In-House Calling Center Pays Dividends for TSG Clients
At a time when most companies try to outsource every possible function, clients of The Schapiro Group are glad that TSG has bucked the trend. Five years ago, the firm established an internal call center to conduct research and discontinued the use of third party call centers. For clients, the benefits include fast response, flexible scheduling, lower cost and the continued assurance of top quality.
Case in point: late last year a new TSG client needed to have a B2B customer satisfaction survey completed on an ambitious timetable. Even though the interviewees were hard-to-reach business managers and the holiday season was in full swing, TSG met the client’s aggressive schedule. “It would have been extremely tough, and maybe impossible, to turn this project around without a call center that we controlled completely,” says Beth Schapiro. “Now we routinely hit time windows that were problematic before.”
Scheduling flexibility was one of the main reasons for bringing the call center in-house. With third party call centers, there can be heavy competition for calling capacity. “We found ourselves standing in line at times when a client needed fast action,” according to Beth. “Senior staff came to me with a persuasive business case for integrating a call center into our own operations.” The business case has proved accurate, including cost efficiencies that have led to savings passed on to clients.
Senior Strategist Rusty Parker was a proponent of the move and a logical choice to lead it. While pursuing his doctoral degree at Baylor University, he had co-managed the call center of Baylor’s highly regarded Center for Community Research and Development. With Georgia State University just a few steps away from TSG’s Downtown office, Rusty knew that the firm could draw from a workforce similar to Baylor’s. “For live calling, students are ideal because they are educated, motivated and can work flexible hours,” he says. “It’s easy to adjust the staffing level as needs change.”
TSG conducts live calling only, based on the knowledge that it yields a better sample as well as more accurate data than is possible with automated response calling using a computer-generated interviewer voice. Plus, for some types of phone research, such as customer satisfaction surveys or B2B projects, most clients feel that the personal touch is essential. When it serves a need, TSG can also begin preliminary analysis even before the research is finished. “With third party calling, you get the completed data all at once,” says Rusty. “With our own center, we can do a running analysis as the responses are coming in, which helps take time off the back end of a project.”
Advanced calling technology provides a range of capabilities beyond opinion research. For example, in a grassroots mobilization campaign, a client can opt to use a call-forwarding feature which enables TSG to connect voters directly with their legislator’s office. After the caller describes the issue at hand, respondents are invited to deliver their opinion on that issue directly to a legislator or policymaker, either in live conversation or voice mail.
Beth says that prior to bringing the call center in-house, TSG’s quality standards were typically met by third party call centers, but now there is an extra level of assurance. “Controlling the calling allows us to jump in right away with coaching or script adjustments. For example, we can correct a difficult name pronunciation,” says Beth. “Clients like the fact that we have immediate response capability for any reason, at any time.”
Operating the call center also helps TSG adapt to a sampling environment made more complicated by Caller ID screening and a shift from landline to cell phones, especially for younger age segments. Though the law prohibits calling cell phones with automated dialing systems, TSG has devised a protocol for legally including cell phone users in telephone surveys. Managing the calling function internally helps TSG maintain sample integrity and cost-effective data collection simultaneously.
“Clients have high expectations for all of our services,” says Beth. “The in-house call center has proven to be crucial in delivering to our own high standards and meeting client needs with precision and speed.”
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We’re Proud of Our Clients and Friends
The Atlanta Police Foundation (www.atlantapolicefoundation.org)
released results from its survey of Atlanta residents conducted by TSG. For survey results, click here.
Cyndee Bonacci, City of Milton (www.cityofmiltonga.us) Parks and Recreation Director, received the “2010 Visibility & Marketing Award” from the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (www.dot.state.ga.us) has introduced an innovative program to provide centralized, comprehensive management of traffic signals throughout the metropolitan area. To read more, click here. Working with Arcadis (www.arcadis-us.com), TSG is conducting public opinion research to benchmark current perceptions of traffic flow and test driver reaction to potential improvements.
Marcus Wittich has been named ITS Project Director with Atkins (formerly PBS&J) (www.atkinsglobal.com).
Holly Bass has been named CEO of the Cobb Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.cobbcvb.org).
Central Atlanta Progress (www.atlantadowntown.com) has announced a joint marketing effort for the Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead Restaurant Weeks. CAP initiated the popular promotion in 2002, and has scheduled the Downtown Restaurant Week for May 28-June 5.
Anne O'Neill has been named Vice President, Communications at Points of Light Institute (www.pointsoflight.org).
The Georgia Legislature passed and Governor Deal signed into law a bill making significant improvements to Georgia’s human trafficking laws. Kudos to the many organizations leading the effort to address this problem, including the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (www.children.georgia.gov) and A Future. Not a Past. (www.afuturenotapast.org).
Deborah Richardson has returned to Atlanta to join the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (www.cchrpartnership.org) as Executive Vice President leading fundraising and programs.
Thanks in part to the generosity of Claire and Glen Jackson [Glen is principal of Jackson Spalding (www.jacksonspalding.com)], the Atlanta Mission developed the Atlanta Urban Garden to provide healthy food, job training and therapy to the homeless and recovering men currently served at the Mission.
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