Contact Centers

On the Web, Show Prospects You’re a Real Company; Not Simply a Fly-by-Night
September 7, 2007

These days, if you look hard enough, you can find some catalogers who can offer a nice bargain. But as we all know, by in large, catalogers have a tough time competing with retailers on price. Otherwise, it’s the product and service, stupid! Before you even consider offering top quality service, however, you better put your customers and prospects at ease, particularly when it comes to your Web site. Assure them that they’re dealing with a reputable company they can trust. Historically, the direct marketing business — later, to be joined by the e-commerce business — has always been plagued by fly-by-nights, leaving consumers

Are You Giving Your Inbound Sales Reps Enough Respect?
July 17, 2007

To your customers, your inbound reresentatives are your company. To your best customers your inbound reps are their friends! I learned this first hand many years ago when one of my inbound reps got invited to the wedding of one of our customers; someone who lived in another city and had never before met the rep in person. In fact, I was so shocked and impressed by the strength of their relationship that I paid for our rep to attend the wedding.
The point is, in any direct marketing business, “people buy from people” and your inbound reps are pure gold. In far too

The Best from 60 in 60 Ops Ideas
May 15, 2007

The general idea behind the “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes” session, a customary panel presentation at many conferences, is for attendees to come away with at least one or two good ideas. The trick is to wade through all 60 to find one worthwhile. The 60 in 60 session held during the recent National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Schaumburg, Ill., gave those in attendance tips for making their contact centers run more smoothly and profitably. We’ve extracted the best ones below. * Establish a metric to measure sales per hour per rep, said Timothy Holody, COO of Seta Corp., which markets through the

How to Ratchet Up Your Upsells
May 8, 2007

In a call-center context, successful upselling represents an important revenue stream, but not every call center is maximizing its upselling potential. Penny Reynolds, founding partner of the Call Center School, a training organization based in Lebanon, Tenn., discussed how to boost upselling revenue at last week’s National Conference on Operations & Fulfillment in Schaumburg, Ill., during her presentation, “From Order-Taking to Upselling: A Plan for Increasing Phone Order Revenues.” “At the heart of the plan,” she said, “is taking your call center out of an order-taking mode into a sales mode.” She offered the following tips: * Find the right people. Candidates should be interviewed and

Customer Retention: Don’t Worry, Be …
May 1, 2007

For years now, Garnet Hill, a Franconia, N.H.-based apparel and home furnishings cataloger, has placed follow-up calls whenever customers encounter a problem with the company. Specifically, 24 to 48 hours after a customer complaint, Garnet Hill calls the customer and casually asks how the problem was handled and if it was resolved. Smart and sensitive upselling techniques make Garnet Hill’s customers feel cared about. Liberal employee discounts have its employees wearing the clothing and using the products it sells, so it’s easy for them to personalize the experience. This “touchy-feely” group has products open and laying around so reps literally can get their

The Future of SEM: What Marketers Need to Know
April 10, 2007

As catalogers, you know the importance of search engine marketing for your Web sites and ultimately on your revenue. But technological advances and users’ preferences can make a difference in search engine results, page algorithms and spiders, as well as search engine optimization and overall SEM strategies. Manoj Jasra, director of technology at Enquiro Search Solutions, a search engine marketing firm in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, recently shared his thoughts on SEM changes in a blog entry. He warns marketers of some key factors to watch for: *Growth of personalized search. Because this is becoming more prominent, Web site operators have to work hard on Web

Special Focus: Ops & Fulfillment
April 1, 2007

Upselling, the Multichannel Way It’s Time to Master the Phone/Online Upsell By Liz Kislik Since the 1980s, when the majority of catalog orders began shifting from mail orders to the telephone, it’s become standard practice to not just take phone orders efficiently, but also to incorporate the upsell as a regular part of call center operations. But it’s 2007, and the typical catalog order isn’t necessarily over the phone anymore. Consider this scenario: Your customer calls to place an order and everything in the process goes smoothly. Your order taker follows standard practice and offers one or more upsells. In the classic

Upselling, the Multichannel Way
April 1, 2007

Since the 1980s, when the majority of catalog orders began shifting from mail orders to the telephone, it’s become standard practice to not just take phone orders efficiently, but also to incorporate the upsell as a regular part of call center operations. But it’s 2007, and the typical catalog order isn’t necessarily over the phone anymore. Consider this scenario: Your customer calls to place an order and everything in the process goes smoothly. Your order taker follows standard practice and offers one or more upsells. In the classic equation, you’ve created additional potential value for the customer — more satisfaction with your fabulous

Editor’s Take: Yes, There’s Plenty Anew in Ops
April 1, 2007

As you can see, the contents in this month’s issue are quite operations-heavy. We’re always trying to balance our coverage, and with a more general focus for our big double-issue next month, as well as a broadly focused June issue, we’ll turn to technology-related issues in July. Perhaps the most interesting thing we found in putting this month’s issue together was that, although there typically aren’t a lot of drastic changes in the whole area of catalog/multichannel operations, fulfillment and management, there are nevertheless noteworthy changes taking place. For instance, take a look at consultant Liz Kislik’s feature on necessary changes in catalog order takers’ approach

Four Steps to Infuse Your Culture and Brand into Outsourced Call Centers
March 6, 2007

In nearly every industry, companies rely on strong brand identity to promote customer loyalty. For catalogers, brand identity is especially critical because the products and services they offer tend to targeted at specific niche audiences. As a result, they’re constantly trying to identify opportunities to create an affinity with customers and build their brand. One channel that can be particularly effective in this capacity is the customer service contact center. The contact center represents an essential communications link between an organization and its customers. Contact center reps continuously interact with customers, amassing tons of information that can be used by catalogers to gauge brand awareness,