Making “above and beyond” the norm

Ken Moss, Director of Data Operations, Call One

Call One is one of the nation’s largest providers of voice, data, and Internet services and systems.

Smart Business spoke to Ken Moss, Director of Data Operations at Call One, about how the organization has overcome challenges to become an innovative leader in its region and industry.

Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

The biggest challenge that Call One Data Operations has faced is the growing trend of enterprise organizations choosing inexpensive small-office/home-office (SOHO) IP solutions for their business. In years past, telecom providers enjoyed success selling premium services such as internet DS1 lines to businesses, thus reaping the benefits of larger revenues. Not only have wholesale bandwidth prices fallen, but emerging products such as DSL and cable modems that are economically price positioned have shifted the landscape to be ultra-competitive.

Call One has and continues to overcome this challenge through providing value added services that the SOHO IP products cannot offer. Free bandwidth metrics, reporting, and evaluations gathered though SNMP traps that DS1 can provide. Complimentary proactive notifications on service outages — where we contact the end user notifying that they are down before they even notice. Increasing that “white glove” type of approach based on what the technology can provide. We’re constantly looking for new ways to increase the value add.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

The great thing about Call One is that we’re not limited in how we can approach management issues. I personally like to tackle things with an analytical mindset — I’m a big metrics guy. But if something is not working for me or my teams, we jettison it and identify new and better ways. We’re not saddled with the “this is how things have been done for 10 years” mindset.

We’re firm believers in testing and being hands-on while at the same time employing an open door, customer centric approach — I call it the client/technology partnership. Being a technology company, we find all sorts of interesting challenges that present themselves — advanced routing issues, local area network issues, etc. Because we strive for that client/technology partnership, let’s solve issues together with our clients. Innovation through flexibility in both internal and external customer facing operations is what drives a lot of what we do. This has long been a critical component to our success.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned and how have you applied it?

The lesson of always being positive. It sounds cliché, I know. But over my career I’ve found that successful negotiation of most issues boil down to attitude and approach. Maintaining a positive attitude and approach in our dealings does make a difference. Letting negativity bleed unto oneself brings bunches of problems in a hurry. Positivity — that “can do” attitude and approach to not only operational issues, but relationships as well. I strive to ensure that my teams maintain that positive attitude, and they know that’s a pet peeve of mine. You could be the best and brightest engineer out there — but within my teams we won’t tolerate negativity.

How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

Call One has had an internal Give Back Committee for years now that has coordinated fundraising efforts for various charities and community not-for-profit organizations. This year, for instance, our targeted fundraising organization is Aunt Martha’s Youth Service and Health Center. We consistently hold raffles, contests, bake sales, etc. with the proceeds going to Aunt Martha’s. We set fundraising goals and achieve them. It certainly makes us all feel good knowing that we’re helping contribute to those in need locally.

The effect we have on the regional economy is a little different — Call One is first and foremost a Chicagoland telecom company.  We have a wide range of different local affinity groups — including municipalities, school districts, and auto dealers, amongst many others. We can provide incentives for these groups to give them a competitive advantage in their marketplaces. Call One wants to see other Chicagoland businesses succeed. Through our affinity group program, I believe we are helping do just that.

How have you added “value” to the products and services you provide to customers and clients?

Funny — I would encourage everyone to go to and read a blog article that I authored and posted on August of 2011 titled “Discover Your Hidden Value Proposition.” In a nutshell, it always boils down to providing that premium customer experience that cannot be matched by your competitors. Know your client, stay ahead of the game, and ease their pains. Telecommunications is a commodity. Anything commoditized must be differentiated with value — this is a big one for me.

What is your philosophy on going “above and beyond” for customer service?

My philosophy about “above and beyond” is that it’s unfortunate that it’s still referred to as “above and beyond.” Going the extra mile is what provides that value proposition, that foundation for success to ensure longevity and sustained growth. It’s not “above and beyond” — it should be the “norm.”

Ken Moss, Director of Data Operations at Call One, has worked for Call One in Chicago, Illlinois, since 2002. He holds an MBA from Benedictine University and is a member of Sigma Beta Delta Business Honors Society. Reach him at [email protected] Also, feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.