Call Center Certification Can Your Company Benefit?

By Chris Bell

The Startel National Users Group’s (SNUG) board of directors recognizes that up until now, excluding the CAM-X and ATSI Award of Excellence Programs, there have been no standards in our industry for measuring quality or assessing a teleservices call center facility and system readiness. Over the past year the SNUG has developed a three-tiered program for members to certify and accredit their operations in the following areas: 24/7 Site Certification, CSR, and Supervisor.

Last year SNUG released the CSR and 24/7 Site Certification programs. Recently, SNUG’s Educational Committee put the finishing touches on the Supervisor Certification program and released it at the Annual Conference in February.

One of the primary goals of 24/7 Site Certification Program is to identify and then require, through a peer review program, the best set of procedures and policies so that a certified site has a high probability of achieving 99.99% annual run-time. This is less than fifty-three minutes of unplanned downtime per year.

The 24/7 Site Certification Program developed by SNUG has merit outside of the Startel platform as well and the SNUG Board will be visiting this issue later this year. The program sets more than sixty criteria that need to be met or exceeded in order to qualify. Overall, the adopted requirements represent a collection of the best practices and guidelines to which sites must adhere.

Part of the challenge of undertaking and participating in this peer review and inspection program is in the actual preparations and groundwork that your center will need to complete in order to qualify. Upon receiving Site Certification status, your operation will have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in recovery techniques, good business practices, procedure documentation, and levels of redundancy necessary for true 24/7 preparedness. Currently there are two levels of certification available: Silver and Gold.

There are many reasons to consider enrolling in the program:

  1. To differentiate your operation; being site certified enables you to change your basis of comparison from price to quality.
  2. To increase the level of professionalism both within your market and within the entire industry.
  3. To demonstrate 24/7 proficiency as well as incorporation of the best recovery techniques available.
  4. To improve your standing in the marketplace, positively impacting existing clients and employees as well as prospective clients and employees.
  5. To adopt the best policies and procedures, thereby minimizing the business risk associated with downtime.
  6. To become the first to receive recognition in your city, state, or region.
  7. To increase the probability of greater stability.
  8. To better prepare and document your system maintenance procedures.
  9. To add an excellent evaluation tool to your organization.

Subjecting yourself to a peer review is a difficult decision for some to make. To ease the process, you can request either a qualified (certified and board approved) colleague or the SNUG executive director, Dan L’Heureux, to conduct the inspection. The program is designed to not be intrusive, but to be part of a learning experience that you and your organization will benefit from.

The 24/7 Site Certification program application fee is $495 and the examiner’s cost is only $600, plus travel expenses. The inspection can be done in one day. There is also an “earn back” provision. By meeting the criteria, the site can have up to two people accredited to conduct a maximum of three site inspections, where they will earn the inspection rate $600 per day. Thus, the program, in terms of it’s cost, can be easily recouped. (Pricing for the CSR certification is $35 each and a 10 pack is only $250; the supervisor certification is $45 and a five pack is just $175.)

For more information about the program, visit www.teamsnug.com and go to the membership section or call SNUG at 800-317-8529.

Christopher R. Bell, has an MBA in Finance and resides in Holland, PA. Chris founded MedCom in 1987 and was SNUG President in 2001. He can be reached at 215-752-8099.

[From Connection MagazineMarch 2002]

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