What comes around, goes around - the call center is no longer a cost centerNews / TechnologyBy Viewpoints | September 16, 2015Share This article was originally published on A couple of weeks ago, I was at a client dinner with a major online travel partner. After introductions, the gentleman sitting next to me asked "Have your clients changed their view of the call center recently?" Funny you should ask....NB This is a guest article by Jack Feuer, CEO of Digital Marketing Works.I'm lucky. I've been involved with digital marketing and e-commerce since 1998 and during the past 17 years, I have seen a lot change and a lot stay the same.For example, one thing that will not change is that inquiry based marketing - the search box - will always be the best way to target users and drive measurable marketing ROI.What has changed is the role of the call center.Back in the dayFrom 1998 to 2009, one goal of e-commerce was to reduce the call volumes and cost of the voice channel. The mantra was "give the user the information they seek so they won't need to call your business" backed up by "the cost of an e-commerce booking is dramatically lower than call-center booking".Then, in 2009, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone 3GS and, from that point forward, the role of the call center was never the same. The iPhone is a mini super-computer - yes. But it's a phone and when users experience any friction, they will default to calling. This is even true for those tech-savvy millennials.Call Center As Mobile Sales EngineAs a consultant, I get to see a lot. I attend and speak at business reviews, board meetings, conferences, client annual meetings, etc. Each quarter, I produce a Key Trends presentation. Since 2012, like a broken record, I've been talking about M&M - mobile and meta.We realized early that mobile conversion rates will never approach desktop conversion rates. In fact, three years later, we still see mobile conversion rates that average 10-40% of desktop conversion. We were early to identify the need for a call-tracking solution to attribute call revenue from digital media and roll into the overall e-commerce results.In Sept 2012, I spoke on an Eye For Travel panel at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. I made crazy proclamations such as "voice is the new sales center"; "call center conversion rates are 30x higher than mobile" "TV advertising is in trouble".I was, and continue to be, passionate about the need to track and measure call revenue from mobile media.Current situationThree years later, unfortunately, very few travel firms are doing this. Why? There are technical solutions that aren't cost prohibitive. But some haven't even tested them yet. As frustrating as this is to me, my experience has yielded insight to help explain this. It's due to organizational bias.The e-commerce teams get zero credit for call center revenue and therefore are not motivated to figure this out. The solution is to break down the barriers between departments and reward teams based on overall business results such as, gains in market share or profitability.The next day, during our meeting, the major online travel partner shared some interesting data with me and my client. Their mobile ad placement drove 100,000 calls to their call center over the last few months! And, they used call duration to estimate that this yielded about $2 million in additional revenue, thereby doubling the media ROI.As we move to programmatic mobile marketplaces, we will all be under-bidding until we figure how the break down these silos and attribute voice revenue alongside e-commerce revenue.NB This is a guest article by Jack Feuer, CEO of Digital Marketing Works.NB2Image by Shutterstock.