“Millions have been spent on technology. How much has been spent on teaching people to use it effectively?”
Phil Salafia founded PowerPhone in 1983 with that simple premise, and 37 years later that same sentiment still rings true today.
After finishing a distinguished career in law enforcement with the Connecticut State Police and as Chief Enforcement Agent with the Special Investigations section of the Department of Revenue Services, Phil knew he was on to something big. Why wasn't more focus being given to frontline staff and the importance of customer interactions?
The Early Days – First Impressions are Lasting Impressions
After retiring from the Department of Revenue Services and at a personal crossroads in his life, Phil put his money (and his house) where his mouth was and "went for it." He formed PowerPhone, with the goal of training organizations how to use the power of the phone to improve their business image. The young company quickly gained traction nationally, conducting programs in customer service and telephone answering techniques for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Golf Digest, Microsoft, Fidelity Investments, Amoco and other leading organizations. Living out of a suitcase, Phil would travel the country stressing the importance of each and every telephone interaction.
Dispatchers Save Seconds, Seconds Save Lives
During this time, the concept of community policing was starting to take hold, and civilians were replacing sworn officers in 911 centers nationwide. Phil knew inherently that this was where PowerPhone needed to be. 911 was the epicenter of customer service and with little to no training standards in place for emergency call takers, lives literally could hang in the balance. The rest as they say, is history, as PowerPhone went on to become the nation's leading dispatch training company. Phil would personally conduct hundreds of training classes for tens of thousands of dispatchers worldwide.
Setting the Standard
Under Phil's leadership, the company set standards for the 911 industry that are still widely used today. Many states have adopted PowerPhone content as de-facto training requirements, and PowerPhone nomenclature, such as the Journalistic Investigative Approach to Information Gathering, Red Flags, Balcony Approach and Inverted Communications are eponyms woven into training curriculum worldwide. During this time, PowerPhone developed the first pre-arrival instruction systems for police- and fire-related call handling and was the first company to offer integrated training in all three emergency dispatch services – police, fire and EMD.
Focusing on What Matters
During the 20 years that Phil led PowerPhone, his vision propelled not just a company, but an entire profession forward. 911 is a better service today in part due to one man's foresight nearly 40 years ago. When the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) celebrated the 50th anniversary since the inception of 911, its publication The Call recognized the pioneers considered to have been most instrumental in the conception and development of the service. Phil's founding of PowerPhone and the approach to training he inspired, is recognized to have been accepted by PSAPS across North America and around the world.
Phil Salafia retired from PowerPhone in 2005 turning the reins of the company over to his son, who continues to strive to create systems and programs that empower those first on the scene to help save lives.
- Phil Salafia, Founder