Mississippi Industries for the Blind Call Center

Mississippi Industries for the Blind has been known as a manufacturing facility since its opening in 1942, selling products such as mattresses, brooms, sponges, and more to large government organizations.  Although business in this sector has been a valuable job resource for the visually impaired in Mississippi for seventy years, MIB has also been looking to expand into new areas.  One such area, the MIB Call Center, was built in the spring of 2012 on a $250,000 grant in an attempt to bring new jobs to the visually impaired with higher educational backgrounds.  To achieve this goal, Mississippi Industries for the Blind prepared a Call Center installation with a twenty-seven seat capacity, equipping each computer station with JAWS screen reading software and Zoom Text magnifying software, thus enabling the visually impaired agents to take calls and operate the computer systems quickly and efficiently.

After the construction was completed in May of 2012, MIB began competitively hiring visually impaired workers from in and out of state.  “We are eager about the opportunities for expansion that the Call Center is giving us,” says Joe Spicer, the new Call Center Supervisor.  Although a Mississippi native and Ole Miss graduate, Spicer had been living in Michigan for twenty years working at various call centers and in other customer service positions.  As the MIB Call Center Supervisor, Spicer is responsible for communications with possible clients and the development and training of new staff.

Call Center Supervisor, Joe Spicer, at his desk, assisting with calls.
As a part of training, new employees attend one-on-one sessions at Mississippi Industries for the Blind’s new computer lab—the funds for which were donated in early 2012 by Jackson resident Anne Farmer Crews.  The MIB computer lab, which is also organized and operated by a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, introduces visually impaired employees to the different types of adaptive software found in the Call Center, as well as other basic programs if necessary.  Along with in-house instruction, the new agents have also been sent to Bosma—a job training, employment services, and rehabilitation facility for the blind and visually impaired in Indianapolis—for a two-week-long customer service conference—all expenses of which were paid by local rehab facilities, such as Addie McBryde.

After such training, the new Call Center employees are capable of handling both in-bound and out-bound call campaigns.  For example, the first project undertaken by the MIB Call Center was an out-bound calling initiative that focused on customer satisfaction.  The visually impaired employees would contact MIB’s professional affiliates and customers to conduct surveys, thus not only accruing data on which to better all of Mississippi Industries for the Blind’s manufacturing operations but also giving the Call Center the practice to take on larger, out-sourced contracts.  Such practice has since proved to be invaluable, as MIB has recently signed a contract with Mississippi Department of Human Services’ Division of Aging to take their calls on Medicare plans.  The new contract allows the MIB call center agents to receive calls from those who are interested in comparing prescription plans under Medicare; the agents are then able to tell the callers all of their options and assist them in choosing new insurance coverage.

Mississippi Industries for the Blind 27-seat capacity Call Center.  To discover other MIB services, click here!
The new Call Center and its current contract have given Mississippi Industries for the Blind the vision and drive to handle a majority of the calls made to various state agencies.  It has also given MIB hope for an expansion in job opportunities.  Thus, although MIB is still widely known as a manufacturing plant, they are very excited about the introduction of new fields of work for the visually impaired in Mississippi.

Speak Your Mind