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January 2010 | Volume 28 / Number 8
Publisher's Outlook

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Magazine Founder Nadji Tehrani Hands the Baton
as Contact Centers Meet Social Networking


By Rich Tehrani ,
CEO, Technology Marketing Corp.


Thank you Nadji for allowing me to contribute in the space you have written in for decades. While filling your shoes will never be easy – what I have learned from you should help guide me, TMC and our readers well into the future.

I have been extremely fortunate in my life to do something I love, have a passion for and all the while get, paid for it. From a very young age, I was allowed by my father to come to work on school vacations so I could work and earn money which was split evenly between Space Invaders at the local arcade and a new multi-thousand dollar stereo system which I still own. I did my mailroom job with the brochures of Vector Research (a now defunct company which built receivers) and Bose on the wall in front of me.

At my salary, it took many years to save enough money for a stereo – once you account for all the quarters I spent killing aliens and asteroids that is.

Later on I was very fortunate to be given an opportunity to sell advertising and found I had a passion for meeting people and learning about new markets. In addition, I parlayed my love for video games into actually writing them and although I never sold any commercially, I taught myself how to solve real problems using a computer.

In high school I transferred this knowledge to TMC where I programmed the databases which powered the company using the BASIC and later Informix 4GL programming languages. I was intimately involved in the contact center space and I really saw it blossom. When my father Nadji embarked upon the launching of a magazine in a new area, technology was not a factor. Call center agents relied on paper to keep track of their contacts and it is amazing to see how the industry has evolved over so many years and now employs millions.

While the technology has evolved, the most important part of the market to me has always been treating workers and customers right. If you do right by your customers you will always do well… that is what stands out in my years of involvement in these markets.

Of course, since the advent of the ACD, technology has become an important part of serving customers and the challenge today continues to be how to keep customer happy while leveraging the Internet, blogs, social networks, Twitter and Facebook.

And as I think back to the beginnings of this publication which Nadji thought to launch in 1981, I can’t help but feeling deep and humble gratitude for the opportunity my father Nadji has given me.

I feel privileged to not only fill this space, but to have had the decades to spend entire days with my father learning his unique approach to business and relationship-building. My challenge is to fill the shoes of a person who left Iran – a coun¬try where they read right-to-left to come to America around 20 years of age and start a publishing country with English as his third language – and he started learning it once he got here.

I figure to get started on this Herculean task I should make a bold prediction about how contact centers will evolve for the next few years. My prediction is social media will begin inte¬grating with contact centers and unified communications in a way which continues to alter and enhance how customers and companies communicate.

In the process, there will be a heightened level of transparency in what companies are doing and how they solve customer problems. The Internet will continue to open up processes that were once hidden. Already we are seeing computer manu¬facturers share information about products which are in the process of being built for customers. This has been taken to the next level with companies like Quirky.com, which allows customers to submit product ideas and further allows other customers to promise to buy the theoretical products before they are even built.

Social network monitoring too will become a crucial part of every company’s activities. Today, if you aren’t aware of what is being said about your company, you may not make. I have cancelled countless purchases based on high-ranking negative product and service reviews.

If among the top search results for your company is a link to a social networking site with customer complaints, you are in real trouble. So the next decade will be about integrating your contact cen¬ter and customer facing departments with social networking services in a way which benefits your company. In my opinion, this transition will be even more wrenching than the one to IP communications and it is more complex and involves integra¬tion with new channels of communications you don’t control like Twitter, Google and Facebook.

And as this massive transformation happens, keep reading… this column and publication will help lead the way. Nadji Tehrani is still very involved with TMC. A founder and chairman, he helps guide TMC as it navigates the exciting waters of new media. He can be reached at nadjitehrani@tmcnet.com


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