Opinion: Leader - Call centres need PR to win over doubters

Think call centres and what else springs to mind? The interminable delay before getting through to a human being? The fact that the human being is as likely to be in Mumbai as Manchester, and therefore lacks the contextual knowledge to make routine customer service bear fruit?

Perhaps it's the long eyewitness pieces in the weekend supplements that tell of how dreadful it is to toil away in a modern-day workhouse?

If it's any of these things, then news this week that India's leading call centre service provider ICICI OneSource has brought in fresh media advisers in the form of Cubitt Consulting could presage a revision of those prejudices.

Of all the modern age's business phenomena, among the least popular is the dreaded call centre. They are in dire need of a PR makeover and most of the opportunities to improve their image in the past few years have proved counter-productive. The most likely reason for the hire - though unconfirmed - is that a flotation is just around the corner. But if this were combined with winning hearts and minds for the massive expansion in call centre operations in recent years, all the better.

Procurement study is a worthy cause

It is rare for PRWeek to throw its weight behind individual pieces of research by PR practitioners, but IBM communications manager Bill Mew is doing the entire PR sector a favour with his MBA project on the role of procurement professionals in the PR business.

With the backing of the IPR, the PRCA and a host of other professional associations, Mew is exploring trends in both the procurement and management of PR services. Readers can help the research process - visit www.mew.net.uk to fill in the questionnaire - and later become privy to the summary research results.

The procurement profession's influence on PR is the defining trend of the consultancy market, and although one study seems unlikely to capture its many facets in their entirety, it is a worthy start.

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