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Call Centers: Back to Where it All Began

ACCE returned to Seattle this year with a new guide to succeeding in today’s new era of customer relationships.

Eight years ago, in 2004, ICMI launched its Annual Call Center Exhibition (ACCE) in Seattle, WA. This week, May 7-10, 2012, ICMI brought ACCE back to where it all began. ICMI’s mission is still the same: Help businesses and brands by improving and elevating the contact center. What’s new is that the relationship between customers and the organization (and the contact center and the business) have evolved … customer demands for new channels, social customer service, increased focus on the call center’s role and value to the business, etc. 

Call Center ROI in Today’s Customer Service World
We learned how email and social media direct marketing provider iContact, insurer New York Life, and windshield repair and auto glass replacement specialist Safelite AutoGlass have leveraged their internal relationships and strong grasp of the fundamental principles of call center management and customer service to adapt to new channels and growing customer demands to create strong returns on investment for their brands. These award-winning contact centers have raised the bar for excellence.

And, of course, there were dozens more classes and sessions designed to help every contact center professional improve their centers’ performance. 

Award-Winning Contact Centers
Speaking of awards and excellence...ICMI is proud to announce the 2012 Global Call Center of the Year winners. UPMC Health Plan and Allianz Global Assistance Canada took home the gold for large and small-to-medium call center, respectively. Rounding out our silver awards were China CITIC Bank (Strategic Value), American Water (Technology) and Allianz Global Assistance Canada (Quality). This year’s entries were incredibly strong, and we’d be remiss for not calling out the strong performances of our gold award finalists Go Daddy and Freeman. 

Meet all of the finalists and see the awards ceremony at ACCE Online. Or learn more about our awards sponsor, Jabra

Hot Coffee! Site Tours Drive the Crowd Wild
How can you visit Seattle and not go to Starbucks? ICMI’s site tour buses were packed for the visit to the coffee giant’s Human Resources contact center. Attendees also scrambled and crowded to get a look at the workings of the call centers at REI (outdoor recreational gear and apparel), BECU (credit union) and Virginia Mason Medical Center (nonprofit medical care provider). 

Technology Shopping for the Contact Center
One indicator that there are continuous improvements through technology on the horizon for many organizations was the traffic in the ACCE exhibit hall. Whether call center decision-makers were looking for new channel services, workforce management tools, cloud computing or anything else under the sun, they found it among the 60 exhibitor booths. If you were at ACCE and didn’t have time to investigate every technology you were looking for – or if you weren’t able to attend but need to find a provider or learn about new technologies on the market – find them all in the ACCE Exhibitor pages. You can also find out more about these technology partners in ICMI’s Call Center Buyer’s Guide

THE Book on Contact Center Management Just Got Better
Just as ICMI’s flagship event has evolved with the needs of businesses all over the world, so has the ICMI Press flagship publication, Call Center Management on Fast Forward. The launch of the third edition of Brad Cleveland’s best-selling call center reference book generated a terrific buzz at the event. And for Brad's accomplishments in raising the value and visibility of the contact center as a strategic partner in the brands they represent, Brad was named the inaugural recipient of ICMI's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The latest edition covers how organizations handle new contact channels, such as social media, and more ways for the contact center to drive value to the organization.

Thanks to launch sponsor MarketTools, 200 ACCE attendees received complimentary copies of the latest edition of this best-selling book. The generous sponsorship included complimentary downloads of the searchable digital copy to the first 100 who requested them online. 

Watch this Blog
Want to know what else happened at ACCE? Visit this blog again for updated links to other news and follow-up from the event.