Show Offers Diverse Topics, Audience

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The 22nd annual Direct Marketing Association Teleservices Conference, held June 4-6 in Newport Beach, CA, attracted a global cross-section of teleservices professionals.

The event began with a keynote presentation that was exciting and enlightening. The fighter pilots from "Afterburner" discussed what everyone knows is the key to success for any business: timely, effective communication.

Though teleservices professionals rarely find themselves in life and death situations, it was still immensely helpful to hear them speak about the mindset required to ensure that your company communicates effectively.

Ramesh Lakshmi-Ratan, the DMA's senior vice president of membership and market development, started the second day with a speech about the association's future goals. He discussed direct marketing's importance, highlighting that DM accounts for 10 percent of the U.S. economy in terms of direct billing. This needs to be emphasized to legislators and regulators nationwide, he said.

Mr. Ratan also discussed marketing's evolution and that as consumers become ever-more empowered in terms of choices of communication channels, direct marketing will play an increasing role in reaching people with ad messages. Maintaining the growth of direct marketing channels will require continued focus on guidelines that define excellence and ethics so as to improve customer trust, he said.

Sessions covered diverse topics such as training, "virtual" agents, offshoring and new technology and legislative issues.

The panel presentation that I moderated provided in-depth information from compliance experts Reid Houser of SITEL, Carmit DiAndrea of TPG Telemanagement and Jim Beuoy of OKS Ameridial. Along with new information regarding teleservices compliance in the context of recent enforcement actions, this presentation also delved into the relatively new topic of privacy and data security as it relates to call centers.

The conference also held "virtual call center tours" for the second year, giving attendees an inside look at two best-in-class centers: Influent Inc. in Panama and Comcast Cable in Morgan Hill, CA - all from the comfort of their second-day luncheon seats.

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