J.C. Penney Telemarketing Inc.'s new Bountiful sales center will become a test site for AT&T telecommunications equipment that can quickly retrieve information about incoming callers and speed up customer service, an AT&T spokesman said.
The Bountiful telemarketing center, located on the second floor of the J.C. Penney store at 101 W. 16th North, is scheduled to begin taking calls in May, employing 800 phone operators processing catalog orders from customers calling in throughout the country. The operation may be expanded to a 24-hour shop handling telemarketing services for clients other than J.C. Penney.AT&T will furnish the Bountiful center with a "System 85" as part of a $42 million contract to provide J.C. Penney Telemarketing, headquartered in Dallas, with communications services and equipment.
Among those services will be the AT&T System 85, which automatically prioritizes, distributes and tracks incoming phone calls. The Bountiful center will be one of two J.C. Penney telemarketing operations using the system, said Ray Child, manager of public relations for AT&T in Utah.
Child said AT&T will use J.C. Penney's local telemarketing operations as a test center for the system's Automatic Number Indentification feature. He explained ANI identifies the telephone number of an incoming call, and based on that number the system can retrieve the caller's customer records for the phone operator's use.
The process takes place before the phone operator answers the call, which can speed up customer service, he said.
Including the new Utah center, J.C. Penney has 15 telemarketing sales centers across the nation. The retail giant's telemarketing operations employ more than 4,250 sales agents and 7,400 phone lines. In addition to handling its own catalog orders, J.C. Penney contracts its telemarketing services to other firms, including retailers, hotels and airlines.
In its first full year as a subsidiary of J.C. Penney Co. Inc., the telemarketing unit handled more than 100 million calls generating sales of more than $4 billion during 1988, said the subsidiary's president Thomas J. McGurren.
"We anticipate record growth for our new company in 1989," he said, noting telemarketing plans to expand its business of offering telemarketing services outside of J.C. Penney by 20 to 30 percent.
To handle that growth, the company struck the agreements with AT&T.
"AT&T's role is to provide the communications services that form the backbone of J.C. Penney Telemarketing's network," said AT&T vice president of sales Michael J. Keith.
In addition to the System 85, the $42 million in agreements inclue the 800 Megacom Routing Control service, routing calls during busy hours to the telemarketing center best able to handle the calls.