My SOS Family Automated Monitoring System versus a Monitored Call Centre Operator - how do they compare?

This question is one of our most popular, to really compare our Automated Monitoring System with a Monitored Call Centre. Firstly, it’s important to understand what a monitored call centre operator does.

The word “monitoring” is used because there is a call centre operated by call centre staff, who are waiting for you to call. Their job is “monitoring” the phone - that’s it.

How does the emergency-monitoring call centre know who you are when you trigger your personal alarm?
The monitoring centre uses call centre and telephone software very similar to that on your mobile or home phone; just as you know who is calling you when someone in your phone’s contact list calls you (their name and number pops up), in the same way all a pendant does is trigger an automatic telephone call to the monitoring call centre.

The monitoring call centre has the pendant user’s details programmed into their telephone software and the name of the person calling the call centre will pop-up on a screen together with some extra details like your emergency contacts.

The call centre operator answers the call with the information in front of them - they get the information because you filled out a form with all your details in advance and these details are added into their contact centre software. They then start calling the emergency contacts one at a time until they get through to someone who then takes responsibility.

Who are call centre operators?
It’s costly to have staff sitting in call centres. That require heating/air-conditioning, and can only work for so many hours without a break, so when they take a break, someone else takes over. One operator can only handle one call at a time and therefore to ensure an adequate service there needs to be a sufficient number staff to manage all the calls, especially at peak times.
It's not practical to have qualified medical staff like doctors or nurses working as call centre operators, firstly it’s not a great use of their skills, secondly it’s not what they trained for, and finally it’s not affordable.

Call centre staff are generally people who are trained to handle a high volume of calls, and to understand the needs of their customers. Call centre companies that pay well don’t overwork their staff by ensuring there is a sufficient number to handle calls. This results in having the most compassionate staff (the type we all would prefer to have), rather than those companies that don’t and may be left with overworked, underpaid staff.

Where are call centres based and why?
Property is expensive. Most providers of monitoring services will be located in a central place where rent and staff costs are low, especially as they need to ensure 24/7 availability. Most monitoring call centres will also have a backup alternative location nearby. This is in case there is a problem like a power cut, in which case all the staff can operate from the alternative location.
Because of the way that telephone systems work and due to their great reliability, it really doesn’t really matter where call centres are situated. They could be in the same state/county or another - the reliability is the same. However there could be a massive saving in costs.

What happens when the call centre operator answers an emergency call / alarm activation?
When a call centre operator takes a call, they do so in a calm manner (most of us tend to panic in emergency situations). They will ask the caller if they need an ambulance, as most elderly/senior folk feel either embarrassed to ask or don’t want to bother the emergency services directly themselves.

If they say yes they do need an ambulance, the call centre operator can either connect the person to the 999/911/112/0000 emergency service, exactly the same as someone with a Smartphone can forward & merge a call to someone else.

Alternatively the operator will ask the caller to hang-up and then call the emergency services on behalf of caller. They will give the emergency services the address of caller and, if they have one fitted, the combination of the outside “Key Safe” and/or the combination of any apartment door code.

The majority of alarm calls to call centres are false activations or do not require the emergency services. In these cases, the call centre operator will then call a pre-defined list of family members, friends or neighbours one-by-one until they get through. That person will then take responsibility for helping the user of the alarm.

What is different about the My SOS Family Automated Contact System?

In exactly the same way as a manned call centre system software knows who has activated the alarm call, the My SOS Family system also knows.

We provide our customers with a number of different methods to trigger the Alarm/Alert/SOS. It can be either via the App using data; or via the App using SMS (automatically when there is no data signal); or via a phone call (App, basic mobile phone, home phone); or by using their voice through Alexa (Amazon Echo) or Google Home or Siri or OK Google; or by simply pressing a single button on any basic mobile phone, home cordless phone, with or without an SOS button.

We record the caller’s alert message (and their location if they are using the smartphone app).

Then, unlike apps or other systems on the market that use your phone to contact emergency contacts, we do not rely on your phone, or use your mobile network plan to alert your emergency contacts. Instead we use a secure and dedicated, fully-automated emergency contact system that operates outside of your phone.

The key differences
My SOS Family uses as an automated emergency contact system - but instead of calling contacts one-by-one, which can be slow when done by a person, it does it all simultaneously.

We contact your unlimited emergency contacts by email, by phone calls by phone call to switchboards with automatic extension numbers, and by SMS message.

Our secure system manages the whole emergency alert process sends & receives SMS messages, sends emails, makes emergency telephone calls back and forth to all your “unlimited” SOS Family network, keeping them all updated.

Why is unlimited contacts important?
When you register for the “free trial” you add an unlimited number of contacts. They can be multiple emails, mobile phone numbers to receive SMS messages and either mobile or landline numbers to receive phone calls; you can also add extension numbers for landlines that require extension numbers due to automated switchboards.

A great example of why unlimited contacts works is that you can duplicate contacts. For example let’s imagine a son called “Trevor”. He doesn’t live with you, he works and has a work mobile, a work landline number, a personal mobile/number and a home phone, as well as a work email and a personal email.

Trevor can be added/duplicated 3 times as 3 separate contacts:
1) First Trevor – add his personal mobile, personal email and work email to receive alerts by email, SMS message and phone call 24 hours a day.
2) Second Trevor – add his work mobile number and work landline with extension numbers to be alerted by phone call and SMS message between 9am and 6pm only.
3) Third Trevor – add his home landline number to be called only between 7pm and 8am when he is at home.

What does an emergency contact do?
There are a number of important things. Your emergency contact will know you rather than be a stranger: they will know your habits, where you should be or could be and they will know your friends, neighbours etc. They do not need to be in a location close to you as they can manage the whole process even from abroad.

Nobody has to remember codes or numbers, not even yours, as your contacts are alerted. Then one of your contacts will take responsibility. They may not be able to but, the reason we tell one of them to do it in the alerts is because as soon as they take responsibility (by pressing on a link in an email, pressing the key they are told to when they are called or replying to an SMS), then all other emergency contacts who have been alerted are told that “Trevor has taken responsibility” and therefore they can stand-down. They won’t duplicate duties and they can carry on with their routine knowing that the issue is being taken care of.

This is exactly what a call centre operator would do, except My SOS Family will have done this in the time that the first call is made by a monitored call centre operator.

We recommend that you add relatives or friends as emergency contacts, even if they live abroad or hundreds of miles away. It may seem strange, but a call centre operator sitting in Glasgow or even 10 miles away will be just as good as a relative in Australia which knows you and can help by being part of your SOS Family network.

Your emergency contact can then call you, reassure you and give you the confidence to call the emergency services directly, or they can call them for you. With some of smartphones they can even add/merge you into the call.

We’re also fanatical about security & reliability and pay for our system to be managed by the same provider that manages systems for the Government sector like the Defence Industry & Emergency Ambulance Service and operates worldwide.

We are members and adhere to the high standards & rules of conduct of the leading industry body on telephone enabled care systems - the British Healthcare Trades Association.

We always recommend in life-threatening situations that the person using our system first calls the emergency services directly using 911/112/999/0000 and then use My SOS Family. My SOS Family will not link to emergency services directly, this has to be done directly by you or by one of your emergency contacts.

Not only are we superfast, but because we don’t use call centre operators this also means we have significantly lower operating costs. With the latest technology we are able to pass this on to our customers saving them hundreds each year whilst helping to provide peace of mind and protection.