Through my involvement with our government's lawmakers and rulemakers, I have learned a
great deal about how our system of legislation and regulation actually works. The most
important lesson I have learned is that signing a bill, and thereby creating a law, is
only half the story. The other half is what happens next: a government agency is
designated to write detailed rules to realize the "spirit" or intent of a law. A
piece of legislation, all by itself, doesn't mean very much. Rather, it is the quality of
the rulemaking that makes all the difference.
As I learned during my experience with the Federal Trade Commission (which created the
Telemarketing Sales Rule), it is impossible to underestimate the importance of consulting
true industry experts and practitioners during the rulemaking process. It is common
practice for a government agency to hold a series of hearings before finalizing a set of
rules. If true industry experts have a chance to speak during these hearings, there is a
good chance that the rules designed to bring a law to life will be fair and equitable. If
not, the new law may well be counterproductive.
Looking To The Future
The Telecommunications Law of 1996, though more complex than most laws, is no exception to
the general scenario outlined above. A government agency, in this case the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC), is charged with the task of expressing the law's intent
through the rulemaking process. Whether the future will see a worst-case scenario or a
best-case scenario depends on the quality of input received by our government officials.
The Worst-Case Scenario
At face value, the Telecommunications Law should be good - indeed, very good - for our
industry. In theory, the law should open telecommunications to more vendors, which should
foster more competition, which should, in turn, lead to lower prices. However, the
vendors, which include the Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), may respond to the
new law by consolidating. If this were to happen - that is, if the new law were to trigger
a wave of mergers and acquisitions among the vendors - all the legislation and rulemaking
would prove to be counterproductive.
In this scenario, we would see:
- Vendors maneuvering to minimize competition.
- Telecommunications companies announcing more layoffs.
- Consumers and businesses paying more for telecommunications services.
- Ordinary citizens and taxpayers bearing the social costs of having more people joining
the ranks of the unemployed.
Since billions of dollars and millions of jobs are on the line, arriving at an
equitable set of rules is extremely complicated. A wide range of constituencies will have
a stake in the outcome of the rulemaking, and the FCC will have to consult many if not all
of the interested parties. I most assuredly do not envy the job of the FCC. However, if
once again called upon to contribute to the rulemaking process, I will be happy to offer
my honest opinions about the matter.
It is essential that the FCC create rules that are clear, specific, pragmatic and, of
course, judicious. After all, these rules will determine exactly how the major players,
the RBOCs and long-distance carriers, will go about selling their services in each other's
territories. Any loopholes are sure to be exploited by players as savvy as the
telecommunications companies. In addition, any ambiguities will likely result in
To prevent lawsuits, which will waste valuable time and untold sums of money, the FCC
must clearly delineate the do's and don'ts that will apply in specific situations. If the
rules are vague, as many are, telecommunications companies will turn to their cadres of
lawyers to mark off and defend their turf. If this happens, the law of the jungle will
determine who will be able to sell what in any given territory. In the end, the costs of
litigation could undermine the stated intent of the Telecommunications Law, that is,
better service at a more reasonable price.
The Best-Case Scenario
Allow me to outline what is, in my view, the best-case scenario. Here, the law succeeds in
serving the public interest. The RBOCs and long-distance carriers maintain their
identities and compete with each other on a level playing field, with their conduct
regulated and their responsibilities defined by fair and equitable rules. Adequate detail
in all provisions prevents frivolous lawsuits. Telecommunications companies compete not in
the courts, but in the markets, and are thus free to concentrate on the job at hand:
decreasing long-distance costs and improving service.
This scenario (which is more likely in my opinion) points to obvious benefits for our
industry. Call centers, both inbound and outbound, will become even more cost-effective.
Telemarketers will attract significantly more business from a wide variety of sales and
marketing and related support activities, including catalog sales, direct marketing,
infomercials, and all kinds of customer service/care/retention/loyalty operations.
Given that telemarketing has already proven it is the most cost-effective way to
promote the sale of long- distance telephone services, our industry stands to gain the
most from increased competition in this field. If the law succeeds in fostering this
competition, we could expect outbound business to increase by at least 50 percent - and
this is a conservative estimate.
Obviously, more outbound means more sales and more job security for millions of
Americans. In short, everyone wins - the consumer, our industry and business in general.
And, most importantly, millions of jobs will be protected by increased demand for goods
and services as a result of better sales.
We Wish The FCC The Best
We recognize that the Telecommunications Law will have far-reaching effects on the economy
of the U.S. as a whole. Consequently, we urge the FCC to use its usual outstanding hearing
process (through industry experts and practitioners), which should set the stage for the
creation of a set of rules that will fulfill the vision behind the new law. With the FCC's
best efforts, and the participation of knowledgeable industry leaders, the potential of
the legislation will be realized, contributing to our country's competitiveness, growth
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief
|Welcome To TCCS
Unparalleled Educational And
Networking Opportunities At The Call Center Industry's Leading Conference And Exhibition
The TCCS Conference and Exhibition series is designed to provide information and
insights from three distinct sources: seminars, exhibitors, and networking opportunities.
TCCS SPRING '96 is strong in all three areas. Since each source may impart knowledge
that is unavailable from the other two, we recommend that you take advantage of all three.
This way, you will be assured of having a complete learning experience.
As always, the TCCS conference program is intended for top and middle management. At
this event, the topics discussed cover a wide range - from human resource development to
call center technology. This year, we have added two specific tracks: Executive Solutions,
which is totally focused on the information needs of upper-level management with
bottom-line responsibility for telemarketing/call center operations; and MIS/Telecom
Integration, which is designed to fill the informational needs of MIS/Telecom personnel
responsible for implementing and maintaining CTI (computer-telephony integration) systems
in call center operations. Plus, there are targeted tracks on Human Resource Development,
Effective Call Center Management, Customer Service/Retention/ Loyalty, Direct/Database
Marketing, Selling Savvy, Business-to-Business Marketing, 800 Service in Action and Call
Center Technology/ CTI for Management that will give you a complete education. We also
urge you to take advantage of the free keynotes:
- Keynote: Creating Customer Loyalty: Your Most Critical Challenge:
Thomas O. Jones (president, Elm Square Technologies, Inc. and former senior lecturer,
Harvard Business School) will illustrate the surprising truths that breakthrough
organizations understand and organizations in all industries can use to grow their
businesses. (Tuesday, May 21, 10:00-11:00 a.m.)
- Special Introductory Briefing: The New FTC Partnership Initiative: How
We Can Protect Our Industry by Permanently Preventing Fraud: Eileen Harrington (associate
director, Division of Marketing Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Federal Trade
Commission) will outline the FTC's new strategies for consumer education and describe how
your company-and the industry as a whole-can benefit by joining partnerships to reduce
fraud. After the keynote program, Ms. Harrington will also be available to answer
questions in the Exhibit Hall from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the
Telemarketing(R) & Call Center Solutions(TM) and CTI For Management(TM) Booth #429.
(Tuesday, May 21, 10:00-11:00 a.m.)
- Keynote: Unlocking the Power of the Virtual Call Center and the
Internet: The New Forum for Business: Scott B. Ross (president, Business Operations, chief
financial officer, MCI Telecommunications) will discuss how new technologies are making it
easier to perform "anytime, anywhere" operations in a new forum for business and
will show you how to unlock the power of the virtual call center and the Internet.
(Wednesday, May 22, 10:00-11:00 a.m.)
While at the show, be sure to visit the Exhibit Hall.and ask questions. What you learn
from exhibitors cannot be duplicated anywhere else! The Exhibit Hall at TCCS SPRING
'96 features more than 80 exhibitors that serve the telemarketing and call center
industry. Be sure to exchange business cards with everyone you meet, especially the
vendors, because although you may not need their services tomorrow, in six months they may
have the solution you are searching for. While in the Exhibit Hall, be sure to get the
most authoritative information from the industry's most credible sources: Telemarketingï¿½
& Call Center Solutions and CTI For Management magazines. The
Telemarketingï¿½ & Call Center Solutions and CTI For Management magazines
booth, #429, features the Telemarketing Bookstore, which contains the largest selection of
educational books and tapes in the industry.
Enjoy good food and meet with the industry's top executives at Telemania!, the
industry's most outrageous, fun-filled networking reception, which will be held on
Tuesday, May 21, between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach (sponsor: Lexi
International, Inc.). We look forward to welcoming you in Long Beach this May 20-23.
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief