In our thirty plus years of business, we have encountered a lot of frequently asked questions. In this article we will answer the most common questions we hear about what is entailed in using an outsourced call center and how Ameridial specifically constructs its support.
Company Info: Ameridial
In a competitive marketplace, what makes you different than other call centers?
Our longevity, experience, and location give us a competitive edge. We have over 30 years of experience as a company and continue to evolve every day. In fact, the average tenure among department managers exceeds 20 years. We believe strongly in promoting from within and benefit from our team members’ experience. Many of our supervisors and members of management know our business, and our clients, from the ground up. Hand’s-on experience cannot be beat. Additionally, all of our calls centers are located in America. We pride ourselves on offering affordable, scalable, and reliable customer service solutions onshore. You can visit our About Us page to read our company history. We’re family owned, and operated, and offer sufficient capacity to accommodate significant volume variances yet maintain a “boutique” type heritage where every client we have is treated as if they’re our only client. We have all compliance and redundancy considerations accounted for and can draw service staff from seven distinct labor markets across three states. We can customize our solutions to best achieve your program objectives and practice full transparency, flexibility and a commitment to developing a mutually beneficial partnership with every client.
Where are your call centers located?
We believe that the best service experience we can offer your customers is realized by having your Ameridial representatives work in our centers together. We do not employ virtual staff to service your customers and do not have other companies, either off or near shore as many others do, service your customers under the Ameridial name. We believe our premise-based approach promotes a higher degree of consistency in training, production, work-force monitoring and quality adherence; all leading to optimal results.
We operate in three states: Ohio, North Carolina, and Maine. Our headquarters are in North Canton, Ohio, and we have offices in Canton and the surrounding areas. The North Carolina office is near to Hickory, Asheville, and Charlotte. In Maine, we are located outside of Presque Isle near the Canadian border.
What industries do you specialize in?
We know how to be adaptable to suit just about any audience or call center need. That noted, our specialties are in Retail and eCommerce, Healthcare, Nonprofit Support, Dealer Services, high technology, professional services and catalog support. If you’re not sure where you might fit in, please contact us to discuss your specific needs.
Can we visit your call centers?
Yes, we’d be delighted to host you for a site visit. Once we discuss your support needs and size, we will make an initial determination on the best location to house your program. We will then aid in making your arrangements to view our facilities.
May I speak to your clients?
As we go through the discussion process, we are happy to provide references upon request.
Getting Started: The Vendor Relationship
Does Ameridial have contracts? If so, what are the terms of the contract?
We do utilize contractual agreements. We feel it’s important to establish responsibilities to ensure we’re “on the same page” as we forge our partnership. Typically, our standard contract has a one-year term associated with it but we provide a 30 day out clause, without cause, as a term within it. We believe in being held accountable for our services and provide the 30 day out clause for your peace of mind. Some clients prefer an evergreen contract or three year agreements. All of this can be discussed and tailored to your support needs.
Once we have a signed contract, how long is it until the program goes live?
The answer to this can vary. It entirely depends on the nature of your product/services, length of training, complexity of system integrations, and telephony considerations. When the contract is signed we will have an agreed upon time frame for training, programming and implementation. For Retail and eCommerce, Dealer Services, and Nonprofit support the time frame can be a few weeks. Every outsourced call center solution is different but we find Healthcare clients can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months depending on the complexity of the level of customer service and telephony. Generally speaking, a program where training is two days or less and is considered standard in nature (not requiring extensive custom programming to develop the solution), approximately three weeks is the norm. We have launched programs faster than this, so feel free to share your timing needs. We want to ensure as smooth of a launch as possible while minimizing the chances for major errors.
Can I trust you with my customers and their personal information?
Absolutely. We fully recognize how critical this is to you, as well as to our success as your partner. We take full responsibility for our efforts in maintaining not just your customer’s personal data, e.g. credit card information or SS#, but in how your brand is affected by the quality of service we provide your customers with. We have layers of management personnel who are tasked with micro-managing the services our team provides. Your Ameridial client services team, and quality assurance staff, ensures we’re effective in achieving our collective goals relative to customer satisfaction and data security.
What compliance standards do you maintain? What types of security do you have in your contact center?
At Ameridial, we maintain very strict internal policies developed to satisfy compliance standards mandated by our Executive Team and fulfilled by our IT and Operations Teams. We’re both PCI and HIPAA compliant. We also maintain active compliance participation in the following areas: NIST, HHS, OCR, CMS, X12, NCPDP, and Public Comment. Specifically, Ameridial is compliant with: HITECH; NIST 800-30 and 800-53 Rules; Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements and IRS Guidelines. We are CMS approved and certified as a CMS subcontractor. Additionally, Ameridial is SSAE-16 Type II audited. We stay abreast of all major call center regulatory developments. We utilize our active association with organizations such as PACE (Professional Association of Customer Engagement – formerly ATA), the DMA, and SOCAP, among others, as a component of our research. As you can see, we carry several vital security Certifications.
Physical security of our centers is extremely important as well. All sites have card reader access systems which are programmed to only allow the appropriate people access to their designated areas during defined time periods. Security cameras are in use to monitor entry points and restricted areas. All visitors must check in before entering our facilities.
What information do I need to have prior to launch?
Our Implementation Manager and Program Manager will work closely with you to ensure we receive all of the key content to build a successful solution for your program. Generally, this includes your training materials such as a dialogue plan, FAQs, product samples and other reference tools. Additionally, we will work through details with you regarding IVR considerations, telephony needs, training timelines, reporting needs, recording access needs, file outputs and systems considerations (eg integration with an order management system you employ).
We will also provide you with a checklist that allows us both to make sure that everything we need to cover is included as we on-board your program.
Can you help me develop my dialogue plan/scripting?
Yes, we’re happy to do so. We have decades of experience in developing dialogue plans and can make recommendations on how to manage the flow of a call while providing an excellent service experience for your customers. We also know how to effectively maximize the average order size through effective up and cross-selling techniques, too. Our dialogue plans are designed with proficiency and professionalism in mind and help drive the ideal customer experience and call results.
What reporting options do I have as a client?
This depends on how the telephony is set up for your product. If we are housed within your platform, you typically will be able to pull reporting as before with the inclusion of any Ameridial representatives. If we house the telephony, as we often do for our clients, we offer full customization of any reports. We find our partners typically request at least two types of report. The first is a statistical report where we report switch data such as the number of calls received, calls answered, AHT, ATT, ASA, and service level, to name a few. This report can be automated and delivered as frequently as you like. The second report pairs with the first in that it shows disposition data – how each call was resolved. We do not predetermine the dispositions – those are defined by you so that we provide the data back to you in your preferred terms. Disposition reports can also be provided for email and web chats should we also provide those services for you as well.
Reports are generated, reviewed, and distributed to you as frequently as desired. We also have the ability to provide a portal to your program where you can access reports and recordings on-demand.
The Support Team: Ameridial’s Structure
How is the call center support structured for my product/program?
After the contract is signed, you will be assigned a Program/Account Manager and/or work with an Implementation Manager. They will execute the contract by facilitating the technical setup and integration between our two companies. After the product/program has gone live, the Program/Account Manager will continue to be the primary point of contact. The Program/Account Manager is involved with all aspects of the daily running of the program. They will set up regular status calls, calibrations and quality reviews per your preferences. They work with the internal team to ensure all metrics are being met and your program is successful. The Program Manager works with our Supervisors, Trainers, and QA staff. Supervisors work directly with the representatives with the support of the trainer(s) and quality assurance staff.
Your scope of access is not restricted to your Program/Account Manager. Everyone at Ameridial has a stake in your partnership experience and you will have access to our executive team if needed.
How do you select your call center representatives?
The representatives are your brand ambassadors and truly are where “the rubber meets the road”. At Ameridial we’re very selective about whom we hire to represent you. We begin our selection process by asking you for the profile of your most successful internal representatives. We employ a multi-layered recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training process. Ameridial conducts pre-employment assessments and competency-based behavioral interviews with qualified candidates. Candidates go through several steps and interviews with our team before being made an offer of employment. Whenever possible, we also look within our staff for people offering the characteristics needed for your product and promote from within. In general terms, the staff we hire have an average age of 35, have at least four years of customer service experience, and over half have higher education as well.
How do I go about training Ameridial staff for my product or program?
There are a few options available to you when it comes to training. The first option is to have you lead the initial training. Your designated trainer can facilitate the training in person at our location or virtually. The first training class will include the trainer designated to support your product/program. Our trainer, by way of supporting you in your training session (and other time spent with you and your trainer), will become certified to conduct subsequent training sessions.
Another option is a “train the trainer” approach. We can have our trainer go to your facility (often accompanied by other support team members). While there, our trainer will learn about your product, training materials and your company culture. We can also do this virtually if preferred.
Lastly, if you are designing a new solution and don’t have training content developed, Ameridial can help by designing the training curriculum for you.
Can your representatives up-sell and/or cross-sell my products and services?
Yes, absolutely! This is a critical task assigned to us by many of our partners. Sales skills are taught to our representatives beginning with the initial Ameridial training and continue throughout their employment with us. Our training curriculum has been developed over the decades we have been in business. We also draw content from industry leaders such as Dale Carnegie and Sandler Training Institute and others. Ultimately, our staff is expertly trained to maximize the average order value you realize from our efforts.
After a representative completes training their development continues. We conduct refresher training as needed, and partner with our quality assurance team. They pull calls and help identify coaching opportunities so the agents receive development, and praise, along the way.
What’s your QA process to ensure calls are being handled properly?
Ameridial employs a multi-layered approach to representative supervision, and quality assurance, to ensure we effectively represent your brand and execute assigned duties.
Team Leaders manage the representatives every day while also contributing to the quality assurance process while listening real-time, and randomly, to representatives as they take calls. Team Leaders’ observations while monitoring live calls are documented on the same QA report cards the QA staff utilized for post-call reviews.
Our quality assurance staff listens to a sample of all recorded calls, populating QA report cards in the process. On average, 5% of calls are audited. We measure all of the key points most important to the success of your program. Most of our partners come to Ameridial already knowing what key points need to be graded and provide their QA report card for us to use. Whenever possible, we have calibrations with your internal team to allow for greater consistency in grading and understanding of metrics.
While auditing calls, should we observe a representative not providing service excellence, we expand the sample size and begin the remediation process of identifying training and coaching opportunities for the individual. We continue to audit more calls, and continue to train them addressing our concerns, until results improve to satisfactory levels.
We look to replicate your best practices understanding that each of our partners is unique and their approach to service excellence can vary. Should you not have a QA report card you’d like us to replicate, we’re happy to provide our standard for your consideration and customization. Please note that we’re also happy to explore other approaches you might prefer as part of our customized solution built for you.
How may I best maintain the personal touch with my customers when their calls are handled elsewhere?
This is a common question and an important one. To begin with, we understand our role when it comes to keeping you abreast of developments with your customers. Our staff proactively provides feedback up the line to the Program Manager you’ll be interacting with regularly. Your Program Manager will communicate with you daily and share the the feedback, concerns and recognized trends they receive from the support staff.
In the call center, we segment our support teams based on client. Your program won’t get lost in the shuffle and we have a high degree of staff retention so your customers can very well come to know the Ameridial representatives by name. And, since our staff works closely together, if a returning customer asks for a representative by name, we can often route them to him or her. It’s happened many times before! Our approach will leave your customers feeling the same level of comfort they have become accustomed to when working with your staff.
How much staff turnover do you have?
We take great pride in retaining our employees and provide many incentives for them to stay engaged with Ameridial. We not only offer competitive wages and pay increases, we have opportunities for advancement and have 401k, health, dental, and vision insurance options. Our annual turnover is approximately 25%, which is considerably less than the industry average. Anniversaries are celebrated at Ameridial to call attention to how much we appreciate our team members!
What languages can you provide support in?
We offer services in English, Spanish and (with advance notice) Canadian French. Should your program require support in other languages, we can employ a third party translation service for that component as well.
Pricing and Billing: Budgeting for your Solution
What billing options are available to me? How often do you bill for your services?
We bill monthly and when a contract is created, we agree upon the billing methodology. We can bill by the minute, by the hour or by the incident. Occasionally we provide service on a “pay for performance” basis on a vetted program. We’re happy to explore any other option with you as well.
Do you round service time for billing purposes?
No. We bill to the exact amount of accrued time. We do not round time up when billing as many others do.
Do you charge a premium for after hours or weekend support?
No. We bill our staff’s time at the same rate, regardless of when we field a call, email, chat, etc.
Do you sell us a block of time in advance of the coming month?
Ameridial does not pre-bill our partners. Service time is accrued at the end of the month and bills are generated on the first of each month.
How do you price your call center solutions?
We do not take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to pricing. As we work with various industries, the pricing and structure can vary. Want to see how we measure up to our competitors? We’d love to submit a proposal if you have an RFI or RFP process.