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Calling in Call Centers: A CRM Plus?
By Vijay Dandapani ~ Hotelier's outlook on NYC, travel and the industry
Thursday, 8th May 2014

The early noughties saw an exodus of jobs outside the US for a variety of reasons, largely economic, the ensuing job loss expectedly caught the attention of the US political class with one prominent leader going so far as to calling Americans involved with the outsourcing process as 'Benedict Arnolds' after the US general who defected to the British Army during the American Revolutionary War.
While the political rhetoric has toned down political moves to curtail and "bring back" those jobs continue unabated.

These include a ponderously titled bill "The Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act" introduced by a New York Congressman with the active support of the Communications Workers of America.

Among its provisions are disincentives to companies that ship jobs offshore including "Federal loans and grants" and requires them to identify where the call is coming from and give consumers the option to transfer to a domestic operator if requested. 
That may well prevent some from continuing to offshore call centers while incentivizing others to bring back jobs but the reality is that companies are going to peg call center performance as the basis for locating. On that score, domestic companies have a natural edge owing to a variety of factors not the least of which is understanding the customer.

More relevantly, as an ex-Lufthansa call center agent in Germany noted, his airline never offshored but nevertheless has drastically shrunk its number of agents due to the fact that an increasingly large number of customers book their own tickets online with airlines exhorting them to do so including going so far as to making it cheaper to book online. Some like Ryanair actually charge customers for merely calling in. 
As the marvelously researched and written 2013 report from AH&LA & STR on hotel distribution channels showed, demand coming through the voice channel (either to an offsite call center or to reservation agents on site) was 13.2% but (emphasis added) the revenue generated for the voice channel was disproportionately high providing 17.2% of the revenue. 
Also, interestingly, the AH&LA and STR report notes that upscale and luxury hotels have almost two-thirds of all reservations at the resort or property.  The most telling statistic though is not the 30% call conversion rate attributed to these call centers but the 31% premium they generated. Legislation or not, for excellent if not good CRM, call centers need to be situated not only within the country but preferably within the organization.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

Read Vijay's blog HERE

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