Contact Centers

8 Tips to Improve Call-Center Productivity
July 15, 2008

I visit at least one catalog company each week as part of my job. I always ask for the tour — it’s my favorite part of the visit. More often than not, I’m shocked at the overall state of many companies’ call centers. Some offices are downright slovenly, and the average customer service rep couldn’t care less about his job or the company. The employee time clock mentality prevails. Business owners and managers too often complain, if not openly joke, about how difficult it is to find good people for call-center work at $10/hour. I often find myself standing there trying to be polite,

Are You Operationally Ready for DRTV? Part 3
June 3, 2008

Over the course of the past month, I’ve been discussing DRTV as a way to acquire new customers. This week, I examine one of the main elements of response — your call center.
(For part 1, click here, and for part 2, click here.)
When it comes to response from DRTV promotions, ask yourself if your call center can handle the peaks and valleys (mostly peaks) of DRTV. Staffing a call center to handle TV-driven response can be a nightmare. Unless you want to limit the media you buy severely, you’ll need to be staffed up to 24 hours a day.<br

6 Reasons Why Online Gamers Make Ideal Call-Center Live-Chat Reps
April 15, 2008

For many catalog/multichannel operations directors, call-center positions are fairly straightforward. You want people who can speak comfortably on the phone, have patience with difficult or complaining customers, can upsell seamlessly, and so forth. It isn’t so simple to find people who are as well-versed when it comes to designating call-center staffers to handling live chat, however. But Philip Bennett, executive vice president/customer service for optionsXpress, an online options, stock and futures brokerage, offered a best-kept secret to the largely catalog/multichannel audience in a session during last week’s National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Orlando, Fla. He played up the benefits of finding

Is Your Company Creating ‘Phone Rage’?
April 8, 2008

OK, listen up readers: I really want your opinion on this.
I recently bought a new Apple MacBook Pro from the company’s Web site. But rather than get rid of my old Mac PowerBook, I decided to update it with the latest operating system. So during a routine check of the old Mac, I noticed it only has half the RAM that was in the machine when I originally purchased it.
I bought the PowerBook four years ago, and my warranty has long since expired. But hey, where’s the RAM that was supposed to be in my Mac?
So expecting nothing, I

Keep ’Em On Their Toes
April 1, 2008

Some call-center employees stay with their companies for many years because their employers are generally fair, locations are convenient for them, the pay is good, the work isn’t too hard, and their coworkers are likable and supportive. Despite a good work environment, doing the same job day in, day out can get a little, well, boring. This not only results in a feeling of staleness, but it can also manifest in that rote, pro-forma voice that undercuts interactions with customers. So how can managers enrich or enliven the work environment to keep reps feeling and giving their best? Here are 10 ways to

April 1, 2008

We hope you get the most out of this special report on operations and fulfillment. We chose a balanced array of three topics that should give you plenty of money-making and cost-saving ideas. Specifically, the articles focus on the top operations benchmarking strategies, the most useful and usable warehouse metrics, and an assortment of ways to keep your call-center reps happy and interested in their jobs. —Paul miller, editor-in-chief 7 Steps to Self Assessment: How better benchmarking can maximize performance in your fulfillment center by Kate Vitasek 5 Most Useful Fulfillment Metrics: Ponder your goals, gauge your progress and line up areas

Guest View: Search Expert, Blogger Extraordinaire Posts 9 Prognostications About Your Future
March 28, 2008

As per my headline, for this issue of Catalog Success: The Corner View, I hand my pen — um, keyboard — over to Catalog Success E-Commerce Insights columnist Alan Rimm-Kaufman. Alan heads the Rimm-Kaufman Group, an online agency providing large-scale paid search bid management and Web site testing services, and was formerly a marketing executive with the Crutchfield catalog of consumer electronics. I leave the stage to Alan, who starts with a potential scenario followed by nine predictions for the future of the catalog/multichannel business as it affects you. Scene: A bar at a conference hotel during a marketing trade show. Bill:

Re-examine Your Call-Center Practices, Part 4
March 25, 2008

Over the course of this series, I’ve discussed several techniques to help you maximize revenue in your call centers. Today, I offer another way to make sure you aren’t leaving sales dollars on the table.
(For part 1, click here. For part 2, click here. And for part 3, click here.)
To review, I’ve defined the four types of calls into your call center as follows:
1. calls answered where an order occurs;
2. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data captured by the customer service representative (CSR);
3. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data not captured

Re-examine Your Call-Center Practices, Part 3
March 18, 2008

We all know that not every prospect who calls your call center actually places an order. This week, in the third installment of this series, I offer a fresh way to leave no stone unturned and no money on the table when it comes to your prospecting efforts.
(For part 1, click here; for part 2, click here.)
First, a quick review of my last column, in which I defined the four types of calls your call center receives:
1. calls answered where an order occurs;
2. calls answered where an order doesn’t occur — contact data captured by a customer service representative (CSR);<br

Re-examine Your Call-Center Practices, Part 2
March 4, 2008

In the second part of this series on how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your call center as a sales channel, this week I provide tips on how to increase your call-to-order ratio.
(For part 1, click here.)
Not every prospect who calls your call center actually places an order. We all should strive for a 100 percent call-to-order (CTO) ratio. But due to the nature of the call center itself, with its inherent imperfections in technology and human behavior, 100 percent conversion is virtually impossible.
So let’s explore how to increase your CTO, increase your average sale and make sure