Purdue News

May 26, 2005

Call center conference addresses new industry trends

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Call Center Campus, the 10th annual conference for call-center management professionals, will take place July 11-14 at Purdue University.

There are approximately 50,000 call centers in the United States. Banks, manufacturers, retailers, catalogers, department stores and utilities are among the growing number of companies that operate some kind of a toll-free customer-service telephone number or Internet site to handle customer questions or complaints.

Richard Feinberg, director of Purdue's Center for Customer Driven Quality, said conference attendees would include both academics and call-center professionals.

"We'll be looking closely at the industry's No. 1 trend – natural speech-recognition systems," said Feinberg, whose center is sponsoring the conference. "We believe that 70 percent of all calls to call centers can be 'speechified,' by which I mean enabling real talk between consumer and automatic systems.

"The technology is here. The technology is affordable and getting cheaper. More importantly, the systems lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction. Consumers love it."

Feinberg, who is a professor of consumer sciences and retailing in Purdue's College of Consumer and Family Sciences, said natural speech recognition systems are the answer for both call-center companies and consumers.

"Companies cannot keep up with the demand for access, and consumers increasingly want answers and problems solved now, not after 20 rings or calling five times," he said. "At an average cost of $20 per call to a U.S.-based human customer-service representative, companies cannot justify the expense of adding call-center seats. This is the reason for outsourcing to foreign countries, where the cost per call falls to $5."

Some of the keynote presenters and presentations on July 12-13 include Jon Anton, of Benchmark Portal, speaking on "Common Characteristics of Excellent Call Centers"; J. Michael Tamer, CEO of Tamer Partners, speaking on "Intergallactic Leadership"; Jodie Monger, CEO of Customer Relationship Metrics, speaking on "You're Fired! Tips for Staying out of the Courtroom and the Boardroom"; and Feinberg, speaking on "The Emergence of Natural Speech Recognition as the Solution."

In addition, there are more than 40 workshops and seminars on a variety of participants' chosen areas of interest, including management, customer-relationship management and human relations. Other presentations and seminars include sessions on quality assurance, managing employees, customer relationship metrics and first-call resolution. New this year are sessions on customer care for utilities industry call centers.

Afternoon preconference workshop topics on July 11 include benchmark certification, call center manager survival 101, and building a customer-driven call center. Postconference workshop topics on July 14 include team and culture building, creating a mission-critical organization through strategy and creating a customer-satisfaction management program.

Online registration is available or by calling at (765) 494-0567 or (800) 359-2968. Tuition is $1,395 before June 15 and $1,595 after that date; preconference and postconference workshop tuition is $400 each or $700 for two.

Writer: Mike Lillich, (765) 494-2077, mlillich@purdue.edu

Source: Richard Feinberg, (765) 494-8301, xdj1@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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