Vendor Profile: Professional Teledata – Where Innovation Is Key

It all started with a few bugs back in 1993 – not system bugs, though. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Allen Kalik, there’s a good chance that you have heard the “Ban the Bug” story that was the catalyst for what grew into the Professional Teledata product lineup.

As the owners of Executive Exchange, one of the largest answering services in New England, Allen and Pat Kalik weren’t about to pass up an opportunity for new business. But they had one big challenge: These new business opportunities demanded the ability to grow significantly and quickly, and their existing system prevented them from doing that. When the good folks from Ban the Bug (a company that sold bracelets intended to ward off mosquitoes) asked if Executive Exchange could handle their account, Allen decided his current software just wasn’t going to cut it.

When Allen realized there was no system on the market to do what he needed, he tapped others to solve the problem. He turned to Jim Graham for help with programming the first logical scripting software, Dale Schafer for his telephony experience, and Pat Kalik for her business experience to assist in the development of the product. Ban the Bug, a simple order entry account, inspired the creation of PI-2000, and Allen’s dream team made it happen.

The Result Was as Easy as PI! PI-2000 was a trendsetter; it used a simple philosophy that, whenever possible, the next actions should be automatically performed for agents rather than the system simply giving instructions about what to do. This philosophy introduced a variety of new and improved features for Executive Exchange to operate more efficiently and more profitably.

Although PI-2000 was initially built only for Executive Exchange, other telemessaging companies urged Allen to make the product commercially available. The first PI-2000 system was delivered soon after, and Professional Inbound was born. The product was introduced to a waiting public at the 1993 ATSI Convention in Chicago, where it made an instant impact on the industry.

Within a few years, a hundred PI-2000 systems, comprising 2,000 workstations, were sold across North America. At the same time, Allen continued expanding his own call center, growing to 100 workstations and 400 employees before he sold it in 1998. Meanwhile, the PI-2000 system rapidly progressed and became the standard-bearer for order entry with a screen-pop for every major telemessaging equipment manufacturer. The Professional Inbound team became known for their great product – and for the tasty pies they always had on hand.

While Allen Kalik and his team were busy developing the earliest versions of the PI-2000 product, Alan Hartmann was concurrently developing the B/CS billing program with his team at Tele-Data Systems. In 1983 the B/CS billing program – the predecessor to today’s Total Billing System (TBS) – was designed to run on the earliest microcomputers, filling a need for telemessaging operations across North America.

In addition to developing the billing system, Tele-Data Systems also made waves in the industry in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Fax Message Delivery System (FMDS). This system was revolutionary because it introduced the automated delivery of messages to clients via fax, freeing agents to do what they do best. In the years that followed, more than 400 billing systems and 600 FMDS systems were installed across four continents.

Professional Inbound and Tele-Data Systems Have a Lot in Common: As two industry leaders, Allen Kalik and Alan Hartmann had a lot more in common than the same first name. Allen and Alan first met in 1985 when Executive Exchange purchased one of the first B/CS systems. Executive Exchange participated in the early testing of the FMDS, ultimately buying several systems. Over the years, in their respective roles of developer/supplier and tester/user, the two men developed a professional relationship that quickly became a friendship.

With a shared sense of direction, corporate philosophy, and products that complemented one another, the merger of the two companies was natural. Both companies were driven by the desire to improve efficiencies across the industry. Both companies were committed to their employees and clients, continuously improving the products and services they offered. And while Professional Inbound handled scripting software, Tele-Data Systems offered billing and message delivery.

In 1997 the two companies merged, joining forces to create Professional Teledata. Combined, they became one of the best software solutions in the industry.

PInnacle: Easier Than PI and More Enriching: As the combined efforts took root, Professional Teledata became a technology innovator and built the reputation to support it. With no hesitation for customization, enhancements, improvements, and upgrades, the PI-2000 product continued to be a premiere scripting software. The B/CS product grew into the Total Billing Solution, providing a Windows-based application that was easier for users. And FMDS grew to deliver messages in a variety of other formats other than just faxing. But the team was cooking up something new. They wanted peak performance and a suite of products that would provide a turnkey solution for their clients.

The result was the PInnacle Telemessaging System. PInnacle incorporated the scripting and order entry program developed as PI-2000, with the team adding message taking and dispatch features, the military-grade eOn digital switch, and flexibility as a database-oriented system. The resulting product significantly reduced agent-training time. The first installation was in 2003.

Let Freedom Ring: In 2009 Professional Teledata installed their first hosted PInnacle system, PInnacle Freedom. PInnacle Freedom is a full-featured PInnacle system that is maintained in Manchester, New Hampshire. All an agent needs is a headset and a laptop to be able to log in and take calls anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Following the development of PInnacle Freedom, in 2010 Midnight Freedom was born from a common challenge that all small 24/7 call centers face: efficiency during the midnight shift. Third-shift agents are underutilized during a majority of their shifts. Professional Teledata found a way to share resources during these inefficient times, allowing one call center to handle calls for another one. With PInnacle Midnight Freedom, the hosting call center can provide reliable quality midnight service to an outsourcing call center at less than half the cost.

A New Wave: In 2012, Professional Teledata announced another innovative new feature, one that incorporated Professional Teledata’s telephone-centric capabilities with the latest interactive remote video-monitoring software. The result was PInnacle Sentry, a fully customizable program designed to detect events using video analytics while integrating the existing capabilities of call center staff, processes, and technologies. By allowing agents to receive and intelligently route video clips and data from customers’ surveillance cameras, a 24/7 staff is fully equipped to review and appropriately handle all situations based on the protocols set forth by clients. This next generation of interactive video monitoring software is offered in an affordable manner, serving a wide range of business applications. With PInnacle Sentry, call centers now could expand service offerings and increase revenue.

The Professional Teledata Philosophy: “Professional Teledata’s philosophy is simple. We strive to work with our customers to improve their systems and increase profitability by offering them the confidence to say, ‘Yes, my system can do that!’” says Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata. “This affords our customers the flexibility to land new clients, improve internal processes, and create management reports that work best for their operations. Professional Teledata’s focus has always been, and will continue to be, developing the best products that are the most functional and practical for users.”

[From Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2015]

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