All posts by Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly. Peter DeHaan’s personal website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.

Are You an Answering Service or a Call Center?

Though serving clients is the goal, what we call ourselves does matter

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAsking if you’re an answering service or a call center isn’t a matter of semantics, it’s a matter of perception. And since perceptions drive behaviors, this is an important discussion to have.

First, let’s cover some definitions to establish our discussion’s foundation. In simplest form, a call center is a centralized place (at least conceptually) that processes telephone calls. With this perspective, a telephone answering service is a call center. However, a more practical understanding of an answering service is that it’s a company that takes messages for other businesses.

Historical Answering Service Strategy

Most all telephone answering services started out with message taking as their primary function, especially those that are more than a couple of decades old. Some TASs have held onto this mindset, pursuing an answering service model of taking messages and processing them according to client instructions. They don’t want to branch out and offer other types of communication services. Or maybe they tried to expand, but it didn’t work out, so they committed to sticking with what they knew.

Diversified Answering Service Strategy

Are You an Answering Service or a Call Center?However, other answering services diversified beyond this traditional understanding of answering services. They branched out to offer more services that relate to the telephone, and even more so, other forms of communications. This includes email, text, web chat, and social media. The distinction between answering service and call center blurs. For most, however, much of their business resides under the classical understanding of an answering service.

No Longer an Answering Service Strategy

Conversely, other answering services were so successful with their diversification efforts, that they more resemble a call center then an answering service. In fact, some have so embraced their diversification that they either sold their answering service client base or segregated them to a separate operation. In function, they have become a call center.

What’s Your Brand?

In considering these three categories, I’ve seen providers of answering services that refer to themselves as call centers. I’ve also seen operations that offer call center services but still call themselves answering services. Some choose a label to show what they were, and others opt for a brand that foretells what they want to be. Of course, others adopt a name consistent with what they are now.

Regardless if you call yourself an answering service or a call center, it forms your self-perception. This reflects on what you do, the clients you serve, and how you brand and market yourself.

What do you want to be, an answering service or a call center?

 

The April 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Are You an Answering Service or a Call Center?

Though serving clients is the goal, what we call ourselves does matter

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAsking if you’re an answering service or a call center isn’t a matter of semantics, it’s a matter of perception. And since perceptions drive behaviors, this is an important discussion to have.

First, let’s cover some definitions to establish our discussion’s foundation. In simplest form, a call center is a centralized place (at least conceptually) that processes telephone calls. With this perspective, a telephone answering service is a call center. However, a more practical understanding of an answering service is that it’s a company that takes messages for other businesses.

Historical Answering Services: Most all telephone answering services started out with message taking as their primary function, especially those that are more than a couple of decades old. Some TASs have held onto this mindset, pursuing an answering service model of taking messages and processing them according to client instructions. They don’t want to branch out and offer other types of communication services. Or maybe they tried to expand, but it didn’t work out, so they committed to sticking with what they knew.

Diversified Answering Services: However, other answering services diversified beyond this traditional understanding of answering services. They branched out to offer more services that relate to the telephone, and even more so, other forms of communications. This includes email, text, web chat, and social media. The distinction between answering service and call center blurs. For most, however, much of their business resides under the classical understanding of an answering service.

No Longer an Answering Service: Conversely, other answering services were so successful with their diversification efforts, that they more resemble a call center then an answering service. In fact, some have so embraced their diversification that they either sold their answering service client base or segregated them to a separate operation. In function, they have become a call center.

What’s Your Brand? In considering these three categories, I’ve seen providers of answering services that refer to themselves as call centers. I’ve also seen operations that offer call center services but still call themselves answering services. Some choose a label to show what they were, and others opt for a brand that foretells what they want to be. Of course, others adopt a name consistent with what they are now.

Regardless if you call yourself an answering service or a call center, it forms your self-perception. This reflects on what you do, the clients you serve, and how you brand and market yourself.

What do you want to be, an answering service or a call center?

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Need Blog Posts or SEO Help? Need content for your TAS website or answering service newsletter? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Nonexclusive content starts at $25 per article. Also, we can handle your SEO. Email Peter for more info.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Brad Swift at brad@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS for less than a dollar a day. Newly overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan for 2018. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out how.


Prepare for Family Business Quarrels

By Mitzi Perdue

There’s no such thing as a family business without conflict. At their worst, a quarrel can become a threat to everything the family business holds dear, including relationships, wealth, and position in the community. Seventy percent of family-owned businesses don’t make it to the next generation, and the biggest reason is family quarrels. To prevent disputes from getting out-of-hand, practice these six skills.

1. Agree That It’s Wrong to Move Disagreements Outside the Family: The experience of many family businesses shows that once a family starts down the road of a public dispute or litigation, the usual result is the end of the business. Positions harden, reason goes out the window, and it’s rare for the members of the business to change course. The family members need to know it’s morally wrong to cause this.

2. Let Family Members Know This Isn’t Just About Their Wishes: Any public acrimony in a family business often leads to the company’s failing. This threatens the well-being of innocent bystanders, including the company’s employees, stockholders, lenders, and even the tax base of the community. Members of family businesses need to know they have a responsibility beyond themselves.

3. Emphasize “Family First:” Family businesses are unlike regular families because in the tug of war between individualism and being a member of the group, there needs to be a different balance. Members of a family business have a different level of responsibility because their actions influence all the stakeholders involved with the business.

4. Put Relationships Ahead of Ego: Members of family businesses need to know there are times when they have a choice between getting their way and having a relationship. Being a member of a family business at times means sacrifice, which can mean giving up getting their way. However, in return they’ll get something of greater importance: the chance for the family legacy to continue and thrive.

5. Compromise is Key: Members of a family business need to listen to each other, and they need to avoid the temptation to “stand on principle,” which is a synonym for being stubborn. It means, “I’m not going to listen.” It shuts down discussion and stops the give and take needed for compromise.

6. Avoid Speaking in Anger: Angry words can be self-fulfilling, such as, disparaging someone’s competence or expressing preference for a sibling. A person may say something in momentary anger, but the person hearing it may remember those words for a lifetime.

Done right, the family and business will endure. Done wrong, the family business blows up. Practice these six attitudes to quell any family business dissent before it jeopardizes the health of the company.

Mitzi Perdue is the author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Mitzi draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success.

Email us with your TAS related articles for consideration in our next issue.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Releases CMC v14.1: Startel Corporation announced the availability of Startel Contact Management Center (CMC) v14.1. This release includes several new features and enhancements designed to maximize agent productivity and efficiency. Customers can expect a tighter integration with QGenda, allowing QGenda schedules to be configured directly within Startel administration controls. The client maintenance module now includes a find feature, enabling programmers to locate specific form features more quickly. New variables are now available for hyperlinks, including agent ID, agent first name, and agent last name, within client maintenance. Enhancements were also made to the Startel web portal and Startel dashboard.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” -Albert Einstein

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” -Abraham Lincoln

“If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.” -unknown

Three Keywords Describe the Business Benefits of Answering Services

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs I consider business trends, specifically as it relates to the telephone answering service, three words come to mind. I think of these terms as keywords we can use to describe what we do and promote our business.

Virtual: An answering service provides a virtual service. It’s been that way from the very beginning, some ninety years ago. We have never done our work on site, but remotely. Our presence is not tangible, but virtual. As the prior century drew to a close, forward-thinking answering services began promoting the concept of the virtual receptionist.

In practice, this was nothing new, but as a concept, it was. Today with many entrepreneurs and small businesses tapping into the parallel concept of a virtual assistant, as a money-saving means to accomplish routine tasks with speed and precision. Answering services need to capitalize on this trend by touting their specialized version of a virtual assistant, also known as a virtual receptionist.

An answering service is virtual.

Scalable: Often technology carries the label of scalable. This means its scope can easily increase or decrease to meet changing user needs. Though answering services often have scalable technology, they remain labor intensive. Labor is not scalable.

However, from the perspective of our clients, we offer a scalable service. If we normally take one call at a time and two come in at once, we “scale up” to handle the extra work. Then we “scale down.” They can’t do that in their office.

What happens if they close early, their receptionist is sick or on vacation, or they want everyone at a staff meeting? We automatically scale up to take their extra calls. Conversely, if they decide to extend their hours and stay open until seven instead of closing at five, we scale accordingly to meet their new expectations.

An answering service is scalable.

Outsource: Though outsourcing, especially as it relates to phone calls, was once severely tarnished by offshore outsourcing done poorly, the reality remains that outsourcing shines as a key concept for businesses. Outsourcing work provides flexibility and controls costs.

Businesses wishing to run a lean, effective operation know that outsourcing is a preferred way to do this. Another significant reason to outsource is that many businesses are reluctant to hire staff. They sight overhead costs—especially healthcare expenses—and the legal hurdles to un-hire staff when no longer needed. As a smart alternative, they outsource whatever they can, whenever they can.

An answering service is an outsource provider.

Next time you talk with a business owner about your service drop these hot keywords. Say that you are virtual, scalable, and an outsource provider. That should get you some attention and hopefully some new business.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The March 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Three Keywords Describe the Business Benefits of Answering Services

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs I consider business trends, specifically as it relates to the telephone answering service, three words come to mind. I think of these terms as keywords we can use to describe what we do and promote our business.

Virtual: An answering service provides a virtual service. It’s been that way from the very beginning, some ninety years ago. We have never done our work on site, but remotely. Our presence is not tangible, but virtual. As the prior century drew to a close, forward-thinking answering services began promoting the concept of the virtual receptionist.

In practice, this was nothing new, but as a concept, it was. Today with many entrepreneurs and small businesses tapping into the parallel concept of a virtual assistant, as a money-saving means to accomplish routine tasks with speed and precision. Answering services need to capitalize on this trend by touting their specialized version of a virtual assistant, also known as a virtual receptionist.

An answering service is virtual.

Scalable: Often technology carries the label of scalable. This means its scope can easily increase or decrease to meet changing user needs. Though answering services often have scalable technology, they remain labor intensive. Labor is not scalable.

However, from the perspective of our clients, we offer a scalable service. If we normally take one call at a time and two come in at once, we “scale up” to handle the extra work. Then we “scale down.” They can’t do that in their office.

What happens if they close early, their receptionist is sick or on vacation, or they want everyone at a staff meeting? We automatically scale up to take their extra calls. Conversely, if they decide to extend their hours and stay open until seven instead of closing at five, we scale accordingly to meet their new expectations.

An answering service is scalable.

Outsource: Though outsourcing, especially as it relates to phone calls, was once severely tarnished by offshore outsourcing done poorly, the reality remains that outsourcing shines as a key concept for businesses. Outsourcing work provides flexibility and controls costs.

Businesses wishing to run a lean, effective operation know that outsourcing is a preferred way to do this. Another significant reason to outsource is that many businesses are reluctant to hire staff. They sight overhead costs—especially healthcare expenses—and the legal hurdles to un-hire staff when no longer needed. As a smart alternative, they outsource whatever they can, whenever they can.

An answering service is an outsource provider.

Next time you talk with a business owner about your service drop these hot keywords. Say that you are virtual, scalable, and an outsource provider. That should get you some attention and hopefully some new business.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Writing: Need content for your TAS website or written materials for your answering service? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.


The Cost of Poor Performance

Why failing to train your employees costs a lot more than you think

By Evan Hackel

Many people have heard the story about the CEO who said, “What if we spend all this money training our staff and they leave?

The department head replied, “What if we don’t train them and they stay?”

A simple, but pointed, response. If you spend a lot of money on people and they leave, that’s not an optimal outcome. But if you don’t train your employees and they stay, it costs you a lot more. Consider the following:

Trained Salespeople Produce More Income: Statistically trained salespeople:

  • Close more sales
  • Generate larger average sales
  • Sell fewer products at discounted prices and more products at list price
  • Make fewer mistakes
  • Sell the right products
  • Build customer relationships that result in more repeat business
  • Generate more positive online reviews
  • Help keep morale and productivity high among all employees, because people don’t like to work with untrained coworkers who don’t know what they’re doing.

Training Is Not Just for Salespeople: Training has a major impact on customer service practices. Consider the often headache-inducing business of at-home product installation—one that would certainly benefit from customer service-focused training. The basics, such as explaining to customers the details of the installation process, an emphasis on clear communication prior to the start of the job, and of course, conveying the importance of punctuality can boost customer retention. Training staff to be cognizant of their customer service practices can also increase referral business, which can be worth extra hundreds, thousands, or more to your bottom line.

Every Untrained Employee Costs You Money: ROI on training is dramatically greater than most company executives believe. In simple terms, if a trained worker becomes 100 percent productive and an untrained worker is only 60 percent productive, you are losing $40,000 in value on every $100,000 of business you conduct.

In Closing: Not training is hugely expensive—far more expensive than training. In your company, you should look for all the opportunities where proper training can increase profits, reduce waste, and provide an outsized ROI for every training dollar you spend. If you look, you will find many more opportunities than you expect.

Evan Hackel is CEO of Tortal Training, a firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors. Evan created the concept of Ingaged Leadership and is Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts. To learn more about Ingage Consulting and Evan’s book Ingaging Leadership visit www.ingage.net.


Telephone Answering Service News

Telescan Announces New Hires: The Telescan Division of Amtelco continues to grow and advance the development of its Spectrum system in response to demand for a flexible, expandable software-based call center system. The Telescan team is growing to continue helping customers succeed. Paul Schulte joins the Telescan support services team in St. Louis, Missouri. Paul will provide phone support to Spectrum system users and assist in the internal operations of the St. Louis office. Brett Minster joins the software development staff in St. Louis. Brett will be developing applications for Telescan’s next-generation switch, Prism II. For more information contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.” -Leo Tolstoy

“What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.” -Benjamin Disraeli

“Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.” -unknown

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Tips for Running a Successful Answering Service

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderFor all my adult life writing was something I did, but it meant nothing more. Then about eight years ago I began to take writing more seriously, wondering if it might be my next career. (It is, but it’s a part-time career. No worries, I will continue to publish TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.)

My first step as a writer was to attend a writing conference to learn more about the industry. Now my goal is to attend two conferences a year. Then I begin to study the craft of writing: reading blogs, listening to podcasts, subscribing to magazines, and buying books. Next I joined a couple of critique groups, where we mutually help each other improve. And, since I’ve actually been writing for several decades and been a publisher for fifteen years, I started blogging about writing to give back to the writing community; I also speak at writing conferences. As I moved forward I began working as a commercial freelance writer.

A couple years ago I decided to branch into fiction. Though I could have learned by the school of hard knocks, I decided to jumpstart my efforts by hiring people to guide and instruct me: coaches, developmental editors, and teachers. And I outsource things too: book cover design, copy editing, and proofreading. It would be foolish to try to do these myself.

What’s this have to do with running an answering service? Plenty.

Attend Conferences: I’m shocked that I continue to talk to TAS owners and managers who have never been to an industry event. They claim they can’t afford it. I say they can’t afford not to. Conferences provide a great way to network and learn. I think everyone should attend at least one conference a year—and not just owners but key employees, too.

Give Back: I receive the most when I help others, when I freely share what I know. Peter’s Law of Reciprocity states, “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t… so politely and tactfully learn what it is. Conversely, everyone you meet doesn’t know everything you do…so be willing to graciously share whatever you can when you are asked.” When you give, you receive.

Hire Outside Help: It makes no sense to spend a lot of time trying to figure out something by trial and error when you can pay someone to teach you. When I bought Connections Magazine from Steve Michaels in 2001, I hired a $200-an-hour magazine publishing consultant to point me in the right direction. Best decision ever.

Tap Outsourcers: You can outsource every aspect of running a telephone answering service, including operations. While I know of no one who has outsourced everything, many successful TASs have outsourced specific aspects of their business, such as sales, marketing, billing, collections, technical, and even management. If someone else can do it better or for less, it’s foolish to keep it in house.

Whether it’s writing a book or running an answering service, be intentional about improving and invest in learning. It’s the only way to go.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

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The February 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Tips for Running a Successful Answering Service

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderFor all my adult life writing was something I did, but it meant nothing more. Then about eight years ago I began to take writing more seriously, wondering if it might be my next career. (It is, but it’s a part-time career. No worries, I will continue to publish TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.)

My first step as a writer was to attend a writing conference to learn more about the industry. Now my goal is to attend two conferences a year. Then I begin to study the craft of writing: reading blogs, listening to podcasts, subscribing to magazines, and buying books. Next I joined a couple of critique groups, where we mutually help each other improve. And, since I’ve actually been writing for several decades and been a publisher for fifteen years, I started blogging about writing to give back to the writing community; I also speak at writing conferences. As I moved forward I began working as a commercial freelance writer.

A couple years ago I decided to branch into fiction. Though I could have learned by the school of hard knocks, I decided to jumpstart my efforts by hiring people to guide and instruct me: coaches, developmental editors, and teachers. And I outsource things too: book cover design, copy editing, and proofreading. It would be foolish to try to do these myself.

What’s this have to do with running an answering service? Plenty.

Attend Conferences: I’m shocked that I continue to talk to TAS owners and managers who have never been to an industry event. They claim they can’t afford it. I say they can’t afford not to. Conferences provide a great way to network and learn. I think everyone should attend at least one conference a year—and not just owners but key employees, too.

Give Back: I receive the most when I help others, when I freely share what I know. Peter’s Law of Reciprocity states, “Everyone you meet knows something you don’t… so politely and tactfully learn what it is. Conversely, everyone you meet doesn’t know everything you do…so be willing to graciously share whatever you can when you are asked.” When you give, you receive.

Hire Outside Help: It makes no sense to spend a lot of time trying to figure out something by trial and error when you can pay someone to teach you. When I bought Connections Magazine from Steve Michaels in 2001, I hired a $200-an-hour magazine publishing consultant to point me in the right direction. Best decision ever.

Tap Outsourcers: You can outsource every aspect of running a telephone answering service, including operations. While I know of no one who has outsourced everything, many successful TASs have outsourced specific aspects of their business, such as sales, marketing, billing, collections, technical, and even management. If someone else can do it better or for less, it’s foolish to keep it in house.

Whether it’s writing a book or running an answering service, be intentional about improving and invest in learning. It’s the only way to go.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Blog Posts: Need content for your website? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. TAS Case Studies at only $25 per post. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


7 Tips to Overhaul Your Customer Service

Learn what to do when you realize you’re not as great as you’d like

By Kate Zabriskie

What’s going on when your customer service falls short of your ideal? Usually, a few things. Typically, there’s an organizational mindset misalignment, a lack of commitment from the top, an absence of recognition for giving great service, or a combination of all three.

Consider these seven tips to turn things around:

  1. Start by thinking about your purpose. What is it that your organization does? Articulate your purpose. Everyone needs to understand your core reason for existing and how the actions he or she takes relate in supporting that mission.
  2. Next, think about your processes and how customers interact with you. Do you have your customers’ best interests at heart? If not, what changes can you make to remedy those shortcomings? This step has an added benefit. When your organization’s and your customers’ goals are in harmony, you will have happier customers. Furthermore, it is less likely your people will find themselves dealing with the unhappy, disappointed, or disgruntled.
  3. Model what you want to see. People work for people. If you supervise others, they are watching and learning from you. If you are disengaged, they probably are too. On the other hand, if you embody the spirit of service, you probably see elements of yourself in their performance.
  4. Teach your staff what to do and how to do it. You can’t expect people to deliver great service if they don’t know how. Furthermore, you can’t expect them to care if no one at the top does. Take employee development seriously. This means being a champion for training, participating in education, and coaching for new skills after the fact. Eventually, your people will be able to do more, make better choices, and solve problems more imaginatively.
  5. Hire for service skills. The next time you have an opening, think about what makes someone great at service in your organization and seek those attributes. Don’t settle. You’ll be sorry later.
  6. Even if you have no budget, you can reward employees for giving great service. Start with a sincere “Thank you.” Heartfelt appreciation can work wonders.
  7. Finally, put on your continuous-improvement hat. Systematically evaluate where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going.

None of these steps is necessarily hard. The trick is to take them. To win the service game, you have to be in it. What will you do better today?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.


Telephone Answering Service News

Spectrum Prism II Begins Beta Testing: The Telescan division of Amtelco has begun installation and field-testing of Prism II at beta sites. Prism II is the next-generation telephony switch for the Telescan Spectrum system. It provides a soft-switching solution. The benefits for call centers include: increased call handling capacity without added hardware, improved backup and recovery options, real-time monitoring and activity logs, enhanced audio quality, and faster call setup. The new Prism II is an entirely software-based switch built around Asterisk, a widely used open-source framework for building communications solutions. For more information contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be.” -Louis de Bernieres

“He who lives little, changes little.” -Anatole France

“A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.” -unknown

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Lessons From Cars, Computers, and Software

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderSince I work at home, I don’t do much driving. I sometimes wonder if I really need a car. Couple this with my preference to invest in a product and use it as long as I can. As a result my higher-end car was nineteen years old and pushing a quarter million miles. In November I replaced it. Though it’s time wasn’t up, I wanted a change. I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I take the same approach with technology. I buy the best I can afford and use it as long as I can. My main computer is four years old, my backup computer is six years old, and my laptop (which I seldom use) is ten. It’s replacement should arrive this week.

For the first time I didn’t buy a computer with Microsoft Office pre-installed. Instead I will make the switch to Office 365, a subscription software service. Philosophically I object to subscription services because in the past they haven’t made financial sense given the way I approach technology. (Subscription services are a brilliant move for vendors as it provides them with consistent cash flow, which allows them to support their product, invest in upgrades, and create new modules.) In the past, subscription services would have cost me more than making an outright purchase and using it well past its expected life span.

Switching to Office 365 will allow me to have the newest software on all my computers (not just the new laptop) and will keep me on the latest software version. And since Microsoft is calling Windows 10 “the last version of Windows,” I can expect my software to outlast my hardware. Instead of paying several hundred dollars for Office 2016 Professional on my laptop (or over a thousand dollars to update all three computers), I will instead pay a low monthly fee to enjoy the latest and greatest. How cool is that?

While I don’t run an answering service anymore and therefore haven’t done a cost analysis, I understand the same dynamics applies to operating an answering service using subscription-based services (whatever label you place on it: hosted, cloud-based, SaaS, PaaS, and so forth). It’s good for answering services, it’s good for vendors, and clients benefit as well.

If you’ve already moved to a subscription approach to your answering service platform, congratulations. If you’ve not made the switch, now might be a good time to revisit it.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

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The January 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Lessons From Cars, Computers, and Software

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderSince I work at home, I don’t do much driving. I sometimes wonder if I really need a car. Couple this with my preference to invest in a product and use it as long as I can. As a result my higher-end car was nineteen years old and pushing a quarter million miles. In November I replaced it. Though it’s time wasn’t up, I wanted a change. I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I take the same approach with technology. I buy the best I can afford and use it as long as I can. My main computer is four years old, my backup computer is six years old, and my laptop (which I seldom use) is ten. It’s replacement should arrive this week.

For the first time I didn’t buy a computer with Microsoft Office pre-installed. Instead I will make the switch to Office 365, a subscription software service. Philosophically I object to subscription services because in the past they haven’t made financial sense given the way I approach technology. (Subscription services are a brilliant move for vendors as it provides them with consistent cash flow, which allows them to support their product, invest in upgrades, and create new modules.) In the past, subscription services would have cost me more than making an outright purchase and using it well past its expected life span.

Switching to Office 365 will allow me to have the newest software on all my computers (not just the new laptop) and will keep me on the latest software version. And since Microsoft is calling Windows 10 “the last version of Windows,” I can expect my software to outlast my hardware. Instead of paying several hundred dollars for Office 2016 Professional on my laptop (or over a thousand dollars to update all three computers), I will instead pay a low monthly fee to enjoy the latest and greatest. How cool is that?

While I don’t run an answering service anymore and therefore haven’t done a cost analysis, I understand the same dynamics applies to operating an answering service using subscription-based services (whatever label you place on it: hosted, cloud-based, SaaS, PaaS, and so forth). It’s good for answering services, it’s good for vendors, and clients benefit as well.

If you’ve already moved to a subscription approach to your answering service platform, congratulations. If you’ve not made the switch, now might be a good time to revisit it.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. TAS Case Studies at only $25 per post. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.


Be a Customer Service Contender

Why most customer service isn’t as good as it could be and what you can do about it

By Kate Zabriskie

Too often, organizations recognize they have a service issue, yet their efforts to address shortcomings fail to solve the problem. In the worst cases, customer service initiatives backfire. However, legendary service organizations have a service mindset, commitment, and reward great performance.

Service Mindset: Great service companies eat, sleep, and breathe extraordinary service. They don’t pull people off the phones for a few hours and expect magic.

  • They have a service mission, and it does more than sit in a frame on a wall in some conference room. It’s top-of-mind throughout the organization. People know it and live it through their daily interactions with customers and each other.
  • They design processes with the customer’s best interest in mind. Think about that well-known airline, so full of love for its customers, it allows them to cancel flights for full credit on a future trip. Clearly they believe most their customers won’t book travel they don’t need, and those who must make a change will eventually choose to fly with them again.
  • They hire people who genuinely love service and are proud to live the brand.
  • They constantly retool the customer experience because they know what worked well in earlier years is long overdue for a makeover.
  • They educate, educate, and then they educate some more. They want to make sure that the people who represent the brand understand what the brand experience is and how to deliver it.

Commitment: Great service companies involve everyone in their service culture and improvement efforts. They invest in their employees and trust them to do what’s right.

  • Their management team models service-centric behavior and holds others accountable for doing the same.
  • Their leaders participate in education efforts, often introducing workshops, wrapping them up, and actively taking part during sessions.
  • They commit to and believe in their staff. Because they’ve chosen their employees well and trained them appropriately, they treat staff members as the adults they are and give them latitude when solving service problems.

Reward: Great service companies reward service-centric behavior. They don’t ignore great work or punish people for taking initiative.

  • They value their employees and recognize that without them there is no customer service.
  • They reward employees by trusting them to do what’s right.
  • They encourage people to find new ways of solving problems.
  • They recognize that a paycheck alone is not enough.

When thinking about everything that the greats do, it’s easy to get discouraged or think your business or department will never achieve true service success. The good news is you’re wrong. While it won’t happen overnight, you can learn from the masters to elevate your approach to customer service.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Releases Hosted Spectrum: Spectrum Prism is now available as a hosted service. Some of the advantages of hosting include increased call handling capacity without adding hardware or IT labor. And there’s no need for a support plan; it’s all included along with updates. Hosted Spectrum is scalable, which makes it ideal for startups. Stations are easy to add. Virtual answering services and the use of a collocated solution breaks the answering service away from the physical constraints and overhead costs of a building, equipment room, and back-up power.

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“A timid question will always receive a confident answer.” -Charles John Darling

“The wisest mind has something yet to learn.” -George Santayana

“A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.” -unknown

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On Earth Peace and Good Will Toward Men

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderThis month I’m not going to write about the telephone answering service industry or customer service or any of the things I typically address in TAS Trader. Instead I have a seasonal thought—sort of.

In considering our society as a whole, the past several months have been rough: divisive news, polarized rhetoric on social media, and a general loss of civility. The shouting is deafening. Everyone I talk to is sick of it and looking for us to move beyond the constant turmoil and return to some degree of mutual respect and decorum. I so agree.

Maybe this holiday season can mark a shift toward a fresh start. Let’s start by taking a line from the Christmas story: “On earth peace and good will toward men.” I like that. We need more peace (less fighting) and increased goodwill (less conflict). And then our world—or at least our space in it—will be a much better place.

While we can’t compel other people to promote peace on earth and goodwill to all, we can each do our part to bring it about. Little by little, day by day, we can each do one thing for peace and goodwill. Perhaps others will notice and do their part too.

A little less fighting and a little less conflict will make our world a better place. And there is no better time to start than this time of year.

So I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and on earth peace and good will toward men.

May it be so.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

The December 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

On Earth Peace and Good Will Toward Men

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderThis month I’m not going to write about the telephone answering service industry or customer service or any of the things I typically address in TAS Trader. Instead I have a seasonal thought—sort of.

In considering our society as a whole, the past several months have been rough: divisive news, polarized rhetoric on social media, and a general loss of civility. The shouting is deafening. Everyone I talk to is sick of it and looking for us to move beyond the constant turmoil and return to some degree of mutual respect and decorum. I so agree.

Maybe this holiday season can mark a shift toward a fresh start. Let’s start by taking a line from the Christmas story: “On earth peace and good will toward men.” I like that. We need more peace (less fighting) and increased goodwill (less conflict). And then our world—or at least our space in it—will be a much better place.

While we can’t compel other people to promote peace on earth and goodwill to all, we can each do our part to bring it about. Little by little, day by day, we can each do one thing for peace and goodwill. Perhaps others will notice and do their part too.

A little less fighting and a little less conflict will make our world a better place. And there is no better time to start than this time of year.

So I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and on earth peace and good will toward men.

May it be so.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Classified Ads:

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. TAS Case Studies at only $25 per post. Custom content available at $150. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


Achieving Greatness Through Customer Service

By Jason Gazaway

There’s good customer service, and there’s great customer service. What’s the difference? The answer is simple: human-to-human contact. People like to know that when they’re dealing with a company, they’re not just another dollar sign. They’re human beings who want to be listened to with respect. Achieving this level of excellence is no easy task.

The Human Voice: Genesys surveyed 9,000 consumers and found the most important aspect of doing business with a company was human service. One key method for attaining this kind of personal contact is a telephone answering service. In today’s web-driven world, few things beat the authenticity of a one-on-one conversation.

Yielding Returns: Of course, you can’t just put anyone on the phone with a customer. You have to put a great deal of care into the way your company is represented. Most customers are very likely to do business with, or switch their business to, a company known for good customer service. This means that service excellence is not only a good business ethic, but it actually yields returns.

The Qualities of Greatness: Though human-to-human contact is necessary for great service, it has yet to be determined what kind of contact this entails. You can’t have just anyone answering your phones. You need someone who:

  • Has experience
  • Exceeds the expectations of the customer by empathizing with his or her situation
  • Handles the needs of an irritated person calmly and efficiently
  • Makes the customer feel heard and respected

A Culture of Respect: How do you get high-quality customer service representatives? Look at your business holistically. The only way you can expect your staff to achieve excellence is if you yourself treat them as excellent. Creating a culture of respect, where every member of the team is valued as essential and indispensable, is necessary if you expect brilliant customer service.

Two Bonus Tips: In addition to these general principles, there are two specific tips. The first is simple: Know the customer’s name and address them by it. This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. Studies show that a person’s name causes a completely different part of the brain to light up, making it clear that a name is special and, in this case, useful. Plus, it shows you have genuine concern for who they are and what they mean to your business.

Similarly with the second tidbit, if the customer has a history with the company, refer to a specific aspect of his or her relationship to the business, even if it’s as simple as, “Thank you for your business with us for the last five years. I really appreciate it.” Notice the use of the singular pronoun, “I.” This indicates a personal relationship and communicates to the customer this is not just a transaction with a business but also an interaction with a human being.

In order to achieve excellence in customer service, each representative must treat every customer with respect, listening to their concerns with an open ear, which will result in long-term business relationships.

Jason Gazaway serves as the marketing communications specialist for VoiceNation and as a marketing consultant for Georgia Calls. With over fifteen years of experience managing digital and traditional marketing campaigns, he handles all marketing communications, public relations, and branding projects for both organizations.


Telephone Answering Service News

2017 ATSI Annual Conference: Education, Networking, Fellowship: The Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) will host the 2017 annual conference, “Education, Networking, and Fellowship,” June 27-29, 2017 at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. The conference will bring together industry leaders who will share and discuss important topics in the contact center and telephone answering service industry such as hiring talent and training, revenue enhancement techniques, and sales and marketing tactics. Additional sessions will explore HIPAA agent training, business operations, and planning and financial management, upcoming changes in legislation, telco competition, new technology, and equipment. The trade show and exposition provides an opportunity to view the latest in contact center equipment and technology. Registration opens in early 2017 at www.atsi.org.

Executive Services Earns Gold Call Center Certification: The Association of Teleservices International (ATSI) announced that Allgood Communications, Inc, dba Executive Services, has re-qualified for a fourth time and has been awarded the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award. “This qualification is another milestone in our continuous investment in technology, people, and processes,” said April Kasza, Executive Services’ general manager. She continued, “Tom Sheridan, Executive Services’ president and part of the founding certification process, has committed to provide the highest quality services to our clients. Together, we are able to offer the best call center and information technology available, as well as innovative applications and quality service.”

Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


 Quotes for the Month

“Of all nature’s gifts to the human race, what is sweeter to a man than his children?” -Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” -Andre Gide

“The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.” -unknown


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