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April 2009 | Volume 27 / Number 11
Publisher's Outlook

True Stimulus Belongs In Call Centers & SMBs

By Nadji Tehrani
CEO, Technology Marketing Corp.

These are critical times in our history. Our country is in the midst of economic turmoil, the likes of which we have rarely — if ever — seen before. It is our responsibility to help our government in every way we can. It is in the spirit that I write this editorial.

In that regard, I strongly feel that true stimulus belongs in call centers and SMBs.

Here are the reasons why:

1. Call Centers are labor intensive — It is a known fact that under successful management, call centers usually grow at a rate of 20–25% even in difficult economic times. Consequently, once a call center starts with a finite number of employees, it is reasonable to assume that it will double or triple within a short period of time. As a pioneer of the call center industry, I have watched this industry grow from non existence to the current level and I stand behind the above statement 100%.

2. Call Centers are Vital in a Recessionary Economy because:

• Businesses depend on it — Every business is also a call center. As I have stated in these editorials many times, if you take the telephone out of any company, it is only a matter of time before that company will go under. Not only is the telephone crucial, but so is the manners of handling business or responding to customers that are learned with the principles of call center and customer interaction/CRM technologies.

• Sales and marketing depend on it — With all due respect to e-mail, the telephone continues to play an essential role in the success of a small business. Indeed, as an important part of integrated marketing, the telephone and email combine to form a truly powerful way to generate sales leads, close the sales and build the business.

• CRM, customer care and customer retention depend on it — It is a known fact that since the introduction of the 1-800 toll-free numbers by AT&T in the early 80’s, the call center has also become a vital source of customer care, customer service and customer retention.

• Credit and collection depend on it — Particularly in this economy, when cash flow is tight, every company must have a well trained credit/collection department. Without this skill set, delinquent accounts will rise and the company cannot survive. • Charities and religious fundraising depend on it — I think we all know the importance of charity and religious fund raising and the fact that in addition to direct mail, and email, the telephone continues to play a major role in this area. • Lead generation depends on it — As I have stated many times in these editorials, all sales begins with a sales lead. That is why lead generation plays also a vital role in the survival of a company.

The above simply explains only a few of the reasons why call centers are vitally important to the growth and job creation of every business.

Call Centers and SMBs Are the Dynamic Duo

When it comes to "new job creation", Call Centers and SMBs (combined) are in a class by themselves. Given the necessary tax reduction, capital gains tax eliminations and other job producing incentives, Call Centers and SMBs can, in fact, produce more new jobs than any sector of the economy.

Unfortunately, the recent, so-called, nearly trillion dollar stimulus package hastily passed by Congress does not include one dollar for Call Centers or SMBs!! History has repeatedly shown that the government is NOT capable of producing jobs or managing anything. The disasters at AIG, 80 percent of which is owned by the government among other massive failures at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Amtrak, and the U.S. Postal Service, to name a few, clearly shows that producing new jobs is NOT the government’s core-competency. But indeed, job production is exclusively the core-competency of Call Centers and SMBs.

Also, taxing of job producing entrepreneurs during this global recession is as counterproductive as it gets...

So, if the government is truly serious about producing millions of new jobs, it should show it by action. Words are cheap.

My suggestions to Mr. Obama are that if you mean what you say, spend 80% of the so called "Stimulus Package" on Call Centers and SMB’s and eliminate the Pork Barrel and earmarks. Please stop wasting tax payer’s money on the likes of AIG, GM, Citibank and others. Don’t place our children and grandchildren under the huge burden of having to pay back trillions of dollars of debt needlessly. Please refer to my March 2009 editorial.

There Should Be No Free Lunch
Lee Iacocca, the former brilliant CEO of Chrysler who was the first to ask the federal government for a $1Billion bailout, and who was able to successfully turn around the company and pay back his debt, recently mentioned that, "We are drowning in debt, but our public servants are always talking about free lunch." In other words, the country is in a critical state economically and we must eliminate any and all free lunches.

As always, I welcome your comments. Please email them to me at [email protected].

In Memoriam, William J. Conway

It is with sadness that Customer Interaction Solutions reports the passing of one of the pioneers of the teleservices industry, William J. Conway Sr.

Mr. Conway introduced teleservices marketing as a function to sell and retain magazine subscriptions while at Time, Inc. He was Worldwide Circulation Director of Life Magazine and in 1957 he founded Life Circulation Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Time, charged with maintaining an 8-million circulation rate base for
Life Magazine.

Mr. Conway then took this success to found DialAmerica Marketing in 1976, which became the largest privately held teleservices company in the United States. His son, Arthur, is President and CEO of DialAmerica, which now has 25 state-of-the-art U.S.-based contact centers that make 200 million calls a year, averaging 100,000 phone hours a week with one of the highest conversion rates and customer satisfaction scores in the industry.

I have known DialAmerica for many, many years. Through his company Mr. Conway has demonstrated that if you use the phone right, with well trained staff, that it can generate sales of products that consumers want to buy. Purchases that they may not have made and enjoyed were it not for the calls they received. Mr. Conway’s legacy is helping to create an industry that has enriched our economy, one that has spawned incredible technology innovations, and which directly and through suppliers indirectly now employs many Americans from all walks of life.

The entire Customer Interaction Solutions staff sends their condolences to the Conway family and friends.

CIS Magazine Table of Contents

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