Catalog Gets Hurricane Relief From Call Center

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Hurricane Bonnie last month forced several companies close to North Carolina's coast to close up shop and head inland.

Overton Sports Center Inc., Greenville, was no exception. The catalog retailer of boating supplies and water sports equipment was forced to close its call center for two days, a death knell for any cataloger. But Overton sought the help of Convergys, its teleservices company which handles Overton's overflow in Pueblo, CO.

"Even though we were not open for business, customers got taken care of in spite of a state of emergency," said Jeff Parnell, vice president of marketing and business development for Overton.

"Convergys is accustomed to handling our calls from midnight to the opening of business, but the biggest point is that in situations like this you have to have qualified partners," he said. "They have helped out numerous times."

Jim Walker, national accounts manager for Convergys' catalog division, said the Pueblo facility handled 3,000 calls in two days, compared 300 normally fielded by the company's operators.

"It was not a strain because we have the critical mass of people able to expand [our clients'] needs," said Walker. "We do this type of thing for a lot of our catalogers during power outages and tornadoes and snowstorms."

Walker attributed this ability to the company's size and its area of expertise.

"We were able to do this without bothering our other clients," he said. "Also, because of where we are in Pueblo, we can get people in and give them overtime hours."

Since North Carolina is no stranger to the chaos created by hurricanes, this was not the first time Overton faced a crisis of this sort.

"Two years ago hurricanes Bertha and Fran hit more suddenly, but we were not closed for an entire day," Parnell said. "This was a little more unique, but we are very blessed that things turned out OK. The impact was very nominal on our service levels."

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