Hi, I’m Sam Carpenter, founder and president of Centratel, still very much involved, especially when it comes to the people who work for our company.
I am especially enthusiastic to personally write this “employee spotlight,” featuring Lannie Dell. Why? Because Lannie has worked for my telephone answering service company for 26 years. Following are highlights about Lannie and her incredibly consistent contribution to Centratel’s success, as well as some history….
First, know that Lannie has processed nearly two million individual customer calls in her time with us.
Let’s go back in time.
When Lannie first started working with me back in 1990, we had no more than two TSR’s (Telephone Service Representatives) “on the phones” at one time. Now, in busy times we have twenty or more. And back then, we only handled answering service clients in our immediate Central Oregon vicinity. We began our effort to “go national” in 1996, and now, although we still have hundreds of regional accounts, the vast majority of our customers are outside of Oregon, especially in the eastern U.S. and in California.
Very few people owned cell phones in 1990. Now, Lannie asks, “is there anyone without a smart phone?” Back when she started with Centratel, nearly all of our real-time urgent messages were relayed to clients via pager. Now we send nearly 100% of time-sensitive calls to smart phones.
In 1990, most non-urgent messages were delivered to voice mail. Now, it’s via email and fax.
In the early 90’s, training a new TSR took several months. (But it must be said, Lannie set the record at two weeks…). Now with our super-efficient training program, it’s just a few days, AND the 2017 TSR is much better equipped to process calls error-free.
Back when she began, Lannie did the billing processing for our 300 accounts. Now we have a full-time professional, Teresa, who handles all of our 1,500 accounts.
Lannie adds, “It was alright to ‘nap’ between calls on graveyard, since there was an (obnoxious) ‘night bell’ that we could turn on to act as an alarm clock. After a while, Sam even installed a futon for the graveyard shift.” Those days are long over! No one ever sleeps on duty!”
About Lannie? She says she is “easy going, but opinionated.” I’ll go along with that, but will add that her opinions are always diplomatically presented. She goes on to say,
Since I’m disabled, with lots of physical challenges, I work hard to keep a good attitude and not complain. My friends and coworkers think I’m funny, so I guess having a sense of humor is a personality trait.…
Before working for Centratel, I was a receptionist and PBX operator at a nearby resort, Eagle Crest. Also, I’ve worked in retail and, as a cook, waitress, and was a receptionist at a hair salon, and handled billing for a trucking company.
Why have I stayed at Centratel for so long? I like talking to all kinds of people in every state in the country. This keeps me engaged. While some of the callers are ‘challenging,’ I always step up to try to turn the conversation around so they feel someone really does care about their situation. Maybe that is my very favorite part of the job!
My least favorite part of this work is not being able to turn a caller around, and having to endure less-than-friendly remarks. Even after all these years, they’re still a bit painful…
Life outside of work? I read, go to movies, watch TV. There’s a group of women that I play cards with every month. Pretty tame stuff.
What I tell new TSR’s is that there’s a LOT to learn! I hit my rhythm at three months, so don’t give up at the beginning! If you’re struggling, confide in your supervisors. They know their stuff and will give all kinds of insight and help. Most importantly, care about working at Centratel and challenge yourself to know and advance and grow. Before you know it, you’ll have worked here for 26 years and counting!
So, Lannie Dell is, at Centratel, a legend in her own time: respected, loyal super-competent (more than once, in the time-frame of a year, she processed 60,000 or more messages without a single error).
And especially, Lannie is a great friend. Thanks Lannie!