The December 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

The New TAS Trader Coming in 2014

By Peter DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs TAS Trader wraps up its fifth year, many changes have occurred since our launch in early 2009. As an industry, we’ve seen a great deal of consolidation. Although it’s just a guess, I suspect the number of telephone answering services in the United States now stands at about 50 percent of what it was then. Of course, the average size of those that remain has grown a lot. Sensing opportunity, new players have entered the industry, too. The vendors that serve us have undergone changes as well: consolidation, diversification, strategic partnerships, and entering or exiting the industry. Overall, this is good for the industry.

However, the biggest change has been technology: VoIP, hosted service, ubiquitous Internet connectivity, remote operators, distributed call centers (my favorite oxymoron), off-the-shelf hardware, software apps, fiber rings, handheld devices, and smart phones.

Ah, smartphones and handheld devices.

I started TAS Trader as an e-publication with two formatting goals: make it easy to read on a computer screen and make it easy to print for those who like a hard copy. In 2009, our 11″ x 8½” PDF-formatted layout made a lot of sense.

But in 2013, the tipping point came, with more people now reading email on smartphones and handheld devices than on computer screens. This means our trusty format is no longer serving the majority of readers. Starting in January 2014, our once innovative version of TAS Trader will retire. Taking its place is an email version, designed for mobile users while still being easy to read on a computer screen or print out.

We’ve already converted our archives to this new format, which you can read, forward, and print. Plus, as text documents, they are easier to search and will aid in SEO (search engine optimization).

nCall Answering Service Software from nSolveThe best news is you won’t need to do anything to receive the new version of TAS Trader. It will arrive via email just as it always does, and copies will be available online just like always. For all the things that are changing, some things remain the same.

Happy holidays! And we’ll see you January 20 with TAS Trader 2.0!

Peter DeHaan (www.peterdehaan.com) is publisher of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

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TAS of the Month: Ambs Call Center

Ambs Call Center - Jackson, Michigan

Ambs Call Center in Jackson, Michigan

Ambs Call Center started in 1934 as The Physicians Registry, a doctors’ answering service in Jackson, Michigan. Their current building (pictured,), built in 2004, was constructed over and around their existing building – “A logistical tightrope,” said Richard Ambs.

 

The Ambs Call Center Management Team

Aaron Boatin, Richard Ambs, Andy Ambs, Ryan Ambs

Second-generation Aaron Boatin, Andy Ambs, and Ryan Ambs round out the management team. Ambs Call Center also has a location in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and handles over 30,000 calls a day, providing telephone answering service and call center services to the healthcare and service industries.

To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!

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When Self-Service Feels Like No Service

By Barbara Bradbury

I’m not the kind of person who needs to be waited on, but I find the recent trend towards self-service is leading even the most competitive, service-oriented companies down a slippery slope to indifference.

Take flying, for example. I accept the fact that online options and kiosks at the airport keep lines moving quickly, printing boarding passes before one reaches the counter, but even as a regular flyer, I have yet to master the ability of removing just the right amount of backing from the baggage label to affix it to my luggage without getting it tangled in my hair or stuck to the side of my face. Would it really slow progress that much for the attendant to attach it while she watches the scale bounce above or below that magic number?

On a recent trip, I used two different carriers, each requiring one layover. I nearly missed the second flight in each direction because the gate had been changed, but in each case the airline neglected to make an overhead announcement to advise travelers. Apparently it is now our responsibility to check the flight boards for gate information or risk making that last-second sprint from Gate 40 to 22 to catch our flight.

There’s a time and place for everything, but even as I recognize the advantages of technology, I fear that some companies have stretched self-service to the point where it feels more like “no service.” Let’s make sure we don’t do that with our answering service.

Barbara Bradbury is VP special counsel at Answer Plus Communications Inc (www.answerplus.ca).

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Speech-Rate Pacing: Increase Closed Sales 30 Percent

By Arthur Cronos

Jerry Richardson was one of my first answering service clients, so when he invited me to attend a Saturday seminar, I agreed. His usual attendees were from big companies like Xerox or IBM, and he showed them how to close more deals. Maybe it would work for me! That Saturday, I learned several unusual techniques, but I especially liked one that was very simple: speech-rate pacing.

When you receive a call from somebody about your service, pay careful attention, then speak at the same rate of speed as your caller. That’s it!

I first tried it for two weeks as a test. I kept careful records, and sure enough, we got the same number of people calling from advertising as usual. However, I signed up 30 percent more of them.

If you are from Georgia, and your caller is from New York, most likely you will talk slower than your caller will. The problem is that this makes him impatient; he also tends to discount your intelligence, and your credibility drops.

Now, that’s not fair, but it is human. Here’s why: Your New York caller best processes and understands words that come at him at his optimal rate of speed, the same speed he uses when he speaks. His speech rate demonstrates his optimal rate for processing spoken words. If you speak slower, it costs you sales because he comprehends less of what you say.

On the other hand, if you are from New York, and your caller is from Tennessee, he hears your speedy delivery as “one of them fast-talking city slickers,” and you lose credence. Alas, all your words are discounted – simply because you spoke too fast for him to process comfortably.

It’s simple. If he talks fast, you talk fast. If he talks slow, you talk slow.

Keep careful records. Speech-rate pacing boosted my sales by 30 percent. Give it a try. Let’s see how it works for you!

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.

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CAM-X 2013 Award of Excellence Winners

For the past twenty-four years, CAM-X (The Canadian Call Management Association) has recognized call centers that have achieved and maintained excellence. This achievement puts them among the top telephone answering services worldwide. The CAM-X Award of Excellence is a mystery caller program that uses an independent panel of judges to evaluate calls.

The telephone answering services earning the top scores are Combined Communications, Inc., A Better Answer, Ambs Call Center, Dexcomm, Anser Services, The Legacy Connection, Answer 365, Select Call Centre (Red Deer), and Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., with Select Call Centre (Grande Prairie) earning the highest score.

The complete list of 2013 CAM-X Award of Excellence honorees, along with the number of years they have earned the award, are:

Year 24

  • @liveconx, Ottawa, ON

Year 21

  • Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., Abbotsford, BC

Year 19

  • Answer Plus, Hamilton, ON

Year 18

  • Teleconnect International, Wetaskiwin, AB

Year 17

  • IMAGE 24, Montreal, QC
  • Northern Communications Services Inc., Sudbury, ON
  • PDL Contact Centres, Calgary, AB
  • TAS Communications, Belleville, ON

Year 16

  • Select Call Centre – Edmonton, Edmonton, AB
  • AnswerPlus, Toronto, ON
  • Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC

Year 15

  • Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON

Year 14

  • Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON,
  • Select Call Centre, Grande Prairie, AB

Year 13

  • Kelcom, Windsor, ON
  • Intercon Messaging Inc., Drayton Valley, AB

Year 11

  • Encore TeleSolutions, Barrie, ON
  • Select Call Centre, Calgary, AB
  • Select Call Centre, Red Deer, AB
  • Central Communications, Welland, ON

Year 10

  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL

Year 9

  • Answer 365, Halifax, NS
  • Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
  • Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ

Year 8

  • On Call Centre Inc., Ottawa, ON
  • TigerTel, Oshawa, ON
  • Scotia Business Centre Limited, Bridgewater, NS
  • Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
  • The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
  • Keener Communications, Inc., Richmond, VA
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Portland, ME
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Wilmington, DE

Year 7

  • Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
  • Anser Services, Green Bay, WI
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Anaheim, CA
  • TigerTel, Richmond, BC
  • Directors’ Choice, Saint John, NB

Year 6

  • Always On Call Answering Service LLC, Concord, NH
  • Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
  • Call Experts, Charleston, SC
  • Keystone Answering Service, Allentown, PA
  • MedCom Professional Services, Inc., Levittown, PA
  • Dexcomm, Carencro, LA
  • AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
  • Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
  • TigerTel, Vancouver, BC
  • Allgood Communications, Inc., Pueblo, CO

Year 5

  • Tel-Us Call Center, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., St. Louis, MO

Year 4

  • Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
  • TAS-Page Communications, Peterborough, ON
  • TigerTel, Nanaimo, BC
  • Advanced Answering, Mid State Communications Network, Manchester, TN
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Sacramento, CA

Year 3

  • AAMCOM, Redondo Beach, CA
  • Com Net, LLC, Muncie, IN
  • Callnet Call Center Services, Bloomington, IN
  • TigerTel AB
  • TigerTel, London, ON and Winnipeg, MB
  • Answer Plus, Inc., Las Vegas, NV
  • Commercial Telephone Exchange, Inc., Reno, NV

Year 2

  • A Better Answer, Plano, TX
  • A Better Answer, Houston, TX
  • A Better Answer, Hurst, TX
  • TigerTel, Montreal, QC
  • Cititel Inc., Edmonton, AB
  • Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX
  • Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA

Year 1

  • Central Communications Corp., Riverside, CA
  • Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY
  • AnswerPlus, Montreal, QC
  • Contact One Call Center Inc., Tucson, AZ
  • Infinity Telecentre, London, ON
  • Appletree Answering Service, San Juan, PR
  • American Communications Centers, Bristol, PA
  • A Courteous Communications, Orlando, FL

TAS Trader congratulates these telephone answering services and all those who participated in this year’s CAM-X Award of Excellence program.

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Telephone Answering Service News

1-800 We Answer Partners with Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
1-800 We Answer Call Centers will partner with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) to boost convention attendance through event promotion and telemarketing services. LVCVA is responsible for developing and marketing the Las Vegas brand and supporting city efforts to encourage new and repeat tourism for the area. With 150,000 hotel rooms and 10.7 million square feet of convention and exhibit space available, 1-800 We Answer will be making up to 15,000 business-to-business calls for each of the approximately sixty events on the LVCVA roster per each year, encouraging and promoting conventions as well as generating hotel occupancy.

OnviSource Solution to Unify Lifecycle of Customer Transactions
OnviSource’s Onvify, part of the company’s OnviCenter suite of Workforce Optimization and Automation (WFO-A) products, enables users to automatically, seamlessly, and in real-time capture, integrate, associate, and exchange data between the OnviCenter suite of WFO solutions, Salesforce.com CRM, and various telecom products. This requires no additional efforts or modifications by the users. Onvify provides users with the ability to define critical pieces of information required from telecom platforms (such as Avaya, Mitel, and Cisco), the OnviCenter WFO products, and Salesforce.com records. OnviSource is planning to provide similar unification capabilities with other products from CRM market leaders.

Sound Telecom Unveils Employee Lounge
On November 1, Sound Telecom celebrated the grand opening of their employee lounge in their Spokane, Washington, facility. The official opening of the appropriately dubbed “Sound Lounge” began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the winners of the naming contest. The new employee break room features traditional game room staples like a pool table, Ping Pong table, and foosball table. Other entertainment includes an HD TV with an XBox 360+Kinect for those into gaming or anyone who wants to relax with some channel surfing. One of the features of the Sound Lounge employees are most excited about is the personal use computers and phones.

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Classified Ads:

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Equipment for Sale: 2 Americom Identifier Plus units, one 8 Line Video Adapter, 6 VFR5050 Voice Repeaters. All equipment is in excellent working condition. I replaced my phone system which eliminated the need for this equipment. Please visit www.imageofficeservices.com/equipment.htm to view equipment and prices.

See all ads.

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[Posted by Peter DeHaan for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]