All posts by Admin

How Often Do You Thank Your Answering Service Staff?

This Thanksgiving Seek Effective Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Front-Line Employees

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderThanksgiving will soon be here. For many people that means a four-day weekend. There may be a grand feast with family, watching a parade or football game, and perhaps a nap. Then there’s Christmas shopping on Friday—or Thursday afternoon for those who can’t wait. Later in the weekend, some will put up Christmas decorations and others will go to a movie. Traditions vary, but for most people Thanksgiving is a break from work.

Not so for those in the answering service industry. Quite possibly Thanksgiving weekend means four days of work. Given the theme of the holiday, being thankful, let’s look for ways to thank staff who will spend time working when most other people aren’t. Some bosses do a great job at this, others not so well, and a few don’t even think about it. Here are some ideas to say “thank you” to your staff.

Use Words

Sometimes the simplest of ways is the best way. Just look each employee in the eye, and say “thank you for all you do.” It can mean a lot. I once had a boss who personally handed out paychecks each payday. Though not the most personable guy, he made a point to say “thank you” as he gave each of us our check. That was thirty years ago. I still remember it.

Give a Card

Cards are nice too, but to have maximum impact, don’t use the premade kind with flowery sentiment and your printed signature. Instead handwrite a short note of sincere appreciation, say thank you, and sign it. For increased impact, include a gift card or cash.

Do Something Special

As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” What action can you do to show your appreciation to your answering service staff working on Thanksgiving? Maybe you could drop off a treat for them to enjoy during break. How about a small gift awaiting each one when they come into work? Come up with something creative you can do for your staff, and it will have a huge impact.

Avoid the Cliché or the Routine

Some companies give frozen turkeys to their staff on Thanksgiving, and others have practices that have become expected but carry little meaning. Phase out the old, tired convention and replace it with something fresh and new that will have employees buzzing.

Continue Year-Round

Though we think of being thankful this time of year, don’t restrict your appreciation of your staff to one weekend. Continue to thank them and show your appreciation for the hard work they do throughout the year.

Yes, this takes effort and is time-consuming, but so is hiring and training new staff when your existing employees quit because they don’t feel appreciated.

May you and your staff have a happy Thanksgiving.

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 November 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

How Often Do You Thank Your Answering Service Staff?

This Thanksgiving Seek Effective Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Front-Line Employees

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderThanksgiving will soon be here. For many people that means a four-day weekend. There may be a grand feast with family, watching a parade or football game, and perhaps a nap. Then there’s Christmas shopping on Friday—or Thursday afternoon for those who can’t wait. Later in the weekend, some will put up Christmas decorations and others will go to a movie. Traditions vary, but for most people Thanksgiving is a break from work.

Not so for those in the answering service industry. Quite possibly Thanksgiving weekend means four days of work. Given the theme of the holiday, being thankful, let’s look for ways to thank staff who will spend time working when most other people aren’t. Some bosses do a great job at this, others not so well, and a few don’t even think about it. Here are some ideas to say “thank you” to your staff.

Use Words: Sometimes the simplest of ways is the best way. Just look each employee in the eye, and say “thank you for all you do.” It can mean a lot. I once had a boss who personally handed out paychecks each payday. Though not the most personable guy, he made a point to say “thank you” as he gave each of us our check. That was thirty years ago. I still remember it.

Give a Card: Cards are nice too, but to have maximum impact, don’t use the premade kind with flowery sentiment and your printed signature. Instead handwrite a short note of sincere appreciation, say thank you, and sign it. For increased impact, include a gift card or cash.

Do Something Special: As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” What action can you do to show your appreciation to your answering service staff working on Thanksgiving? Maybe you could drop off a treat for them to enjoy during break. How about a small gift awaiting each one when they come into work? Come up with something creative you can do for your staff, and it will have a huge impact.

Avoid the Cliché or the Routine: Some companies give frozen turkeys to their staff on Thanksgiving, and others have practices that have become expected but carry little meaning. Phase out the old, tired convention and replace it with something fresh and new that will have employees buzzing.

Continue Year-Round: Though we think of being thankful this time of year, don’t restrict your appreciation of your staff to one weekend. Continue to thank them and show your appreciation for the hard work they do throughout the year.

Yes, this takes effort and is time-consuming, but so is hiring and training new staff when your existing employees quit because they don’t feel appreciated.

May you and your staff have a happy Thanksgiving.

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:

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161, Doris@courteouscom.com, www.courteouscom.com.

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 Janet Livingston at janet@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.


Hastings Humans Celebrates Seventieth Anniversary

Virtual Receptionist Company Continues to Provide the Human Touch

In 1948 Ann Hastings answered her first call for a business from an extension telephone sitting on her kitchen table. This was the start of her telephone answering service business. Over the years the business continued to grow and is now a highly respected nationwide provider of live telecommunication services for businesses of any size and type.

After serving as a captain in the Army in World War II, Clint Hastings and his wife, Ann, moved to Austin on East 17th Street so he could go to the University of Texas on the GI Bill. Ann wanted to start a family and was looking for a way to work from home to raise some income. She heard of something called telephone answering service. So she started with one phone and one customer. After six months she had three customers and a monthly revenue of 30 dollars.

Ann’s business grew as word spread about her kind, warm, and efficient service. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the company resided at multiple locations in the Austin area. By the mid-80s, the company moved to their present location, 11th and Shoal Creek. About that time Ann and Clint passed the business on to their sons, Mark and Scott. Originally known as Austin Answering Service and then as Hastings Telephone Answering Service, in 2014 the company changed its name to Hastings Humans to better reflect the true benefit of its services—the human touch.

And while Hastings Humans still operates as an answering service, they now utilize the latest technology to meet the expectations of their customers more efficiently. Among the services they now offer include virtual receptionists, dispatching service calls, capturing sales leads, and tier 1 tech support.

All the services Hastings offers build upon the strengths developed over seventy years, such as their expertise in customer service and their ability to respond to the needs of businesses of all types. Hastings continues to invest in technology and expand its commitment to customer service.

Over thirty-five women and men are employed at Hastings Humans. They handle more than five-thousand calls each day, with an accuracy rate exceeding 99.99 percent. Hasting Humans has earned the Association of Teleservices International’s Award of Excellence for twenty-one consecutive years.

As president and co-owner, Mark Hastings says, “We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. And we continue to see that it is necessary to involve people in business transactions. We will continue to keep our eyes on the needs of our customers, now and in the future.”

Is your answering service celebrating a milestone anniversary? Fifty years, sixty, or seventy? How about seventy-five, eighty, eighty-five, ninety, or more? Email us your news so we can celebrate your longevity with the rest of the industry.


Telephone Answering Service News

Ron Violante to Focus Attention on Pulsar360: Ron Violante announced that he will rep exclusively for Pulsar360. Last year, Violante began representing Szeto Technologies in addition to Pulsar360. Though this was not a conflict of interest, and Violante was able to fully represent both companies for maximum results, it did cause confusion among some members of the industry. To remove any possible concerns that some people may have, Violante decided that going forward he will rep exclusively for Pulsar360. In addition, Violante will continue with answering service acquisitions, where he assists buyers and sellers to put together mutually beneficial transactions.

Amtelco Enhances IS Transformer for Easier Upgrades: Amtelco adds the Dial String Import Wizard to the Intelligent Series (IS) Transformer Client/Agent, a set of tools that transforms information from external sources to the IS database. The Dial String Import Wizard helps with mass transformations of Infinity dial strings to IS client fields, info pages, and contact methods. Dial strings can be imported from the Infinity system list and individual accounts or all accounts. The dial string values can be modified in the dial string import wizard before being transformed into IS without changing the dial strings in Infinity.

Amtelco Introduces Intelligent Series Version 5.3: Amtelco Intelligent Series (IS) v5.3 adds new features, many of which were developed in collaboration with Amtelco customers. Version 5.3 moves voicemail from Infinity to IS for use with the Genesis system. Other key features allow for reassigned parked calls to go to another ACD skill, auto answer greetings play to callers while waiting for an agent, and the conference join and patch call states now include call recording capability. In addition, the IS supervisor application dashboard includes controls to allow users to configure multiple dashboard layouts, filled with a choice of widgets.

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


Quotes for the Month

“The happiest is the person who suffers the least pain; the most miserable who enjoys the least pleasure.” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.” -Dick Cavett

“You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.” -unknown

Why Do Some Answering Services Grow While Others Struggle?

5 Key Contributors to Answering Service Success

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader-answering serviceOver the years I’ve seen some answering services get larger, while others didn’t. Before we attribute the difference to bad timing, being in the wrong place, or poor luck, let’s consider some characteristics that can contribute to answering service success. This isn’t a scientific analysis or a guaranteed checklist. Instead it’s a list of key characteristics that will help tip the balance in favor of growth, profits, and quality.

1. Strong Leadership and Management

Does an answering service need a leader or a manager? It requires both. A leader plans for tomorrow, while a manager handles today. Having one without the other leads to an imbalance in the operation and promotes frustration among staff and clients.

2. A Capable Management Team

When an answering service starts from nothing, the owner needs to wear many hats. However, for existing answering services, having one person attempt to handle everything is a bad idea. They’ll end up neglecting something critical.

That’s why it takes a team to run a telephone answering service. As the answering service grows, the number of people on the team grows with it. Two common mistakes answering services make are growing the team too slowly and growing it too fast.

3. No Weak Links

It takes several departments for a successful answering service. Operations is the biggest. Also needed is sales and marketing, accounting, and technical. A strong leadership administrative team holds them all together. Each of these units must pursue excellence in all they do. There can be no weak links, or the answering service will struggle.

For example, if operations produces high-quality work but sales doesn’t add enough new accounts, it doesn’t matter how good the quality is because there won’t be enough accounts to serve. Conversely, if sales and marketing adds new clients fast, but poor quality and customer service drive them away faster, it’s a losing situation.

4. Attention to Details

Details matter. It matters whether you’re taking a message, programming equipment, setting up a client, sending an invoice, or leading a team. Doing 90 percent of the job isn’t good enough. It requires 100 percent to achieve success.

5. Industry Involvement and Networking

Too many answering services try to function in isolation. They don’t attend industry events, network with other answering services, or work to make the industry better. They toil in isolation, hoping they can figure everything out on their own. And even if this does work, it won’t work as well as if they had regular input from others in the industry to encourage them with new ideas and provide motivation. Though some answering service owners and managers may claim they don’t have the time or the money to get involved, the truth is they can’t afford not to.

Conclusion

Following these five tips may not guarantee answering service growth and success, but they will certainly place the answering service in a better position than had you not pursued them. Look at your answering service operation through the lens of these suggestions. Then determine what area needs attention and seek to improve it. If you do, you could very well end up realizing the growth and success that you seek.

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 October 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Why Do Some Answering Services Grow While Others Struggle?

5 Key Contributors to Answering Service Success

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderOver the years I’ve seen some answering services get larger, while others didn’t. Before we attribute the difference to bad timing, being in the wrong place, or poor luck, let’s consider some characteristics that can contribute to answering service success. This isn’t a scientific analysis or a guaranteed checklist. Instead it’s a list of key characteristics that will help tip the balance in favor of growth, profits, and quality.

1. Strong Leadership and Management: Does an answering service need a leader or a manager? It requires both. A leader plans for tomorrow, while a manager handles today. Having one without the other leads to an imbalance in the operation and promotes frustration among staff and clients.

2. A Capable Management Team: When an answering service starts from nothing, the owner needs to wear many hats. However, for existing answering services, having one person attempt to handle everything is a bad idea. They’ll end up neglecting something critical.

That’s why it takes a team to run a telephone answering service. As the answering service grows, the number of people on the team grows with it. Two common mistakes answering services make are growing the team too slowly and growing it too fast.

3. No Weak Links: It takes several departments for a successful answering service. Operations is the biggest. Also needed is sales and marketing, accounting, and technical. A strong leadership administrative team holds them all together. Each of these units must pursue excellence in all they do. There can be no weak links, or the answering service will struggle.

For example, if operations produces high-quality work but sales doesn’t add enough new accounts, it doesn’t matter how good the quality is because there won’t be enough accounts to serve. Conversely, if sales and marketing adds new clients fast, but poor quality and customer service drive them away faster, it’s a losing situation.

4. Attention to Details: Details matter. It matters whether you’re taking a message, programming equipment, setting up a client, sending an invoice, or leading a team. Doing 90 percent of the job isn’t good enough. It requires 100 percent to achieve success.

5. Industry Involvement and Networking: Too many answering services try to function in isolation. They don’t attend industry events, network with other answering services, or work to make the industry better. They toil in isolation, hoping they can figure everything out on their own. And even if this does work, it won’t work as well as if they had regular input from others in the industry to encourage them with new ideas and provide motivation. Though some answering service owners and managers may claim they don’t have the time or the money to get involved, the truth is they can’t afford not to.

Conclusion

Following these five tips may not guarantee answering service growth and success, but they will certainly place the answering service in a better position than had you not pursued them. Look at your answering service operation through the lens of these suggestions. Then determine what area needs attention and seek to improve it. If you do, you could very well end up realizing the growth and success that you seek.

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:

Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. Or make an offer. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161, Doris@courteouscom.com, or www.courteouscom.com.

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 Janet Livingston at janet@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. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.


Getting Chat Service Right

By Kate Zabriskie

Providing exceptional service via chat involves more than simply choosing a technology platform. Chat is a distinct communication channel with its own set of rules. Organizations that implement a chat system need to prepare their service representatives to use it effectively.

Follow these seven steps for successful chatting.

Step One: Determine who on your team is well suited to serve customers online. Chat service providers should type fast and accurately and have a good grasp of spelling and grammar.

Step Two: Identify some rules to guide chats. You should know the answers before your reps start typing.

  • How many chats should an agent handle at once? (In the beginning, nobody should attempt more than one, and even experienced agents shouldn’t divide their attention among more than three.)
  • What topics can and can’t be addressed via chat? Depending on the industry, regulations may limit what reps can and can’t say.
  • When will you move customers to a different mode of communication if chat isn’t appropriate?

Step Three: It’s important to think about what messaging looks like before rolling out the chat platform.

  • How should a chat start if a customer has already shared information?
  • What words and phrases align with your brand?
  • What words and phrases should providers avoid?
  • How should representatives address angry or frustrated customers? In what way should greetings differ?

To gain insight, visits sites that use chat. Think about each experience: what you liked, what you didn’t, how you felt, and so forth.

Step Four: Be prepared for the obvious. Reps should know how to handle the top twenty or thirty customer requests without having to reference a lot of documentation. Consistency is essential. This is especially true when it comes to the basics. Use roleplaying that addresses common inquiries.

Step Five: Determine the extent to which you wish to use canned responses. Pre-written text has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, it’s quick and has been proofread. Yet canned text can sound canned. Furthermore, representatives sometimes choose pre-written responses that don’t address a customer’s situation.

Canned text should sound conversational. It’s supposed to be a dialogue. One way to help maintain a conversational tone is to keep your text short. Long sentences usually produce an unnatural feel.

A good place to source potential pre-written responses is from your reps’ actual chats. Some people have a natural gift for chat. Why not tap their strengths and skills?

Step Six: Learn from your failures and successes. As with any service interaction, chat can go well, or it can go poorly. The key is monitoring, course correcting, and standardizing success.

Regularly review chats. The more methodically you evaluate your chats, the quicker you will capitalize on what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

Step Seven: Chat training is not a one-and-done activity. Needs change, technology evolves, and staff turns over. Ideally, focus on one or two best practices a week, evaluate pre-written text twice a year, and spot check transcripts daily.

Chat is no longer a novelty, and more customers expect their service providers to offer it. No matter where you are in the chat-implementation process, there’s always room to improve the way you connect through a keyboard.

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. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.


Telephone Answering Service News

Sorry, we have no new news to share with you this month.

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


Quotes for the Month

“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” -Henry David Thoreau

“Knowledge is love and light and vision.” -Helen Keller

“A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France and resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.” -unknown

How a Mystery Caller Program Can Benefit Your Answering Service

Receiving Independent, Third-Party Feedback Is the Most Valuable Information You Can Get

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAs a writer, I’m a big fan of constructive feedback. Sometimes it’s affirming and other times it’s discouraging, but when it comes from a credible source it’s always beneficial. The same applies to the answering service industry. Receiving independent, third-party feedback about service quality is always beneficial.

Regardless if it’s praiseworthy or agonizing to hear, it provides the means to celebrate what’s good and improve what falls short. Just as smart writers are always open to receive credible feedback, so too should smart answering services.

Although client testimonials are gratifying, they certainly don’t give a balanced view. Online reviews have the potential to address both the good and the not so good, but these are seldom balanced either. They often provide extreme views that are neither helpful nor useful.

That’s where a mystery shopper comes in. A mystery shopper for your answering service provides valuable insight from an outside source. Though you could hire someone to be a mystery shopper, the results may be skewed because you’re picking up the tab. A better solution is to contract with an organization that provides the service and where the evaluation is done blind, without knowledge of which answering service they’re analyzing.

Enter the Independent Mystery Caller

The ATSI Award of Excellence program and the CAM-X Award of Excellence program both function the same way. They place mystery calls to your answering service, evaluate the results, and present a composite score that reflects overall quality. It’s the most valuable input your answering service could ever receive.

Though you may think that one program is enough, they cover different times of the year. This means that by tapping both the ATSI and the CAM-X offerings you can enjoy year-round evaluations, as well as detailed feedback twice a year, instead of just once.

(And for those providers that have moved beyond the traditional answering service clientele, there are two advanced options to consider. One is the CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction and the other is the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction. Both are worth pursuing.)

The Winner Is…

Answering services that meet the quality benchmark standard in the Award of Excellence programs are honored as an Award of Excellence winner for that year. This is the most reliable mark of answering service quality available in the industry. Those who have one these awards operate at a different level than those who don’t.

However, just by participating in these programs, makes answering services a winner, even if they fall a bit short of the expected results. This is because the feedback from the program is invaluable. Applying the evaluators’ analysis of the mystery callers lets answering services know what to work on to increase their level of quality. This allows them to pursue and achieve year-over-year improvement. Both the answering service and their clients benefit.

Last, though this may offend some, I truly hope it serves as motivation: the only ones who lose in the Award of Excellence programs are those that don’t participate.

May this year be the year your answering service’s quality becomes the best it’s ever been. Participating in an Award of Excellence program can help you get there.

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 September 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

How a Mystery Caller Program Can Benefit Your Answering Service

Receiving Independent, Third-Party Feedback Is the Most Valuable Information You Can Get

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader

As a writer, I’m a big fan of constructive feedback. Sometimes it’s affirming and other times it’s discouraging, but when it comes from a credible source it’s always beneficial. The same applies to the answering service industry. Receiving independent, third-party feedback about service quality is always beneficial.

Regardless if it’s praiseworthy or agonizing to hear, it provides the means to celebrate what’s good and improve what falls short. Just as smart writers are always open to receive credible feedback, so too should smart answering services.

Although client testimonials are gratifying, they certainly don’t give a balanced view. Online reviews have the potential to address both the good and the not so good, but these are seldom balanced either. They often provide extreme views that are neither helpful nor useful.

That’s where a mystery shopper comes in. A mystery shopper for your answering service provides valuable insight from an outside source. Though you could hire someone to be a mystery shopper, the results may be skewed because you’re picking up the tab. A better solution is to contract with an organization that provides the service and where the evaluation is done blind, without knowledge of which answering service they’re analyzing.

Enter the Independent Mystery Caller

The ATSI Award of Excellence program and the CAM-X Award of Excellence program both function the same way. They place mystery calls to your answering service, evaluate the results, and present a composite score that reflects overall quality. It’s the most valuable input your answering service could ever receive.

Though you may think that one program is enough, they cover different times of the year. This means that by tapping both the ATSI and the CAM-X offerings you can enjoy year-round evaluations, as well as detailed feedback twice a year, instead of just once.

(And for those providers that have moved beyond the traditional answering service clientele, there are two advanced options to consider. One is the CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction and the other is the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction. Both are worth pursuing.)

The Winner Is…

Answering services that meet the quality benchmark standard in the Award of Excellence programs are honored as an Award of Excellence winner for that year. This is the most reliable mark of answering service quality available in the industry. Those who have one these awards operate at a different level than those who don’t.

However, just by participating in these programs, makes answering services a winner, even if they fall a bit short of the expected results. This is because the feedback from the program is invaluable. Applying the evaluators’ analysis of the mystery callers lets answering services know what to work on to increase their level of quality. This allows them to pursue and achieve year-over-year improvement. Both the answering service and their clients benefit.

Last, though this may offend some, I truly hope it serves as motivation: the only ones who lose in the Award of Excellence programs are those that don’t participate.

May this year be the year your answering service’s quality becomes the best it’s ever been. Participating in an Award of Excellence program can help you get there.

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:

Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

 Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161, Doris@courteouscom.com, www.courteouscom.com.

 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 Janet Livingston at janet@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. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.


Stop Falling Behind Your Competitors

7 Steps to Gain a Competitive Advantage

 By Brad Wolff

If you find your business falling behind, follow these seven steps.

  1. Employee Alignment: When a significant percentage of duties performed by employees don’t fit their innate characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well. Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”
  2. Create a Culture of Personal Growth and Development: Personal growth results in professional growth. It increases the capacity to handle life challenges, accomplish long-term goals, and work well with others. Personal growth and development include an increased awareness of self and others, the ability to manage one’s ego, the ability to manage emotions, and the development of innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness. These are fundamental character traits of success.
  3. Align Employees with Mission and Vision: Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose. This means they care about how their efforts affect the world outside themselves. Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.
  4. Align Employees with Culture and Values: People need to feel that they fit in. Employees who are significantly out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never make their highest contribution. Having perfect alignment is not the goal, but significant misalignments are damaging.
  5. Align Roles and Responsibilities with Strategies and Goals: Organizational goals and strategies change. Frequently, roles and supporting job duties don’t adequately change to align with these shifts. When this occurs, some or much of employee efforts are out of alignment and can impair the ability to achieve the desired outcomes.
  6. Assess Personal and Professional Weaknesses: We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. It hinders our true potential from being realized, which is a loss to the organization and ourselves. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledge their “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others.
  7. Commit to Work on Personal and Professional Challenges: Self-awareness of the need to change is the first step. Commit to act (starting with baby steps) and take them to develop of positive habits that create lasting positive change.

Conclusion: Leaders make choices that define the present and future of themselves and their organizations. There’s nothing magical about the most effective leaders. They’re just making more effective choices. As a leader, what choices are you making?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. For more information on visit: www.peoplemaximizers.com.

[Read the full article at Article Weekly.]


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Summer Interns: Amtelco says “thank you” and “good bye” to the fifteen students who completed internships this summer. They are Adam LaLuzerne, Marcus Seaton, DJ Hogan, Kyle Anderson, Brevin Becker, Hannah Anderson, Luke Anderson, Emmanuel Barber-Thomas, Jessica Mohns, Sean Scanlan, Dillon Clark, Tyler LaLuzerne, Angela Riederer, Ashley Werner, and Bennett Olson.

AnswerNet Acquires Synergy Solutions: AnswerNet acquired Synergy Solutions in an asset transaction. Synergy Solutions specializes in high-touch consultative customer service and sales support programs for many of the nation’s leading brands. Established in 1999, Synergy Solutions focuses on innovative customer interaction solutions. This allows Synergy Solutions to provide superior results for its clients in fast-growth retail and e-commerce, as well as traditional verticals such as healthcare, insurance, and financial services. Gary Pudles, president and CEO of AnswerNet stated, “Synergy Solutions furthers AnswerNet’s continued growth in high-touch customer engagement space for well-known companies and brands.” Synergy’s president and co-founder Lori Fentem is staying with AnswerNet and will work closely with Pudles on building and executing AnswerNet’s growth strategy.

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


Quotes for the Month

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” -Thurgood Marshall

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” -Samuel Johnson

“The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.” –unknown

The Power of No

Learning to Say No Opens the Door to Yes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

http://www.peterlyledehaan.com/By nature I like to help people. I enjoy diving into exciting projects. And I relish variety. As a result, I tend to say “yes” to opportunities that come my way. And the more I say “yes,” the busier I get. Eventually my commitments overwhelm me and keep me from what’s most important.

Because of this, I’m learning to say “no.” This opens the time to focus on what matters most. I encourage you to do the same.

In the answering service industry, we’re beset with continuous interruptions that demand our attention. We want to keep staff happy and retain clients. We handle the day-to-day fires but neglect the year-over-year needs of our business.

We need to say “no” more often. Then we’ll have room to say “yes.” Here are some ideas of what we might need to say “yes” to.

power of noMaximize Profit

Regardless of why you’re in the answering service industry, you need to earn a profit to stay in business. There are two ways to increase profit. One is to reduce costs, and the other is to increase revenue. Though you can increase revenue by selling more, the faster way is to make sure each client is profitable. That means selective rate increases. Do it every month.

Improve Quality

As a service business, quality is essential. If quality is poor—or even average—it’s harder to retain clients and to land new ones. This makes it difficult to turn a profit, as well as develop staff and grow the business. It’s hard to say if you should pursue quality first and then profit or profit and then quality. They’re interdependent.

Develop Staff

Having a reliable team to run your business and optimize it is key. Too often we hope a great team will just come about, but that seldom happens. Most of the time we need to groom staff, preparing them for the roles we envision. Therefore, be proactive in employee development.

Grow Your Business

A benefit of the telephone answering service industry is monthly reoccurring revenue. However, no client stays on service forever. Clients eventually cancel. This happens every month. That means replacing departing clients with new ones, which means sales and marketing. At a minimum, you need to keep even. Ideally you should grow. A shrinking client base is a symptom of a much greater problem, one that should have been addressed earlier.

Saying “no” to things that aren’t critical provides the space and time to say “yes” to those things that are. Pick the essential items your answering service needs most to survive, and say “yes” to them before agreeing to any other opportunities.

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 August 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

The Power of No

Learning to Say No Opens the Door to Yes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderBy nature I like to help people. I enjoy diving into exciting projects. And I relish variety. As a result, I tend to say “yes” to opportunities that come my way. And the more I say “yes,” the busier I get. Eventually my commitments overwhelm me and keep me from what’s most important.

Because of this, I’m learning to say “no.” This opens the time to focus on what matters most. I encourage you to do the same.

In the answering service industry, we’re beset with continuous interruptions that demand our attention. We want to keep staff happy and retain clients. We handle the day-to-day fires but neglect the year-over-year needs of our business.

We need to say “no” more often. Then we’ll have room to say “yes.” Here are some ideas of what we might need to say “yes” to.

Maximize Profit: Regardless of why you’re in the answering service industry, you need to earn a profit to stay in business. There are two ways to increase profit. One is to reduce costs, and the other is to increase revenue. Though you can increase revenue by selling more, the faster way is to make sure each client is profitable. That means selective rate increases. Do it every month.

Improve Quality: As a service business, quality is essential. If quality is poor—or even average—it’s harder to retain clients and to land new ones. This makes it difficult to turn a profit, as well as develop staff and grow the business. It’s hard to say if you should pursue quality first and then profit or profit and then quality. They’re interdependent.

Develop Staff: Having a reliable team to run your business and optimize it is key. Too often we hope a great team will just come about, but that seldom happens. Most of the time we need to groom staff, preparing them for the roles we envision. Therefore, be proactive in employee development.

Grow Your Business: A benefit of the telephone answering service industry is monthly reoccurring revenue. However, no client stays on service forever. Clients eventually cancel. This happens every month. That means replacing departing clients with new ones, which means sales and marketing. At a minimum, you need to keep even. Ideally you should grow. A shrinking client base is a symptom of a much greater problem, one that should have been addressed earlier.

Saying “no” to things that aren’t critical provides the space and time to say “yes” to those things that are. Pick the essential items your answering service needs most to survive, and say “yes” to them before agreeing to any other opportunities.

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:

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. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.

 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 Janet Livingston at janet@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.


3 Keys to Successful Strategic Planning

By Andy Slipher

Strategic planning exists to solve problems. Often, pursuing strategic planning means your problem is big: significant, complex, and with higher-than-average stakes. Strategy is the means to simplify and unify activity to get from point A to point B with greater clarity, effectiveness, confidence, and efficiency.

Planning without strategy is like feeling around in the dark. You may eventually find what you’re looking for, but it will most certainly be unpredictable and take longer than anticipated. You’ll run a greater risk of falling on your face along the way.

Here are three things you need to know about strategic planning, no matter what the challenge.

1. Strategy is about choice: Strategy is a word and concept that’s abused today. People love to use it because it sounds, well, strategic. Unfortunately, calling something a strategy doesn’t make it one. Strategy, to function as it’s intended, means making significant choices throughout the planning process. In any complex or challenging situation, such choices are hard. Something must be sacrificed to move in a true and distinct direction. If you’re not making hard choices in your planning, you need to ask how distinct, clear, and achievable your approach is.

2. Strategy fits between goals and plans: Strategy is not the most important thing. But good strategy is necessary and often critical to success. Once you’ve defined your goals, strategy comes next. To delineate between goals, strategy, and plans:

  • Goals answer, “What is the end for the effort?”
  • Plans, which follow strategy, answer, “What are the blueprints for success?”
  • Strategy is the point in between that answers, “In what way are we going to coordinate our efforts to get there?”

3. Strategy marries strength with opportunity: The beauty of strategy is that it coordinates and integrates activities around a common goal. What’s more, good strategy finds the sweet spot where strengths meet opportunity. If you identify an opportunity, yet have no strengths to take advantage, how effective will you be? Likewise, if your strengths abound in a certain area, yet no opportunities exist, your strategy could come up short. Know that to improve the odds of achieving your goals, your strategy will need to amplify your strengths, while playing to the opportunities at hand.

Whatever your challenge, follow these three fundamental principles for better strategic planning. Your strategy will be clear and coherent. What’s more, you’ll realize more successful outcomes sooner.

Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. Andy is the author of The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success. For more information visit thebighow.com.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel & Professional Teledata Complete HIPAA Assessment: Startel and Professional Teledata successfully completed their Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) assessment. This marks Startel’s fourth and Professional Teledata’s first assessment for HIPAA compliance and reinforces the companies’ commitment to protecting consumer data and privacy. The full HIPAA report is available to customers upon request. The companies will also sign Business Associate agreements with clients who require HIPAA compliance. Next year’s audit will include an assessment of Alston Tascom’s operating environment, data center, and solutions.

Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series 5.1 Now Avaya Compliant: Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series release 5.1 is compliant with key solutions from Avaya. Genesis users can keep metrics with customizable reporting, enhance accountability with call logging and video screen capture, connect remote agents, and manage automated dispatch and on-call scheduling. Genesis can operate in a virtual server environment or in the cloud, enabling growth without additional hardware—saving time and money. The application is compliance-tested by Avaya for compatibility with Avaya Aura® Session Manager 7.1 and Avaya Aura Communication Manager 7.1. Amtelco is a Technology Partner in the Avaya DevConnect program.

Startel Announces Unified Product Advisory Board: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom announced the members of the company’s unified product advisory board, representing each of the company’s three user groups: TeamSNUG, PINetwork, and TUG. Their primary responsibility is to provide input related to the company’s strategic product planning. Board members are Ryan Ambs, Kevin Bachelder, Luis Bedoya, Matt Bogan, Kristal Fye, Ken Goldenberg, Jodi Gregory, Peter Gross, April Kasza, Ray Shaw, John Vaughn, and Jeffrey Wood. Overseeing the board is Wayne Scaggs, director of corporate strategy. The board will meet three times during the next twelve months.

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


Quotes for the Month

“I like to say that arms are not for killing. They are for hugging.” -Betty Williams

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” -Eddie Rickenbacker

“When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.” -unknown

Scheduling Answering Service Staff for Holidays

When Historical Data Can’t Predict Call Traffic, We Need to Guess

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderLast week we celebrated Independence Day in the United States. With it happening on a Wednesday, it threw a lot of people off. Me included. When July Fourth occurs on a weekend, there’s little impact on normal business activity. And when it falls on a Monday or Friday, it gives us a three-day weekend. Last year it was on Tuesday, which caused many companies to declare Monday as a day off, giving people a four-day weekend. I suppose the same could apply if it fell on a Thursday.

But what to do when it’s on a Wednesday? Some people viewed the whole week as a holiday week, while others viewed it as business as normal except for Wednesday, when they took the day off. And I talked to many people who saw this as an opportunity for a five-day weekend.

These various interpretations trickled down to expectations placed on answering services and affected their call traffic. Many schedulers wondered what to do. Normally historical information can project future trends, but with the holiday falling on a Wednesday, there wasn’t a historical model to follow, since I believe the last time July 4 occurred on a Wednesday was in 2012. And even if you have historical data from 2012, how relevant is it six years later in 2018?

Though we like to use data to determine our scheduling needs, sometimes it’s not possible. The best we can do is guess. When this occurs we realize that scheduling staff for an answering service is sometimes more art than science.

This also reminds us to appreciate our staff, for when our traffic projections fail us, and we make our staff busier than we want, it falls on them to bail us out. And they almost always do.

If your staff worked harder than usual last week, remember to thank them, and recognize their efforts. And if your schedule was right on target and caused no surprises, thank them anyway. They deserve 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

The July 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Scheduling Answering Service Staff for Holidays

When Historical Data Can’t Predict Call Traffic, We Need to Guess

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderLast week we celebrated Independence Day in the United States. With it happening on a Wednesday, it threw a lot of people off. Me included. When July Fourth occurs on a weekend, there’s little impact on normal business activity. And when it falls on a Monday or Friday, it gives us a three-day weekend. Last year it was on Tuesday, which caused many companies to declare Monday as a day off, giving people a four-day weekend. I suppose the same could apply if it fell on a Thursday.

But what to do when it’s on a Wednesday? Some people viewed the whole week as a holiday week, while others viewed it as business as normal except for Wednesday, when they took the day off. And I talked to many people who saw this as an opportunity for a five-day weekend.

These various interpretations trickled down to expectations placed on answering services and affected their call traffic. Many schedulers wondered what to do. Normally historical information can project future trends, but with the holiday falling on a Wednesday, there wasn’t a historical model to follow, since I believe the last time July 4 occurred on a Wednesday was in 2012. And even if you have historical data from 2012, how relevant is it six years later in 2018?

Though we like to use data to determine our scheduling needs, sometimes it’s not possible. The best we can do is guess. When this occurs we realize that scheduling staff for an answering service is sometimes more art than science.

This also reminds us to appreciate our staff, for when our traffic projections fail us, and we make our staff busier than we want, it falls on them to bail us out. And they almost always do.

If your staff worked harder than usual last week, remember to thank them, and recognize their efforts. And if your schedule was right on target and caused no surprises, thank them anyway. They deserve 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:

Need Blog Posts? 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. 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 Janet Livingston at janet@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. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.


3 Simple Training Tips to Boost Performance

By Cordell Riley

Training offers you the potential to dramatically increase profits and performance. Here are three tips to get that to happen for you.

1. Start with the End in Mind: Chances are you know where you would like to see improved performance or profits in your organization. But specifically what would those improvements look like? Would it be better online reviews or a 15 percent increase in sales? What?

Specific goals emerge when you define the business challenges you need to address. And once you have defined those issues and goals, you can determine if there is training that will assist in reaching them.

2. Develop an Appropriate Curriculum: Your curriculum should be designed to teach people the skills they need to learn or improve in their specific role. But developing an effective curriculum is more complex than simply defining skills. It should be right for the people in the roles who are performing the tasks and jobs that your training addresses. And it should be designed to have a focused, specific impact on the business items where you are trying to “move the needle” and bring about change.

An appropriate curriculum should consider how those lessons will be delivered: by a live trainer, on phones or tablets, enlivened with games and exercises, in short chunks, or longer lessons. Creating an effective curriculum depends on considering who your learners are, where they are, and how they would prefer to learn.

3. Measure Results, then Tweak and Adjust Your Training Accordingly: At this point, loop back to the decisions you made in the first step, when you started. Develop ways to measure the change you have brought about through training.

Once you are measuring, you can tweak, modify your training, and find ways to improve results. But one thing for certain? If you don’t measure and adjust, your training will never deliver the results it is capable of.

Cordell Riley is a sought-after keynote speaker and the owner and president of Tortal Training, a training development company that uses strategic engagement methodologies and specializes in developing mobile training platforms for organizations with distributed workforces.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Announces Renita Dorty As New Chief Customer Officer: Effective immediately, Renita Dorty will begin the new role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO) for Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom. This new position will be responsible for all aspects of the companies’ customer service strategies and will provide a comprehensive view of the user experience to create initiatives focused on maximizing customer retention, developing more efficient processes, and facilitating client communications. Dorty has thirteen years of experience in the contact center and telephone answering service (TAS) industry, most recently, as the executive vice president of Nationwide Inbound Inc.

Brad Swift Rejoins Amtelco: Amtelco has brought on Brad Swift as their contract service sales manager. Amtelco created this position in response to the growing need for call centers to quickly have access to the newest Amtelco software features. Brad will offer Amtelco contract services to help call centers get up-to-date with current technologies, assist with projects such as upgrading system software, and help with growth and future development. “Brad had a successful eighteen-year sales career with us in the past, serving our clients in Canada,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco president.

AnswerNet to Help Deaf Community: AnswerNet and Connect Direct have partnered to bring the deaf community to the forefront of today’s customer service solutions. With one million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States, little progress has been made in customer service communications. Companies can now allow customer service representatives to connect immediately with their deaf or hard of hearing consumers through video. The agents use American Sign Language (ASL), often the first language of deaf and hard of hearing people, to communicate with the consumer regarding their issue in a quick and efficient manner.

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


Quotes for the Month

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” -Thomas Pynchon

“Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.” -John Lithgow

“When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.” -unknown