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  • Writer's pictureJoel Thiessen

Where Was I?

I'm sorry, I was distracted there for a week or so...

I was hired at The Scott Mission in downtown Toronto serving the homeless population during COVID. After just seven months, I was quickly transferred to the donations department. They saw first hand the years of customer service experience I had, then nearly 15 years. On top of that add in non-profits, a shoe-in for success. (Remember Sick Kids Hospital ( in the last blog post)

This was my first leap into a call center atmosphere. My role there was to take in donations and respond to angry people calling to give us a piece of their mind. This is where I learned that I was good with people over the phone.

I recall one particular person who called into The Scott Mission and to say that they weren’t too happy is putting it mildly. They were completely irate, and honestly they had a point and a legitimate complaint. When I agreed with them, not only were they shocked, but it started a conversation about the good that we do at the Mission, even through our mistakes. Fast forward, they became contributors to the mission.

While in the Mission, I started dating my now wife, Jessica. A long distance relationship as I lived in Canada and she’s in the USA. We were praying about whether we wanted to move out to the United States to be together, or not to be together. This was a very interesting time, but we asked God for a couple things. The first was a job in the United States, which was impossible as a Canadian.

What happened, not even I could have thought up. There was a company in the US that hired people internationally to be in their call center. Most of their people were from the Philippines, and the position available was replacing someone from the states, a Quality Assurance Supervisor. However; because of the last employee leaving a bad experience my position would leave me to start as an agent and prove myself. I was considered a high risk. So they had the budget to sign a Canadian to their call center. I just happen to be the person that they were willing to contract.

Part of the training process was listening to the experienced people take calls for the company. I did this for two shifts straight. Finally, my then boss and now business partner sat me down and said, "What do you think?" (Now I don't recommend doing this and I probably wouldn't do it again) I told her that they could probably save almost $20,000 a year if they made some adjustments to how they did their customer service.

Janine thought for a few minutes in contemplation and said, "If you want to implement this and retrain the team to do it, I will allow you, but you are on a short leash." It felt like the Princess Bride when the Dread Pirate Roberts said, “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.”

That was all that I needed and I started to get to work. The first two weeks didn't show any improvement as I was still training the team, but in the first full month of the changes, the company saved $14,423. After that, Janine gave me a little more time and over the next twelve months, the company saved over $220,000. This was close to 10% of their annual revenue at the time.

Throughout this, Janine asked me to manage the call center and I had secured a contract that allowed me to work from home.

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