“Like Water for the Soul”
When you enter the hall where customer service representatives of Strauss Water Israel work, you don’t notice anything different. A large hall, divided into cubicles, with people sitting at tables, talking in low voices with customers and thequiet hum of computers welcome you. Seemingly,another regular call center during a normal workday.
After this first impression, you suddenly see that some computers have extra large screens, and that their view is enlarged using special software. Some cubicles have elaborate audio systems and one table is suddenly rising, to allow the sitter to leave his post. At this point you may notice that the reps themselvesseem slightly different. A wheelchair here, crutches leaning there, and indeed – it is not your regular call center, but a uniquely-arranged and highly- accessible center of the company “call-Yachol”, which provides service to Strauss Water Israel and has been designed specifically to enable people with low vision, impaired hearing, disabled body or mental handicap to perform everyday work tasks thatthey, perhaps, wouldn’t have been able to do under different circumstances.
Amir Bar-Natan, CEO of “call Yachol”, is telling us excitedly that this call center was established five years ago by a special guycalled Dr. Gil Vinesh, whohas bigkind eyes and an even biggersoul, and who has dreamed ofsettingup a workplace adjusted to people with disabilities. Amir, a skilled training manager at customer centers, was looking for a jobat the time,that would “do good for the soul”, and the encounter between the two led to this special place, which now provides joy and satisfaction to special-need people who were not met with an open door in other workplaces.
Amir explains that the company addresses the painful and tragic plight of disabled peopleseeking employment: according to welfare data provided by the Ministry of Industry and Trade,there are more than 800,000 disabled people of working age in Israel, 60-70% of whom areunemployed, and those who are employedare often overqualified for theirjobs. “Such an employee, who could not have found a proper job all his life and has suddenly become a presenter for a big brand,” says Amir, “feels both great pride and brand loyalty.”
Avichai Haim, Strauss Water Israel customer service rep and “call Yachol” employee, said: “As far as I’m concerned, there is no difference between Strauss Water and “call Yachol”. Despite the fact that we are located in two different buildings, the homely feeling and warmth provided by both companies to customer service representatives at this special center is felt everywhere. The understanding, caring and primarilythe ever-present attentive ear, make employees want to get up every morning with a smile and look forward to the next challenge in the next conversation. “
But Amir and Avichai are not the only people talking about “callYachol” with excitement. Another person who told us expressively and happily about collaboration between the special call center and Strauss WaterIsrael is the GMhimself – DrorMorad.
Dror, how did collaboration between Strauss Water “call Yachol” begin?
” Tami4 of Strauss Water Israel is a seasonal product. Our business desire is to manage itsvarying outputs throughout the year correctly and efficiently. Since It is importantthatthe business environment of oursales representatives be based on a steady job, we looked for a solution outside of the company thatwould enable us to employ people over time and under quality terms of employment. We chose a solution that willalso enable us to enhance our community, value-based activities as we believe that they, in turn, will nurture our business activity. When we came across “call Yachol”, we invested great efforts to buildacollaboration with them and even preferred them over other companies. We train the sales reps here at Strauss Water Israel, and it’s amazing to see their integration among company employees. “
Today, with such collaboration already in place, do you find that it offers other benefits?
“Although it’s been only one month of joint work, I can say that the performance of “call Yachol” employees is identical to the performance of a new representative at regular centers, and things can only pick up from there. Whilecurrent activitiespertains to service only, I hope that we will see them expand intopro-active actions with customers, allowing us to introduce this special model in our sales domain as well. Our current model is direct marketing,which utilizes phone and web-based interaction. We are about to launcha website built entirely as a customer-service area, serving clients with a chat system.”call Yachol” employees ” are now able to provide a swift, quality response that doesn’t require any special training other than holding a dialogue across the Web. “
Does Strauss Israel absorb more types of populations, other than the disabled?
“The level of diversity at Strauss Water Israel is very high. The company’s management is comprised of 50% women, and our 100 employees on the groundare a diverse fabric of religious and secular people, grandmothers and young people, immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia –everyone and anyone.”
One last word?
“Because of the inherent connection between business and community activities, I am convinced that this project will be long-lasting and successful. It’s great excitement. You should all follow in our footsteps.”