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No challenge to big for call center operators

Beverly Redic employs Job Access with Speech, an interactive screen reader with text-to-speech capabilities to help a customer at the new Telephone Consolidated Operatior Center at Travis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Nan Wylie)

Beverly Redic employs Job Access with Speech, an interactive screen reader with text-to-speech capabilities to help a customer at the new Telephone Consolidated Operatior Center at Travis. (U.S. Air Force photo/Nan Wylie)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE,Calif --
While the challenges of operating the new Air Mobility Command Telephone Operator Consolidated Call Center appear daunting, it is nothing compared to the challenges the men and women manning the center have already overcome.

While their pleasant, courteous voices give no indication of their challenges, what distinguishes these operators is that each of them battles their own physical disabilities.

Working with partners from the National Institute for the Blind and Solano Diversified Services, Travis is providing them with an opportunity for employment and the responsibility of keeping AMC connected.

New software and advancements in automation are directly responsible for the opportunities. Mrs. Ethel Myrick, a supervisor at the TOCCC, has worked in telephone operations for more than 30 years at Travis. Starting as a switchboard operator, she has seen firsthand how far technology has come.

"When I started out, we were in little room with four switchboards and two telephones," she said. "Now we have programs that talk to our blind operators so they can assist customers. To see the difference between then and now is amazing."

When a call comes into a blind operator, the operator hears the customer in one ear. The customer tells the operator what number they are looking for. The operator uses keywords to find the correct office or person and the computer talks to the operator and provides the correct number which is then passed on to the customer.

"This program is giving jobs to people who may otherwise have a hard time getting one," said Omar Celestial, Solano Diversified Services employment program manager. "The people working here are amazing and we're just glad to have them here."

And whether they were in an accident and suffered a major injury or diagnosed with a debilitating disease, according to Mrs. Myrick, their ambition and desire to excel at their jobs is unmatched, even by people who don't deal with the same challenges.

"They work hard every day," said Mrs. Myrick. "They are proud to have a job. They are motivated and want to do it the right way."

Doing it the right way necessitates providing unparalleled customer service, and with an average of more than 40,000 calls a month, occasionally there are going to be difficult calls.

"We focus on one call at a time," said Mrs. Myrick. "Our operators handle each call the same way; with the utmost professionalism. If they need me to assist with a call, that's what I'm here for. We want our customers to be satisfied."

As the TOCCC expands and shoulders the load of directing calls for the entire command, Mr. Celestial says he looks forward to the opportunity to continue the strong partnership between his organization and Team Travis.

"Our goal is to provide exceptional service to the military community here and throughout Air Mobility Command while also growing and providing more opportunities to people with disabilities," he said.

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