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Nadji Tehrani
Executive Group Publisher, Editor-in-Chief


25 Years Of Leadership And Commitment To Excellence

In Call Centers, CRM Centers And Customer Interaction Centers
Part II

In my December 2005 editorial, I covered just a few of the highlights of what has happened since 1982 when this publication laid the foundation for the existing call center, CRM and customer interaction industries.

Much Has Happened In The Last 25 Years
Nationally speaking, over the last 25 years, many companies have come and gone while very few continue to prosper in the Fortune 500 rankings. For example, companies such as General Electric, Exxon-Mobil, Citigroup and IBM have continued to prosper in the last 25 years. However, many companies have been unable to maintain such a prestigious ranking at the top of the Fortune 500 list. For example, General Motors and Ford Motor Co. have traditionally been in the top five ranking of the Fortune 500, but unfortunately they are currently facing possible bankruptcy. AT&T, which was ranked number five in the Fortune 500 list, with revenues of $75 billion and profits of $4.7 billion in 1995, no longer exists as an independent company and is now part of SBC Communications.

If you compare the changes in the top 20 rankings within the Fortune 500, you will be amazed at the considerable amount of changes that have taken place due to a variety of reasons: among them, mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, etc. Please refer to Figure 1 for the comparison of changes in the top 20 companies in 1980 versus 2004.

By comparison of the above companies listed in Figure 1, while allowing for mergers, acquisitions or companies going from public to private, etc., one can make the conclusion that 'the cream always rises to the top'!

Contact Center/CRM Industry Continues to Enjoy Enviable Growth
In my opinion, the contact center industry has also risen to the top over the last 25 years in spite of many significant problems that our industry has faced. Over the last 25 years, our industry has had many ups and downs, but as a viable and much-needed industry, we have always risen to the occasion. I would classify the performance of our call center, CRM and contact center industry as follows:

'The great ones elevate their performance in times of need.' That is precisely what our industry has done in times of need, and that also explains why our industry continues to prosper in light of limiting legislations, abuse of our industry, offshoring, etc.

Indeed, many technology-providing SMBs are growing at 40 to 50 percent per year (see 'The Boardroom Reports' at www.tmcnet.com/228.1), while well managed teleservices companies are growing at 20 to 25 percent per year!

Over The Last 25 Years, We Have Been Intimately Involved With Our Industry
Since the inception of this publication in June 1982, our paramount objective has always been to provide unbiased, useful and practical information to our readers. In short, we have taken the responsibility of educating the industry seriously. I feel that this explains the enormous respect that the industry has for TMC, Customer Inter@ction Solutions' and the hardworking employees of TMC for having done such an outstanding job over the last 25 years to lay the foundation for our great multibillion dollar call center, CRM and contact center industry.

Close Contact With CEOs On A Regular Basis
As I have always indicated in these editorials, one of the most interesting parts of my job is to remain in contact with the CEOs of our industry and learn from them and offer advice when requested. During these extremely informative 'give and take' sessions, not only have I learned a considerable amount about where the industry is and where the industry is going, but also have formed a clear vision for the future of our industry, which is shared by nearly all of the CEOs that I am in contact with.

Supporting The Industry In Many Ways
Over the years, I have always made it our number one responsibility to get involved whenever the wellbeing of our industry is on the line. For example, on several occasions in the 1990s, I was involved with the FTC, giving them input and guidance on rule making. I have made dozens of public speaking appearances worldwide on behalf of the industry and in support of the industry.

Along the way, we have published thousands of articles, several books and audio cassette training sources for our industry. In plain English, we have accumulated by far the largest source of information over the last 25 years, more than any other source in the world. More than anything else, this is proven by the fact that our Web portal, TMCnet.com, ranks as number one on Google in over 50 relevant terms. Indeed, I am extremely proud of the achievement of our TMC staff.

Industry Recognition
As the industry's leading magazine since the inception of this publication in 1982, it has been our responsibility to recognize outstanding performance in every facet of our industry. Indeed, the awards earned by deserving companies appear worldwide in CEOs' offices or the libraries in advertising agencies or in the entrances of many, many companies that have supported our industry for the last 25 years. The following is a list of awards that TMC editors and TMC Labs engineers have bestowed upon the industry:

' MVP (Marketing Via Phone) Quality Awards;
' Top 50 Teleservices Agencies Ranking, Inbound And Outbound;
' CRM Excellence Awards;
' Product of the Year Awards;
' Speech Technologies Excellence Awards;
' IP Contact Center Technology Pioneer Awards;
' TMC Labs Innovation Awards; and
' TMC Best in Class Awards.

Informing The Industry About New Trends And Applications
Among many other things, we have always believed that informing the industry about the latest technological developments and new concepts in conducting cost-efficient and superior call center operations has been our greatest responsibility. Over the years, we have informed our readers about the hardware, software and services available to our industry that increase productivity, reduce costs and help develop competitive advantage.

Some of the new technologies and services that were introduced to our readers in the last several years include the following:

1. VoIP;
2. IP contact center technologies;
3. Speech technology;
4. Hosted/on-demand technology delivery;
5. Outsourcing;
6. Offshoring/nearshoring/homeshoring;
7. Integrated marketing;
8. Positioning;
9. Differentiation;
10. Online marketing;
11. SEO ' search engine optimization;
12. Channel marketing;
13. Last, but not least, we most recently presented the '12 Commandments Of Cutting-Edge Marketing,' which encompass the new evolution in marketing; namely, how to maintain competitive advantage by using conventional as well as online marketing skills (see www.tmcnet.com/229.1).

The Humorous Section Of Our Industry ' A Few Of Fhe Funny Things That Have Happened In Our Industry In The Last 25 Years
In my humble opinion, maintaining a good sense of humor is the key to success and to a happier life. In fact, I couldn't imagine anyone living a happy life without a good sense of humor or enjoying humorous things. Having said all of that, as I promised you in the last issue, I would like to share some of the funny things that have happened along the way.

Telemarketing Proved That You Can Do Business Sitting on Your Ass!!
For years, I was told that to be successful in selling, you must be a traveling salesperson. In fact, in my early career with a leading chemical company, my supervisor (the sales manager) gave me a tie clip on which the following initials were engraved:

'YCDBSOYA' ' You Can't Do Business Sitting On Your Ass!!
My supervisor wanted me to be on the road all the time because it was his belief that you simply cannot sell anything while sitting in your office (to put it politely)!

Long ago, Larry Kaplan, CEO of TeleBusiness USA, called me one day and asked me, 'What is the greatest achievement of telemarketing?' While I was trying to think of so many things that our industry has produced for the business community, Larry could not wait. He asked, 'Do you want know?' I said, 'Yes.' Larry said, 'Telemarketing has proved that you CAN do business sitting on your ass!'

The Mexican Story
In the mid 1990s, I received a late evening phone call from a gentleman in Mexico City. For the sake of this discussion, we will call him Mr. M. He told me that he was interested in setting up a call center in Mexico City in the next 60 days to sell products for the forthcoming Christmas season. I should mention that this call was received on or about the first of August, 1995. I asked Mr. M., 'Do you have any idea what type of telemarketing you would like to do and what kind of hardware and software you need to do that?' His answer was, 'I have no idea. You tell me what to buy and that's what I will buy!' I asked him how he came across my name. He said he went to the phone company, who showed Mr. M. Telemarketing' magazine, and also showed him a photograph of my editorial page. The phone company executive said, 'Call this man and whatever he asks you to do, you do it.' Then Mr. M. suggested that he come to Connecticut to see me the following day for lunch. I could not believe his enthusiasm, and finally agreed to have lunch with him. Sure enough, the next day, at 1:00 pm sharp, a black stretch limo pulled into our parking lot, and we went to lunch together. He stated that he had great plans, great funding and he needed my advice to build this call center. I referred him to several leading consultants and technology providers to help him decide what was best for his particular application. I even invited him to come to our TBT conference, the industry's leading trade show at that time, and speak to other vendors so he could make the right decision.

Because Mr. M. was in such a rush, his entrepreneurial impatience blinded him to the need to research before he invested. He ignored the advice of industry leaders. The bottom line, he lost millions of dollars buying incompatible hardware and software, and practically forced the formation of the call center in about 40 days without any knowledge of the industry.

Upon completion of his call center, Mr. M. called me again at 8:00 pm in my office and said, 'Mr. Tehrani, I spent a fortune buying everything and nothing is working in my call center. Can you come down and tell us what we are doing wrong?' As such, I was invited to his house in Mexico City along with 50 or 60 other guests and, as it is a tradition in both the Old Country and Mexico City, everyone arrived about an hour late, and the goodbye process took more than two hours! I must add that again, like in the Old Country, the party was composed of all men on one side and all women on the other side. All of this looked very normal to me, considering where I grew up. During the evening in Mr. M.'s house, everything was social talk: nothing about business. The next morning, I visited the call center and I couldn't believe my eyes! While Mr. M. had spent millions of dollars buying hardware, software and infrastructure, his employees were doing everything manually in the call center!! I asked Mr. M., 'What is the sense of buying technology if you are going to do everything manually?' Mr. M. said, 'Mr. Tehrani, let me teach you something about my philosophy which says: It is more important for our customer to think that we know what we are doing as opposed to whether or not we really know what we are doing!' As expected, the business failed shortly thereafter!

As always, I welcome your comments. Please e-mail me at [email protected].

Sincerely yours,

Nadji Tehrani
Founder, Chairman & CEO, Editor-in-Chief

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Figure 1. Top 20 Fortune 500 Ranking:
Year: 1980 Year: 2004
Rank Company Rank Company
1 Exxon Mobil 1 Wal-Mart Stores
2 General Motors 2 Exxon Mobil
3 Mobil 3 General Motors
4 Ford Motor 4 Ford Motor
5 Texaco 5 General Electric
6 ChevronTexaco 6 ChevronTexaco
7 Gulf Oil 7 ConocoPhillips
8 Intl. Business Machines 8 Citgroup
9 General Electric 9 Intl. Business Machines
10 Amoco 10 American Intl. Group
11 ITT Industries 11 Hewlett-Packard
12 Atlantic Richfield 12 Verizon Communications
13 Shell Oil 13 Home Depot
14 U.S. Steel 14 Berkshire Hathaway
15 Conoco 15 Altria Group
16 DuPont 16 McKesson
17 Chrysler 17 Cardinal Health
18 Tenneco Automotive 18 State Farm Insurance Cos.
19 AT&T Technologies 19 Kroger
20 Sunoco 20 Fannie Mae

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