“Knowledge for good” is Appriss’ motto and motivating force.
This guiding belief affects how Appriss approaches all aspects of its business and that’s especially true of their Customer First Center. Jill Collins, Director of Customer Support Operations, says that the Customer First Center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and it’s manned by a great team of call center employees.
Appriss was founded in 1994 by current CEO Mike Davis and his partner, Yung Nguyen. It was built on their flagship product, VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday), a system that alerts victims and their families when an offender is released from jail. Initially, the system was used in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Today VINE is used across the country, and it is the nation’s most widely used automated victim notification platform.
As VINE grew and the company evolved, Appriss was aligned into three distinct business units that serve different industries: Appriss Safety, Appriss Health and Appriss Retail. Although they generally operate independently, they remain united by the belief that technology can and should be used for good in society.
“The Customer First Center supports two of our business units, Appriss Safety and Appriss Health, and we never close,” Collins explains. “For Safety, we handle calls from victims and concerned citizens regarding notifications on the incarceration status of offenders, thus leading to peace of mind for our callers and the community. For Health, we handle calls related to the prescription monitoring program, which helps identify, prevent and manage substance use disorders. Our call center employees have to be highly skilled in communication and diplomacy as well as technology.”
Because of the sensitive nature of the calls they handle, Collins says it’s critical to hire the right people for the job, and provide extensive initial training and ongoing support for every call center employee. “Every new employee goes through our six-week interactive training in which they learn call center technology tools, best practices, and receive continued support from CPC centers,” she notes.
Call center employees also receive empathy training and periodically go through skill refresher courses. “Employee engagement is critical,” Collins emphasizes. “In every interaction, we practice ‘ICARE,’ the company’s core values of integrity, customer-driven accountability, respect and excellence.”
The standards are high and Collins says that ensuring employees are well-trained and the call center is appropriately staffed at all times are just two ways they meet and exceed expectations. “We have teams that focus on process improvements, scheduling/staffing, training and operations,” she notes. “We listen to the voice of the customer through after-call surveys, and solicit feedback from our employees for continuous improvement.”
The Customer First Center consistently receives high ratings from its surveys and Collins is quick to credit her team for their ongoing success. She says one of the most important ways the company encourages and supports call center employees is by offering a positive work-life balance and providing career pathing.
“Currently, team members are in the office at least one day a week,” she explains. “Employees have the option to work from home, which saves them time and money. We also promote internally whenever possible and support employee growth in the company.”
Collins says the Customer First Center isn’t a typical call center and the employees are the best she’s ever worked with. While the job can be demanding, employees are recognized and rewarded for the work they do and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
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