The March 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Three Keywords Describe the Business Benefits of Answering Services

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs I consider business trends, specifically as it relates to the telephone answering service, three words come to mind. I think of these terms as keywords we can use to describe what we do and promote our business.

Virtual: An answering service provides a virtual service. It’s been that way from the very beginning, some ninety years ago. We have never done our work on site, but remotely. Our presence is not tangible, but virtual. As the prior century drew to a close, forward-thinking answering services began promoting the concept of the virtual receptionist.

In practice, this was nothing new, but as a concept, it was. Today with many entrepreneurs and small businesses tapping into the parallel concept of a virtual assistant, as a money-saving means to accomplish routine tasks with speed and precision. Answering services need to capitalize on this trend by touting their specialized version of a virtual assistant, also known as a virtual receptionist.

An answering service is virtual.

Scalable: Often technology carries the label of scalable. This means its scope can easily increase or decrease to meet changing user needs. Though answering services often have scalable technology, they remain labor intensive. Labor is not scalable.

However, from the perspective of our clients, we offer a scalable service. If we normally take one call at a time and two come in at once, we “scale up” to handle the extra work. Then we “scale down.” They can’t do that in their office.

What happens if they close early, their receptionist is sick or on vacation, or they want everyone at a staff meeting? We automatically scale up to take their extra calls. Conversely, if they decide to extend their hours and stay open until seven instead of closing at five, we scale accordingly to meet their new expectations.

An answering service is scalable.

Outsource: Though outsourcing, especially as it relates to phone calls, was once severely tarnished by offshore outsourcing done poorly, the reality remains that outsourcing shines as a key concept for businesses. Outsourcing work provides flexibility and controls costs.

Businesses wishing to run a lean, effective operation know that outsourcing is a preferred way to do this. Another significant reason to outsource is that many businesses are reluctant to hire staff. They sight overhead costs—especially healthcare expenses—and the legal hurdles to un-hire staff when no longer needed. As a smart alternative, they outsource whatever they can, whenever they can.

An answering service is an outsource provider.

Next time you talk with a business owner about your service drop these hot keywords. Say that you are virtual, scalable, and an outsource provider. That should get you some attention and hopefully some new business.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Writing: Need content for your TAS website or written materials for your answering service? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.


The Cost of Poor Performance

Why failing to train your employees costs a lot more than you think

By Evan Hackel

Many people have heard the story about the CEO who said, “What if we spend all this money training our staff and they leave?

The department head replied, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

A simple, but pointed, response. If you spend a lot of money on people and they leave, that’s not an optimal outcome. But if you don’t train your employees and they stay, it costs you a lot more. Consider the following:

Trained Salespeople Produce More Income: Statistically trained salespeople:

  • Close more sales
  • Generate larger average sales
  • Sell fewer products at discounted prices and more products at list price
  • Make fewer mistakes
  • Sell the right products
  • Build customer relationships that result in more repeat business
  • Generate more positive online reviews
  • Help keep morale and productivity high among all employees, because people don’t like to work with untrained coworkers who don’t know what they’re doing.

Training Is Not Just for Salespeople: Training has a major impact on customer service practices. Consider the often headache-inducing business of at-home product installation—one that would certainly benefit from customer service-focused training. The basics, such as explaining to customers the details of the installation process, an emphasis on clear communication prior to the start of the job, and of course, conveying the importance of punctuality can boost customer retention. Training staff to be cognizant of their customer service practices can also increase referral business, which can be worth extra hundreds, thousands, or more to your bottom line.

Every Untrained Employee Costs You Money: ROI on training is dramatically greater than most company executives believe. In simple terms, if a trained worker becomes 100 percent productive and an untrained worker is only 60 percent productive, you are losing $40,000 in value on every $100,000 of business you conduct.

In Closing: Not training is hugely expensive—far more expensive than training. In your company, you should look for all the opportunities where proper training can increase profits, reduce waste, and provide an outsized ROI for every training dollar you spend. If you look, you will find many more opportunities than you expect.

Evan Hackel is CEO of Tortal Training, a firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors. Evan created the concept of Ingaged Leadership and is Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts. To learn more about Ingage Consulting and Evan’s book Ingaging Leadership visit www.ingage.net.


Telephone Answering Service News

Telescan Announces New Hires: The Telescan Division of Amtelco continues to grow and advance the development of its Spectrum system in response to demand for a flexible, expandable software-based call center system. The Telescan team is growing to continue helping customers succeed. Paul Schulte joins the Telescan support services team in St. Louis, Missouri. Paul will provide phone support to Spectrum system users and assist in the internal operations of the St. Louis office. Brett Minster joins the software development staff in St. Louis. Brett will be developing applications for Telescan’s next-generation switch, Prism II. For more information contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.” -Leo Tolstoy

“What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.” -Benjamin Disraeli

“Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.” -unknown

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The February 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Tips for Running a Successful Answering Service

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderFor all my adult life writing was something I did, but it meant nothing more. Then about eight years ago I began to take writing more seriously, wondering if it might be my next career. (It is, but it’s a part-time career. No worries, I will continue to publish TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.)

My first step as a writer was to attend a writing conference to learn more about the industry. Now my goal is to attend two conferences a year. Then I begin to study the craft of writing: reading blogs, listening to podcasts, subscribing to magazines, and buying books. Next I joined a couple of critique groups, where we mutually help each other improve. And, since I’ve actually been writing for several decades and been a publisher for fifteen years, I started blogging about writing to give back to the writing community; I also speak at writing conferences. As I moved forward I began working as a commercial freelance writer.

A couple years ago I decided to branch into fiction. Though I could have learned by the school of hard knocks, I decided to jumpstart my efforts by hiring people to guide and instruct me: coaches, developmental editors, and teachers. And I outsource things too: book cover design, copy editing, and proofreading. It would be foolish to try to do these myself.

What’s this have to do with running an answering service? Plenty.

Attend Conferences: I’m shocked that I continue to talk to TAS owners and managers who have never been to an industry event. They claim they can’t afford it. I say they can’t afford not to. Conferences provide a great way to network and learn. I think everyone should attend at least one conference a year—and not just owners but key employees, too.

Give Back: I receive the most when I help others, when I freely share what I know. Peter’s Law of Reciprocity states, “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t… so politely and tactfully learn what it is. Conversely, everyone you meet doesn’t know everything you do…so be willing to graciously share whatever you can when you are asked.” When you give, you receive.

Hire Outside Help: It makes no sense to spend a lot of time trying to figure out something by trial and error when you can pay someone to teach you. When I bought Connections Magazine from Steve Michaels in 2001, I hired a $200-an-hour magazine publishing consultant to point me in the right direction. Best decision ever.

Tap Outsourcers: You can outsource every aspect of running a telephone answering service, including operations. While I know of no one who has outsourced everything, many successful TASs have outsourced specific aspects of their business, such as sales, marketing, billing, collections, technical, and even management. If someone else can do it better or for less, it’s foolish to keep it in house.

Whether it’s writing a book or running an answering service, be intentional about improving and invest in learning. It’s the only way to go.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Blog Posts: Need content for your website? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. TAS Case Studies at only $25 per post. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


7 Tips to Overhaul Your Customer Service

Learn what to do when you realize you’re not as great as you’d like

By Kate Zabriskie

What’s going on when your customer service falls short of your ideal? Usually, a few things. Typically, there’s an organizational mindset misalignment, a lack of commitment from the top, an absence of recognition for giving great service, or a combination of all three.

Consider these seven tips to turn things around:

  1. Start by thinking about your purpose. What is it that your organization does? Articulate your purpose. Everyone needs to understand your core reason for existing and how the actions he or she takes relate in supporting that mission.
  2. Next, think about your processes and how customers interact with you. Do you have your customers’ best interests at heart? If not, what changes can you make to remedy those shortcomings? This step has an added benefit. When your organization’s and your customers’ goals are in harmony, you will have happier customers. Furthermore, it is less likely your people will find themselves dealing with the unhappy, disappointed, or disgruntled.
  3. Model what you want to see. People work for people. If you supervise others, they are watching and learning from you. If you are disengaged, they probably are too. On the other hand, if you embody the spirit of service, you probably see elements of yourself in their performance.
  4. Teach your staff what to do and how to do it. You can’t expect people to deliver great service if they don’t know how. Furthermore, you can’t expect them to care if no one at the top does. Take employee development seriously. This means being a champion for training, participating in education, and coaching for new skills after the fact. Eventually, your people will be able to do more, make better choices, and solve problems more imaginatively.
  5. Hire for service skills. The next time you have an opening, think about what makes someone great at service in your organization and seek those attributes. Don’t settle. You’ll be sorry later.
  6. Even if you have no budget, you can reward employees for giving great service. Start with a sincere “Thank you.” Heartfelt appreciation can work wonders.
  7. Finally, put on your continuous-improvement hat. Systematically evaluate where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.

None of these steps is necessarily hard. The trick is to take them. To win the service game, you have to be in it. What will you do better today?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.


Telephone Answering Service News

Spectrum Prism II Begins Beta Testing: The Telescan division of Amtelco has begun installation and field-testing of Prism II at beta sites. Prism II is the next-generation telephony switch for the Telescan Spectrum system. It provides a soft-switching solution. The benefits for call centers include: increased call handling capacity without added hardware, improved backup and recovery options, real-time monitoring and activity logs, enhanced audio quality, and faster call setup. The new Prism II is an entirely software-based switch built around Asterisk, a widely used open-source framework for building communications solutions. For more information contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be.” -Louis de Bernieres

“He who lives little, changes little.” -Anatole France

“A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.” -unknown

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The January 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Lessons From Cars, Computers, and Software

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderSince I work at home, I don’t do much driving. I sometimes wonder if I really need a car. Couple this with my preference to invest in a product and use it as long as I can. As a result my higher-end car was nineteen years old and pushing a quarter million miles. In November I replaced it. Though it’s time wasn’t up, I wanted a change. I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I take the same approach with technology. I buy the best I can afford and use it as long as I can. My main computer is four years old, my backup computer is six years old, and my laptop (which I seldom use) is ten. It’s replacement should arrive this week.

For the first time I didn’t buy a computer with Microsoft Office pre-installed. Instead I will make the switch to Office 365, a subscription software service. Philosophically I object to subscription services because in the past they haven’t made financial sense given the way I approach technology. (Subscription services are a brilliant move for vendors as it provides them with consistent cash flow, which allows them to support their product, invest in upgrades, and create new modules.) In the past, subscription services would have cost me more than making an outright purchase and using it well past its expected life span.

Switching to Office 365 will allow me to have the newest software on all my computers (not just the new laptop) and will keep me on the latest software version. And since Microsoft is calling Windows 10 “the last version of Windows,” I can expect my software to outlast my hardware. Instead of paying several hundred dollars for Office 2016 Professional on my laptop (or over a thousand dollars to update all three computers), I will instead pay a low monthly fee to enjoy the latest and greatest. How cool is that?

While I don’t run an answering service anymore and therefore haven’t done a cost analysis, I understand the same dynamics applies to operating an answering service using subscription-based services (whatever label you place on it: hosted, cloud-based, SaaS, PaaS, and so forth). It’s good for answering services, it’s good for vendors, and clients benefit as well.

If you’ve already moved to a subscription approach to your answering service platform, congratulations. If you’ve not made the switch, now might be a good time to revisit it.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. TAS Case Studies at only $25 per post. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.


Be a Customer Service Contender

Why most customer service isn’t as good as it could be and what you can do about it

By Kate Zabriskie

Too often, organizations recognize they have a service issue, yet their efforts to address shortcomings fail to solve the problem. In the worst cases, customer service initiatives backfire. However, legendary service organizations have a service mindset, commitment, and reward great performance.

Service Mindset: Great service companies eat, sleep, and breathe extraordinary service. They don’t pull people off the phones for a few hours and expect magic.

  • They have a service mission, and it does more than sit in a frame on a wall in some conference room. It’s top-of-mind throughout the organization. People know it and live it through their daily interactions with customers and each other.
  • They design processes with the customer’s best interest in mind. Think about that well-known airline, so full of love for its customers, it allows them to cancel flights for full credit on a future trip. Clearly they believe most their customers won’t book travel they don’t need, and those who must make a change will eventually choose to fly with them again.
  • They hire people who genuinely love service and are proud to live the brand.
  • They constantly retool the customer experience because they know what worked well in earlier years is long overdue for a makeover.
  • They educate, educate, and then they educate some more. They want to make sure that the people who represent the brand understand what the brand experience is and how to deliver it.

Commitment: Great service companies involve everyone in their service culture and improvement efforts. They invest in their employees and trust them to do what’s right.

  • Their management team models service-centric behavior and holds others accountable for doing the same.
  • Their leaders participate in education efforts, often introducing workshops, wrapping them up, and actively taking part during sessions.
  • They commit to and believe in their staff. Because they’ve chosen their employees well and trained them appropriately, they treat staff members as the adults they are and give them latitude when solving service problems.

Reward: Great service companies reward service-centric behavior. They don’t ignore great work or punish people for taking initiative.

  • They value their employees and recognize that without them there is no customer service.
  • They reward employees by trusting them to do what’s right.
  • They encourage people to find new ways of solving problems.
  • They recognize that a paycheck alone is not enough.

When thinking about everything that the greats do, it’s easy to get discouraged or think your business or department will never achieve true service success. The good news is you’re wrong. While it won’t happen overnight, you can learn from the masters to elevate your approach to customer service.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Releases Hosted Spectrum: Spectrum Prism is now available as a hosted service. Some of the advantages of hosting include increased call handling capacity without adding hardware or IT labor. And there’s no need for a support plan; it’s all included along with updates. Hosted Spectrum is scalable, which makes it ideal for startups. Stations are easy to add. Virtual answering services and the use of a collocated solution breaks the answering service away from the physical constraints and overhead costs of a building, equipment room, and back-up power.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“A timid question will always receive a confident answer.” -Charles John Darling

“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.” -George Santayana

“A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.” -unknown

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The December 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

On Earth Peace and Good Will Toward Men

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderThis month I’m not going to write about the telephone answering service industry or customer service or any of the things I typically address in TAS Trader. Instead I have a seasonal thought—sort of.

In considering our society as a whole, the past several months have been rough: divisive news, polarized rhetoric on social media, and a general loss of civility. The shouting is deafening. Everyone I talk to is sick of it and looking for us to move beyond the constant turmoil and return to some degree of mutual respect and decorum. I so agree.

Maybe this holiday season can mark a shift toward a fresh start. Let’s start by taking a line from the Christmas story: “On earth peace and good will toward men.” I like that. We need more peace (less fighting) and increased goodwill (less conflict). And then our world—or at least our space in it—will be a much better place.

While we can’t compel other people to promote peace on earth and goodwill to all, we can each do our part to bring it about. Little by little, day by day, we can each do one thing for peace and goodwill. Perhaps others will notice and do their part too.

A little less fighting and a little less conflict will make our world a better place. And there is no better time to start than this time of year.

So I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and on earth peace and good will toward men.

May it be so.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. TAS Case Studies at only $25 per post. Custom content available at $150. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


Achieving Greatness Through Customer Service

By Jason Gazaway

There’s good customer service, and there’s great customer service. What’s the difference? The answer is simple: human-to-human contact. People like to know that when they’re dealing with a company, they’re not just another dollar sign. They’re human beings who want to be listened to with respect. Achieving this level of excellence is no easy task.

The Human Voice: Genesys surveyed 9,000 consumers and found the most important aspect of doing business with a company was human service. One key method for attaining this kind of personal contact is a telephone answering service. In today’s web-driven world, few things beat the authenticity of a one-on-one conversation.

Yielding Returns: Of course, you can’t just put anyone on the phone with a customer. You have to put a great deal of care into the way your company is represented. Most customers are very likely to do business with, or switch their business to, a company known for good customer service. This means that service excellence is not only a good business ethic, but it actually yields returns.

The Qualities of Greatness: Though human-to-human contact is necessary for great service, it has yet to be determined what kind of contact this entails. You can’t have just anyone answering your phones. You need someone who:

  • Has experience
  • Exceeds the expectations of the customer by empathizing with his or her situation
  • Handles the needs of an irritated person calmly and efficiently
  • Makes the customer feel heard and respected

A Culture of Respect: How do you get high-quality customer service representatives? Look at your business holistically. The only way you can expect your staff to achieve excellence is if you yourself treat them as excellent. Creating a culture of respect, where every member of the team is valued as essential and indispensable, is necessary if you expect brilliant customer service.

Two Bonus Tips: In addition to these general principles, there are two specific tips. The first is simple: Know the customer’s name and address them by it. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. Studies show that a person’s name causes a completely different part of the brain to light up, making it clear that a name is special and, in this case, useful. Plus, it shows you have genuine concern for who they are and what they mean to your business.

Similarly with the second tidbit, if the customer has a history with the company, refer to a specific aspect of his or her relationship to the business, even if it’s as simple as, “Thank you for your business with us for the last five years. I really appreciate it.” Notice the use of the singular pronoun, “I.” This indicates a personal relationship and communicates to the customer this is not just a transaction with a business but also an interaction with a human being.

In order to achieve excellence in customer service, each representative must treat every customer with respect, listening to their concerns with an open ear, which will result in long-term business relationships.

Jason Gazaway serves as the marketing communications specialist for VoiceNation and as a marketing consultant for Georgia Calls. With over fifteen years of experience managing digital and traditional marketing campaigns, he handles all marketing communications, public relations, and branding projects for both organizations.


Telephone Answering Service News

2017 ATSI Annual Conference: Education, Networking, Fellowship: The Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) will host the 2017 annual conference, “Education, Networking, and Fellowship,” June 27-29, 2017 at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The conference will bring together industry leaders who will share and discuss important topics in the contact center and telephone answering service industry such as hiring talent and training, revenue enhancement techniques, and sales and marketing tactics. Additional sessions will explore HIPAA agent training, business operations, and planning and financial management, upcoming changes in legislation, telco competition, new technology, and equipment. The trade show and exposition provides an opportunity to view the latest in contact center equipment and technology. Registration opens in early 2017 at www.atsi.org.

Executive Services Earns Gold Call Center Certification: The Association of Teleservices International (ATSI) announced that Allgood Communications, Inc, dba Executive Services, has re-qualified for a fourth time and has been awarded the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award. “This qualification is another milestone in our continuous investment in technology, people, and processes,” said April Kasza, Executive Services’ general manager. She continued, “Tom Sheridan, Executive Services’ president and part of the founding certification process, has committed to provide the highest quality services to our clients. Together, we are able to offer the best call center and information technology available, as well as innovative applications and quality service.”

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


 Quotes for the Month

“Of all nature’s gifts to the human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children?” -Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” -Andre Gide

“The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.” -unknown


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The November 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

How Well Do You Pay Your Operators?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderLong ago, perhaps in graduate school, I read a management guru who advocated that a company’s highest paid employee should ethically make no more than seven times the lowest paid employee. Of course I can’t find that source now, but I remember it well.

For a telephone answering service, the two people at opposite ends of the wage scale are the owner/president/CEO and an entry-level operator. With the federal minimum wage in the United States currently at $7.25 per hour – and yes, there are sadly some answering services that still pay minimum wage – that projects to a top annual salary of around $105,000 a year. Of course it doesn’t need to be that high, but if can be.

How close does your answering service come to meeting this paradigm of no more than a seven-fold wage differential? Maybe it’s time to re-examine pay rates: decrease yours, increase theirs, or do both.

While I’ve met TAS owners who barely scraped by, some effectively making less than minimum wage for their endless hours of work, I think those players have all left the industry, either due to the sale of their business or its closure. Left are the viable players, the serious businesspeople who run great organizations and enjoy success. Many of them work diligently to maximize their paycheck, while at the same time remaining convinced they must pay their front-line staff as little as possible. “It’s the economics of the industry” they say.

I don’t agree.

What happens when the minimum wage goes up? Some states and cities already have, and answering services in those areas have adjusted to a higher starting wage. With talk of $12 to $15 dollars an hour, the low-paying answering services will be forced to make changes, too, or go out of business.

Get ahead of what is bound to come. Start increasing what you pay your answering service operators. But here’s a hint: Don’t pay more for the same caliber of employee. Pay more and expect more. Everyone wins.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com can help you startup a TAS for as low as $500 to begin. Single station $1,500 up to 5 stations for $5500 and you own it! Revisit our site; other startup apps now available. Contact Rod Minarik:  rodmastar@gmail.com or 541-606-9272.


 How Well is Your Answering Service Training Working?

By Janet Livingston

As I work with answering services, I see a lot of great things happening. I also see some struggles. Training is one of them. While most answering services have invested a great deal of thought, time, and energy into training, they don’t always meet their objective of producing quality agents at a cost-effective price. Some create admirable agents but at a high cost. Others keep their training costs down but see inconsistent results. And a few struggle in both areas.

Maybe it’s time to look outside your answering service for some cost-effective training expertise. Here are some ideas to consider:

Webinar Training: Hour-long webinars can provide focused training on specific answering service related job skills. Live webinars allow for on-the-fly adjustments, polling attendees, and a chance to submit questions. However, these webinars can also be recorded for later viewing by other staff. Over time an answering service can compile a library of relevant training topics.

Online Seminars: Think of an online seminar as a long-form webinar. It could last half a day: three to four hours, either morning or afternoon. Or the seminar could be a one-day intensive. When done live, the presenters can adjust their instruction to meet the pace and needs of the participants. Recording it allows for future access.

Workshops: A further refinement removes the online element of the seminar and turns it into an in-person event, which greatly enhances the learning potential. This can occur onsite at the answering service or offsite in a central location, which allows multiple answering services to participate and share in the cost.

While none of these options will address 100 percent of the instruction an agent needs, each solution can provide a consistent source of quality training at a low price point. Don’t expect your in-house trainers to do all the training. Supplement their efforts with some outside help. In the process you will cut your training dollars and increase the quality of the results.

You can keep doing training the way you always have and achieve the same outcomes or you can pursue advanced instruction methods to produced better-trained agents for less money.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider and consultancy that provides custom training solutions for all levels of telephone answering service staff. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706 to learn more about arranging specific training for your organization.


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Announces miSecureMessages v6.5: Significant features are added in miSecureMessages (MSM) version 6.5, developed in collaboration with miSecureMessages Certified Partner program and MSM app users. Contact-based licensing, instead of device-based licensing, means miSecureMessages clients pay only for the number of contacts they have, not the number of devices they have. Other features include:

  • Easier registration makes the mobile device app easier for call center clients to use.
  • Client permissions give call centers the ability to grant specific permission-based client access to the miSecureMessages administration web thereby reducing labor costs.
  • Canned responses for groups add flexibility for commercial accounts. Each client organization can have a separate list of responses.
  • Added reports address both system administrators and clients.
  • Time zone of reporting is adjustable in system settings.
  • Performance improvements increase the speed of the app and server.
  • Custom app menu links allow call centers to provide clients with web links accessible from the app’s menu, such as to Amtelco’s miTeamWeb or the call center’s support web page.

Amtelco works with call center partners to help market miSecureMessages to their clients. The MSM Certified Partners Program is unique in the industry, continues to grow, and currently has hundreds of successful members.

Focus Telecommunications is Certified Gold: Focus Telecommunications has re-certified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award after originally qualifying November 2004, reports ATSI (the Association of TeleServices International). Donna West, president of Focus Telecommunications said, “I am delighted that this certification product is available along with other ATSI products that help to demonstrate a standard of quality to our clients and industry as a whole.”

Tom Reandeau, vice president of operations added, “Focus has been a long-time supporter of the ATSI certification program and along with the site certification, we also participate in the Agent, Advanced Agent, and Supervisor Certification Programs as well as the Award of Excellence and Award of Distinction for Call Centers, which helps to codify our commitment to excellence.”

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


 Quotes for the Month

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.” -Richard Bach

“When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.” -unknown


 

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The October 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

How Well Do You Know Your Answering Service’s Clients?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderI recently read a fiction book set in the late nineties. In a small but pivotal part of the story stood a telephone answering service. The author was mostly accurate in describing how an answering service functions, though his depiction of the industry highlighted several negative stereotypes as the norm.

The FBI investigated one of the answering service’s clients, a professional assassin. They laid out two options to the answering service’s owner: cooperate with us and we will ignore your involvement in your customer’s crime or don’t cooperate and be charged as an accessory to murder, over two dozen of them, and risk spending the rest of your life in jail.

The owner decided to cooperate. Though she had never met the man who signed up for the service or the woman who they contacted with messages, the owner did admit she thought something was suspicious. She assumed her client was involved in some low-level fraud, but nothing to the level of a hitman. Since they paid their bill every month, quickly and reliably, she was willing to ignore whatever business they might be in.

A few days later, her client – the hitman – paid her a visit. The gist of the conversation, aided by the threatening presence of a handgun, was if you tell the FBI who I am, my associates or I will kill you.

Talk about a no-win situation.

This story, of course, is a work of fiction. But I share this scenario because I know that – despite the majority of answering services who would carefully avoid such a client – some services will take any client who can pay his or her bill. Maybe it’s time to rethink that strategy.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com can help you startup a TAS for as low as $500 to begin. Single station $1,500 up to 5 stations for $5500 and you own it! Revisit our site; other startup apps now available. Contact Rod Minarik:  rodmastar@gmail.com or 541-606-9272.

Accounts for Sale: 49 accounts, 29% medical, billing $11,000 per month avg. Asking 12x average billing, $132,000 with half down, balance on terms or 10% discount for cash. Prefer to sell to someone in the Pacific Northwest. Contact Tom: 509-593-5239 or tschmerer@gmail.com.

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.


Is Self-Talk Leading You To Success?

By Jason Gazaway

Have you ever talked to yourself or asked yourself a question? You know what I am talking about. We all do it. We debate thoughts in our heads. This can be helpful when wrestling with ideas. Other times this can be harmful, even debilitating. What self-talk we allow to repeat in our heads will eventually affect our perception of situations, people, and even ourselves.

Negative self-talk causes a skewed point of view. If we say destructive things or dwell on bad memories, we will eventually begin to believe them. This creates a toxic mindset that turns our focus from possibilities, opportunities, and hope, and points our attention to problems, issues, and self-pity. A victim mindset forms and quality of life decreases.

On the other hand, positive self-talk creates a mental atmosphere that is uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring. This type of mental talk is self-motivating and strengthening. You begin to believe in yourself, that you can do something. You shift your focus to the possibilities with a “yes I can” attitude.

How do you make this shift? You start. Sounds simple, right? But, it is true. You silence negative self-talk by using positive affirmations. You counteract and disqualify the bad with the good. It is about lining up our words and self-talk with what we are working towards and who we want to be or who we know we were created to be. This can be about our health, relationships, or business.

In June I ran my first half-marathon. Though I am a runner, trust me when I say that there was a lot of negative self-talk going on through the training process. The days where I let the negative self-talk prevail were the days I did my worst and quit early. The days I told myself I could do it, and even visualized myself finishing the race, were my best times. I felt energized.

What we say in our heads, especially about ourselves, has a profound effect on our behaviors. We have to change how we think in order to change how we behave. Dealing with and eliminating the negative self-talk will open a new door in life. Believe in yourself, speak life into situations, and focus on your destiny.

Jason Gazaway serves as the marketing communications specialist for VoiceNation and as a marketing consultant for Georgia Calls. With over fifteen years of experience managing digital and traditional marketing campaigns, he handles all marketing communications, public relations, and branding projects for both organizations.


Telephone Answering Service News

OnviSource Again Named “Hot Vendor”: Ventana Research, a benchmark research firm, has recognized OnviSource as a Hot Vendor in the 2016 Workforce Optimization Value Index Report. This recognition reinforces the company’s progress and commitment to enhancing the customer experience through innovations in enterprise workforce optimization, automation, and unification solutions. This is the third consecutive year OnviSource has received an overall Hot Vendor ranking. The company also received a Hot Vendor designation in six out of seven Ventana Research categories, based on the company’s overall WFO platform.

“OnviSource is honored to receive the Hot Vendor ranking again this year. We continue to invest in enhancing products for the workforce optimization market and further expansion and development into customer experience management and other advanced business analytics solutions,” said Ray Naeini, chairman and CEO of OnviSource.

John Freire Recognized with Allen Kalik Award: John Freire of Direct Line Tele Response received the 2016 Allen Kalik Award. The announcement was made during the annual PINetwork User Group Meeting. The Allen Kalik Award was implemented in 2011 after the passing of industry leader and Professional Teledata’s late president, Allen Kalik. Honoring Allen, this award recognizes individuals whose unselfish dedication and leadership have led to the advancement of PIN.

“It was a personal honor and pleasure to be able to present the Allen Kalik award to John Freire,” said Phyllis Shaw, education committee chair of the PINetwork User Group. “John gives so much of his time to our group and is always available to share his knowledge with us. He is someone who thinks outside the box, and pushes us all to the next level.”

“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” said Freire. “Allen was always giving back to PIN and eager to share his expertise and knowledge with anyone who was interested in learning.” Freire is the IT director at Direct Line Tele Response.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer.” -Douglas Adams

“True friends are those who really know you but love you anyway.” – Edna Buchanan

“To write with a broken pencil is pointless.” unknown

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The September 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

Is Your Answering Service Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs I talk with owners and operators in the telephone answering service industry, some have concerns and others share excitement. I understand those who are pessimistic. After all there is much to worry about. I also understand those who are optimistic. They see ongoing changes to the industry, as well as threats from within and without, as occasions to celebrate.

These folks have figured out how to market and to sell, not just to offset attrition but to grow organically. Others embrace acquisition, either for the art of the deal or as a means to pick up new clients from acquisitions who fail their newly acquired clients. Still others have figured out how to manage staff successfully across multiple locations or to truly scale their business in a way that works in actual practice. Last are those who manage what they have with excellence: maximizing value, thrilling clients, engaging staff, and making a nice profit in the process.

Regardless of which camp you are in, the half-full contingent or the half-empty group, now is a great time to begin preparing for next year. Don’t wait until December 31 to begin your strategic plan for the new year. And whatever you do, don’t confront the upcoming year without a plan.

  • Look at what you do well and ask how you can do it better. Every TAS has at least one thing they do with excellence. Don’t lose sight of that.
  • Then look at where you struggle and seek ways to turn it into a strength. Every TAS also has at least one thing they can do better. Don’t think otherwise.
  • Last look at your biggest pain point and make a plan so it hurts a little less. You can do that.

Do these three things and make next year your best one yet. Start preparing today.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com can help you startup a TAS for as low as $500 to begin. Single station $1,500 up to 5 stations for $5500 and you own it! Revisit our site; other startup apps now available. Contact Rod Minarik:  rodmastar@gmail.com or 541-606-9272.

Accounts for Sale: 49 accounts, 29% medical, billing $11,000 per month avg. Asking 12x average billing, $132,000 with half down, balance on terms or 10% discount for cash. Prefer to sell to someone in the Pacific Northwest. Contact Tom: 509-593-5239 or tschmerer@gmail.com.

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


Resolving Conflict at Work

By Jason Gazaway

One thing guaranteed in life is conflict. No matter how much you try to avoid it, it will come up at some point, but it’s not whether you win or lose, it is about how to get the best results, the right results in any situation. The goal is to resolve the disagreement, struggle, or conflict to eliminate the friction between people.

Conflict arises from differing personalities, viewpoints, mindsets, and even past experiences. Conflict abounds in all areas of life: politics, religion, marriage finances, work, and even play. Everything we see is about one person or group wanting to get their way while the opposing person or group desires to get theirs. Both sides feel they must be heard and that their view is the right one. At some point one side digs their heels in and stands firm, and the other side becomes defensive. Emotions erupt.

There are times conflict can be avoided but when it cannot, it helps to have some tools to be the “bigger person” and work to resolve it rather than striving to be the “right one.” When thinking about a business or company setting, here are some ways to resolve conflict rather than to inspire it:

  • Remain Calm: This sounds like common sense, but it is harder to do when under pressure. Remaining calm helps you and the other person think clearly and respectfully. Emotions tend to get the best of us when we’re not calm.
  • Listen: This is not to find a foothold so you can pounce. This is a listening so you can understand mindset. Seek to understand where the other person is coming from and their viewpoint. It might not change your mind, but it will help you understand the situation better.
  • Communicate Effectively: This means focusing on the positives, not being aggressive when you talk, and be open. Again, we cannot let our emotions get the best of us in any situation. We have to communicate in a way that is logical and not overflowing with emotion. Remember to stay calm.
  • Value the Other Person: Focus on the best result for the situation and everyone involved and not just to get your way. We have to remember the other person is human and has emotions, too. Sometimes showing the other person you care and value them can defuse the whole situation.

Resolving conflict is important not only for business relationships but for personal ones as well. Learning how to manage conflict, as well as yourself, is important to having contentment and working towards the best results in all situations. Plus, it gives you satisfaction in handling the situation and everyone involved with respect, honor, and care.

Jason Gazaway serves as the marketing communications specialist for VoiceNation and as a marketing consultant for Georgia Calls. With over fifteen years of experience managing digital and traditional marketing campaigns, he handles all marketing communications, public relations, and branding projects for both organizations.


Telephone Answering Service News

Dexcomm Acquires Vision Communications: Dexcomm Answering and Communication, headquartered in Carencro, Louisiana, has acquired the telephone answering service division of Vision Communications, a subsidiary of EATEL. All other service divisions of Vision Communications will remain unchanged.

“We look forward to building relationships with even more customers in Louisiana and across the country,” commented Jamey Hopper, president of Dexcomm. “Our new customers can expect award-winning customer service delivered on state-of-the-art technology with a personal, compassionate touch.”

Tessie Toups will continue as the primary Vision account representative. “I am excited to work for a prestigious and professional company, and look forward to providing the best possible service to all of our customers,” Toups said.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


 Quotes for the Month

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise man grows it under his feet.” -James Oppenheim

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” -George Washington

“The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference.” -unknown


 

The August 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

The Dark Side of Acquisitions

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderHaving bought more than a dozen answering services in my day, I understand the allure of chasing the sale, negotiating fair terms, closing the deal, and taking control of the acquisition. Yet the real value comes after the sale, when the acquired accounts are optimized.

Yes, you inevitably lose some, no matter how careful the transition, but the ones that remain are profitable and grow your bottom line. Even though this post sale optimization is a critical final step, it’s not nearly as exciting as pursuing the deal. But it is more important. Critically so. Maximizing the value of a newly acquired property requires hard work, takes time, and receives little recognition. But when successful, the results pay off month after month.

Some answering services excel in deal making but flounder at exploiting the potential of their purchase. As a result, they churn the accounts they just bought. While a few of those clients will stop using answering services altogether, a majority will move on to another answering service. And that’s good news for everyone else in the industry.

Each acquisition prompts some clients to look for a new service. In some cases, many accounts will want to jump ship. This means opportunity for the rest of the industry. Look for ways to make it easy for these businesses to switch to your answering service. Speed and ease of transition is critical. They are in pain and want to move. Make it effortless, and they will choose you.

This is the upside to the dark side of acquisitions.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Mastar.com can help you startup a TAS for as low as $500 to begin. Single station $1,500 up to 5 stations for $5500 and you own it! Revisit our site; other startup apps now available. Contact Rod Minarik: rodmastar@gmail.com or 541-606-9272.

Accounts for Sale: 49 accounts, 29% medical, billing $11,000 per month avg. Asking 12x average billing, $132,000 with half down, balance on terms or 10% discount for cash. Prefer to sell to someone in the Pacific Northwest. Contact Tom: 509-593-5239 or tschmerer@gmail.com.

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.


Calling All Writers and Bloggers

By Peter L DeHaan

The goal of TAS Trader is to provide content for the answering service industry from those in the industry. This means we need your help.

Please consider submitting a short article or blog post for the next issue of TAS Trader.

If you are a blogger, we welcome your posts. Just keep in mind that the writing needs to apply to other answering services, not clients of answering services.

You already have the post written all you need to do is email it to me. Easy peasy.

If you have something you’d like to share in a future issue of TAS Trader, please email me -Peter


Telephone Answering Service News

OnviTel 2.0 Deployed

OnviSource recently deployed OnviTel™ 2.0 Call Management and IP-PBX. It is part of the OnviCom™ overall strategy to offer an all-software teleservice application with soft-switch capability combined with an advanced and feature-rich PBX. OnviTel 2.0 includes:

  • All software, web-based solution
  • Reduced hardware concerns and telecom expenses
  • Varied interfaces (analog, PRI, T1, VoIP, SIP trunking)
  • Full-featured IP-PBX, auto-attendant, and IVR
  • Premise-based or cloud ready capability
  • Tiered voicemail for internal office use or use by enterprise clients
  • Intelligent call distribution and application-based call management, including least cost routing, inter-machine trunking, and dialing plans
  • Can function as a switching and telephony server for OnviCenter workforce optimization products

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” -John Ruskin

“We can have facts without thinking but we cannot have thinking without facts.” -John Dewey

“Did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off? He’s all right now.” -unknown

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The July 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

Why I’m Excited About the TAS Industry

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderA couple years ago I started offering freelance commercial writing services. Not surprisingly, much of the work I do is in the answering service industry: commercial marketing, blog posts, website content, and marketing materials.

As I research and write for my clients in the TAS industry, one theme reoccurs. I am struck with the realization that there is great opportunity ahead of us. Though these opportunities aren’t readily apparent, they do exist. It takes visionary leaders willing to try new things. Some initiatives fail and some succeed. We learn from failure and build upon success.

These opportunities often mix great staff with exciting technology to spark creative service offerings. And of course, promotion and marketing is now more critical than ever.

Ours is a resilient industry. Yes, it is changing. Consolidation continues. Our vendors innovate like never before, producing technology that provides us the means to offer exciting new services. Clients expect more and that helps us get better. The bad players are being bought out or go out of business. The good players compete and grow and make money.

While there may be less answering services to do the work, I believe there is more business awaiting us than ever before.

I am so excited about the future of the TAS industry, and I hope you are, too.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Accounts for Sale: 49 accounts, 29% medical, billing $11,000 per month avg. Asking 12x average billing, $132,000 with half down, balance on terms or 10% discount for cash. Prefer to sell to someone in the Pacific Northwest. Contact Tom: 509-593-5239 or tschmerer@gmail.com.

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com can help you startup a TAS for as low as $500 to begin. Single station $1,500 up to 5 stations for $5500 and you own it! Revisit our site; other startup apps now available. Contact Rod Minarik:  rodmastar@gmail.com or 541-606-9272.


Do Sweat the Small Stuff

By Barbara Bradbury

Editor’s note: We shared this information in the November 2012 issue of TAS Trader, but these four tips are even more relevant today so we’re posting them again. If you have something you’d like to share in a future issue of TAS Trader, please email me -Peter

When using the telephone, we don’t have the luxury of body language or eye contact to help us connect with our prospects and clients. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to even the smallest details. Try these tips to really connect with callers.

  1. Voice inflection determines the meaning that others take from the words we speak and helps us to build rapport. The lack of voice inflection is what can lead to misunderstandings when we communicate using email.
  2. Energy conveys our attitude, interest, and enthusiasm.
  3. Rate of speech that is too fast implies we don’t have time for our caller, while too slow can sound like we are distracted.
  4. Pitch that is too high may sound shrill, emotional, and even combative; too low can be difficult to hear or sound uncaring.

Record yourself at the beginning of your day and again at the end. Ask someone you trust to critique your telephone voice on both recordings. Does the quality of your voice tell your customers that you’re fully engaged and actively listening?

This information is courtesy of Answer Plus Communications Inc.


Telephone Answering Service News

OnviSource OnVision Analytics Solution to Transform WFO

Customer Experience Management (CXM) requires an omnichannel method to capture relevant customer experience data from every channel, including calls, emails, chats, desktop transactions, customer surveys, and social media. However, capturing 100 percent of information from all channels can produce a massive amount of data, known as big data. OnviSource Inc’s enterprise analytics solution, OnVision, uses its OnviCenter suite of workforce optimization (WFO) products to deliver information and trend analysis related to customer interactions and experience across all channels and customer touch points. “It is the next step in the evolution of workforce optimization and big data management,” said OnviSource’s Ray Naeini.

Startel Launches Disaster Recovery Service

Unveiled at the 2016 Startel National User’s Group conference in San Diego, Startel’s disaster recovery service provides customers with a complete failover solution and peace of mind. The service enables users to back up application data in a simple, nondisruptive manner. Key features include automated synchronization of database and key files, automated database and key file backup, and a backup system that acts as a hot standby system. Synchronizations occur automatically on both the Startel Contact Management Center and Startel soft switch. “We are happy to provide [mission-critical organizations] with a service that not only minimizes downtime but also minimizes customer impact,” said Startel’s Bill Lane.

Call Center Solutions Company Unveils New Products

SA Hosted & Managed Solutions launched its new website, Youtube channel, and product offerings at the 2016 ATSI conference. SA Hosted & Managed Solutions rolled out two cloud-based technologies: xCally Motion and CallScripter Synergy. xCally Motion is an omnichannel asterisk-based contact center software that powers customer interactions via voice, chat, SMS, email, and fax. xCally software was developed in Italy by Xenial Lab and is used by more than 10,000 contact center agents worldwide. CallScripter Synergy, from IPPlus PLC, combines an agent scripting toolbox with a unified agent desktop system. SA Hosted & Managed Services announced it has been appointed by xCally and CallScripter as a distributor and technology partner in the United States and Canada.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or to lose.” -Lyndon B. Johnson

“Kindness is always fashionable.” -Amelia Barr

“Police were called to a day care where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.” -unknown


 

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The June 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

Looking for Good Ideas among Well-intended Misfires

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderMany years ago in another industry, my boss shared his grand suggestion to save money and boost productivity. It was insightful but had a critical flaw that would render it unworkable. He was enough removed from the day-to-day workings of our operation that he was unaware of the hole in his logic.

As the TAS industry continues to consolidate, investment comes from the outside. These folks have their own grand ideas of how they will save money and boost productivity. Most all of the time they are wrong. Their ideas are not realistic and may not even be feasible, but they lack the intimate, practical, day-to-day knowledge to realize that.

Notice I said “most of the time.” This means that occasionally outsiders bring a truly innovative idea into the TAS industry. But if we’re not careful we will dismiss it as being ill conceived, despite their good intentions.

The key is to keep an open mind, to not hold our time-proven SOP (standard operating procedure) as sacrosanct. This is easier to say than to do. But just because we’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean we can’t find a better method to do it, a means to save money or boost productivity. So we must respectfully consider an outsider’s plan to change our ways – they just may be right.

However, those on the outside looking in must balance their great ideas with the seasoned pragmatism of insiders. After all, most of the time we will be right.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com…for in/outbound stand-alone TAS systems since 1986. Startup as low as $1,500 per station and you own it. Contact 541-606-9272 or rodmastar@gmail.com

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.


How to Handle Embezzlement in the Family Business

By Lois Lang

While embezzlement starts small and often innocently in a family business, it can quickly escalate to something big that damages the business, hurts non-family employee morale, and breaks family trust.

What do you do when you realize a family member is embezzling? Taking a cautious, thoughtful, respectful approach is wise. To begin, meet with key leaders, without the suspect family member present, to address the following questions:

  • Do we have clear, hard, verifiable facts before we assume fault and intent?
  • Who will be at the meeting to lay the facts out?
  • Are we going to involve the legal system?
  • If we continue employment with this family member, do we need to change their job position?
  • How will we communicate this with the rest of the family? Employees? The board?
  • Did the company contribute to this problem? If so, what steps will we take to prevent it in the future?
  • Did the family contribute to this problem? If so, what steps will we take to prevent it in the future?
  • Has this family member had chronic, known financial problems?
  • How can we protect the company from future embezzlement or misuse of company assets?
  • How do we protect the whistleblower?
  • Do we have an internal whistleblower program? Do employees know about it?
  • Do we talk openly in Family Council about our responsibility to financially protect and care for company assets? Do we give specific examples of what is and is not allowed?
  • Do we have a non-compete clause in our employment contract or handbook if we have to fire the family member?
  • Do we consistently run a professional background check on applicants?
  • What preparation is needed to walk the family member out the door? Consider computer security, locks, passwords, current company asset retrieval, bank account access, social media tracking, final paycheck, etc.
  • Do we need to involve the corporate attorney, board, outside legal attorney, CPA, business psychologist?

Once you’re clear on these aspects, it’s time for the second meeting, this one with the suspect family member. Keep the meeting at the level of discovery. Lay out the facts, and ask the family member their perception of what happened. Listen to what he or she says and how it’s communicated. It’s common for family members not to realize they are embezzling. If this is a first offense and if the embezzlement is not excessive, training may be the best option. However, if the family member knew it was wrong or the embezzlement is substantial, termination may be the only option.

Ask, “What would I do if this wasn’t a family member?” and “Is this at a level where I will be able to trust him or her again?” Your answers to these two questions will reveal a lot about your best action plan.

Lois Lang is a consultant with Evolve Partner Group, LLC where she helps organizations become high performance workplaces.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel and Pulsar360 Announce Strategic Partnership

Startel Corporation announced a strategic partnership with Pulsar360, a telecommunication solutions provider to small and mid-size organizations. Pulsar360 provides tens of thousands of SIP trunks, DIDs, and toll free numbers to more than 80 TAS customers. As part of the partnership, the companies have successfully completed interoperability testing of the Startel soft switch with Pulsar360’s telecommunication services. Together, Startel and Pulsar360 can deliver comprehensive voice, data, and contact center solutions to the TAS marketplace and their joint customers. “Like Startel, Pulsar360 is a service-oriented company focused on helping its clients realize their business objectives,” said Michael Dozier, president of Pulsar360.

Professional Teledata Announces Commercial Grade SMS Solution

Professional Teledata announced its enhanced short message service solution, PInnacle Cloud SMS, a commercial grade solution developed for high-volume, high-availability usage requirements. The PInnacle cloud SMS solution enables users to communicate with clients faster and with higher throughput via text messaging by maintaining direct connections to major wireless carriers that are not subject to rate limits, monthly usage thresholds, or cell towers. Now PInnacle Cloud SMS users can exchange messages each month without worrying about service interruptions or rate limits. Key features include: 100 percent software-based, fully redundant, built-in disaster recovery, and comprehensive reporting.

TAS Marketing Announces “Shared Profit Plan”

Large TAS buyers do not want to bother with smaller operations, but Steve Michaels has found a way around this, allowing smaller TASs to get higher multiples. He has spearheaded a “shared profit plan.” Michaels combines the billing of smaller answering services to get to that sweet spot larger buyers are looking for: at least $100,000 in billing per month. Then the multiple goes up for everyone. All sellers’ information will be kept private so they will not know who the other sellers’ are – just the buyer. Contact Steve Michaels at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com.

MedCom Earns Gold Call Center Re-Certification

MedCom Professional Services, Inc dba Keystone Answering Service has received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award from ATSI for the 16th year in a row. “Keystone was the first site to be certified under this program in 2001” said Dan L’Heureux after completing the on-site inspection. He noted that “Keystone has passed certification review an unprecedented six times including two major platform changes and a facility move and through it all has retained the distinction of  Certificate #1.” There are currently twenty sites certified in North America.

WSTA Announces Winter Conference @ Sea 

WSTA Winter Conference @ Sea, Miracle – Mexican Riviera, departs Long Beach on Jan 29, 2017 and returns Feb 4, 2017. The schedule is:

01/29/2017, Sunday, Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA, 4:30 P.M.
01/30/2017, Monday, Fun Day at Sea
01/31/2017, Tuesday, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, 9:30 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.
02/01/2017, Wednesday, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M.
02/02/2017, Thursday, Fun Day at Sea
02/03/2017, Friday, Fun Day at Sea
02/04/2017, Saturday, Los Angeles (Long Beach), CA, 9:00 A.M.

A deposit of $250 per person ($500 per cabin) is due now to reserve cabin; the final deposit due November 15, 2016. More info: www.wsta.bizdan@callconsult.net, or 763-473-0210.

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Quotes for the Month

“A man is known by the company he keeps. A company is known by the men it keeps.” -Thomas J. Watson

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” -Will Rogers

“I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.” -unknown

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