Reflecting Back on 30 Years of Call Center Excellence
Empowering contact center excellence for 30 years!

Reflecting Back on 30 Years of Call Center Excellence

This year, ICMI celebrates 30 years of empowering contact centers.  Here at ICMI, we’re using this time to reflect back on the past three decades of our industry, while looking ahead to the future.  I recently dug into the ICMI archives to learn more about the path ICMI took to arrive where we are today and created this infographic to tell our story.

It all began in 1985, when Gordon MacPherson, Jr. founded the Incoming Calls Management Institute in Annapolis, MD.  It was a new idea for the time, to consider call center management its own industry, as call centers at the time were viewed as just additional operational areas within an organization. (This is a challenge that some still face 30 years later.)  ICMI set out to change this perception and empower call center leaders with the tools and resources necessary for successfully running their centers. Within the first few years, the call center industry’s first management level training course, publication, and conference were launched.

In the years since, ICMI evolved along with an industry that faced several periods of significant change.  Some of my favorite highlights from the 90’s included the launched “Call Centers on the Internet” in 1996, which was the first conference to discuss the impact of the WWW on call centers.  It’s amazing when I reflect on the significant changes as a result of the internet and can barely believe that it’s all happened in less than 20 years.

A new era for ICMI came in 1997, as MacPherson retired and founding partner Brad Cleveland becomes CEO.  Also that year, Call Center Management on Fast Forward was published in its first edition.  Several editions and almost 20 years later, that book is still considered as the leading publication on contact center management.  In the years immediately following, ICMI begins a global expansion that will eventually reach markets across six continents. 

As we reached the year 2000, call centers were rising in their importance and value.  In the early part of this new decade the sophistication of our industry advanced and new channels began to appear.  An industry-endorsed certification program emerged and ICMI became the preferred training partner, Call Center Magazine celebrated 100 issues, and the Annual Call Center Exposition (now ICMI’s Contact Center Expo & Conference) is launched in 2004.  In 2005, a growing global events business (United Business Media) made the decision to acquire ICMI.  This same year, we rebranded as the International Customer Management Institute.

Since that time, we’ve continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of both contact center leaders, as well as customers. Our research in 2007 estimated that in the US alone there would be close to 50,000 call centers and 3 million agents within the next year.  We know that it has grown significantly since then and we are proud to continue to provide events, training, and resources to this expanding space of professionals. 

Over the past few years, we’ve released the 3rd edition of Call Center Management on Fast Forward, launched an online training platform featuring our highly-rated content, and have rebranded our events to align with the fact that we aren’t just call centers anymore. There really hasn’t ever been a more exciting time to work in this space.

We’re so excited to look ahead to the future and are ready to help you face whatever lies ahead.  Stay tuned to throughout this year as we have a brand new video debuting next week, more insights from the past 30 years, as well as insights and predictions on what to face in the years ahead.  It’s an honor to be your trusted partner and we can’t wait for the next 30 years!

ICMI 30 Year Infographic

Topics: Strategy & Planning


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Does your contact center have a policy regarding allowing agents who wish to apply for internal company positions outside the contact center?

No, we don’t have a formal policy
Yes, agents must work in the contact center for at least 1 year before applying for other positions
Yes, agents must work in the contact center for at least 6 months before applying for other positions
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