Purdue News

June 8, 2006

Conference explores how to turn customers' phone gripes into gold

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — For more than a decade, Purdue University consumer behavior researchers have urged businesses to view their call centers as investments and not costs.

Richard Feinberg, director of the Center for Customer-Driven Quality, says when customers call company 800 numbers looking for product information or resolution of a problem, businesses are presented with a golden opportunity.

"Our research shows that a customer satisfied in a phone call hangs up with more customer loyalty than one who is originally satisfied with the product," says Feinberg, who also is a professor of consumer sciences and retailing. "That satisfied call center customer is more loyal, makes more future purchases and is more likely to give the product or service the best advertising money can't buy — word of mouth."

The 11th annual Call Center Campus, which takes place July 10-13 on the West Lafayette campus, will present the latest ideas on turning a company's call center into a marketing tool.

Mike Trotter, executive director of the center and director of the conference, says companies need to think strategically about call centers in the context of their whole enterprise.

"Call Center Campus is designed to show businesspeople how to take the pain of long hold times and outsourced calls and transform the call center experience into a point of positive differentiation for their businesses," Trotter says. "Calls to call centers are increasing exponentially, and businesses need to manage this critical point of customer contact well."

The Center for Customer-Driven Quality estimates there are currently 60,000 call centers in the United States taking 30 billion calls per year.

"By 2010 the number of calls will double," Feinberg says. "That doesn't count the increasing use of the Internet for customer contact, and there are also ways to increase its strategic value."

More than 20 industry experts will speak at the conference. Sally White, vice president of Service, North America, Smiths Detection, will give the keynote speech. Also featured will be Chetan Bhagat, author of "One Night at the Call Center," who will discuss his undercover experience at an Indian call center. There also will be a virtual tour of an Indian call center.

Also speaking is Brad Cleveland, CEO of the International Customer Management Institute, a call center consulting and training firm headquartered in Annapolis, Md.

The complete conference schedule and registration are available online or by calling (800) 359-2968.

The conference will present emerging technologies for meeting customer demand and increasing buyer satisfaction. Sessions will include cross selling and upselling opportunities, best practices, determining appropriate metrics, leadership and management buy-in.

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

Sources: Richard Feinberg, (765) 494-8301,(765) 491-5583, xdj1@purdue.edu

Michael Trotter, (765) 494-4725, trotterm@purdue.edu

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


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