ITEXPO begins in:   New Coverage :  Asterisk  |  Fax Software  |  SIP Phones  |  Small Cells

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 I

2006 represents the 25th anniversary of the birth of this publication. We started in 1982 as Telemarketing® magazine and after a couple of issues, we literally ran out of things to write. The reason is that the industry did not exist at that time.

However, with hard work on the part of all TMC staff and management, we made it happen. Slowly but surely, we started laying the foundation of this industry. I must admit that while it was extremely challenging, it was equally enjoyable. The experiences accumulated over the last quarter century could fill a 500-page book and hopefully someday I will get a chance to do exactly that. However, for the short space allowed in this editorial, as well as the January 2006 editorial, I will try to touch upon the highlights of what has happened and what helped us to get where we are today.

As I indicated above, I have had the great pleasure of watching this industry grow to its present multi-billion dollar status. It is a known fact that at some point our industry hired as many as five million Americans while enriching the lives of so many over the years.

Millions of jobs were produced, created and protected by what was known as the telemarketing industry. Of course, like any other industry, we had our share of bad apples along the way. Every time a new industry is born, it seems that the criminals get busy figuring out how they can beat the system and commit fraud. We've all heard of direct mail fraud, online fraud and, of course, telemarketing fraud. Unfortunately, that seems to be par for the course. However, over the years, with the help of the FTC and associations such as the ATA and the DMA, we have been able to minimize the fraud and maximize the good things that this wonderful industry has done for Corporate America.

Over the last quarter of a century, many, many competitors, as well as countless other publications, have come and gone! I am very proud of the fact that with the great support of our outstanding employees and management, we have survived all of the adversities of the past.

Just to give you an idea of how significant our survival was, I would like to share with you an excerpt from a letter sent to me by one of our valued readers and customers, as follows:

'Given the economic rollercoaster that this country has seen in the past 25 years, many publications didn't survive, or if they did, they are very thin magazines, yet TMC publications continue to grow.'

'Before switching to corporate PR, I was an editor/photographer/advertising salesperson for a regional business magazine in the Florida panhandle, so I know firsthand what it takes to start and sustain a publication ' I'm speaking from experience when I say congratulations, 25 years is quite an accomplishment.'

'By Michelle Basch,
Corporate Public Relations
Nuasis Corporation (www.nuasis.com)

I am grateful to Michelle Basch for her heartwarming comments.

I am particularly proud of the fact that Customer Inter@ction Solutions' magazine currently enjoys 84 years of continuous service by the original publishers, editors, circulation director, accounting staff, art directors, TMC Labs staff and other TMC contributors who are still on the staff of this pioneering publication.

In just 25 years, we went from non-existence to a proud industry, which laid the foundation for the existence of every corporation in America and around the globe. Today, no company can exist without the effective use of technologies invented by the founding fathers of this industry. Consequently, the business community owes very much to this phenomenal new method of marketing, which is still out-performing all other forms of marketing.

Along The Way
Along the way, we went from using 3x5 cards to fully computerized call center operations using sophisticated technology for database marketing, call management and assorted other new technologies that are making today's contact centers as cost-effective as most of the offshore companies.

We introduced Telemarketing and Business Telecommunications' (TBT') in 1985 as the first call center convention in the world. Over the years, we trained thousands and thousands of attendees and delegates from all parts of the world, and these delegates, in turn, upon subscribing to the magazine and attending several TBT' shows, became supervisors and trainers in their own countries. As a result, our publication and TBT' had a significant hand in the development of this outstanding concept of marketing throughout the globe.

I will address some of the major accomplishments made by technology providers as well as teleservices agencies for the January 2006 issue of this publication. However, at this point, I would like to share with you some truly outstanding and humorous events that have taken place during the last 25 years. Obviously, I cannot fit all of them in this short space. However, I will try to share with you some of the funniest moments that have occurred over the last 25 years.

The Funny Stories Along The Way

The Japanese Experience
During the 1990s, I was invited to speak in Japan to a combination of business executives as well as university professors of marketing. At one point in the 90s, Telemarketing' magazine was actually published in the Japanese language. Our Japanese publisher, Mr. Tanaka, invited me for several lecture series in Japan.

Anyone who has ever been to Japan will tell you that the Japanese, by their very behavior, communicate to any outsider that they are hardworking people, highly focused and rarely get side-tracked. Everyone seems quite tense and stressed out. In fact, during the weeks that I was in Japan, I remember only a handful of occasions during which my Japanese associates were actually smiling.

During one of my lectures, which by the way had to be interrupted at 15-minute intervals for a translator to translate my comments, I remember telling a joke that wasn't very funny. Fifteen minutes later, at the end of the translation, I noticed that everyone in the audience of about 400 delegates was laughing very hard. At the end of the presentation, I said to the translator, 'The joke wasn't that funny'how did you translate that to the audience?' He replied, 'I just said 'Our speaker had just told a joke and I want everyone to laugh very hard, please!''

The Japanese Nightclub Experience
It was my experience that if the Japanese like you, they will add '-SAN' at the end of your name, and refer to you in that manner. For example, my name became 'Nadji-san'. I also found that the more the Japanese like you, the more they invite you into their society. Having visited a number of contact centers, I saw a tremendous similarity between the Japanese culture and the Middle Eastern culture. For example, at that time, all of the business-to-consumer calls were handled by women. The reason is that Japanese men, like Middle Eastern men, did not like the thought of strange men calling their homes and talking to their wives. On the other hand, all of the business-to-business calls were placed by men because, once again, like in the Middle East, men dominated the business world. What was surprising to me at that time was that the government had passed a law prohibiting women from staying out past 10:00 pm. My Japanese host had invited me to experience some Japanese nightclubs. At about 10:00 pm, my host took me to a high-rise building that more resembled a law firm than a nightclub. As soon as the door to the nightclub opened, everyone stood up and received me warmly by calling me 'Mr. Telemarketing'. I was very humbled, indeed. But then I noticed that there were many ladies in the nightclub. I asked my host, 'It's after 10:00 pm. How are all of these ladies here?' The answer was that they were all 'imports' from surrounding countries. At any rate, that night was an unforgettable evening, particularly when my long-time friend, Steve Riddell, became the star of the night by participating in karaoke and singing Elvis Presley songs. In my humble opinion, Steve's voice was truly outstanding and I thought he did an even better job than the 'King'!

The Salesman Who Only Liked To Do Inbound
Long ago, we had a salesman here at TMC who was outstanding in cross-selling and upselling, but he hated trying to look for new prospects or new business. For example, if you gave him a $100,000 per year customer, he would increase the business at least five-fold, but he never could find a new customer. One day, I entered the sales department and saw him stretching his legs out on the top of his desk, reading a paper and eating candy. I asked him, 'What are you doing?' His answer: 'Today, I'm doing inbound!'

The Cartoons
Along the way, the industry has had its ups and downs, but I consider myself blessed with a good sense of humor, and I have always enjoyed cartoons aimed at our industry. I would like to share two of them with you:

1. One cartoon showed a caricature of a man and wife who were leaving a party prematurely. The hostess asked the guest, 'Why are you leaving so early?' The lady replied, 'Because my husband is anxious to get home and hang up on some of those telemarketers!'

2. Ever Crying Man ' There was another cartoon depicting a miserable man who was crying and clearly very unhappy. His friends asked him, 'Why are you crying? Why are you so miserable all the time?' The man responded, 'You have no idea. I'm so miserable that even telemarketers hang up on me!'

The Telemania Party
In the 80s and 90s, in conjunction with our TBT' show, which was the world's leading call center event at the time, and at the request of many exhibitors, we started an industry reception called, 'Telemania.' Let me tell you, if you haven't been to a Telemania party, you haven't been to a party. It was probably the wildest event I have ever attended. By comparison, this party would have made the wildest fraternity parties seem tame. (Obviously, I cannot go into the details, but you can use your imagination.) The best moments of the party came when a number of CEOs among the show attendees began addressing the audience with my accent and in an imitation of my voice! It was simply hilarious! And, I must admit, some of the speakers did such a good job there were times I felt I was talking to myself. Some of the best performers were:

1. Steve Ideleman, Chairman and CEO of ITI Marketing, which at that time was by far the largest outbound telemarketing center in the country;

2. Ray Hansel, President and CEO of RMH Teleservices; and

3. Larry Kaplan, CEO of Telebusiness USA.

If you know any of these three gentlemen, call them one day and ask them to talk to you in Nadji's accent. Be ready to laugh!

Oh Yes, I Was Even Roasted
To make matters more difficult, they decided to roast me by embarrassing me in every humanly possible way by exaggerating everything I said or everything I did. It was hard to feel hurt ' I was laughing so much the two emotions neutralized each other!

More of these stories are reserved for the January 2006 issue!

Major Progress In The Inbound Area
While the industry started out as heavily outbound-oriented, as restrictive legislations came about, the outbound volume decreased while the inbound was on the rise. Looking back, it seems that this must have been a blessing in disguise because not only has the volume of complaints decreased, but also, more and more companies are informing us of higher and higher profit and continued rapid growth, particularly because a) inbound is not as intrusive; and b) many of the offshore outsourced services have backfired and, for variety of reasons explained in previous editorials, a lot of business has returned to the U.S. where clients can get far superior performance minus rudeness, accent problems, communication problems, cultural problems and assorted other major issues. Along the way, the industry has grown significantly from plain inbound and plain outbound. The industry has evolved into customer care, customer satisfaction, customer retention and customer relationship management or CRM.

Our Commitment To Excellence Has Its Benefits
As indicated earlier, one of the greatest differentiators between TMC publications and others is the relentless commitment to editorial excellence, which has paid off dividends in a major way. Not only Customer Inter@ction Solutions' magazine, but also Internet Telephony', SIP' and IMS' magazines are the first of their kind and still number one in the industry in every way, but also, TMCnet.com ranks as number one in at least 50 categories on the leading search engines. The Web site traffic on TMCnet.com as ranked by Alexa.com is far and away ahead of every single telecom publication, communication publication, contact center publication or other Web sites, not only in the high technology areas, but also even ahead of Fortune magazine, CIO, Barrons.com and many others. TMCnet.com also ranks ahead of Fortune 500 companies such as Coca Cola, General Electric, Nokia and others. Please see page 57 for the proof.

I look forward to continuing the historical narration in the January 2006 issue. Happy holidays from all of us at TMC.

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

I look forward to seeing you at our Internet Telephony Conference & EXPO (www.itexpo.com) from January 24 to 27, 2006, at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center.

Sincerely yours,

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

If you are interested in purchasing reprints of this article (in either print or PDF format), please visit Reprint Management Services online at www.reprintbuyer.com or contact a representative via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 800-290-5460.

For information and subscriptions, visit www.TMCnet.com or call 203-852-6800. CIS

[Return To The Table Of Contents]

| More