Faced with a challenge to support operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Jeff Ley, Marketing and Development Analyst with Guardian Storage, quickly made the decision to support both his customers and his employees by deploying a work from home solution, found in CallPotential's Remote Operation Toolset. Jeff was kind enough to share what Guardian is doing to enable his managers to work from home during this time. Watch the video or read the interview transcript below.
[H] Holly Fiorello, Director of Marketing. CallPotential
[J] Jeff Ley, Marketing and Development Analyst for Guardian Storage.
[H] Hello, my name is Holly and I am the director of Marketing for CallPotential. Today i would like to introduce you to Jeff Ley. Jeff is the Marketing and Development Analyst for Guardian Storage. Thank you for joining me today Jeff.
[J] Hey Holly. Glad to be here to help and provide some advice where I can.
[H] Thanks so much. Like many operators you were faced with the challenge to support operations during this chaos right now. You quickly made the decision to support your customers and your employees by deploying a work from home solution found in CallPotential Contact Center. Can you share a little bit about your thought process around that decision and what problems you were trying to tackle?
[J] Yeah so last week and then through the weekend different states were issuing different ordinances and declaring states of emergencies, restricting business and access. We knew that this might be a reality where the population would be discouraged from going out. Retail businesses would probably close. And that could affect how we operate. So to get ahead of it and provide a solution, we decided to go to a work from home solution. And really it's because of three things.
One, We wanted to be sure we could continue to service our communities. Current tenants need to be able to access their items and those who are moving or whatever else that they would need storage for business.
Number two, we have a responsibility to our own business that we can continue to operate and have revenue. It was nice that because we were on the essential business list we would be allowed to remain in operation during some of these declarations from State Governors.
The third is obviously our people, our employees, they're really like our family. In order to provide them a full check and to keep the business running, we wanted to have a way to continue to contribute and uninterruptedly work and maintain income for their families.
[H] Excellent. I think that's really important what you just said there that they'd still be able to contribute and probably add them some safety too. Have you closed some of your stores or is this just in preparing for it?
[J] So the way that we are operating and we are active in two states, we have closed the office. But the site is still accessible with normal access hours to tenants and new renters. Our employees are now working remotely, even though the office itself would be closed.
[H] Gotcha. So in essence you are stopping the traffic through the office, but the office operations can still be achieved.
[J] Yeah - we're trying to limit customer to employee interaction. We're trying to cut down the amount of time someone would spend in close proximity to another which is really what I think this is about. To stop the spread of the virus.
[H] Absolutely. How did the Contact Center help with that?
[J] Well we had to find a way to address a few aspects of the business. First and foremost how to get the phones to ring. With that you got to keep in mind there's multiple employees accessing this site. And also missed calls have to go to a call center. With the way the phones are set up and call routing, there would be no way to achieve that without having someone doing a lot of manual work in our VOIP systems. But with Contact Center and CallPotential, I will set up a store route that allows our employees to log in. Any call that would go to the store would be then redirected to the phone number they entered, in this case their cell phone. It preserved the call forwarding so if they happened to miss that call or be on a call, they would then roll to our call center. Which really just preserved the integrity of how we had the call flow designed.
In addition to that because we used Lead Manager with CallPotential, that same person can easily access our scheduled follow-ups for the day for prospects and also our unprocessed calls so the system again preserves what we had established and set up as a workflow for our property team.
[H] That's great! Are they using their cellphones or are they using headsets?
[J] I think most are cell phones. I doubt they have headsets although I know the system certainly works with headsets so if they wanted to log in with computer audio and plug in they could. But I think the majority are on cell phones.
[H] This seems to be the easiest way especially when you are making a quick transition. I know you talked about some of the features that you are using that you quickly deployed. What features of Contact Center or CallPotential have been attractive to you when making this decision.
[J] Yeah, I definitely think the call route was a big plus as I indicated it allowed us to preserve our integrity. While we were discussing this we kicked around several different ideas and I think without it, it would have taken someone from my team to go in every day that a new employee was there to re-route the phones. I don't even know how we would have gotten from their phone to the call center which is a critical component and then we started to find things that we really were hesitating to do. We really hadn't launched it live yet. So within 48 hours we had to turn it around which is pretty crazy.
One thing we found that we love is the agent dashboard. We can see exactly who is logged in and when, and it updates in real time - so that right away provided some real good insight as to our employee productivity. You can see the number of calls they are getting.
Another metric was to see who our busier stores are. Who is getting call volume vs. who might not be. Those two things, within the 24 hours we've been using it, were easy wins that we found.
[H] Absolutely - Were there any obstacles to getting set up? I know you said you were set up in 48 hours which is lightning fast. Did you encounter any obstacles along the way?
[J] We're still analyzing some of those. I think the biggest that we found is probably individual technology that the system itself is working great. Everybody is on. Any issue we seem to find might be with someone specific, carrier or if technology on their phone isn't up to date. I think that's the kind of stuff you really can't predict. In a perfect world, if you were going to do something like this. You might have time to get uniform hardware for everyone. You are all going to use the same cell phone so you know it works. Unfortunately with how it occured we didn't have the time so I think that's the only issue that we have noticed.
[H] How was the CallPotential team helping get you setup?
[J] Fantastic. I predominately was working with Wendy to get this done. The minute that I pitched my idea of how we could use this to solve this problem. She was like "Oh yeah it can definitely do that." and then she proceeded to get a route set up for me within hours that I could duplicate across the stores. I am very complimentary of her and her support and what she was able to do to get set up.
[H] I will make sure I share that with her. She works really hard. We love Wendy. She is fantastic.
What is the biggest winner/unexpected benefit?
[J] I think honestly, aside from being able to continue operations in a time where others may not, we touched on why that's important. I think also now with the flip of a switch we have the ability to do this again should something ever occur. It might not even be a pandemic. It might not be something like a virus. Who knows what can happen. It might not even be nationwide. It might be an instance in a store that causes one to close. There might be an employee issue, now we know with a flip of a switch a store can continue operations without having to continually be there.
[H] That's awesome. How have your managers taken the news of the new system?
[J] I think they have bought in but I haven't really talked to a lot of them individually so I'm sure we'll find out in a few weeks from now. I do know I'm sure they are grateful that we can continue business as usual and they are also happy to help their tenants that they have a connection with. It's probably kind of vague. All hands on deck - whatever we need to do to get this thing going mentality.
[H] Do they feel supported that you are taking precautions?
[J] I think so. I hope so.
[H] We discussed how quickly you moved to get ahead of some of the mandated closures. Do you have any tips for other operators on how they can support their managers and customers during this time?
[J] The one most important thing. I think this is the most important thing above all else. Have a dedicated team that is understanding of what is going on and dedicated to finding this solution. This wouldn't have been possible without the team we had at Guardian that jumped into action and made this happen in 48 hours. That's from my team at operations, even from Wendy helping from CallPotential. It was just a group of people who worked long hours even well into the evening to make this happen. Even several area managers that we had that were working to get this trained and out and quickly - so I think this biggest thing is you can't do this yourself it's tough. But if you have a good team around you and everybody buys into what you have to do to get this done, it makes it that much easier. I think that's the most important thing. And I think too would just be training, training, training. Getting everyone onboard using the system and learning how to use it quickly and using the Support feature or reaching out to those that know if they are having a problem.
[H] Excellent. Thank you Jeff. This has been a fantastic interview and very enlightening to me. I hope others take your lead, safely not shutting down operations, helping their managers and keeping their communities in mind. I really again want to thank you for your time today.
[J] Yeah you are very welcome. Anything I can do to help - I'd like to. If we can all keep operating it continues to help the community and the economy.
[H] Ooh I have one more question before you go. If you were to refer CallPotential to a friend, what would you say?
[J] Well I would say that I certainly use CallPotential for a myriad of products and services, this being just one of them but from Contact Center Software that we now use, The Lead Manager Software, tapping into SiteLink with the API, the Reporting, Marketing and Tracking. Eventually we'll use Collections. It's a great tool for running a self storage business that promotes accountability and reporting at a high level where anyone at the company can start to identify trends or problems.
[H] That was fabulous. *laughs* Thank you so much. Alright guys, thank you. Thanks Jeff. I guess that's it.