Business Web Growth Positions Call Centers as Information-Gathering Arm

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Chicago - With more business being conducted on the Web, call centers will have to position themselves as the personal-contact and information-gathering arms of companies, attendees of the ICCM Call Center Management Conference and Exposition were told yesterday morning.


Setting the tone for the conference, held at McCormick Place Aug. 31 - Sept. 2, Don Van Doren, president of Vanguard Communications, noted in the show's kickoff speech that 40 percent of PC users bought online last Christmas and 28 percent of stock purchases are now performed on the Internet.


However, a study of customer service on the Web found that while some sites are experimenting with e-mail and Web chats, few have call capabilities, added Lori Bocklund, Vanguard's call center practice manager.


"All these shoppers are isolated out there," she said. "We need to establish a personal presence such as 'hit zero to go to a person.'"


Van Doren predicted that technology will cause a convergence of information systems and customer-contact centers into a more customer-centric environment.


"In the future, the competitive advantage will be based less and less on science, technology or even supply chains, and more on a company's ability to acquire, organize, understand and use information about customers."
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