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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

Welcome to Summer

Be Intentional to Make the Most Out of the Summer Season

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderEven though summer hasn’t officially begun, for most of us in the United States it effectively started after Memorial Day. It feels like summer, and I, for one, act like it’s summer. Though it’s been a while, here’s what I recall summer meaning in the answering service business.

More Traffic

With summer comes an increase in call traffic. As clients scale back their hours of operations to embrace a summer schedule and send more calls our way because of staff vacations, call traffic picks up. That means we need to schedule more agents, which we’ve already hired and trained. And for answering services with usage-based rates, this means a nice increase in revenue.

Increased Vacation Requests

Our staff, of course, also thinks about vacation during the summer more so than other times of the year. Often they wish to coordinate their vacation with their spouse’s and their kids’ summer vacation from school. And for those without constraints dictating a vacation schedule, summer seems to be the normal time to take one anyway. Ironically, this increased demand for vacation comes when we’re busier and need our staff in the office taking calls.

Fewer Sales

During the summer, sales can drop. Leads decrease and many that do come in are planning for the fall. Many businesses limit changes during the summer, putting off decisions until after Labor Day (in the United States) when a normal schedule reemerges.

Delayed Decisions

For me, I viewed summer is the time to catch up on projects but not to start new initiatives. I held those for the fall. I also strived to work less. Though I never succeeded in getting down to a forty-hour work week, for some reason I could get a little bit closer in the summer. I guess there were too many other things begging for my time.

Your experiences at your answering service may differ from mine. Or they may hold true for you today as much as they did for me then. Regardless be intentional about the summer season. What opportunities does it provide, either personally or for your answering service? Decide which opportunities to pursue and move toward them. Whatever they are, and however much progress you make, it should leave you better prepared to slide into fall in three months.

Have a great summer!

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 June 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Welcome to Summer

Be Intentional to Make the Most Out of the Summer Season

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader

Even though summer hasn’t officially begun, for most of us in the United States it effectively started after Memorial Day. It feels like summer, and I, for one, act like it’s summer. Though it’s been a while, here’s what I recall summer meaning in the answering service business.

More Traffic: With summer comes an increase in call traffic. As clients scale back their hours of operations to embrace a summer schedule and send more calls our way because of staff vacations, call traffic picks up. That means we need to schedule more agents, which we’ve already hired and trained. And for answering services with usage-based rates, this means a nice increase in revenue.

Increased Vacation Requests: Our staff, of course, also thinks about vacation during the summer more so than other times of the year. Often they wish to coordinate their vacation with their spouse’s and their kids’ summer vacation from school. And for those without constraints dictating a vacation schedule, summer seems to be the normal time to take one anyway. Ironically, this increased demand for vacation comes when we’re busier and need our staff in the office taking calls.

Fewer Sales: During the summer, sales can drop. Leads decrease and many that do come in are planning for the fall. Many businesses limit changes during the summer, putting off decisions until after Labor Day (in the United States) when a normal schedule reemerges.

Delayed Decisions: For me, I viewed summer is the time to catch up on projects but not to start new initiatives. I held those for the fall. I also strived to work less. Though I never succeeded in getting down to a forty-hour work week, for some reason I could get a little bit closer in the summer. I guess there were too many other things begging for my time.

Your experiences at your answering service may differ from mine. Or they may hold true for you today as much as they did for me then. Regardless be intentional about the summer season. What opportunities does it provide, either personally or for your answering service? Decide which opportunities to pursue and move toward them. Whatever they are, and however much progress you make, it should leave you better prepared to slide into fall in three months.

Have a great summer!

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.

 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.


5 Tips to Make Your Family Business Last

 By Mitzi Perdue

Seventy percent of family businesses don’t make it to the second generation. The big question is: how can you beat these odds? The biggest reason business families fall apart is that the family hasn’t developed the kind of culture that supports keeping the family business in the family. Families that leave this to chance rarely make it to the next generation.

So, how do you create this kind of culture?

  1. Know Your Family Stories: We are the stories we tell ourselves, and high-functioning families have heard their family stories over and over. Be intentional about telling these stories. The more stories, legends, myths, and parables, the stronger your family’s culture and the more likely your family business is to endure.
  2. Have Family Vacations: Whether your family vacation is a large group or a small one, having everyone spend time together greatly increases the chances of building a family business that lasts. A vacation means time set aside to share experiences, get to know and appreciate each other, and embed the family’s values.
  3. Subsidize a Family Vacation After You’re Gone: All too often when the patriarch or matriarch passes on, family members stop seeing each other. Soon, there’s nothing left, and family members have superficial relationships—or no relationship at all. A highly effective antidote to this is, leave money in your will to pay for a yearly get-together. Some families subsidize an annual dinner, while others pay for a nice vacation. ­­Endowed family get-togethers can be a highly-effective tool for helping the family business continue across the generations.
  4. Write a Family Newsletter: A newsletter can play a huge role in helping the family maintain a strong and vibrant culture. Include interviews with older family members or employees about the early days and some of the company’s struggles. Make it short, ideally no longer than one or two pages. You want people to read it.
  5. Get Help If You Need It: Fortunately, there’s a whole new ecosystem of family advisors who can help. There’s no such thing as a family business that doesn’t have conflict, and when there’s a serious family conflict, the pain from it can permeate every hour of every day.

Family harmony is so important, that anything you can do to nurture it is a wise investment. Many families don’t stay intact over the generations. The good news is, planning is something you can do, and even better, the implementation can be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Mitzi Perdue is a speaker, businesswoman, and 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 articles for consideration in our next issue.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel, Professional Teledata, & Alston Tascom Unveil Updates: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom revealed their new unified brand to users of all three of the companies’ software platforms at their first combined user group conference in Denver, Colorado. In conjunction with the new visual branding, content previously found on the three separate company websites is now located on a revamped and unified site, startel.com. The company also launched their new marketing resources center, making custom-branded promotional materials available to their customers. Last, they launched The Customer Spot (TCS), a new self-service customer portal.

New All-in-One Spectrum / Prism II Server: Amtelco hardware and software engineers designed the new Prism II server to run Spectrum, Prism II, and other applications from one server. In other Amtelco news, the Genesis Just Say It feature enhances the IS Navigation Menu feature by enabling callers to speak responses in addition to pressing telephone keypad digits. The Just Say It Navigation Menu features give callers the ability to access information and conduct transactions using either speech recognition or live operator involvement.

 Dan L’Heureux and Renita Dorty Receive Awards: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom recognized Dan L’Heureux and Renita Dorty during the companies’ first combined user group conference in Denver, Colorado. Dan L’Heureux is the recipient of the 2018 Allen Kalik Award, and Renita Dorty is the recipient of the 2018 Don Berry Award of Excellence.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Updates Secure Messaging: Startel Corporation released Startel Secure Messaging Plus (SM+). Many new features and enhancements were part of this release, including the ability to respond to group messages and allow the forwarding of messages. SM+ is a two-way direct messaging solution that allows users to securely send and receive messages, including those containing sensitive information. All message content and attachments sent and received on devices using SM+ are encrypted. SM+ is available as a stand-alone, web-based solution or integrated with the Startel CMC. The SM+ app is compatible with the latest versions of Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iTouch).

 Amtelco Introduces Genesis Just Say It Speech Recognition: The Genesis Just Say It feature enhances the IS Navigation Menu feature by enabling callers to speak responses in addition to pressing telephone keypad digits. It gives callers the ability to access information and conduct transactions using either speech recognition or live operator involvement. The application simplifies and speeds telephone calls, such as listening to what a caller says to interact with them and understand their meaning based on pre-defined parameters. This makes it possible to increase call handling capabilities and call traffic volumes while decreasing labor costs and other operating expenses.

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


Quotes for the Month

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” -Jean Paul Richter

“He that will not sail until all dangers are over, will never put to sea.” -Thomas Fuller

“Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.” -unknown

Tips for Selling Shoes and Answering Service

Mishandling Leads Will Result in Lost Sales

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderOver a decade ago, in my article “I Want To Buy Some Shoes,” I used my experience buying a pair of sneakers to talk about the TAS industry. Now, I’ll do it again. With my wife serving as my accomplice, she guided me into the inner workings of that dreaded place called the mall.

Ignoring Leads

Tips for Selling Shoes and Answering ServiceThe first place was a small storefront, empty of shoppers, but with a staff of two. We had to brush by them to reach the tennis shoe display. They continued their rapt conversation with each other and ignored us.

The same thing happens at too many answering services. Their marketing campaign brings in the leads, but the salespeople ignore them. Then they complain about their low commission checks. And before you assure yourself that this doesn’t occur at your TAS, submit an inquiry, and see what happens.

Mismanaging Leads

The second store was larger and busier. There the employees helped some customers, but not us. Unable to get assistance, we left.

A second problem answering services face is mismanaging leads. Yes, lead management is a balancing act, but it’s a balance to pursue. Otherwise viable leads leave and go someplace else.

Distracted Lead Follow Up

I browsed the third store until I found a couple pairs I wanted to try. We failed in making eye contact with anyone to get assistance. Frustrated, my wife marched to the cash register and asked for help. One person obliged. He was a personable young man who worked to move us from prospect to buyer, but I must have taken too long to decide. He moved to another customer. Though I was close to making a purchase, we left instead.

Leads never come at a controllable pace. But wise salespeople manage them well and don’t let one lead distract them from others.

Judging Leads

At the fourth store, employees scurried around trying to help customers. As we waited our turn, a young man hustled toward the stockroom. “What cha need?” he asked. I pointed to a shoe on display. He nodded. “Size?” I answered. Before the storeroom door could swing closed he was back, almost tossing me a box of shoes. They weren’t comfortable, and I looked for another pair. The next time he brushed by, he said, “What cha think?” I shook my head, but before I could point to another pair, he said “Thanks for stopping by.” Then he sped off. That’s when I realized we were the oldest people in this store catering to teens and Millennials. True, most of the styles didn’t appeal to me, but some would have worked.

If only he hadn’t dismissed me as a nonviable buyer. How often do your salespeople do that?

Attending to Leads

Though the staff on the floor at the fifth store was busy helping other customers, they acknowledged our presence. Before long someone emerged from the stockroom to help. Though she wasn’t polished in sales or particularly knowledgeable about shoes, she gave us her full attention. She worked with us until we found a pair that fit and I liked. With patience, she waited as I pondered my decision. I bought them, even though they cost more than I wanted to pay. Notice that it wasn’t her product knowledge that sold me; it was her attentiveness.

Now my remaining objective was to escape the mall before I had a panic attack.

Being attentive to leads, helpful, and patient is the best way to move prospects into buyers. This is true in any industry, whether selling shoes or selling answering services.

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 May 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Tips for Selling Shoes and Answering Service

 Mishandling Leads Will Result in Lost Sales

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader

Over a decade ago, in my article “I Want To Buy Some Shoes,” I used my experience buying a pair of sneakers to talk about the TAS industry. Now, I’ll do it again. With my wife serving as my accomplice, she guided me into the inner workings of that dreaded place called the mall.

Ignoring Leads: The first place was a small storefront, empty of shoppers, but with a staff of two. We had to brush by them to reach the tennis shoe display. They continued their rapt conversation with each other and ignored us.

The same thing happens at too many answering services. Their marketing campaign brings in the leads, but the salespeople ignore them. Then they complain about their low commission checks. And before you assure yourself that this doesn’t occur at your TAS, submit an inquiry, and see what happens.

Mismanaging Leads: The second store was larger and busier. There the employees helped some customers, but not us. Unable to get assistance, we left.

A second problem answering services face is mismanaging leads. Yes, lead management is a balancing act, but it’s a balance to pursue. Otherwise viable leads leave and go someplace else.

Distracted Lead Follow Up: I browsed the third store until I found a couple pairs I wanted to try. We failed in making eye contact with anyone to get assistance. Frustrated, my wife marched to the cash register and asked for help. One person obliged. He was a personable young man who worked to move us from prospect to buyer, but I must have taken too long to decide. He moved to another customer. Though I was close to making a purchase, we left instead.

Leads never come at a controllable pace. But wise salespeople manage them well and don’t let one lead distract them from others.

Judging Leads: At the fourth store, employees scurried around trying to help customers. As we waited our turn, a young man hustled toward the stockroom. “What cha need?” he asked. I pointed to a shoe on display. He nodded. “Size?” I answered. Before the storeroom door could swing closed he was back, almost tossing me a box of shoes. They weren’t comfortable, and I looked for another pair. The next time he brushed by, he said, “What cha think?” I shook my head, but before I could point to another pair, he said “Thanks for stopping by.” Then he sped off. That’s when I realized we were the oldest people in this store catering to teens and Millennials. True, most of the styles didn’t appeal to me, but some would have worked.

If only he hadn’t dismissed me as a nonviable buyer. How often do your salespeople do that?

Attending to Leads: Though the staff on the floor at the fifth store was busy helping other customers, they acknowledged our presence. Before long someone emerged from the stockroom to help. Though she wasn’t polished in sales or particularly knowledgeable about shoes, she gave us her full attention. She worked with us until we found a pair that fit and I liked. With patience, she waited as I pondered my decision. I bought them, even though they cost more than I wanted to pay. Notice that it wasn’t her product knowledge that sold me; it was her attentiveness.

Now my remaining objective was to escape the mall before I had a panic attack.

Being attentive to leads, helpful, and patient is the best way to move prospects into buyers. This is true in any industry, whether selling shoes or selling answering services.

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. We can handle your SEO, too. 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 how.


Six Ways to Put Stories into Action

By Henry DeVries

Build an inventory of stories that demonstrate your core values in action. Then deploy the stories. In storytelling, context is everything. You should never randomly tell stories, but instead use stories at the right strategic times. Here are six perfect opportunities to persuade with a story:

  1. During the Job Interview: No, don’t start the interview telling stories. However, once the candidate has shared about themselves, then the interviewer can share stories about the core values of the organization.
  2. During a Training Class: Teach core values as a part of training. First, state the core value, and then explain what that means. For them to really get the point, tell a story about that core value in action.
  3. At Weekly Staff Meetings: One executive boasted that his organization had twenty-two core values, and they were on posters throughout the office. Asked if he had any stories to illustrate them, a little red faced he said, “No.” Now every week at staff meetings they tell a story to illustrate one of the twenty-two core values.
  4. At Company-Wide Meetings: Is it time to assemble all the troops? Maybe for a change in direction or for recognition? This is a perfect time for core value selling by telling stories.
  5. On the Company Website: Promote core value stories on your website to show clients and potential clients the power of your brand and services.
  6. In Company Brochures and Collateral Material: Since stories connect on an emotional level, doesn’t it make sense to put them in writing?

Storytelling helps persuade on an emotional level. That’s why so many Fortune 500 companies are homing in on storytelling techniques and imparting that wisdom on their sales and business development professionals to tell relatable stories that will convince prospects.

Henry DeVries, CEO of Indie Books International, teaches sales and business development professionals how to build an inventory of persuasive stories.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Updates Secure Messaging: Startel Corporation released Startel Secure Messaging Plus (SM+). Many new features and enhancements were part of this release, including the ability to respond to group messages and allow the forwarding of messages. SM+ is a two-way direct messaging solution that allows users to securely send and receive messages, including those containing sensitive information. All message content and attachments sent and received on devices using SM+ are encrypted. SM+ is available as a stand-alone, web-based solution or integrated with the Startel CMC. The SM+ app is compatible with the latest versions of Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iTouch).

 Amtelco Introduces Genesis Just Say It Speech Recognition: The Genesis Just Say It feature enhances the IS Navigation Menu feature by enabling callers to speak responses in addition to pressing telephone keypad digits. It gives callers the ability to access information and conduct transactions using either speech recognition or live operator involvement. The application simplifies and speeds telephone calls, such as listening to what a caller says to interact with them and understand their meaning based on pre-defined parameters. This makes it possible to increase call handling capabilities and call traffic volumes while decreasing labor costs and other operating expenses.

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


Quotes for the Month

“Don’t be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.” -Arthur Miller

“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” -G.K. Chesterton

“With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.” -unknown