Judy: Good morning, everyone. My name is Judy Lin and I am with Digital Judy Podcast today. We’re here with Ansafone Contact Centers in Sunny Santa Ana, California. Ansafone is a leading provider of business process outsourcing and call center solutions. With 50 years of delivering world class customer experience and brand care, we offer state of the art communications technology and outsource-call-center services, including in-bound calls, out-bound calls, HIPAA compliance, secure text messaging, email response, live chat and more. We provide a seamless extension of you.
Judy: Hi Erick how are you?
Erick: Doing great. How you doing today?
Judy: Good. Thanks for coming out and meeting with us today.
Erick: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Judy: Yes. So what is your role here at Ansafone.
Erick: My role here at Ansafone is shift lead.
Judy: What does that mean?
Erick: It is that you’re pretty much the leader of that specific shift. We have three shifts going on here at Ansafone.
Judy: Okay. What do you guys do here, exactly?
Erick: We are a call center so we deal with a multiple a range of clients here.
Judy: Okay. And like, what kind of clients do you service?
Erick: We service anything from order taking to medical lawyers, basically any company that that needs any type of customer service for their customers.
Judy: I see. So do you take inbound calls? Like what do you guys do?
Erick: Yes, it’s a generally all inbound. It’s all incoming calls.
Judy: I see. And what would you say are the top criteria that you need to have in order to become a great customer service rep?
Erick: One of the biggest things would be the attitude. It starts with that. Everything else, if you don’t already have it, it’s something that you will definitely learn here.
Judy: Well can you kind of elaborate? What do you mean? Like an attitude when like someone that calls on the phone is nagging at you? Or what do you mean?
Erick: Well, it does start with the agent’s attitude, your specific attitude. If you’re not open minded about what the callers are calling in for, or you’re not able to empathize with the caller, the reasons for their call, you won’t have a good time here.
Judy: right? Yeah, I could imagine. So can you share an experience here that required you to act on the spot or how to service someone?
Erick: Yes because we deal with a lot of medical accounts, I believe it will always be my biggest experiences I have here in the most and the ones that I will remember. The most when callers are calling regarding children.
Judy: like medical emergencies…?
Erick: Medical emergencies, especially if it’s a child. I’m a father myself. So it does hit home.
Judy: Yeah. How old are your kids?
Erick: I have actually an 18-year old, and I have a eight-year old.
Judy: Okay, sorry. I don’t mean to be off track, but getting back. So yes, so you could relate with the Children. And what would happen in the emergency situation?
Erick: Generally we get calls from first-time parents who are most panicked about the situation, most stressed out. We try to help him ease them a little bit, empathize with them as much as possible and assure them that we can try to assist them. And that was I think my first call that I’ve ever got that really hit home was when I got one of those calls and I was assisting a first-time mother with a couple-month-old baby.
Judy: Yeah, what happened?
Erick: The child had a really high fever and she was just going crazy regarding that situation. I was able to assist her, get the doctor in line right away for her and assure her that she was going to get some assistance.
Judy: So I actually met with three of your agents last summer and I remember one of them kept talking about active listening. What is that? What is active listening exactly.
Erick: Active listening. It’s something that if you don’t want to have this this skill, it’s going to be kind of difficult to assure the caller that you’re going to give them assistance. You need to make sure that you understand the person’s situation, be able to empathize with them. If you have to make somebody repeat themselves more than once, you’re going to instill doubt in them. So that’s not a very good thing. Especially if they have specific issue that they’re completely overwhelmed with.
Judy: Yeah, it’s a distress call, right? To get a remedy?
Erick: Yes, definitely and they want a remedy right away.
Judy: So what has been the hardest thing here for you?
Erick: I think the hardest thing here for me has been has been doing with customers that are irate. I have learned to empathize more with those customers and made myself understand that they’re not mad at me. They’re mad at the situation. They’re stressed about that specific situation that they’re in.
Judy: So since you get call after call, do you get exhausted? I mean, how do you keep such a positive mindset, Erick?
Erick: It’s definitely exhausting. But keeping that good attitude, and understanding that you’re there to help and just feeling that satisfaction of knowing that you’re able to help someone keeps me going every single day.
Judy: And what is the volume of calls you get per day?
Erick: Oh, wow. That can range anywhere from a hundred calls a day to several hundreds of calls a day per person. When I was an operator my teammates and we would go into competition with each other to see who could take the most calls for the day. We got to the point where we’re taking 600-800 calls a day per shift. At that point, when we’re doing that kind of stuff we were having fun with it.
Judy: That’s what you were talking about.
Erick: Yes, that’s where it plays in having that type of attitude and especially that camaraderie with your teammates being able to take care of those calls and still have that comradery and have that fun in the call center makes it worth worthwhile. And it’s fun.
Judy: Yes. So I’ve spoken to your CEO Randy Harmat before. And I hear that you service natural disasters. Yes, and obviously a lot of medical accounts as well. What is that like for you?
Erick: I’ve taken great pleasure in that because I felt like I provided my grain of salt to that situation, being able to be there and take those calls. Take the donations for whatever situation that comes that that’s happening at the moment, providing those callers with some type of security of knowing that that that I’ve made their day a little bit better. I mean, I wish I could do a lot more for them at that point because I know they’re in a disaster, a hard situation for them, especially if they have family.
Erick: A lot of them, their homes have been completely destroyed. Or they’ve been completely pushed out of their community. So it’s very hard for them, I’m sure.
Judy: So are you the only line of contact at that point? Because of everything collapsing? Right? Phone systems are relying on you to communicate to the rest of the world for things that they need, right?
Erick: Oh, yes. And we’re available 24/7, 365 days a year. So critical. I’ve taken great pleasure in that, and a lot of my team members feel very pleased with being able to help and assist those type of callers.
Judy: So if you were to mentor coach someone in this world, what would you say to this person to prepare for?
Erick: We’ll start with their attitude and after that, being able to make them understand the empathy is a big part of that picture as well, making sure that that person understands that we’re there to assist them. A lot of the callers once again are calling in because they’re stressed about the situation. We want to make sure we empathize with them as much as possible and have a good attitude towards the situation.
Judy: What is your happiest experience here so far at Ansafone. What are you most proud of?
Erick: I am most part of the comradery in here. It’s been a big reason why I’ve been here for so long. It’s great to be able to just socialize with the team members. On top of that, teach him how to deal with their calls, provide them tools to be able to assist each and every one of their calls and provide him with great bread. The customers were great service.
Judy: Erick. It sounds like you handle a huge volume of calls on a very intense level, and you don’t think quickly on your fee. And at the same time you have some comedy and actively listen. So how do you de-stress like, what do you do for fine
Erick: We have a lot of a lot of events here, Like Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July. We have a lot of get-togethers with within those time frames. That is the best thing because you can see everybody just meshing together and enjoy socializing together and that makes such a big difference.
Judy: Yeah, that’s sounds like a good balance. Yes. So where can we find you online?
Erick: We are at Ansafone.com.
Judy: So that is ansafone.com. Well, thank you again, Erick. Thank you so much for coming out and interviewing with us. And we appreciate your time.
Erick: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Judy: Thank you.