Contact Centers

Contributions to Profit: Track Call-to-Order Conversions
January 1, 2006

Readers: With this issue we welcome new columnist Jim Gilbert, a catalog and DM consultant and a professor of direct marketing. In this column, which we’ll publish 10 times this year, Mr. Gilbert will offer practical strategies that can help you boost sales and profitability. —Editors Any time a customer communicates with your company — that is, interacts with you via one of your customer touchpoints — you have an opportunity to increase sales and goodwill. Unfortunately in some cases, it’s also an opportunity to lose sales and goodwill. I can’t stress this enough: You must analyze and consistently monitor all of your customer

Contact Centers: Gain Greater Insight Into Customers’ Shopping Experiences
December 20, 2005

While it’s common for contact center managers to track and monitor each agent’s calls to discern performance levels, tracking and monitoring individual customer calls often gives a merchant insights that can help it improve sales and goodwill. Customer Experience Management (CEM) is a strategy that seeks to answer the question: “Why are our customers acting and reacting in the ways that they are?” “CEM looks at the transactional process from the customers’ point of view from the second they start interacting with the merchant,” either in the contact center or via the Web, says Kristyn Emenecker, product manager of contact center solutions for Mercom Systems,

Managers Share Secrets of Success
November 1, 2005

From setting schedules for supervisory duties, to mystery-shopping overflow call centers, to setting bonus structures for seasonal workers — four catalog and contact center managers reveal how they tackle daily challenges. Debbye Schneider, contact center manager, Fire Mountain Gems, Grants Pass, Ore. Merchandise: jewelry-making supplies to consumers and businesses Contact center employees: 85 to 104 Overflow/after-hours contact center: Donnelly Communications Catalog Success: What are your top challenges, and how do you overcome them? Schneider: We’ve been steadily ramping up for the past five years. My staff of customer service reps has tripled since then. Because of the growth, I have

A Call Center Rep Gave My Credit Card Number to a Third Party
October 1, 2005

Are your contact center reps treating your customers in a way that best represents your brand? Are they staying within the confines of applicable laws when making upsell and cross-sell offers, especially those for third parties? Are you sure? Here’s why I ask: I ordered a home product from a catalog in July. I had previously ordered from this company with no problems. After taking my order, the contact center rep launched into a rambling, barely decipherable cross-sell offer of joining some third-party shopping club in which I could get discounts on other products not related to the catalog. I

Customer Service: Your Holiday “To Do” List
August 2, 2005

The catalog and e-commerce companies that serve customers well will be rewarded with growth and profitability this holiday selling season. It’s time to review every aspect of your business to insure that customers are served quickly and efficiently. Following are some tips to get you started: 1. Be sure your Web site can be navigated easily by all visitors regardless of their access. Some sites are accessible only with high speed Internet service. This severely limits your sales opportunities. Customers will leave a slow-loading site in favor of one that takes less time to reach and navigate. 2. Provide a customer service phone number

Contact Centers: Two Habits of Successful Contact Centers
July 5, 2005

Following are two tactics to employ if you want to improve your catalog’s contact center operations: 1. Before the revamping process begins, start by outlining your mission, goals, road maps and metrics, noted the authors of “7 Habits of Highly Effective Contact Centers,” a white paper recently released by eGain, a provider of customer service and contact center software and services. Determine your organizational mission and business goals for the next 12 to 24 months. “Next, build a road map. Create a long-term plan before investing in any new tool or initiative,” note the authors. “Make every dollar count. A road map ensures that

Catalogers of the Year
July 1, 2005

On the following pages you’ll meet the winners of the fourth annual Catalogers of the Year awards. We’re honored to recognize the contributions these three professionals have made to the catalog and e-commerce industries. This year’s winners exemplify the astounding level of quality in branding, customer service and merchandising this industry enjoys. The winners include: 1. a former museum director who now sells museum shop-quality educational toys to a national audience via her catalog; 2. a transplanted Briton who has built a thriving company selling telephony equipment; and 3. an industry veteran whose reputation as a maverick in branding, direct marketing and channel-integration

Key Performance Indicators: 10 to Track.
June 1, 2005

What key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical to a catalog business? What can you learn from tracking them? And how can you make changes and implement improvements based on your results? In this article you’ll learn about 10 KPIs that are critical to any catalog business. KPIs vary by catalog, as each has specific objectives and needs. You may have a KPI of, for example, the gross margin ratio, contribution ratio or net income — whichever best reflect your company’s goals. When selecting KPIs, choose ones that are quantifiable and therefore can be tracked. For example, a KPI to improve customer service can’t be

Focused on the Relationship
June 1, 2005

Joined Orvis: 2001 Greatest initial challenge: Prioritizing. “There was so much opportunity in the contact center, it was tough to decide what to work on first.” She recalls that almost all call center functions back then were done manually, and she encountered some resistance to change. Plan of action: So far Wolfe has improved: * new agent recruitment and training. * organizational aspects, such as combining the sales and customer service departments. * the contact center’s technology tools. These in turn have helped enhance efficiency. “Several supervisors were not even PC-trained,” Wolfe recalls. She also co-developed and introduced a customized agent-tracking

Contact Centers: Three Reasons Contact Center Reps Fail to Measure Up
May 24, 2005

Poor performance by your contact center reps can be traced to one of three underlying reasons: Reps either don’t know about, can’t or won’t perform the duties assigned to them, said Penny Reynolds, founding partner of The Call Center School, during her session”Don’t Know, Can’t or Won’t,” held at the National Conference on Operations and Fulfillment, held in Gaylord, Texas, last month. The first steps to battling poor performance, said Reynolds, include: clearly defining the behaviors and performance expected of your reps, communicating those to the reps, and developing a fair and quantitative means of measuring those parameters. However, in those situations where you’ve completed