Direct contact

Harry Hill, Executive Director of Contact Japan
Maki Nibayashi

Maki Nibayashi spoke to Contact Japan' Harry Hill about opportunities in direct marketing.

Tell us a bit about your company.
We are a direct marketing company that has two main divisions of business. I run the Contact Japan division, which is a full service call center running inbound and outbound operations. Inbound operations tend to deal with calls relating to TV catalogue shopping and other responses to media. Outbound services are very successful in the US and Europe and are just starting to be a predominant means of marketing here in Japan. We use the telephone to sell products or services, build loyalty with clients, and provide customer service and information. With our current system and technology we have the ability to respond to about 500,000 inbound calls per month and to make 2 million outbound contacts per month. We're a unique company in mindset due to the fact that we have both Japanese and Western owners and we combine a lot of Japanese and Western marketing and business techniques.

The other division of our company is Shop Japan. We rely on media, TV and catalogue shopping to sell products. Now we are also focusing on wholesaling our products throughout Japan, with the catchphrase "Seen on TV."

Today, only about 30% of our business in the call center is done for our own company and 70% is done for other companies. A number of our current clients use call centers in the US and Europe and want to have a call center that uses the same type of techniques that they're accustomed to. That's why we developed a bicultural sales force that can focus on the needs of multinational companies.

Where do you see your company in the future?
I see us growing in conjunction with the business. We're an interesting company in that we are doing business with some very large Japanese companies as well as multinationals. Japanese companies seem to value us specifically for our ability to provide outbound marketing services and our experience in TV shopping order taking. We're looking to expand our business with multinational companies to provide a full spectrum of CRM services including inbound, outbound and Internet support. We think there are more and more companies coming to Japan that are looking to sell products and looking for direct channels to sell their products. We have one center right now, which is probably one of the largest centers in Japan, but we're looking to expand in the future.

What kind of people are you seeking to hire?
We are a multicultural organization. We have employment opportunities for people in sales who can sell to multinational corporations and being bilingual is an advantage. There are also opportunities in our IT department. We have openings for people of any nationality with expertise in network administration, reporting, database management and development. We've done smaller projects in the past when we needed bilingual communicators, so the opportunities are there. We also need supervisors to manage teams performing services for clients. We are always looking for strong supervisor candidates, especially if they have bilingual skills. Sales positions are in Tokyo, while IT and supervisor positions are in Nagoya.

How about salary and benefits?
Salary is commensurate with experience and we are very much a result-oriented company. In Tokyo, the base starts out at about JY300,000. The sales position really has no limit on how high it might go. Our company has two ways of rewarding people. One is salary, which is determined by performance and is evaluated every six months. The bonus system is based on the company's performance, and can be a significant portion of the salary. What we're seeking in the IT position are network administrators, virtual basic developers, database managers, and reporting experts. Salaries again are based on experience and ability and start from JY300,000/month. A supervisor normally manages a team of 20-30 communicators with 2-3 lead-communicators to assist them. They make sure we are achieving client goals and satisfaction and make sure that the team is working efficiently. The position is focused on managing people, planning and execution. Salaries start at JY230-240,000 per month. We're a Japanese company so we offer all the insurance benefits and also sponsor visas when necessary.

Send resume to the Tokyo office. Contact Japan, a Division of Oak Lawn Marketing Inc 6F, Daini Nagasawa Bldg, 3-26-2 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, 150-0011.

Do you have a position to fill? Email

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