The May 2011 Issue of TAS Trader

Good Manners Are Good Business

By George Mwangi

We’ve all encountered people with bad manners – from the person who cuts in line to the poorly written email or the curt person on the telephone. These encounters may leave us feeling frustrated and angry, but when it comes to business, bad manners can be hazardous to the bottom line. So, how can we all strive to make better manners a part of our everyday routine?

First, we can focus on what we’re doing right now and what we can do better in the future. By practicing good manners ourselves, we will not only be setting an example for our employees, we’ll be making good manners a part of our answering services’ strategy and, ultimately, our culture. Practicing good manners shows people that we care about them and that we respect them. This is how all people should be treated.

With the workplace becoming increasingly more global and virtual, much of our communication with customers does not happen face-to-face but rather through emails and phone calls. Because we’re often unable to see the person with whom we’re speaking, practicing good manners is even more critical, as we’re unable to see facial expressions and body language – two key indicators of a person’s mood and attitude.

Often, first impressions are lasting and, as we’ve heard so many times before, we only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it count by practicing good manners.

So, how do you measure up?

In Face-to-Face Meetings: Do you greet the customer warmly, with an appropriate handshake? Do you make eye contact? Are you paying attention to the person who’s speaking? Do you interrupt them? Do you talk over them? Do you use profanity or phrases that might be considered rude or sarcastic? Do you answer your phone, text, or read emails during a meeting? Do you arrive late to an appointment? Do you fail to have an agenda for a meeting, thereby wasting everyone’s time? Have you ensured that you’re properly groomed? Do you thank the customer for his or her time at the end of the meeting?

In Email Messages: Is your customer’s name spelled correctly? Is your communication grammatically correct; does it contain typos? Do you type in upper and lower case letters, versus all caps (which is the virtual equivalent of yelling)? Do you ramble on incessantly without making your point clear? Do you greet the customer before plunging into your own agenda? Do you thank the person for his or her time? Do you include full contact details about how you can be reached should there be any questions? Do you share your schedule, so others can communicate with you easily?

During Phone Calls: Do you greet the customer and identify yourself? Do you talk clearly and slowly into the phone? Are you prepared to speak to the person by having notes and materials at hand so you’re not wasting time searching for what you need? Do you have an established agenda to make the most of everyone’s time? Do you thank people for their time at the end of the call? Do you promptly follow up to answer any questions that arose?

Above all, in any communication you have with others, do you say please and thank you? These phrases are timeless for people of all ages; they never go out of style, they’re always pleasant to hear, and they show respect.

Remember the Golden Rule of treating others the way you’d like to be treated; this is always a good way to determine if you’re practicing good manners or could stand a few adjustments. Practicing good manners can add to any company’s growth, profitability, and longevity; it is even more critical for telephone answering services.

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

Make the Most of Your ATSI Conference Experience

The Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) is preparing for their 2011 Annual Conference, June 14-17, 2011, at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. ATSI has made exciting changes to their event, with an updated program, new networking opportunities, and a redesigned exhibit hall that will act as the “hub” of the conference.

This is the premier conference for professionals within the answering service industry. Attendees can expect to learn new concepts, share proven strategies, and connect with each other in an effort to move business forward. The schedule is arranged to allow attendees ample time to build relationships with industry colleagues, learn about the latest developments from the many speakers and exhibitors, spend some time exploring the San Antonio area, and soak in the Grand Hyatt San Antonio’s amenities.

Here are a few key things not to miss:

•    If you are a first time attendee or new ATSI member, start your conference right with the first time attendees reception on Tuesday evening. This is a great opportunity to meet the ATSI board of directors and colleagues prior to the opening reception.
•    On Friday afternoon, ATSI will recognize and award individuals and companies who represent “best in class” service during the much-anticipated ATSI Award of Excellence and Award of Distinction recognition ceremony.
•    The premier vendors in the industry will be well-represented in the interactive exhibit hall. This is a great place to talk with the best-in-class product and service providers.
•    The 2011 event includes informative general sessions and breakout sessions on timely topics, engaging roundtable discussions and numerous networking activities. Visit the conference Web site to view the full conference schedule and session descriptions.

A full conference registration includes access to all conference events, including educational sessions, meal functions, and the exhibit hall, from Tuesday thru Friday, June 14-17, 2011.

This years’ event will prove to offer valuable perspectives, challenge you to be your best, and help you take your business to a higher level. Whether you’re a repeat attendee at the ATSI conference or a first time attendee, the 2011 conference is a “must attend” event!

News

Telescan Rolls Out Spectrum Appointment Scheduler
Telescan’s new Spectrum Appointment Scheduler is a Web-based program that helps telephone answering service customers to organize their business schedules and staff availability. The appointment-scheduling product does not have a monthly fee – just a one-time purchase price. Appointment Scheduler allows agents to take appointment requests 24/7, maintains customer databases, improves schedule utilization and avoids overbooking, cancels and modifies appointments easily, and minimizes no-shows with email appointment reminders. Telescan will demo this product at the 2011 ATSI Convention & Expo. For more information, call 800-770-7662, email patty@telescan.net, or visit www.telescan.net.

Amtelco Provides Extra Agent Seats When Needed
Amtelco Temps’ licenses can temporarily add agent seats to cover a special event or a short-term campaign. This ability to add extra seats provides flexibility, better customer service, and increased income. Temps’ licenses are less expensive than regular licenses because they are purchased for a specified length of time. When that time passes, the temporary licenses automatically are disabled. The start time is adjustable, so licenses can be purchased ahead of time but not activated until a specific date. Licenses can be purchased for a number of days, weeks, or months. For more information, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

Disaster Hosted Service from Telescan
Telescan introduced a hosted service program to keep answering services running in the event of a disaster. Telescan will have a bank of hosted servers secured in a safe place. If one of Telescan’s users experiences a disaster that takes down their equipment, they will be able to forward calls to the Telescan server and continue to operate, taking calls from the remote line with uninterrupted service. “Our users are understandably concerned and want to be proactive and prepared to keep their businesses running no matter what might happen,” said Telescan’s Patty Anderson. “We can’t prevent disasters, but we can keep our customers running.”

Amtelco Colocation Services
Amtelco offers their customers colocation options. The Infinity system with peripherals is designed to take advantage of Amtelco’s data center rack space and its security capability. The benefits include easy point of presence and remote agent connectivity. The expanded bandwidth and reduced electrical power consumption of collocated equipment take advantage of economies-of-scale to reduce answering services’ expense. For business continuity and disaster contingency planning, the hosted Infinity backup located at Amtelco’s data center is designed to be used in an emergency until the primary site is up and running. Being able to business continuity plans in RFPs increases the potential for more sales. For more information, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

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