60 Years of Service
Sykes Assistance Services was originally founded in 1955 as the National Auto League. The original concept, as a provider of retail road side assistance programs, has evolved over the past 60 years into a multichannel assistance services platform.
1989 a Year of Disruption
In 1989 under the banner of Oracle the Assistance Group (OTAG) working with Jaguar Cars of Canada we introduced the first road side assistance program that came with the purchase of a new automobile. This revolutionary concept was included in extended warranties on all Jaguars sold in Canada. This benefit helped original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to add significant value to the relationship between the brand, the consumer and the dealership. That same year we began a partnership with Agero (formerly known as Cross Country Automotive Services) of Boston to support each other’s customers across the continent. That relationship has now spanned more than twenty years providing seamless support for North American travelers.
The initiative to work directly with OEMs completely changed the business model for providers of roadside assistance. Now thanks to that early innovation almost all new car owners have access to 24/7 emergency roadside assistance, travel planning and other assorted concierge like programs. This model quickly evolved in the following year when we were approached by Lexus Canada to support the first car maker in the Canadian market to include a comprehensive roadside assistance benefit package in their new vehicle warranty.
The Mid 1990's
In April 1997, the Company began an association with Hambro Legal Protection PLC, a subsidiary of Hambro Insurance in the United Kingdom, which allowed us to develop specialized expertise in the area of legal assistance services. In August 1998, OTAG purchased Lawline Canada expanding its legal assistance business, beginning with the Law Societies of Ontario and British Columbia and then expanding into various national Employment Assistance Programs (EAPs)
The Move Into Healthcare
In 1998 OTAG acquired one of Canada’s first health management call centre businesses, Clinidata Inc. Clinidata had been involved with the development of electronic medical records, paperless clinical trial applications, pharmacy information systems, on-line continuing medical education as well as being a pioneer in nursing tele-practice as demonstrated by its launch of the Tele-Care / télésoins telephone triage program on behalf of the province of New Brunswick in the previous year.
The acquisition and subsequent integration of the Clinidata and OTAG value propositions created Canada’s first Assistance Services Company. Late in 1998 Sykes Enterprises, Inc. identified the value that could be created by this approach and purchased the company and has since operated it as an independent Canadian subsidiary.
In June 1999 Sykes Assistance Services was the first roadside assistance provider in North America to launch an electronic dispatch application connecting the contact centre directly with the dispatch offices of towing providers. This significantly improved response times and accuracy of our claims process.
In July 2001 Sykes Canada made its first foray into dedicated customer relations work when we launched the Toyota Canada customer relations program. This was the first outsourced program of its type by a Japanese manufacturer demonstrating the confidence our partners had in our ability to support their brand.
On the healthcare side of the business this new decade saw the team implement several large scale provincial Telehealth services beginning with the highly successful Telehealth Ontario program. In 2000 we opened new Telehealth sites in Toronto, North Bay, Sudbury and London Ontario and expanded the healthcare team to include over 350 registered nurses. In 2003 we were the successful proponent in a request for proposal to operate a physician's after hours program in Ontario called the Telephone Health Advisory Service. By late in the decade this program grew to support over 8000 family physicians and their patients in Ontario. By the middle of the decade we provided telephone triage, poison information, problem gambling support and various public health services for organizations in both the private and public sectors in Canada.
In 2005 we launched our CareCoach® behavioural counselling services with the implementation of the British Columbia Quitnow by Phone program. Quitnow was one of the first programs in North America to offer a stepped care model for cessation. Over the next several years our CareCoach model was expanded to support both public and private sector wellness and disease management initiatives. The program also evolved to by implementing a primary coaching model supported by coaches that were specially trained to use the techniques of motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural counselling.
Also in 2005 Sykes Assistance Services made a direct investment in the workplace health and wellness market through the acquisition of Kelly Luttmer @ Associates a Calgary based provider of occupational health, disability management and employee assistance programs.
2006 - Today
In 2006 based on the burgeoning issue of personal fraud and identify theft we worked with customers in the Insurance Industry to develop a suite of services and educational programs to help people deal with identity theft.
Also in 2006 we supported the design and launch of the Newfoundland and Labrador HealthLine program, a 24/7 telephone triage service with sites in St. Anthony, Corner Brook and Stephenville.
In March of 2009 Sykes Assistance Services received an Industry Partner of the Year Award from the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario. The award is presented to companies who have gone “above and beyond” in supporting the Lawson Health Research Institute. We won this award because of the work that we performed to support clinical research into the use of mobile patient monitoring applications targeting people with Type II Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.
In 2009 we started to work with the National Research Council of Canada on the commercialization of a set of tools to identify disease outbreaks in Canada. Using our telephone triage data we have been able to identify aberrations associated with early onset of significant public health events such as the H1N1 pandemic, environmental concerns and contamination of food and water.
In December 2010 we were the first roadside assistance provider in Canada to launch a fully integrated telematics support program servicing OEM vehicles. This allowed the car to "talk" to our agents providing information on its location and any problems that the vehicle had encountered. This technological evolution continued with the launch of an on line roadside assistance request web portal for customers who preferred to communicate in this fashion.
In 2013 we launched an end-to-end accident event program beginning with initial tow requirements and including a full accident event management process.
Also in 2013 we invested once again in technology significantly upgrading our voice and data networks. A key part of this upgrade was the purchase and implementation of a health system integration appliance designed to support integration between our clinical systems and our partners in the acute and primary care sectors. This tool enables us to provide real time integration using multiple versions of Health Level 7 (HL7) messages.
In April 2014 Sykes Assistance Services was proud to develop and implement a breast feeding support line. Our specially trained registered nurses are available 24/7 to help new mothers when they have challenges breast feeding their babies.
Also in April 2014 we were proud to announce that our Telehealth services had achieved accreditation from Accreditation Canada. This acknowledgement of our committment to excellence was followed up in 2016 with a further indepth review resulting in our winning Accreditation with Commendation for Telehealth Services.
In 2015 and 2016 we have been proud to introduce our new video based virtual care solution, chat for healthcare and our first foray into the m-health arena with our CareCoach® Mobile app.
The Canadian head office is located at 248 Pall Mall Street in London Ontario where we operate a large scale contact centre along with our administrative offices. Other Sykes Assistance Services sites are located in Moncton, New Brunswick; and North Bay, and Toronto Ontario.
Work from Home
In addition to our bricks and mortar locations we have developed policies and processes to support the almost complete virtualization of our contact centre environment. Sykes Assistance Services has been active in the implementation of a home office solution for over a decade. By supporting agents, coaches and registered nurses in their own secure home based locations we have been able to improve employee satisfaction and our overall ability to scale to meet unexpected demand. Our home located team is also a key to our ability to respond to poor weather, public health emergencies, and disruptions in the public transportation and power networks.