Respectfully submitted: Brad French, President
Happy August! I hope everyone has had a fabulous summer so far. I know that I have enjoyed the weather and lots of golf so far. As we are nearing the end of this pandemic it will be interesting to see how our businesses will transform. I know that the majority of my operations will remain remote or we will find some sort of hybrid model that works. The longer-term question will be the amount of office space we all require. I am certain we all need less space than we use to!
Our virtual convention is coming up September 28th, 29th and 30th. The agenda is jam packed with great topics and great speakers. I am particularly excited for the sales and marketing session by Aaron Boatin and Steve Newall. Remember to sign up early and get 10 registrations for less than $60 a person! The early bird saves the money!
COACH U is also virtual and runs September 14th, 15th and 16th. I know my team has taken advantage of these sessions. If you have not had your team participate before, I highly recommend it. You will not regret it. An investment in your people is truly an investment in your business.
As my Presidency comes to an end, it is also the time of year that we look for new board and vendor members. If you are interested in being on our board then please reach out. It is a great experience from both a personal and business perspective.
As I write this Canada has given at least one vaccine to just over 71% of our population and just over 52% of both doses and our US neighbours are just over 57% with one dose and 49% fully vaccinated.
Enjoy August and stay safe!
Am I the only one or does it seem crazy that half the year is already done? Where is the year going?
I think back and look at what CAM-X has done in the past 7 months for its members and sit in awwh.
Between numerous webinars, COACH U, Membership Engagement, Recognition…… then what is still ahead of us. More webinars and training, another COACH U, Convention with more well deserved Recognition. WOW. However none of this is possible with out YOU our Members. We are truly grateful and appreciate all that our members do for CAM-X. When we’ve asked for speakers, you have stepped up. When we’ve asked for help, you’ve stepped up. When we’ve run out of ideas, again you’ve stepped up. THANK YOU to all of our Members from the top down for stepping up and making this a great organization to be a part of.
We want to continue to recognize you and your staff. Everyone in this membership is important. If you know someone that has stepped up or has done something worth recognizing please let me know. It matters and we want to share it.
Michel Leclerc with i 24 has stepped up within their organization starting with the switchboard and moving on up to Director. That is no easy task but I’m told he does it very well. Michel's story is the Member Spotlight this month - take a moment to get to know him.
Everyone has a story. How is your story written?
If you are interested in sharing your story and the journey you have taken with in your organization I want to know about it. Please get in touch with me at email@example.com so we can share in your success together.
Fun Fact about August:
Augustus renamed the month of Sextilis because many of his greatest triumphs occurred during this month.
Did you know, there’s a national rum day? Set a reminder in your calendar for the 16th August!
From Agent stations to the big desk, no matter what our position is, we are all successful. What made you successful? Why do you get up every day and work in the company you are in? Please get in touch with me directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your story. We all have a story, what is yours?
The Spotlight is for anyone; agents, supervisors, programmers, sales staff, management and business owners. We want to throw open the doors and make introductions that strengthen the connections within the industry! We want to get to know YOU! Check your junk folders…..?
Q. When did you join i24 Call Management Solutions and what brought you into the Call Center industry?
So I started working for i24 call Management Solutions back in 1984. At that time the TAS department was known as Alert Answering Service and our paging division was known as Tele-Page. Before I joined i24 I worked at Pratt & Whitney as a machinist and worked on airplane & jet motors. The company lost a major contract and they proceeded with laying off thousands of workers. Jobs were more scarce in those days and so when I saw an ad for i24 I figured why not, thinking it would be a temporary job. That was several decades ago !
Q. Can you tell us a little more about the evolution of your career path with i24 Call Management Solutions.
I started as an agent working on switchboards working the overnight shift. After a while I changed shifts to day-time and was actually a shop steward for the union for some time. Yes, we are still to this day unionized. I worked my way up to supervisor, Ops manager and eventually Director.
Q. What was your first CAM-X experience?
So I believe my first memorable experience with CAM-X was in Kananaskis, Alberta. It was in the winter and the whole event was just fabulous from the lodge nestled in the Rockies to the members of the association and the informative sessions. I remember coming back to the office with many great ideas from other CAM-X members that I wanted to implement.
Q. What does the company look like today vs. ten or more years ago.
Well as I mentioned when I started we were working on switchboards at the time. In 1987 we bought a new Tascom system and at the time it was a major step forward from switchboards. It served us very well for almost 20 years until we retired that system and went with Amtelco. The transition to Infinity/IS was a major undertaking. We had made the decision to go full IS and so we had to program each and every account in IS which was more labor intensive but we cut over gradually running the two systems at the same time. However we never regretted that decision.
In the past decade one of our founders Ron Blair passed away and his son Gary Blair, our current CEO took over. Gary convinced his sister Lynda to come work for the organization and she has become a great asset. He also changed the culture of the company for the better and is not afraid to push the envelope and change things up. We are all very conscientious about how important each member is to the organization and especially our front line workers and we all strive to make it a better place to work.
Q. What platform do you use? Are you a member of the user group and why?
We are currently still using Amtelco’s Infinity as we are fully IS. We are converting to the cloud at the moment and plan on going to Genesis in the very near future. We have been a member of the CAM-X association for a very long time and I have made many friends along the way and shared many ideas with members. Although we are competitors for the most part, we all are willing to help each other when needed.
Q. Tell us a little personal background about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
My parents were French Quebecois but I was born and raised in Springfield Mass., USA. My father went to the US to work and my mom followed him not long after. We moved back to Canada when I was 13 years old and this is why I am fluent in both French and English. I met my wife Monique back in 1984 as we both worked for i24 and we have been together ever since. We have a lovely daughter and three beautiful grandchildren, two boys and a girl. In my free time I enjoy camping, fishing, travelling and I am a die-hard hockey fan. Go Habs Go !
Respectfully submitted by Linda Osip, Executive Director
Welcome New Member: On Call Centre, Inc. Ottawa, ON
Education Committee Update:
Mark Your Calendar:
COACH U Leadership Training Three days of Virtual Program
September 14, 15 & 16
Transitioning to a Leadership Role with Barbara Bradbury
Stress & Mental Health
Learning to listen
Remotes – transitioning back to the office
Dealing with difficult people / co workers and clients
Change Management / dealing with continuous change: platforms, scheduling software / how to coach fear and resistance from staff that feel intimidated
Prioritizing what is important and urgent
Pricing, Details and Registration
Virtual Convention & Trade Show
September 28, 29, 30
Listen to Co-Chair Leslie Wilson
Bulk pricing and interchangeable registrations for maximum participation
How to make money and save money in the new world!
Listen to Keynote speaker Kirk Weisler
Tuesday, September 28
12:00 – 12:10 Opening Remarks & Welcome with Brad French, Leslie & Heath
12:10 – 1:15 Keynote: Kirk Weisler: Aaahhh, The Refreshing Leader
1:30 – 1:55 Gary Pudles COVID Story
2:00 – 2:25 Vendor Time
2:30 – 3:15 Crystal O’Hara – Remotes: The whole nine yards
3:30 pm Kirk Weisler: ZIP, ZAP, ZOOM! Overcoming Fatigue in Remote Teams
Wednesday, September 29
12:00 – 12:45 AI Case Studies with Michael Leibowitz & Desiree Bombenon
1:00 – 1:30 Jeff Doyle: Smiledog Story and Starfish Culture
1:30 – 2:00 AGM
2:05 – 2:45 Cyber Insurance: Kevin Casey
3:00 – 4:00 Break Out Networking
Thursday, September 30
12:00 – 12:25 Pricing Strategically - Do you know your worth with Gary Blair
12:30 – 12:55 Vendor Time
1:00 – 1:45 Sales & Marketing Strategies: Aaron Boatin & Steve Newell
2:00 – 2:45 Pat Vos – How to weather the storms
3:00 – 4:00 Awards Presentation & Closing Remarks
*Recordings of all webinars are available email email@example.com
Pre Employment Software Update:
We are actively working to add Personality Profiling as an option
Pre Employment Testing Demo Available
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions
Two Grey Suits
Human Resources.....I'm too busy!
This article is part of the TwoGreySuits Managing Employee Performance Series and is offered by our partner, TwoGreySuits as a service to our members.
When you ask small business owner/managers what business issue literally keeps them awake at night, they say one or more of the following: "My cash flow….collecting money….increasing sales…keeping the bank happy…making payroll" Ask them where Human Resources management fits in and they’d probably say "Human Resources? I’m too busy for that fluffy, big company stuff. I don’t have the time or the money. I’ve got a business to run."
And yet, when they find themselves in a messy people issue, the same owner/manager is willing to pay his lawyer or other advisers whatever it takes to make the problem go away and keep him out of court or even worse, jail. Sometimes that runs into thousands of dollars and sometimes the problem still doesn’t go away.
Unfortunately for the Human Resources profession, the business owners’ perception of Human Resources management is more fact than fiction. The Human Resources function has done little over time to promote the notion that good people practices and a healthy financial bottom line go hand in hand. Consequently it is perceived, with some justification, as a non-value added expense that should be avoided if at all possible.
In this article, we hope to dispel that perception. In our combined fifty plus years of corporate and consulting HR experience, we have learned two important lessons;
1) Good people management does have a direct and positive relationship to a strong bottom line
2) Managing people is not rocket science although some HR professionals and consultants would have you think otherwise.
Spending just 5-10 minutes a day doing something different than you are doing now with your employees will pay huge dividends but you have to know what to do differently. It could be as simple as asking employees for their ideas or encouraging an employee’s behavior through positive reinforcement. It could be communicating policies so that employees understand the company’s expectations or developing a work improvement plan to bring an employee back to acceptable performance. None of this is hard to do. So, what does it really take to be a good people manager? Well, it all starts with hiring the best people you can find. Then you have to get them to perform to their maximum potential. You have to reward them appropriately for that performance. You have to give them some structure or boundaries within which they can work comfortably and finally you have to understand risk and how to minimize it.
Let’s take a look at each area in greater detail.
The cost of employing the wrong person can be enormous: wasted time, wasted training, mistakes, replacement costs, legal action ... the list goes on. Studies have shown that the true cost of turnover can be as high as one and a half times annual salary. Making the right decision can therefore directly contribute to improving business performance. There’s no question that building a set of interviewing skills requires practice, an opportunity that the small business person doesn’t get. However, learning and following some basic recruitment principles improves the probability of hiring the right person. The people factor is what distinguishes successful organizations from unsuccessful ones. Managing Performance: Managing Performance in the workplace involves letting employees know what is expected of them, how they are doing, and how they can do an even better job. Only then can employees contribute their best, use their abilities to the fullest, and feel connected to their organization. Managers need certain skills to manage performance effectively. In most cases building these skills requires basic behavioral change. Given the right tools, anyone can make it happen. Again, this is not rocket science!
Employee pay and benefits are too important to ignore. Small and medium sized businesses sometimes think that taking a proper approach to this important issue will be both complex and costly. It doesn’t have to be either. Remember, the primary objective for establishing a solid Pay and Benefits program in any organization is “to attract and retain the quality of employees you need to achieve your business objectives”.
Managing risk is one of the cornerstones for developing a solid platform for business growth and organizations that understand risk and put measures in place to manage it are likely to be more successful over the longer term. Penalties for non-compliance with legislation can be significant, in some cases threatening an organization’s survival. It is important to recognize that risk management is a complicated area and may require the advice of legal counsel in certain situations.
People expect to be treated fairly and consistently at work. The best way to accomplish this is to establish and communicate a set of people policies that reflects the organization’s values and culture while ensuring compliance with applicable legislative requirements.
Given the right tools and processes, any small business owner, manager or administrator can manage the core of their business, their people, like a professional. Good people practices and a healthy financial bottom line go hand in hand and our fictional small business manager should be sleeping peacefully in the knowledge that his approach to managing the people side of his organization is giving him a stronger bottom line and a more successful company.
TwoGreySuits is a leading-edge provider of on-line human resource management information, processes, tools and forms servicing the North American market. They have integrated the HR practices associated with the key drivers of Employee Engagement within the well-organized information on the website.
To login as a user: camx.twogreysuits.com
Enter your email address and Password CAMX01
If you are not currently signed up, please email me directly email@example.com
The TGS System is a one-of-a-kind product that includes:
The HR Power Centre for dealing with the day-to-day people management issues that inevitably arise
24/7 HR Hot Line
Topical regular Blogs suitable for reprinting by the Association members
A Story from Paul Lloyd
Two years ago, I made a speech to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. During the speech, I talked about the worst snowstorm in my 71 years. It occurred in the winter of 2017.
The storm was so bad that it closed the entire city. All the stores downtown were closed, the entire mall was closed. Even the doctors’ and dentists’ offices were closed because none of them could get to their offices. All hospital surgeries were cancelled.
When you went outside it looked like an absolute ghost town. The only thing moving in the entire city were the buses…….. because the bus drivers “showed up”. The other people who “showed up” were our CSRs. Every single one of them… and miraculously, on time.
Somehow, our CSRS were able to find babysitters for their kids (because the schools were all closed). Then, they donned their biggest snow boots, layers of warm clothing, hats, mittens and scarves and trudged through the snow to the nearest bus stop to make it to the office. The CSRs who were already working during the snowstorm offered to stay on and work overtime to help handle the deluge of calls. Some of them even stayed overnight and took turns napping in the tranquility base room.
I was so proud of our CSRs for showing up that I was outright bragging about them to every person in attendance my speech.
It is times like that snowstorm that made me dream about the day technology would allow our CSRs to be able to work from home so that we could always “show up”. Then that dream became a reality. Virtually every single one of our CSRs worked from home during the pandemic. I found myself bragging about them again, beaming with pride. When the whole world was shut down, our CSRs “showed up”.
Over the past few months, things have changed. We have more last-minute book-offs now than we did when everyone had to travel to the office to work. One of our offices is experiencing a five-fold increase in late employees. To show up remotely, you don’t even have to change out of your pajamas most days.
Unfortunately, when we don’t show up, our service levels are negatively affected and our customer’s customers (our callers) suffer.
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was a novelty for our CSRs to be able to work from home. But, after 16 long months, it’s beginning to take its toll. Burnout is real, and the stress you may feel from eroding work-life boundaries is valid.
The good news is that the pandemic is not forever, even if it has felt that way sometimes. We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel as the country begins to open up again. ‘Back to normal’ will look and feel different for all of us. And that’s ok, as long as we maintain hope that we will all get there eventually. Hang in there, hold on for the next few weeks, and above all do your best to keep showing up for yourself even when it feels hard.