The November 2012 Issue of TAS Trader

Back to America: The Resurgence of OnShore Services

By Robin Vaughn

In the wake of a struggling economy, a noticeable trend has begun to emerge. A growing number of companies are rejoining the ranks that hire American onshore employees, most notably for their telephone answering and customer care services. After “saving” money by outsourcing to other countries for their communications needs, it turns out that it’s not so economical after all.

The idea was to obtain cheap offshore telephone answering services. Live operators from another part of the world would step in and provide call answering while businesses and their employees could attend to core business matters. It sounded good, but it didn’t live up to the expectation.

Marketing efforts to convince a great number of American companies that outsourcing for offshore telephone answering services would be comparable, if not better, to US live operator services was severely overestimated. While the dollar amount quoted by offshore live receptionist services did represent a savings, the big picture was shortchanged.

Companies that outsourced for these services looked forward to an increase in sales and customer service satisfaction, but the result was the opposite. Instead, sales charts showed a loss of profit and customer abandonment.

Owing in large part to language or cultural limitations and poor overseas telephone connections, offshore outsourcing became an expensive bargain for the companies that bought into the trend. Their customers and clients were frustrated, even disgruntled, at the limited communications offered by foreign answering services. US callers frequently felt inadequately served, not able to address and resolve important issues. Additionally, caller inquiries, essential to future sales and growth, were left unsatisfied, without proper lead generation. Overall businesses that outsourced to offshore live operators suffered a compromised reputation.

So where does this lead American business? Back to American telephone answering services that employ native English speakers. Not only do they fully grasp the language, they also possess the finer nuances of American communications.

nCall Answering Service SoftwareAs an added incentive, hiring a local answering service enables business owners and managers to visit the facility. They can observe the operations room in action, meet the supervisors, see the equipment, and get a general overview of how business is handled.

By utilizing a US teleservices company, American businesses can repair and build their brand image while eliminating the risk of client abandonment. This is both economically sound and increasingly agreeable to the American buying public.

Hopper and Campbell Contribute to Tom Hopkins’ Book

Jamey Hopper and Darlene Campbell both contributed to the recently released book, In It to Win It: The World’s Leading Experts Reveal Their Top Strategies for Winning in Business & Life. In addition to Campbell and Hopper, the book features Tom Hopkins and other experts sharing their insights. Hopkins opens the book by reminding us that “everyone is in sales” and then sharing his pointers to be successful when selling.

Darlene Campbell’s contribution is “The Difference Between Marketing and Sales: Clinching the Deal.” In it she recounts lessons learned from her days at toy maker Mattel. She would later apply these insights when she founded her own company, which is now known as Information Communications Group. She desired to create a “culture of success” in her business, fully implementing it when she rebranded her company in 2002. Her chapter concludes with several rules for rebranding, reminding us that “customer service isn’t a department” and to always include the wow factor in our sales efforts.

Jamey Hopper’s contribution for In It to Win It is entitled “Eight Steps to Building an Outstanding Team Which Provides World-Class Customer Service.” Jamey opens with something we all love to read about, an inspiring telephone answering service story, this one an example of superlative service. Building on the books Good to Great by Jim Collins and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, Jamey shares the eight steps he took to change his company, Dexcomm, from good to great and provide superlative service. These steps, he asserts, can be used by any organization “to provide world-class customer service.” Always striving to improve, he ends with this astute advice: “Once you discover the state of mind of your employees and customers, it is time to begin anew the process of building your company.”

In addition to Tom, Darlene, and Jamey, twenty-two other successful people share their stories, covering everything from sales to leadership to success, both in business and life.

In It to Win It was released earlier this year and is published by Celebrity Press; it can be purchased through their website and on Amazon. It is available in hardcover and Kindle.

Do Sweat the Small Stuff

By Barbara Bradbury

I was recently invited to a function to welcome a new client onboard. Everyone present was asked to wear the typical peel-and-stick nametag, but what was not typical was that someone had taken the time to download each attendee’s company logo and print it at the top of the nametags.

Though the entire event only lasted a couple of hours, the thoughtful addition of this visual identifier made it easier to distinguish vendors, suppliers, clients, and hosts, helping everyone to better connect with each other.

Attention to detail is the cornerstone of excellence in customer service. I think my new motto will be “Do Sweat the Small Stuff!”

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 your 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 of your day. 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?

Barbara Bradbury is with Answer Plus Communications Inc and recently shared this in the company’s customer services tips e-newsletter.

News

Focus Answering Service’s Lee McAteer Elected President of ASTAA 2012
Lee McAteer of Focus Telephone Answering Service, was elected president of the Atlantic States Telephone Answering Association (ASTAA) for the 2012–2013 term. ASTAA is dedicated to the education and promotion of telephone answering service (TAS) best practices in the Atlantic states as well as New England. Lee has held roles of increasing responsibility at ASTAA before being named president. His hard work and dedication to improving the industry has elevated him to this position.

Professional Teledata Completes Summer Upgrade
Professional Teledata recently completed the 2012 summer upgrade for all PInnacle customers. This summer, Professional Teledata announced that the PInnacle enhancements and upgrades were ready for installation at clients’ sites. “We are excited that all our customers can now take advantage of the new features in our software,” said president Pat Kalik. “We wanted to make sure it was just right. We continue to aim to please, and we take every comment and suggestion by our users seriously. Clients’ needs change, technology evolves, and so do we. We take pride in consistently upgrading and enhancing our product for our customers at no additional cost.”

Amtelco Provides Features on the Cloud Using miVirtualServers
The Amtelco cloud has been providing hosted call center applications for more than eight years. Many of Amtelco’s call center innovations are now available as cloud solutions through miVirtualServers. Benefits of miVirtualServers include the reduction of IT complexity and costs, lower power and cooling costs, access to Amtelco’s 24/7/365 support, high nines reliability, and virtually unlimited server capacity. Some of the services available on the Amtelco cloud through miVirtualServers include Infinity Intelligent Series, Web OnCall, eVoiceLink, printer capture, unity voice logger, and MDR.

Business Connections Re-Qualifies for Gold Certification
Business Connections, Inc. has re-certified for the 24/7 Call Center Certification Gold Award, reports Association of TeleServices International (ATSI). Business Connections originally qualified in 2002 and then again in 2005, 2009, and now 2012. An early adopter of the program, Business Connections holds certificate number 4 as the fourth site to qualify for this program. Manager Dirk Moeller said, “This 24/7 Call Center Certification program is a great compliment to the AoE program because it documents our state of readiness to continue to provide excellent service. In addition to the Call Center Certification Gold Award, we also subscribe to Agility Recovery Solutions.”

Answer 1 Earns 24/7 Gold Certification
ATSI announced that Answer 1 Communications of Phoenix, Arizona, has been awarded a renewal of the 24/7 Gold Certification, having been first certified in 2003. Answer 1 has become a leader in the teleservices industry under the guidance of company president Mary Jones. Answer 1 has provided multilingual live telemessaging services, remote receptionist, order taking, help desk, and other communication services for over thirty years. Answer 1 has been the recipient of the ATSI awards for nine consecutive years, receiving the Award of Excellence and the Award of Distinction; they been likewise honored for seven consecutive years by CAM-X.

Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., Earns Gold Certification
ATSI announced that Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., has qualified for the 24/7 Call Center Certification Gold Award, which is a peer review program focused on call centers’ ability to maintain 99.99 percent annual run-time. Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., owner and president Drew Ritter said, “Technology allows us to do more than just take messages and page on-call doctors – and do it all more efficiently. Earning the 24/7 Gold Certification demonstrates our high level of commitment to readiness to be available online for our client’s callers. But the most important things in our business are quality assurance and training.”

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