None of the numerous awards Claudia Timbo has received for a string of entrepreneurial successes and her unique approach to building a $20M telemarketing business can trump her 5-year-old granddaughter Chelsea’s jubilant greeting, “Hi, Grandma Claudia!” No wonder then that her time with Chelsea, who lives a few miles away, is more important to Claudia than anything else on her busy weekly schedule.
Her ability in business to connect with people and take a personal interest in their development is amplified in her relationship with Chelsea. “My greatest wish for her is that she will always have joy in her life and that she faces every challenge with supreme confidence in herself. My job is to help make my wish for her come true. It’s not a job, it’s an honor.”
Joy and self-confidence have been the bedrock of Claudia’s approach to her own personal and professional life. In fact, the business model on which she built her most successful venture to date, the Corporate Call Center, headquartered in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, reflects her core values: follow your passion, enjoy the journey, be relentless in attaining your goals, be open to new ideas, treat everyone with respect, be authentic in all of your relationships, listen attentively and maintain a healthy work/life balance to help assure your physical and emotional well-being.
In an industry that is often reviled for being impersonal and perfunctory (the industry average for a call from a telemarketer is 2.5 minutes), Claudia encourages a high-touch approach (her team’s average call is 6 minutes): “Service is just as important as speed. I like 20-minute calls. The longer the call, the more value we bring to the end customer.”
To distinguish her business from her competitors, Claudia has made it a practice to recruit older adults and disabled workers. Once they’re on board, she invests in them to become expert customer service providers, not anonymous callers. As a result, her call centers have had low turnover (10 percent) and an engaged workforce, a competitive advantage in an industry that has an annual turnover of over 50 percent. “Customers of our clients could call back anytime and talk to the same person because they had been there for three or four years taking these calls,” she explains.
Claudia is a frequent speaker on hiring practices, entrepreneurship and start-up ventures. She has been recognized by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for her award-winning business model based on hiring retired executives. In 2009 she was honored with the Delaware Valley region’s Women of Distinction award.
Since selling the Corporate Call Center last year, Claudia has been spending more time with Chelsea. “I lost my mother earlier this year. Being with Chelsea helps us both fill the void. They were very close.”
Richard J. Anthony, Sr., is Executive Vice President of GRAND Media and the author of Organizations, People & Effective Communication.