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July 15, 2003

UMBC Training Centers, ICMI Launch Call Center Training Partnership

As the remarkable response to the National Do Not Call Registry has shown, American consumers are serious about wanting companies to respect their wishes when it comes to calling them at home. But what about the other side of the equation - when consumers pick up the phone to call a company with a question about a bill, a problem with installing new software, or a change in a reservation?

A new partnership between UMBC Training Centers, LLC, and the Annapolis-based Incoming Call Management Institute (ICMI), two of the region's top names in workforce and call center training, will kick off in September with customized classes providing a new standard of training for agents and managers in the growing call center business.

"The only thing consumers appreciate less than an unwanted telemarketing call is poor customer service or being stuck on hold when they're making a call to a company with a question or problem," says Doug Kendzierski, President/CEO of UMBC Training Centers, and an Associate Vice-Provost in UMBC's Division of Professional Education & Training.

"Unfortunately, there's no national list or program to mandate customer service standards for incoming call centers," Kendzierski says. "But now, by teaming with ICMI for our new call center training courses, we hope to not only increase consumer satisfaction, but also offer paths to fast-track careers in a rapidly growing industry while continuing to improve its image nationwide."

"We are very excited to be working with such a top-ranked, established educational leader as UMBC," says Brad Cleveland, President and CEO of ICMI. "ICMI's goal is the advancement of our industry, and combined with UMBC's mission of advancing the region's workforce, we are confident that this partnership will result in unparalleled educational opportunities."

The call center industry has grown rapidly in the Mid-Atlantic. According to Customer Interface's 2000 survey, our region leads the country with 23.5% of the estimated 78,000 domestic call centers in existence. "Organizations such as ADP, BGE, the Social Security Administration, and T. Rowe Price are just a few that operate high-volume call centers in the Baltimore metropolitan area," notes Kendzierski.

Although an increasing number of consumers go online when they need help with a product or service, a recent study by Jupiter Media Metrix found that 33 percent of retail Web sites either took more than 3 days or failed to respond to customer inquiries. Other industry surveys have shown that consumers still rely on the phone when they need quick service or answers to a question.

Telemanagement Search (TMS) estimates that the current base of 7 million call center agents employed will grow at an annual rate of 20%, with salaries on the rise as well. "Recent research indicates average salaries for line supervisors are at $30,000, with managers averaging in the low 60's, and directors averaging almost $93,000," says Kendzierski. "This is a great fast-track career opportunity for everyone from high school graduates, to graduate-schooled business students."

But like any growth industry, Kendzierski emphasizes the need for the concurrent rise of high-quality education programs that groom an emerging workforce for productivity and performance mapped to the precise business objectives of the operation. "Successful training not only provides for individual advancement opportunities, but serves to boost the image of this sector as professional realm of employment," he says.

Cleveland emphasized that the call center industry requires very specialized knowledge and skills. "Business-as-usual won't cut it, because what worked a few years go, won't necessarily serve today's environment," he says. "Call Center environments have become more sophisticated and complex as we face multi-channels dealing with more complex transactions from a customer who is savvier than ever."

For more information on these programs, contact UMBC Training Centers at (410) 594-2282, or visit the Call Center training website at www.continuinged.umbc.edu/callcenter.

About UMBC Training Centers, LLC
The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), a regional leader in workforce development, established UMBC Training Centers, LLC as its continuing education and industry training operation, addressing critical regional employment priorities through responsive programming in areas such as Professional Engineering, BioTechnology/Regulatory Affairs, Federal Regulation Compliance, Professional Human Resource Management, Certified Financial Planning, LSAT/GMAT/GRE Test Preparation, PMI Project Management Certification, Certified Professional Bookkeeping, Paralegal and a full range of industry-standard computer certification programs.

In partnership with such renowned organizations as The College for Financial Planning, the Project Management Institute, the HIPAA Academy, the Society for Human Resources Management, Microsoft, Oracle and Sun Microsystems, the LLC offers the finest content available in the marketplace, while maintaining the University's reputation for affordable programming. Programs include instructor-led and web-based training, with part-time, full-time, evening, weekend and weekday class schedules, and customized contract training available.

About ICMI
Established in 1985, Incoming Calls Management Institute (ICMI) is recognized as the premier resource on call center management training and services. ICMI was the first company in the world to offer training seminars on call center management and operations, including "Essential Skills and Knowledge for Effective Incoming Call Center Management," attended by more than 55,000 call center professionals to date. ICMI has consulted to organizations in more than 20 countries, offering applied business expertise based on "real-life" hands-on experience of the company's executive team.

With global membership reaching over 40 countries, ICMI Membership provides unparalleled support in helping call center managers improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their operations. ICMI's President and CEO, Brad Cleveland, is co-author of the industry?s acclaimed "how-to" textbook, Call Center Management on Fast Forward, and is among the most sought after key note speakers and experts in the call center industry.

Posted by dwinds1 at July 15, 2003 12:00 AM