Atelka is a Canada-based customer contact management provider offering multilingual omnichannel contact solutions and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. Founded in Montreal, Atelka has seen tremendous success with its New Brunswick operations since establishing its presence here in 2007.
Derrick Lamb, Site Director in Fredericton, has over 17 years of experience in the contact centre industry, beginning his career with a New Brunswick-based satellite television distributor. Lamb says his centre has not only grown tremendously, but has seen sharp decreases in absenteeism and significant improvements in employee retention.
Opportunities NB (ONB) wanted to learn more so we spoke to Derrick about the company’s growth, doing business from New Brunswick, and his thoughts on the industry.
ONB: Let’s begin with specifics on Atelka’s New Brunswick operation.
Lamb: While I can’t provide clients’ names, I can say that the NB office handles customer contact solutions for a national mobile phone provider. Our team handles technical and billing support, and general customer service.
Last fall saw plenty of growth in the New Brunswick operation; we increased our headcount by 50 with a new team handling chat inquiries. Chat is still a reasonably new way to handle customer issues but people increasingly reach out to us via that channel. These roles were so popular we actually still have people waitlisted for positions.
ONB: Your centre has seen absenteeism decrease substantially over the past few years. Low absenteeism isn’t the first thing you think of when you discuss the contact centre industry.
Lamb: Depending on which source you’re pulling from I believe the industry standard is around eight and a half percent; here in our centre we’ve been running at about four or five percent. On weekends—when it’s more difficult to get people to work—we’ve often had perfect or near-perfect attendance.
ONB: Is it fair to say that the most significant trend in the industry is the shift from voice/phone contact to other channels like chat?
Lamb: I think so. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have changed the game, and I think chat will continue to grow as a service channel. It certainly will in our office.
ONB: What brought the Montreal-based Atelka to New Brunswick?
Lamb: It was a combination of things. The company was investigating their options and they knew the Maritimes had a reputation for providing exceptional service. They knew there were skilled people here that could not only fill positions, but excel. Also, having a bilingual workforce will obviously be a plus when we ramp up a French chat team.
ONB: You’re from Fredericton originally but have worked in Alberta and Ft. Lauderdale. What has it been like returning to New Brunswick for this opportunity?
Lamb: It’s been good to return to New Brunswick. Fredericton is a nice city and there is real potential for growth and opportunity here. I find when you live in larger centres you really have to think about day-to-day stuff. Something as simple as going for groceries requires an increased degree of planning. So there’s an easy work-life balance here. I’m also impressed by the different cultures I see here now. That diversity is increasingly reflected in our centre as well.
ONB: You’ve spent the bulk of your career in this line of work. What keeps you excited about the industry?
Lamb: It’s a rewarding industry, and I see continued potential in it. The term ‘call centre’ is still used by some, however we really are contact centres because we use multiple channels to make every conversation count with our clients’ customers.
What I like about this industry is that it is in constant evolution. Things move pretty fast, and that’s one of the challenges I enjoy. That quick pace keeps me motivated.
My position is a rewarding one because I’m not at a desk all day. I’m out among our customer service representatives, watching them, listening to them, and helping where I can. When you’re working with a large group, sharing stories in the lunch room, and getting to know those people every day, you become something of a family.
ONB: You mentioned launching careers. What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in your industry?
Lamb: First, know that it can happen and it can be rewarding. I’m proof of that, and there are hundreds of success stories such as mine within Atelka. People might be surprised to hear that contact centres provide ample opportunities to start a career. When I share my work experiences with people I say you basically get to create your own education in this industry. There are a lot of advanced training options in this field, stuff that isn’t readily available in a classroom. You learn how to solve problems efficiently, deal with challenging customers, how to sell and upsell, and more. If you apply yourself, this industry can lead to a truly rewarding career.
ONB: With that said do you agree that New Brunswick is a desirable destination for companies interested in establishing or expanding their operations?
Lamb: Absolutely! During my time down south I often heard that Atlantic Canada has a tremendous reputation for friendliness and exceptional service. Our people take pride in what they do. They take ownership of customers and make sure people end that conversation feeling good. They really do strive for that first call resolution. That’s why people rightfully look at New Brunswickers as skilled employees that care.
ONB has been helpful as well. Your team contacted me to get info on our centre in order to determine what we do and how they could help. They’ve taken a genuine interest in helping us grow by connecting us with information on job fairs among other things, that was helpful when we did our initial chat recruiting. I expect that we’ll soon be leaning on ONB for more guidance on growing in New Brunswick.
For nearly three decades our highly-skilled bilingual workforce and competitive business costs have attracted Business Services to New Brunswick. To learn more, connect with an ONB Business Development Executive at the button below.