Happy April fool’s day!, Happy Easter! And, Yahoo! I think it is spring. I have seen a few calves, yesterday and pussy willows - all signs of life beginning anew.
Your CAM-X board had a face to face meeting in Toronto on Tuesday, March 19. We took the time to review our list of requested topics from our survey for this year’s convention. Read the post from our convention chair Garrett Bidewell for the latest convention news.
We had a lively discussion on the awards program, in its 30th year. The awards committee continues to evaluate and refine the programs to suit the complexity and diversity faced in all of our centres as our businesses evolve. In some ways, technology has replaced us, and in other ways technology has created the opportunity for us to provide more complex services.
We discussed the future and how to position CAM-X as we move forward while riding the ship called political uncertainty (we call it a lot more things in Alberta after a glass or 2). We plan to buy a list of small call centres and have increased our budget for the administrative Assistant Linda hired to free up Linda to do more sales
We talked about disruption and I think that happened when my mother sent me away at 5 years old to live with a relative Monday to Friday to go to school. No school busses yet.
Seems to me like there have been a lot of disruptions in my lifetime, the day Kennedy was shot, being stranded in Toronto on Sept 11, 2001, and sitting there helplessly while my travel mate worked to reschedule her wedding because we could not get home. Sheena was ready to hitchhike!
Maybe this time of disruption is somehow more drastic or the consequences more severe, BUT an organization of very resilient resourceful individuals. As lifelong learners, we will learn, grow, adapt and survive.
Also attended a PEG meeting in Toronto. Sure do appreciate being invited to join a PEG group, and very much appreciate all of the opportunities to learn and grow with the group. I sold cars for the first 8 years I lived in Drayton Valley and the guy I worked for belonged to a 40% club; I think the same philosophy. (I have to believe I helped him achieve his 40%)
Later in the day March 19, Intercon Messaging was awarded an Employee Recommended Workplace Award, at the Globe and Mail in Toronto. The Award is administered by Morneau Shepell, co-sponsored by the Globe and Mail. We attended a "Mental Health in the Workplace" all-day session in Edmonton in May 2018, facilitated by the Conference Board of Canada. I studied the Morneau Shepell website after attending and on a whim entered the ERWA program. Thrilled that we won, but most certainly looking to improve our overall score in 2020. The Employee Recommended Workplace Award is open to everyone.
Part of our wellness journey has been teaching people that our thoughts are not random. We have the opportunity to stop the runaway train in our brain and say whoa, that thought does not work for me and choose to think differently. If we change the way we think we have the potential to respond (or not) to emotional stimuli instead of reacting. This Ted Talk by Shawn Achor is entertaining, not too long and is about Shawn’s research on happiness.
Had a discussion about venting. Read “Unlearn: 101 Life Lessons Without the Bullsh*t” by Humble the Poet and am almost finished “Let That Sh*t Go” by Nina Purewal and Kate Petriw. Humble says teach yourself to find the good in everyone, and learn to think kind thoughts about people. The other book says vent for half- hour max, let it go and move on. Personally, I think venting is a great habit to break. Am enjoying both books.
This link has controversial content: Vivian Krause: The Cash Pipeline Opposing Canadian Oil Pipelines. The Alberta Election is April 16,2019 and I just gave the UCP some of my kid’s inheritance.
Membership Development Committee Report
Respectfully submitted by Gary Blair
We continue to have a lot of positive feedback on the monthly Member Spotlight. Dee Hawkins, from A Better Answer, Inc., is highlighted this month!
Anyone interested in being our next Spotlight, please be in touch email@example.com. Keep in mind, the Spotlight is for owners, senior management, the operations team at any level, sales staff, programmers, supervisors or agents. We want to open the doors and make introductions that strengthen the connections within the industry!
At the moment, we are currently looking into having the Member Spotlights housed on our website as part of the Member section and should have more news on this shortly. The board has endorsed expanding the mandate of the Membership Development Committee by adding a subcommittee called Member Engagement.
This new initiative will be to continue the ongoing awareness and education of our members of all the services and benefits that come along with membership. We’re going to start by reaching out to those members who don’t participate in specific programs. We want to better understand their needs and to learn, from their feedback, why they may not have participated previously. In this way, we hope to address any concerns, learn from our members and tweak our programs to remain relevant so as to offer even more value to our members.
We will also be reviewing the welcoming process of new members with the intention of better integrating them into our association. At our most recent board meeting, we talked extensively about this and zeroed in on a number of specific initiatives which will be implemented going forward.
Volunteers for the Member Engagement sub-committee are welcome and you may contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining or knowing more about what this entails.
Garrett Bidewell, Convention Chair
Hello all CAM-X Members,
Spring is here, I for one am excited to kick off this year's CAM-X, AOE, and AOD calls. These calls are an important part of how my business continues to gauge whether or not we are providing a level of service our clients have come to count on. We are long standing members and contributors to CAM-X and have seen countless benefits from being so.
This year's CAM-X Conference is being held in my home town of Edmonton Alberta. I am very excited in welcoming you all to our beautiful city and the amazing line up of speakers and events we have planned. This ALL STAR line up will give you the ideas and tools to make a meaningful impact in your business this year. Both Industry leaders and local Celebrities will be speaking at this year's CAM-X convention. These amazing speakers will bring their A game and this event will be a great return on investment.
Some hot topics are:
The Power of Storytelling
A Workshop on Human Resource Development
Technology panel whom will give expert advice on the future of our industry
We are also extremely excited to have COACH-U happening at the same time,
Come visit with your longtime friends and meet new and upcoming business owners to grow and improve how you are doing business. This by itself is an amazing line up of speakers. Your team is going to come away from this with some real tangible tools to implement and ideas that could change how you do business. We are extremely happy to offer these speakers to you.
I would also like to thank the huge support from this year's conference committee, made up of some of our industry’s most brilliant minds. Pat Vos, Gary Pudles, Sharron Lawson, Patty Anderson, Linda Osip and I want to extend our warmest welcome to this year's conference.
Thank you, and I hope to see you all there.
Respectfully submitted by Gary Blair
On March 25th the calls for the 2019 Award of Excellence program were launched. This launch earmarks an incredible milestone for CAM-X – the 30th anniversary of the AOE program!
It has evolved massively since its inception - as has the industry itself. Indeed, many CAM-X members were still operating cord boards at the time the AOE came into existence. One thing for sure, regardless of what equipment we used at any given time, the complexity of customer applications, the extensive IT and programming demands - the bottom line is that the AOE program has consistently kept our focus where it needed to be - on our front line service. Thirty years later, the AOE continues to be the driving force behind we can all proudly say is true, professional call management.
In our 30th year, the Awards Committee is as committed as ever to remaining relevant. In this milestone year, we are taking the opportunity to both tweak and rebrand our awards programs with the goal of modernizing some of the aspects of what is now the accepted manner of conducting business by phone. We already have the benefit of the results from a relatively recent poll that our friends at ATSI conducted and will be expanding upon lessons already learned.
To this end, we are preparing to undertake a focus group for the purpose of better understanding our member’s current needs and how they see what excellence means to them in 2019 and going forward.
If you are interested in participating, we are seeking centers from across our membership that represent a balance of small, mid-size and large operations from both Canada and the United States. Indeed, we want this balance in order to have a more exact representation of how excellence may play out differently for different members.
By moving our awards program into the next generation of call excellence, we hope to both enhance the experience for centers who currently participate as well as attract members who have never participated in the past.
I can’t help but include a pitch for the Award of Distinction as well as the brand new AOE Plus award which now offers the ability to have the outbound, or “delivery” side, of your calls scored. The feedback from those centers who participated in the first go around was all positive. Their teams learned a lot more than they ever thought and their clients who participated were able to use it as a Quality Assurance opportunity for both their service as well as their on-call staff. Two birds with one stone, as they say.
If you would like more information about The Award of Excellence Plus or any of the Awards programs, don’t hesitate to be in touch with Linda at the association office.
Two Grey Suits
This article is part of the TwoGreySuits Managing Employee Performance Series and is offered by our partner, TwoGreySuits as a service to our members.
Employees generally want to know what is expected of them and how they are going to be measured. The start of a New Year or new fiscal period is often the time when we set objectives with employees, aligned of course to those of the department and organization.
However, even with the best intentions, objectives are often forgotten within a few weeks or months.
Why is this?
It is because once the objectives are set, it is often back to the normal day to day routine work not necessarily aimed at an end result or agreed objective. One of Steven Covey’s habits of highly effective people applies here. “Start with the end in mind”.
In other words, know each day what overall objectives are to be attained and just as importantly, why. We see it very important to involve your employees in setting their objectives. Another significant reason employees often fall short on achieving certain objectives is because their manager does not manage employees to these objectives. It is not unusual these days to see managers so over-loaded with their own work that the people-management part of their responsibilities goes ignored.
By “managing to these objectives”, I mean the process of periodic performance review feedback, where you would purposefully look at the objectives set, progress to those objectives and helping to ensure the objectives are indeed met. This is where the solid people management acumen pays off. In the performance management section of The HR Power Center, everything is there to help managers and companies do proper job descriptions, set performance objectives,manage/coach in the interim, and do the formal year-end review.
There are lots of ways managers can make sure their employees' objectives are achieved. Here are five of them:
1. Encourage the establishment of SMART objectives
2. Help with prioritization
3. Remind employees regularly about objectives, milestones and due dates
4. Align employee and organizational goals
5. Monitor progress by having regular ongoing performance review meetings
Take a few minutes to explore the HR Power Centre at www.twogreysuits.com. It contains on-line Employee Engagement training, everything you need for effective people management in the HR Power Centre, and, when you need answers fast, you can talk to a senior HR Professional 24/7 through the HR Hot Line.
Signing up is hassle-free. Just go to www.twogreysuits.com and log in using your email address as your username and CAMX01 as your password. It's as simple as that.
Q . When did you join/start A Better Answer, Inc. and what brought you into the call center industry?
Shortly after I moved to Texas from Chicago, my ex-husband was asked to move his office to Dallas. He found the perfect location but there was no answering/secretarial service there. I just said, “Let’s start one.” I studied shorthand and typing in school with a major in English so I thought I could probably handle it. That was in 1971. I started out with 12 customers and a 30-button call directory with the telephone company saying that it would last me a few years. Well … after I totally ran out of space, I had individual phones installed on my desk until my switchboard arrived. When those individual telephones rang, I would jump up, throw my body over all of them to figure out which one was ringing so I could answer the correct line. I had ordered the only equipment available at the time which was a 557B switchboard – which was only 10’s and 10’s of years old when I got it.
Q. Can you tell us a little more about the evolution of your career path with A Better Answer, Inc.
Pearl Forrester of Forrester Answering Service (the largest in Dallas at that time) called me one day and wanted to meet the lady (me) who was giving her competition. Pearl said to me, “If you’re going to be my competition, I want you to be charging properly” and then invited me to join ATAE (now ATSI). Once I started attending, all the wonderful people in the TAS truly helped me plan a direction for my future. I always wanted the latest and greatest and everyone knows what that means… lots of being the guinea pig.
Q. What was your first CAM-X experience and can you tell us more about how you’ve participated or benefitted from CAM-X membership?
I can’t even remember what year I joined CAMX but I believe I have participated in so many AOE and CAMX monitoring years. Everyone shared valuable information and I had so many great conversations over dinner and drinks. We are a family and it’s always wonderful to catch up with everyone and what we have all done since the last time we got together. Some of the people are family to me now.
I truly believe as a baby in this industry at that time, sitting in on so many sessions, attending the conventions and meeting so many knowledgeable and successful people inspired me to have the confidence to not only continue what I was doing but to move forward and not be fearful. Life in this business has been quite a journey and I have met some of the finest and most successful individuals I would never have met otherwise. Their successes and stories inspired me to take chances with confidence.
Thanks to the association I met 3 wonderful women I am honored to call ‘friends’ … Joy Rossin, Judy Vincent, and Mari Osmon … We put on many seminars for this association, without whom I would never have learned to calm down (sort of) and be able to speak to people from a podium—then, it used to make me sick for a whole day ahead and couldn’t even eat. Bless them all!
Q. What does your business look like today vs. ten or more years ago.
In the nearly 50 years since I started A Better Answer©, we hand wrote messages, gradually got a scale so we could weigh them and not have to hand count them, and have purchased equipment from nearly every vendor. Some of them are no longer in business and thank God, I had already moved on.
As I consolidated offices, I also pruned down all the various vendors with the goal one day to be networked. At one time, I had 7 executive suites, 5 answering service offices, in my spare time I started DeJeunes Perfumery in 7 locations with my sister June and then went into partnership to build Planet Cadillac, a glitzy clothing line.
Over the years, I am and have seen much of my goal. I have three offices now, owning 2 buildings and have finally pared down to one vendor. Additionally, Amtelco has seen me through all phases with all of their equipment over the years. Finally, we are in the process of converting to Genesis and hopefully will be totally converted before the end of the year.
Q. What platform do you use?
Q. Tell us a little personal background about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
I graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas summa cum laude while I was getting divorced and starting the business. Just a really challenging time.
Now, in my copious spare time, David, my hubby, and I have a few acres so I have a large garden with many raised beds. I love to can the veggies and my tomato sauce is killer. We have 58 fruit trees and 32 pecan trees with several varieties. Just wish we could collect them all before the squirrels get them. I love to knit and cook. With 4 grandkids, there’s always something to knit, sew, shop for and on top of the whole list is hugging those adorable kids.
Seems the hardest commodity to get is time and enough of it to squeeze everything into.