If you’re a regular reader of my column—and thank you if you are—you’ve probably noticed that at the end of each of my monthly columns, Contact Center Pipeline editor Susan Hash adds a box that lets readers know that I’m also the editor of In Queue, the monthly newsletter of the National Association of Call Centers (NACC). The text in the box invites readers to read more of my “provocative commentary” each month by subscribing to the free monthly newsletter.
Despite Susan’s efforts on my behalf, which I truly appreciate, the thought recently struck me that many of you probably don’t follow Susan’s advice and subscribe to the NACC newsletter because you have no idea who or what the NACC is. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Allow me to elucidate.
The NACC was founded in 2005 as a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit research and membership organization with a goal of providing statistically valid and objectively presented data about, and for the benefit of, the North American contact center industry. The NACC’s stated goal at the time of its founding was to advance the contact center industry by offering high value-added information, research and products to its members for effective decision-making.
The founder of the NACC is David Butler, Ph.D. David was an associate professor at The University of Southern Mississippi in 2005 when he began researching the contact center industry. The research resulted in his writing and publishing two books on call center management, one of which, “Bottom-Line Call Center Management,” is still available on Amazon today.
Building upon the success of this initial research and publishing effort, David founded the NACC and continued his industry research with a focus on industry trends and issues from the perspective of the end-user, or customer service professional. Each year, David produced an extensive report—in the neighborhood of 100-plus pages—that detailed the results of his research. I remember receiving his reports in 2006 and 2007 and, as a researcher myself, being quite impressed with the depth and detail of his work.
My involvement with the NACC began in 2008. That’s when I received an email from a business colleague, Suzanne Graf of Advanstar, who knew David and suggested that I talk to him about combining our research efforts since his research focused on end-user topics and my work with Saddletree Research focused on technologies, markets and other subjects of interest to the contact center vendor community. I thought it would be a good idea, too, so Suzanne provided an introduction and after a couple of phone conversations with David, he and I decided to meet in person at the end of 2008 to discuss how we might work together.
We met in Albuquerque since David was there to visit family and it was close to my home base in Arizona. Over a two-day period, we discussed how we might combine our research efforts and we hammered out a deal in which I would work for the NACC under contract as research director and David would continue in his role as executive director.
Our combined research efforts began in earnest in 2009, and for me, it provided an avenue into the end-user community that I had been lacking. Like most analysts, I had depended on the vendor community for my market information. My association with the NACC provided me with insights into the demand side of the market that I had previously lacked. From that point forward, I didn’t gauge demand for a contact center technology based upon what vendors told me they shipped, I gauged it instead on what the buyers told me they bought. It opened up a whole new world for me.
To expand that world and to better understand the demand side of the market, 2009 marked the year that we launched our survey of contact center professionals with the objective of better understanding the market from their point of view. We asked about trends, issues and technologies that mattered to them and reported the survey results in the form of research reports, research notes, and essays in the monthly newsletter.
As part of his early efforts with the NACC, David launched a monthly newsletter called In Queue. In those early days, David was not only the editor, he was the sole contributor of newsletter content. After I joined David in his efforts, I also began to contribute articles to the newsletter, many of which were based upon the results of our joint research. David was also able to leverage research assets from the university to help with our efforts, which provided the NACC, and by extension Saddletree Research, results with a degree of statistical validity that we still enjoy and are proud of to this day.
On the Saddletree Research side, I completely changed the focus of my research and publications to reflect the boots-on-the-ground realities of the contact center world, which I gleaned from interactions with NACC members. I stopped publishing data such as market share, which is useless to everyone except the vendor that ends up in the number one spot, and focused instead on publishing demand-based data that offers usable business intelligence to the vendor community.
Today, the NACC is still going strong as it has evolved through the years. David is now Vice Provost of Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Middle Tennessee State University. He still provides research guidance and management advice to the association. My role has evolved to a more active daily management role in terms of research planning and publication. I also act as the administrator of the professional community that the NACC has become, and editor of the monthly In Queue newsletter.
The NACC remains a not-for-profit organization in every way. Neither David nor I derive any income from the NACC. We both have our regular jobs for that purpose. We pay a consultant to manage our website, newsletter and email blasts. Whatever income comes in from advertising revenue generally goes toward paying our monthly expenses. At the end of the month, we’re happy just to break even.
Membership in the NACC is limited to contact center professionals currently employed in a working contact center. The NACC membership roster is confidential and is not available for sale or trade so members are assured of privacy, underscored by our promise that no one will contact them as a result of their NACC membership. Vendors can reach our members and newsletter subscribers via sponsored articles, ads, webinars and email blasts.
Now that you know what the NACC is, I think it’s also important to know what it’s not.
The NACC is not a real estate service. Please don’t call the NACC if you’re trying to unload an empty building “just perfect for a call center” or a vacated call center you’d like to fill. Find a real estate company instead.
We are not a dating site for sales reps. Every week I get calls or emails from sales reps, usually newly hired, who want to join the NACC so they can network or get a directory of members so they can solicit sales. Not gonna happen.
We are not a slick marketing machine like some of the other industry membership or training organizations in the market. Our primary mission is research. If you want slick marketing, go to the slick organizations.
By the same token, we’re not in business to promote any vendors’ products. I get calls or emails weekly from vendors who are absolutely certain that the NACC membership would “benefit” from knowing about their product. When I direct these inquiries to the NACC Media Guide and our paid advertising programs, I typically don’t hear from them again.
So, if you’re a customer service professional and I’ve got you thinking about joining the NACC, the first thing to do is subscribe to the newsletter. It’s free and it comes once a month. We’ve just redesigned it so it’s got some fun stuff as well as useful information and infographics. You can subscribe by visiting www.nationalcallcenters.org and filling out the subscription box. All we ask for is your name and email address. No one else will get it from us.
If you find the NACC information interesting, go to the “Membership” tab on the website and look at the description for Volunteer Membership. We don’t ask for any money, just for you to become an active member of our community and support our research efforts.
Being a member of the NACC is like being a member of any organization—the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. I hope I’ve managed to pique your interest in the NACC, which is basically unlike any other organization in the industry. If the NACC’s uncommon profile fits yours, I hope you’ll consider becoming a part of it, too.
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CALL CENTERS
Did you know columnist Paul Stockford is also the editor of In Queue, the monthly newsletter of the National Association of Call Centers? Get your free subscription and read more of his provocative commentary every month!
SIGN UP TODAY ON THE NACC WEBSITE AT: www.nationalcallcenters.org