The July 2011 Issue of TAS Trader

Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Drive Customer Service

By George Mwangi

Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube have revolutionized communication around the globe. Both individuals and businesses are embracing this dynamic phenomenon. Social media creates unprecedented opportunities for businesses in myriad ways, especially in the area of customer service – a critical factor for your answering service’s success. So, how can you harness the power of social media to drive customer service?

If you’ve already been cultivating a social media presence, you’re aware of the many benefits, including building your brand, networking, and improving your ranking in search results. Reaping these benefits should be part of the overall strategy for your TAS.

The immediacy and accessibility of social media, however, makes it a double-edged sword. It’s easy to dash off a Tweet to respond to a customer’s question, which is great, yet this can sometimes be perceived as casual or unprofessional. The key is to have a plan so you and your employees can deliver consistent customer service across all social media platforms. Communication is essential to great customer service, and social media is all about communication.

Make sure your staff consists of well-trained, knowledgeable customer service representatives that know the answer or how to get the answer. You can develop their knowledge through education and training, by sharing information, and by asking for their feedback. Teach them about your services on a continual basis; provide the latest marketing data; ask what they’re hearing from customers. You’ll then be on the fast track to delivering a consistent message to your customers.

Additionally, utilizing social media proactively instead of reactively goes a long way in establishing a stellar level of customer service. This means listening to what your customers are saying and putting “crowd-sourcing” to work for you in the form of innovation and competitive research. What do your customers like about your services? What don’t they like? What are your competitors saying? What are their customers saying?

A requisite aspect of social media is deciding ahead of time a variety of issues, including which platforms you’ll use to address specific issues, response times, and what’s appropriate for your employees to say and what isn’t. Not all social media platforms will be right for you or your customers. So be selective about which social media platforms you’ll use, invest your time and money wisely (with cost benefits in mind) and social media, as part of an overall strategy, can help drive your customer service, as well as the success of your telephone answering service.

George Mwangi is general manager at Call Desk Inc, a privately owned telephone answering service near Portland, Oregon.

ATSI Award of Excellence Winners 2011

The ATSI Award of Excellence program provides a quality control assessment of telemessaging call centers, measuring 400 data points for each participating company. Those call centers achieving an overall score of 80 percent or greater earn the ATSI Award of Excellence. The Award of Excellence is a cumulative program, with many call centers earning recognition for multiple years, which is a verification of their ongoing attention to providing consistently high quality.

In 2011, 137 telemessaging companies earned the ATSI Award of Excellence. Two companies have earned this recognition for the past fifteen years: Answer United in Kalamazoo, MI and Rochester Telemessaging Center in Rochester Hills, MI.

The top ten Award of Excellence Winners for 2011 are:

•    Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
•    CallNet Call Center Services, Bloomington, IN
•    Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
•    Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
•    Communications Network, Inc., Muncie, IN
•    Finger Lakes Answering Service, Auburn, NY
•    Alphapage LLC, Denver, CO
•    Connections Call Centre LTD, Squamish, BC
•    The Answer Network, Roanoke, VA
•    NTC Telephone Answering Service, Mercerville, NJ

For the first time, there was a three tie for the top score. This honor is shared by Alphapage LLC, Answer 1 Communications, and Connections Call Centre LTD. The complete list of this year’s Award of Excellence recipients are:

Year 15 Diamond Plus
Answer United, Kalamazoo, MI
Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI

Year 14 Diamond Plus
Hastings Communication Services, Inc., Austin, TX
AnswerNet, Phoenix, AZ
Business Connections, Inc., Salem, OR
Fallon Communications, Houston, TX
MedCom Professional Services Inc., Levittown, PA

Year 13 Diamond Plus
A Better Answer, Plano, TX
On Call Centre, Inc., Ottawa, ON

Year 12 Diamond Plus
ProPhone Communications, Inc., Muskegon, MI
TAS Communications, Madison, WI

Year 11 Diamond Plus
Answer-All Secretarial Svc. Inc., Westminster, CO
Tel-Us Call Center, Beverly Hills, CA

Year 10 Diamond
ACT Teleservices, Newington, CT
Anser Services, Green Bay, WI
Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL
Continental Message Solution, Inc., Columbus, OH
Direct Line TeleResponse, Berkeley, CA
Omni Communications, Carrollton, GA

Year 9 Sapphire
A Better Answer, Houston, TX
AAMCOM, Redondo Beach, CA
Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
Berkshire Communicators, Inc., Pittsfield, MA
Corporate Message Services, Inc., Savannah, GA
TAB AnswerNetwork, Santa Ana, CA

Year 8 Ruby
A Better Answer, Ft. Worth, TX
Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
Antietam Call Center, Hagerstown, MD
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Portland, ME
CallNet Call Center Services, Bloomington, IN
Contact One Call Center, Tucson, AZ
Dexcomm, Carencro, LA
Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
Medfone, Inc., Wantagh, NY
Personalized Communications Inc., Duncanville, TX
Port City Communications, Inc., Port Huron, MI
Telelink Call Centre, St. John’s, NL

Year 7 Emerald
Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
All-Ways Communications, Hagerstown, MD
Answer Center, Virginia Beach, VA
Answer Excellence, Clearwater, FL
AnswerTel, Athens, AL
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Wilmington, DE
Central Communications Inc., Norwalk, CT
Communications Group, Syracuse, NY
Communications Network, Inc., Muncie, IN
Extend Communications Inc., Cambridge, ON
Finger Lakes Answering Service, Auburn, NY
Focus Telecommunications, Inc, Eldersburg, MD
Messages & more, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ
Spectrum Communication Services, Brookfield, WI
StatCall, Alexandria, VA

Year 6 Pearl
A Better Connection Inc., Gilbert, AZ
All Call Communications, Georgetown, ON
Alphapage LLC, Denver, CO
Answering Advantage, Memphis, TN
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Pensacola, FL
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Business & Professional Exchange, Inc., Beverly, MA
Call Experts, Charleston, SC
Executive Services, Pueblo, CO
Holy Redeemer Medical Messaging, Meadowbrook, PA
Information Communications Group, Leawood, KS
Keystone Answering Service, Allentown, PA
King Communications, Saginaw, MI
Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
MedConnectUSA, Las Vegas, NV
Medical TeleCommunications, Englewood, CO
Santa Cruz Answering Service, Santa Cruz, CA
The Message Center, San Antonio, TX

Year 5 Gold
Action Telephone Exchange, Rochester, NY
AnswerNow, Phoenix, AZ
AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Anaheim, CA
Contact One Call Center, Lakewood, CO
Cosmopolitan Medical Communications, Phoenix, AZ
IPN Messaging Center, La Porte, IN
Keener Communications, Glen Allen, VA
TigerTel, Oshawa, ON
TigerTel, Richmond, BC
TigerTel, Vancouver, BC

Year 4 Silver Plus
A Quality Answering Service, Inc., Hudson, FL
Always On Call Answering Service, LLC, Concord, NH
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Cincinnati and Dayton, OH
Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
Business Connect, New Holland, PA
Connections Call Centre LTD, Squamish, BC
Crocker Communications, Inc., Greenfield, MA
Labell Exchange, Santa Ana, CA
Nationwide Inbound, Inc., Freeport, IL
Quick Connections, Greenbelt, MD
Tele-Page, Montreal, QC
The Answer Network, Roanoke, VA
TigerTel, London, ON

Year 3 Silver
Pronto Connections, Chicago, IL
A-B Communications, Novato, CA
Answering Service Care, Margate, FL
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Houma, LA
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., San Juan, PR
Central Communications Corp., Riverside, CA
MASCO Services, Inc., Boston, MA
Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX
Northern Communications, Sudbury, ON
Secretariats, Inc., Norfolk, VA
The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL
Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN

Year 2 Bronze
Advanced Answering, Manchester, TN
Answer Bay Area, Tampa, FL
AnswerAll, Macon, GA
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Boston, MA
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Sacramento, CA
Business Service Center, Inc., Wausau, WI
Commercial Telephone Exchange, Inc., Reno, NV
Concorde Communications, Los Angeles, CA
QTAS, Quincy, MA
TigerTel, Nanaimo, BC

Year 1
A Courteous Communications Corporation, Orlando, FL
Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA
Alliance Communications, Orlando, FL
Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
Answer California, El Cajon, CA
Answer Plus, Las Vegas, NV
Answering Service, Inc., Southfield, MI
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Chicago, IL
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Herndon, VA
Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Houston, TX
Associated Call Centers, Levittown, PA
Bennett Telephone Answering Service, Flint, MI
Kelley’s Telephone Answering Service, Seattle, WA
MD On Call, Cranston, RI
NTC Telephone Answering Service, Mercerville, NJ
Professional Answering Service, Inc., Mentor, OH
Range Call Center, Marquette, MI
TigerTel, Montreal, QC
TigerTel, Quebec City, QC
TigerTel, Winnipeg, MB

Connections Magazine congratulates all the 2011 Award of Excellence recipients.

News

TAS Trader Supports ATSI Education Foundation
At the recent ATSI convention, an auction was held to raise money for the ATSI Education Foundation. TAS Trader donated three items to the auction and congratulates the winning bidders:
•    Lori Jenkins, Skystream (a display ad in TAS Trader)
•    Carolyn Wheeler, Carolyn’s Communications (a classified ad in TAS Trader)
•    Doug Gregg, AnswerPro (a listing on FindAnAnsweringService.com)
As a result of the generous bids from these three people, TAS Trader was able to help raise $1,151 for the Foundation. Thank you to all who bid and participated in the auction.

Amtelco miSecureMessages Adds BlackBerry App
Amtelco’s new miSecureMessages BlackBerry® app provides secure messaging and paging services for BlackBerry® devices using Amtelco’s miSecureMessages service. The app receives notification of secure messages sent from the encrypted miSecureMessages Web service via the BlackBerry® Internet Service (BIS) or a BlackBerry® Enterprise Server (BES). The user is notified about incoming messages via visual and audio alerts and can view and respond to those messages. The user can also initiate messages to other miSecureMessages users. The miSecureMessages BlackBerry® app can be distributed through the BES push service or downloaded from the BlackBerry® App World Web site. The miSecureMessages application replaces paging technology and enables two-way instant communications.

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