The January 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

Amtelco and Telescan Announce Merger

Two major teleservices vendors, Amtelco and Telescan, announced a merger agreement on December 20, 2012. The announcement was made simultaneously by Roger Young, president of Telescan, Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco, and Joe Everly, CEO of Amtelco, at Telescan in St. Louis, Missouri.

“The merger of Telescan with Amtelco provides a big boost to both companies and their customers,” said Roger Young. “It gives Telescan and our Spectrum System users access to Amtelco development resources, innovations, and products.”

Tom Curtin said, “Amtelco and Telescan have been innovators for over thirty-five years. Together, the companies will offer the TAS industry a unique breadth and depth of technology and service to meet their call center business needs. Telescan’s development team and loyal customer base will be a welcome addition to the Amtelco family.”

Amtelco’s Infinity Intelligent Series continues to add revenue-producing features and services for businesses to easily accommodate their clients’ evolving needs. At the same time, the Intelligent Series provides an extremely reliable uptime that enables companies to meet their business growth goals.

Founded in 1976 by Bill Curtin, Amtelco quickly became a trusted name in the telecommunications industry and introduced the first telephone switching systems. Amtelco’s three major divisions – TAS call center, 1Call healthcare, and XDS digital switching – are all backed by a strong service and support department.

George Meyer founded Telescan in 1976, and Roger Young became president in 2002. Telescan’s telemessaging operating system, Spectrum, first introduced in 1990, has always been on the leading edge of call center innovations, helping business owners reduce operating expenses and increase profits.

nCall Answering Service SoftwareThe Spectrum messaging system – powered by Spectrum Prism® – offers telemessaging businesses a full range of messaging solutions.

The merger will not affect the daily operations of either company. Telescan will become a division of Amtelco and continue to operate in St. Louis; Amtelco will remain headquartered in McFarland, Wisconsin. Amtelco looks forward to working with TUNe (Telecommunication Users Network) and NAEO (National Amtelco Equipment Users) to encourage the sharing of ideas, mutual support, and product development.

The Amtelco-Telescan Merger

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs with any merger, the Amtelco-Telescan merger raises natural and expected questions among stakeholders. I had an opportunity to discuss some of these with Bernie Torvik, vice chairman of Amtelco, and Roger Young, president of the Telescan Division of Amtelco. Here is what they had to share:

Peter: Congratulations on the merger of Amtelco and Telescan. I’m sure you’re very excited. What synergies and opportunities do you see as a result?

Roger: Thank you, Peter. We’re very excited about the new partnership between Telescan and Amtelco. While current plans are to operate both entities pretty much on a “business as usual” basis, we are excited about future opportunities to bring to both Telescan and Amtelco owners new revenue-producing features. Having access to expanded development and support resources should benefit all of the customers in the future.

Peter: Both Amtelco and Telescan have some products that are platform independent. Will these be cross-marketed to each company’s respective customers?

Bernie: Both Telescan and Amtelco have been developing platform-independent applications. We are evaluating how these products would best be marketed. Having a partnership rather than a competitive relationship will allow us to be more efficient and productive in producing new applications, which can serve both platforms and be integrated more tightly if warranted.

Peter: Any specific new product initiatives yet?

Roger: Among many possibilities, one idea is new products for mobile platforms. Both companies have already delivered solutions for Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 8. We see a rapidly growing opportunity not only for secure delivery but also for enhanced interaction with the mobile client.

Peter: Amtelco and Telescan both enjoy the support of their respective user groups, NAEO and TUNe. Do you expect any changes in how these groups function?

Bernie: NAEO and TUNe are both vibrant, effective, independent user groups. It will be up to the leadership of these groups to explore whether some combining of resources might benefit their members. Telescan/Amtelco looks forward to working with both groups regardless of how they may determine to structure themselves. In any event, we would anticipate that all members will continue to thrive and get the considerable benefits that come from an association of users.

Peter: Telescan will remain in St. Louis and become a division of Amtelco. What practical implications does that have for Telescan customers?

Roger: Our most important short-term goal is to assure our Telescan customers that their investment is safe and that any future changes will be in their best interests. We were fortunate to be able to retain all of the Telescan employees, who will continue to operate from the existing St. Louis location under the same leaders. Patty Anderson will continue to work with her customers and work with Amtelco territory reps to insure that Telescan customers are aware of all of the potential options available to them as they become available.

Peter: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Bernie and Roger: Just to repeat that we’re all excited by the new partnership and look forward to helping to build a bright future for all of our current and future customers. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with members of the TAS industry.

Peter: Thank you for your time; I wish you both the best.

Our Footprint – Our Future

By Wayne Scaggs

What is our “footprint”? Hint: It’s not on file with the FBI, and it will not stay with us our entire lifetime. In this case, our footprint is our carbon footprint—the footprint we leave today. What is your carbon footprint contributing to your children’s and grandchildren’s future? Better yet, what are your business systems contributing to your future? Whatever we use today increases the size of our footprint. I am not suggesting becoming a hermit in a cave, but I want to stress the importance of becoming informed so that your resources benefit you for your needs. The more information you have, the better your decisions.

Computers today operate at much higher efficiency levels than five years ago. Their power consumption may be cut in half, which is great for your electricity bill and the environment. Computers are getting smaller, taking up less space, and producing less heat. Less heat means less air-conditioning, once again saving money.

Remote operators now need to use only one computer instead of logging into a computer in your office to work. What a time-saver the remote operator has become!

When it comes to servers, there is a real bonus. Not too long ago a server for each task was required. Now, with virtual machine software, it’s possible to run multiple applications on one server, with each application operating independently. When one application fails, the other application will continue to operate; businesses are able to recover from the failure without stopping all the other operations. The same thing applies to work stations: They are smaller, faster, and cost less.

Cloud computing takes advantage of shared software applications and in some cases eliminates the need for additional hardware. Pay-as-you-go usage software does away with having to buy the software, install it, and keep it updated. Users enjoy the benefits of getting what they need easily and only paying for what they require. Cloud computing can be compared to hosted telephone answering services, offering all the ease and conveniences without the footprint.

The more information you have about your choices and their impact, the smaller your carbon footprint can become, and the more effective your business will be.

Wayne Scaggs is president of Alston Tascom, Inc (www.alstontascom.com).

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CAM-X 2012 Call Centre Award of Distinction Winners

The CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction addresses customer relationship management (CRM), courtesy, etiquette, and professional call handling in call centers. This program focuses on call centers that provide order entry, fulfillment, registration, surveys, Web applications, escalated emergency response, reservations, and help desk services. It’s a “mystery caller” program that uses two independent judges with predetermined scoring criteria to evaluate calls.

The 2012 Call Centre Award of Distinction winners are:
•    Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
•    Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
•    Answer 1, Phoenix, AZ
•    Anser Services, Green Bay, WI
•    Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Chicago, IL
•    Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Portland, ME
•    Appletree Answering Service, Inc., St. Louis, MO
•    Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Anaheim, CA
•    Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., Abbotsford, BC
•    Answer Plus, Hamilton, ON
•    Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
•    Answer Plus, Toronto, ON
•    Telelink, St. John’s, NL
•    Select Call Centre, Edmonton, AB
•    TigerTel Nanaimo
•    TigerTel Oshawa
•    TigerTel Vancouver
•    Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC
•    Intercon Messaging Inc., Drayton Valley, AB
•    PDL Contact Centres, Calgary, AB (earning the top score)

News

Focus Answering Service Awarded Sykesville’s Best Answering Service
Focus Telecommunication, Inc., has been chosen as Sykesville’s Best Answering Service. The Sykesville award program is an annual awards program recognizing the best of local businesses in the community. Recognition is given to businesses that generate competitive advantage and long-term value. These local companies enhance the image of small business and help make the Sykesville area a great place to live, work, and play. Vice president Lannette Gerbrick said, “Focus is honored to serve our clients and the Sykesville community. We would like to extend our most sincere thanks for choosing us.”

AnswerNet Wins 2012 SmartCEO100 Award
AnswerNet won the SmartCEO100 Best-Run Company Award in the category of Process Management for the Mid-Atlantic region. According to SmartCEO magazine, AnswerNet demonstrates the key award criteria, including unique structure and business flexibility, innovation with key performance indicators (KPIs), technology adaptation, and an unparalleled brand culture. Gary Pudles, who received the award, said, “I am surrounded by a great team who recognizes opportunity to improve, refine, and reinvent how we manage our business to meet the ever-increasingly complex needs of our customers in a very competitive marketplace.” AnswerNet began in 1998 with one small operation and now has fifty call centers.

Direct Line Tele Response Recertified for Gold
Direct Line Tele Response again qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award. The recertification indicates Direct Line has met high standards through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time. “It’s nice to be acknowledged for our efforts by confirmation of excellence. Our company philosophy for the past thirty-three years has been to provide the best possible service, and that is reflected in our client satisfaction as well as by our awards, including eleven continuous years of the ATSI Award of Excellence,” said Ken Goldenberg. “Excellence doesn’t just happen; it is a consistent effort by our entire staff.”

CAM-X News
The CAM-X 2013 Award of Excellence registration is now open. The deadline is February 1, 2013. Additionally, registration is open for the 2013 Call Centre Award of Distinction. The deadline for this program is February 28, 2013.
To register for these programs, go to www.camx.ca and click on “Awards.”

Professional Teledata Welcomes Back Cindy White
Professional Teledata announced the return of Cindy White as hosted services project manager, bringing twelve years of telephony experience with her. Cindy started working for Professional Teledata in 1998 in technical support. In 2010, she took some time off to tend to her family. Cindy’s duties include resource inventory management, project coordinating, and supporting the engineering department as a bridge during troubleshooting. “Cindy White has always brought positivity and perspective to her positions here at Professional Teledata,” said Pat Kalik, president. “Cindy understands what we are all about…. We missed her very much and are thrilled to have her back where she belongs.”

New Amtelco IS Web Calendar Subscription Feature
The new “my settings” page of the IS (Intelligent Series) Web application presents a way to synchronize a call center client’s on-call assignments and appointments with a calendar on the client’s personal computer or mobile device. With the IS Web calendar subscription feature, all on-call assignments and appointments scheduled in the IS Web and other IS applications are automatically copied to the Google, Windows Live Hotmail, iPad, Outlook, and Yahoo! calendars. Synchronization is established by clicking the “Sync schedules with desktop or mobile calendars” hyperlink on the My Settings page. After that, the desktop or mobile calendar updates automatically.

OnviSource Releases Software-Based PBX and Telephony Server
OnviSource has released OnviTel, a new addition to the company’s OnviCenter suite of Workforce Optimization and Automation (WFO-A) products. OnviTel provides turnkey solutions for IP and digital PBX, voicemail with email notification, interactive voice response (IVR), auto-attendant, conference bridges, and call screening. It can also operate as a telephony server for OnviCenter WFO-A products, offering call recording, voicemail, answering service, and customer interaction solutions with telephony interfaces to a network. OnviTel can be used as a stand-alone product or integrated with other OnviCenter products. Its software-based structure and VoIP capabilities can reduce expenses in both the purchase price and monthly network service charges.

CenturiSoft Announces New Softswitch
After two years of development and beta testing, CenturiSoft’s softswitch offers new capabilities. Phone System Features include unlimited extensions, up to 256 simultaneous calls, call logging, reporting, blind transfer, attended transfer, call forward on busy or no answer, call routing (DID), caller ID, conference calling, auto attendant or digital receptionist, music on hold, ring and hunt groups, call parking, pickup, queuing, and recording, and conference rooms. Advanced features (messaging dependent) include TCP manager client (CSTA, SAS, ITSUP, and SS7), real-time Web-based system status, integrated Web server, and firewall and NAT Friendly. This is an optional package that compliments the Centuri Messenger.

Amtelco’s Infinity Employee Check-In Behavior Is a Valuable Personnel Tool
Telephone answering services can offer clients support using the Infinity Employee Check-In Behavior. The optional account behavior verifies a passcode when an employee checks in, allowing the account’s status updated to “checked in” or other choices. The status schedule can send a cue to an agent if the employee fails to check in. Infinity automatically cancels the next cue if the employee checks in on time. Infinity can schedule a cue any time the employee needs to check in. If the employee checks in, Infinity cancels the cue. If the employee doesn’t check, the cue provides agent notification.

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