By Erin Harris, Integrated Solutions For Retailers magazine
As one of the nation's largest specialty apparel retailers and parent company of Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines, Lane Bryant Outlet, Cacique, and Charming Direct — the company's e-commerce division — Charming Shoppes is a multibrand cross-channel specialty apparel retailer primarily focused on plus-size women's apparel. As part of its cross-channel mission, Charming Shoppes relies heavily on its call center to field various types of customer calls and emails for all brands. Indeed, Charming Shoppes' call center answers up to 15,000 calls a week. About a year ago, Charming Shoppes outsourced its call center operations, following the sale of its catalog center, which had housed the company's call center. As Susan Palumbo, director of business operations at Charming Direct, explains, the decision to outsource was not difficult. However, Charming Shoppes deemed it imperative to partner with a new call center that would maintain or improve the service level for its customer contacts while keeping costs under budget.