Sykes Enterprises and Alpine Access

telephone

First I will start off by saying they are both legitimate work at home companies. They offer you the opportunity to work with a few line of businesses or departments.  While I was with Alpine Access I worked in Technical Support  back in 2010/11 and since being hired with Sykes in 2011 I work as a Customer Care/Sales Virtual Representative.

Just a note that I mentioned “both” companies. In 2012 Sykes actually acquired Alpine Access.  However, I’ve noticed that Alpine Access still has a websites (Sykes powered by Alpine Access) and their applications process is still the same I’m assuming the 2 companies are not fully merged since they have separate application processes.  Based on my experience I’m hoping that Sykes implements some of the software, management, working environment that Alpine had if they finally decide to merge completely but I’ll get more into detail about this later in the post.

Anyways lets get right to it I’ll cover the following:

-Application Process
-Training/Production
-Pay
-Scheduling/Hours
-Virtual Environment/s
-Management
-Pros/Cons
-Conclusion
Application Process

The application processes are similar I honestly cannot direct you as to which site to apply with since it’s been 3 years since I’ve been through the application process.

You can apply either at alpineaccess[dot]com and sykes[dot]com.

Personally, I prefer the Alpine application, well; at least the website part  it’s pleasing to the eyes, easy to follow, step by step, and you have a support page if you have questions or technical issues. That’s not to say that Sykes isn’t easy or step by step I’m just a sucker for pretty things and poorly designed websites drive me up the wall.

They require you to fill out a profile listing your name, address, job history, attach a resume, etc. You do have to pay for your own Criminal record check ($13-$60 depending on your location.)

With Sykes you can see the job opportunities before you fill out all your information or profile. With Alpine you fill out your profile and have a few options to select which line of business you’re interested in and once you select your interests you will either be told:

-We’re not currently hiring (you can check back for positions or be notified when they’re available via email)
or
-You will be presented for a list of positions that they’re currently accepting applications for.

Once you’re selected for an interview you will be notified via email with instructions to follow. Alpine Access does group interviews you connect to an Adobe room with a bunch of other people who are applying for the same position and a couple recruiters. When I applied with Sykes in 2011 I had a solo interview. Both interviews solo/group you’re given information about the position, whats required of you, attendance, and other general information about the job. After the interview you play the waiting game and they contact you via email/phone to let you know if you’ve been accepted into the training for the position.
Training

As with all call centers I’ve worked for the training period is 30 days in a classroom setting and you must have 100% attendance or you may be terminated. The training is paid and it’s almost always mon-friday with the option of days 9am-5pm or evenings 5pm-1am (these were the classes I chose in my time zone.

Since this is a Work At Home Position when training starts the first day you are told to log into an Adobe Connect room from your personal desktop. The first day is setting up Software that the company provides. Then you’re onto the clients history, products, services, policies, etc. The last couple of weeks of training you’re introduced to the programs to access customers accounts, makes changes etc. Typical call center training.

There is a 1-2 week training period where you are fresh out of the training room and put onto the phones to take your very first calls. A lot of people don’t make it through these weeks. If you have worked for a call center you know that most of the training you learned is useless at this point. When that first beep comes into your headset everything you learned is gone and you’re stuck. Never fear! This is when you ask for help and you have a dedicated support team who is there to support you as you actually start learning how to do the job.
Once again this is typical call center stuff not specific to Alpine/Sykes.

So after training you’re on your own…. No I’m just kidding! You still have a dedicated support team and coworkers to communicate with while you’re with the company. Just like any job the only difference is all this communication is done over a computer while you sit at home in your pajamas.

Virtual Environments:

You are given a virtual system to log into everyday before your shift. These systems give you access to all the programs you need to assist customers who are calling you. Along with access to your schedule and a chat software.

When I worked with Alpine we had a Chatroom that everyone connected to each shift. We had some tenure employees who where there to help.

At Sykes we have a PM Chat program similar to MSN, Yahoo, etc. and we have about 2-5 people who are there for support.

I loved the open chat and had used it at other call centers before as well. The Private Messaging to be answered by one person is kind of a set back. You get one answer no third, fourth or any set of eyes. Most of the time I get wrong information and no one catches it before I relay the information to the customers.

Sykes should implement chat rooms vs private messages.

Management/Employees:

I loved the way Alpine Accessed was managed vs Sykes.

Alpines managers, trainers, support, agents were all working from home. Whereas, Sykes managers, team leads, agents are work from home agents or in center agents.

I feel as though everyone was treated equally at Alpine because no one knew each other face to face where as some of the people see each other everyday in center. At Sykes the at home employees are just names on a computer at Alpine everyone was treated equally and fairly there was no favoritism within the company.

Alpine gave everyone the opportunity to apply for new jobs as Managers, Trainers, Team leads if there was a new position available everyone including new hires was told about it. At Sykes I only hear about a new position after it’s already taken and usually it’s given to someone in center.

Since they’ve  merged 2 years ago I was hoping to see some sort of change at Sykes but everything still remains the same. I have a feeling by the time that happens I’ll be starting a new job as a Programmer.

Pay:

– Paid training
– Based on minimum wage
– Commission and bonuses
– Unpaid 30 minute lunch and two 15 minute paid breaks
– Yearly Raises(sometimes)
– Bi-weekly direct deposit

The pay is based on the minimum wage in your Provence  or State. So you can expect to get the minimum unless you have previous experience in the call center industry. My first job was at a call center and I kind of got stuck in the industry so my training was minimum wage and after I got into production I was paid $3 more based on my experience.
If you’re working in Technical Support you will be paid a set hourly wage. If you’re working in Customer Care you have the opportunity to make some extra cash with commission on top of your hourly pay. With the Line of Business I am with I get points which can buy me gift cards, electronics, etc. The points are ridiculously hard to get usually by chance I’m on my 4th year and still haven’t accumulated enough points to trade in for anything.

I wasn’t with Alpine Access long enough to get a raise. With Sykes you get a yearly raise. From personal experience I got 2 raises and the 3rd year they had some conditions for raises and it was nearly impossible for me to get my raise. We’ll see how this year goes if I’m still with the company.

Pros:
– Work From Home
– Steady income
– Paid breaks
– Paid Training

Cons:
– Call Center work is not for everyone.

I can’t really list any cons even though I have personal opinions based on my experience. Any con I list would be towards the industry and not Sykes. I did include some of my ideas, wishes and opinions above but that’s me.

Conclusion:

If you need a job and think you can handle the call center industry I would recommend this company to you. I’ve been paid bi-weekly for over 4 years with them and have not had any unresolved issues.

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