Challenge: Sustaining a company for more than five decades
Solution: Listening to what customers' need today – and hearing what they'll need tomorrow
The St. John’s response centre, which operates under the name Telelink, started as an answering service for businesses that needed to be connected to customers 24/7. Now it offers answering services, order fulfillment, help desk and technical support, emergency and safety response – and more. “Our roots were in a telephone era. Today we’re in a digital age. We have to look down the road to see what our customers will need next,” says Sydney. That look at what lies ahead currently includes exploring the benefits of artificial intelligence.
Accurately identifying and building the next customer service requires a critical skill: listening. “Customers are our roadmap,” says Co-CEO Cindy Roma. The company, which has approximately 110 employees, recently hired its first Director of Customer Success. “This position is designed to ensure we are always listening to what the customer needs,” says Cindy.
Sometimes, she notes, clients may not know precisely what services they will need next. “We have to be closely involved in their business. We’re always firing bullets and testing new things.”
Understanding the marketplace, trends and prospects are inherent elements in the success of the company. That requires a focus on and commitment to continuous learning. “We spend a tremendous amount of time educating ourselves,” says Cindy. “It is a huge part of our budget. You expose yourself to new opportunities. It’s about having a mindset that is curious.”
To keep an eye on where the company stands today and where it is going tomorrow, Telelink follows a structured process that has brought strategic planning down to a systems level. “We meet quarterly to identify goals at all levels based on four critical criteria,” says Sydney. This helps the company keep its finger on the pulse of business in the moment and moving forward.
For new entrepreneurs and those looking to grow their business globally as Telelink has done, the company CEOs recommend you look beyond the boundaries that define your sector to see what other successful business have done to grow their bottom line.
Equally important: letting go. “Don’t hang on too long to an initial idea,” says Sydney. “It will evolve before it is market ready. You will need to recalibrate.”
Accessing financial capital in an ever evolving market is something the Government of Canada recognizes as critical to building, growing and scaling a business. With support from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the government is helping Telelink keep an eye on the future. Investments totalling more than $2 million have enabled the company to expand and modernize its facilities, while also ramping up marketing and export efforts.
Telelink is a prime example of how innovation and resourcefulness fuel Atlantic Canada’s economy, at home and beyond.
Do you have a business concept? Do you have an innovative idea to improve or grow your business? For more information on programs and services available to businesses in Atlantic Canada call 1-800-561-7862 or go to www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca
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