRM to the contact center will encourage CRM vendors to partner with as many IP contact center vendors as quickly as possible."

The Bottom Line

Don't be fooled by the "cheap labor" sales pitch! Exercise powerful visionary leadership! Become an EARLY ADOPTER of the new technologies, dramatically reduce costs while enormously improving your customer loyalty, CRM and competitive advantage. If running a state-of-the-art call center is not your core competency, then outsource to a reputable, award-winning domestic teleservices agency so that you can sleep at night knowing that your precious customer database is protected and you are in full compliance with privacy and other regulatory requirements.

Plan Now To Attend Speech-World[TM]

In order to enhance your knowledge about the above vitally important matters, I suggest the following:

1. Please read my last dozen editorials in the back issues of Customer Interaction Solutions[R], along with many informative feature articles.

2. I strongly urge you to attend a new, cutting-edge conference and exhibition titled Speech-World[TM], sponsored by TMC, Customer Interaction Solutions[R] and Internet Telephony[R] magazines. Speech-World[TM] will be co-located with our IP Contact Center Summit[TM] along with the Global Call Center Outsourcing Summit[TM]. Speech-World[TM] will take place May 24-26, 2005 at the Westin Park Central Hotel in Dallas, Texas.

I look forward to personally welcoming you to Speech-World[TM], where you will find the necessary information to acquire the new technology and knowledge that you need to make the right decision.

For comments by the above mentioned companies, please refer to our Web site at www.tmcnet.com.

As always, I welcome your comments. Please e-mail me at ntehrani@tmcnet.com.

Sincerely yours,

Nadji Tehrani

Executive Group Publisher

Editor-in-Chief

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or HTML format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at www.reprintbuyer.com or contact a representative via e-mail at reprints@tmcnet.com or by phone at 800-290-5460.

For information and subscriptions, visit www.TMCnet.com or call 203-852-6800.

IMPORTANT:

Please remember where you first read this pioneering effort before the copycats copy us (as usual) and pass it off as their own.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Technology Marketing Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Publisher's Outlook; customer relationship management
Author:Tehrani, Nadji
Publication:Customer Interaction Solutions
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:1886
Previous Article:Life in an on-demand world.
Next Article:2005: the year of the hosted solutions.
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