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The January 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

What Are Your Plans for This Year?

If you plan for nothing, that’s likely what you’ll achieve.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I’m a big advocate of planning. I have a plan for each day and a plan for the week. I have a plan for the month and for each quarter. I also have a plan for the year. It’s not elaborate, but it is written down. It guides me in all I do.

Do you have a plan for this year? If you don’t, no worries. Start one today. If you follow it with care, you’ll finish the year strong. Here are some ideas to consider:

Grow Your TAS

Most answering service owners and managers want to grow their business. No one wants to command a sinking ship. And few people enjoy working for a business that’s just floating along. No, we want to watch sales and revenue trend upward.

Your growth goal can be a percentage or a net number of new clients. You can make it aggressive or stay conservative. The main thing is to pursue an increase in size. This isn’t because bigger is better, but for economies of scale and increased revenue.

Pursue Opportunities

Every leader is surrounded with opportunities. The problem is seizing them. Too often, especially in the TAS industry, the focus becomes on dealing with the day-to-day, leaving no time for tomorrow, let alone the rest of the year.

These opportunities could include pursuing a new market, making an acquisition, or investing in technology. It might be time to reorganize your business, streamline operations, or overhaul sales and marketing. You can’t tackle all these items. That would be impossible. However, you can pursue one or maybe two. But if you don’t make it part of your annual plan, it’s likely you’ll never get around to it.

Resolve Problems

Just as there are opportunities all around us, we also have problems. (I often euphemistically call problems, opportunities. Because they are.) Problems seldom go away on their own. Instead they fester, getting bigger and badder with time. Pick the largest problem facing your TAS, and make it your goal to eliminate that problem this year.

Hire Key Staff

Most answering services are in a constant state of hiring. Because of the need to keep a full schedule of trained employees, it’s hard to divert attention to mid and upper-level management concerns. But we must. Should you add a position? Do you need to find a replacement for one person, so you can later promote them? Is there some work you should offload to give you more time to lead, strategize, and succeed?

As you plan for this year, don’t get carried away. Keep it simple. Make it attainable. Then by years’ end you can take inventory and celebrate the great things you accomplished.

May this be your best year yet.

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


Classified Ads:

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

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

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.


Top Ten Tips to Lift Your Leadership

By Elizabeth McCormick

To enhance your abilities as a leader, begin with an intentional mindset to lift your leadership with these ten tips:

  1. Listen to Your Staff: It’s important to ask for input, and listen to what your team has to say. When your staff feels valued, it improves their personal connection and overall commitment to the desired results.
  2. Make Tough Decisions: Your employees may not like every decision you make, but don’t let that scare you into not making the right decisions. For any decision, do your research and get feedback from your staff. If you are able, explain your decisions diplomatically and address concerns.
  3. Delegate to Staff: Many leaders diminish their potential by hoarding tasks because of fear. Great leaders are great delegators. Empower your team with delegated tasks, while not micromanaging them. Also give them the authority to ask questions and get help if needed. People will surprise you when you trust them.
  4. Admit When You’re Wrong: Everyone makes mistakes, and leaders are no different. When you make a mistake, be upfront with your employees. Your honesty will help open better trust and communication.
  5. Show Appreciation: When your team members do good work, make sure you let them know you noticed. Appreciation goes a long way, and as you incorporate a culture of gratitude, your staff will reciprocate with loyalty and a job well done.
  6. Be Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty: The most successful leaders won’t ever ask an employee to do something they aren’t willing to do themselves. People have more respect for leaders who aren’t afraid to jump in to help.
  7. Mentor Your Staff: If you help your staff become more successful, the whole team will benefit. The more you invest into your employees, the more they will give in return. Lead by example in a mentorship role. Others will follow your lead. This creates a culture where upcoming leaders develop a mindset of helping others.
  8. Bond Through a Social Cause: To lead effectively, you need to be a part of the team. Start a new social cause as a teambuilding activity and make sure you lead the way. To add even more lift to your leadership, adopt a charity to support within your community and get away from the office where you can get to know your staff better.
  9. Let Employees See You Learn: Leaders are learners. Let your team observe you learning a new skill, reading a book, or studying information. Encourage them to do the same.
  10. Keep Meetings Short: Although necessary, meetings can be disruptive and non-productive, especially if nothing was accomplished. Meetings should have a specific purpose and agenda that involves everyone in the room. The more you respect the time of your employees, the more they will respect you as a leader.

Improving your capacity to lead takes intentional effort. These tips will help you focus on what matters most.

Elizabeth McCormick is a keynote speaker specializing in leadership, sales, and safety presentations. A former US Army Black Hawk Pilot, and author of The P.I.L.O.T. Method: The 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life, Elizabeth teaches instantly applicable strategies to boost your employees’ confidence in their own leadership abilities.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Ron Violante Joins Szeto Technology: Szeto Technologies welcomed Ron Violante to its team. Ron has over thirty years’ experience in the TAS business as a sales representative and is familiar with the requirements that are needed in this industry. He is already well known within the TAS community with his knowledge and involvement in the answering service field. Based in Ohio, Ron began his new role December 2017. Charles and his team welcome Ron to their family and wish him success in his new role.

Pete Glihooly Joins Call Center Sales Pro: Call Center Sales Pro hired Pete Gilhooly as director of hospital call centers. In this new position he’ll finetune and rollout the organization’s operational model for hospital call centers. Janet Livingston, founder of Call Center Sales Pro, brought Gilhooly on boardto further advance the company’s already successful efforts in this market. “Pete is a natural fit with the Call Center Sales Pro team,” Livingston said. “He brings three decades of telecom leadership experience to us, the last fifteen of which focus on healthcare.”

Amtelco Employee Awards Announced: Steve Bormett, of the Field Engineering Department, is the 2017 recipient of Amtelco’s William J. Curtin Employee of the Year award. The honor, conferred annually at year’s end, is named in remembrance of Amtelco founder William J. Curtin II, and is the most cherished award available to Amtelco employees. Other employee awards include Administration Employee of the Year, Jordan Beale; Operations Employee of the Year, Ken Marty; Service Employee of the Year: Thomas Jimenez; TAS Salesperson of the Year: Tom Lindsay; and 1Call Salesperson of the Year: Joe Curtin.

ATSI Awards Gold Call Center Re-Certification to ASCO: ATSI announced that ASCO, dba Answer Quick, again received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award and has done so continuously since the program’s inception in 2001. Beth Cooper, president of Answer Quick, a division of ASCO, Inc, is a pioneer and founding member of the committee and continuing advocate of the entire certification program. The certification, which requires a physical inspection every three years, indicates that Answer Quick has met or exceeded high standards, focusing on a 99.9 percent annual run time.

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


Quotes for the Month

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” -Naguib Mahfouz

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -Albert Schweitzer

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” -unknown

Pulsar360: full circle solutions

How Fast Do You Put Accounts on Service?

Speed Can Be a Strength or a Weakness

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

How long does it take you to put a new client on service? How long should it take? I’m sure you can answer the first question quickly. And I imagine there might be a bit of angst in considering your response to the second one.

In a culture where people don’t want to wait, there’s a pressure to respond quickly when a business wants to use your answering service. But does that pressure to react fast push you to go too quickly?

Consider these scenarios.

Fast Activation: When you have a new client, everyone’s excited. You’re happy for more business, and they’re eager to begin using your answering service right away. You assign their number, and they give you their information. So, let’s go!

Many answering services strive to put new clients on fast. Sometimes they’re even answering calls before all the information has been entered. At times staff can answer a new client without first reviewing it and not being able to see the details they need to serve them well. Other times they can’t. In the push for fast activations, attention to detail and quality may suffer.

Some answering services are too fast in adding new accounts. In their pursuit of speed, they sacrifice quality. Do you want your first impression with a new client to revolve around an error caused by going too fast?

Methodical Training: To counter the downsides of a fast-activation strategy, other answering services carefully program the account, review and test the information, and train staff. This can take days, even a week or more. But will the client tolerate waiting so long? Remember, they’re impatient. They said, “Yes,” to your sales offer, so they should be good to go. You painted a great picture for the quality you provide, and they don’t realize that good things take time.

Some answering services are too slow in putting on accounts. The result is a delay that fails to impress your client. Is that how you want to begin your business relationship?

Just Right: There’s a middle ground that balances speed with attention to detail. What is it? One hour? By the end of the day? Within twenty-four hours?

There’s no right answer, but the solution is left for you to determine. Find a balance between going fast and being thorough. But don’t accept the status quo, either. Continually ask yourselves, “How can we improve?” Seek ways to do things both faster and better. But never sacrifice one in pursuit of the other.

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

The December 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

How Fast Do You Put Accounts on Service?

Speed Can Be a Strength or a Weakness

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

How long does it take you to put a new client on service? How long should it take? I’m sure you can answer the first question quickly. And I imagine there might be a bit of angst in considering your response to the second one.

In a culture where people don’t want to wait, there’s a pressure to respond quickly when a business wants to use your answering service. But does that pressure to react fast push you to go too quickly?

Consider these scenarios.

Fast Activation: When you have a new client, everyone’s excited. You’re happy for more business, and they’re eager to begin using your answering service right away. You assign their number, and they give you their information. So, let’s go!

Many answering services strive to put new clients on fast. Sometimes they’re even answering calls before all the information has been entered. At times staff can answer a new client without first reviewing it and not being able to see the details they need to serve them well. Other times they can’t. In the push for fast activations, attention to detail and quality may suffer.

Some answering services are too fast in adding new accounts. In their pursuit of speed, they sacrifice quality. Do you want your first impression with a new client to revolve around an error caused by going too fast?

Methodical Training: To counter the downsides of a fast-activation strategy, other answering services carefully program the account, review and test the information, and train staff. This can take days, even a week or more. But will the client tolerate waiting so long? Remember, they’re impatient. They said, “Yes,” to your sales offer, so they should be good to go. You painted a great picture for the quality you provide, and they don’t realize that good things take time.

>Some answering services are too slow in putting on accounts. The result is a delay that fails to impress your client. Is that how you want to begin your business relationship?

Just Right: There’s a middle ground that balances speed with attention to detail. What is it? One hour? By the end of the day? Within twenty-four hours?

There’s no right answer, but the solution is left for you to determine. Find a balance between going fast and being thorough. But don’t accept the status quo, either. Continually ask yourselves, “How can we improve?” Seek ways to do things both faster and better. But never sacrifice one in pursuit of the other.

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 for 2018. Should your answering service be listed on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out how.

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.


Coping Effectively with Clients Who Behave Badly

By Kate Zabriskie

As providers trying to deliver a great experience to clients, answering services need to identify what they want and don’t want their clients to do and pinpoint what people and processes they can put in place to realize the desired results.

Take these steps to obtain better results.

Audit: Experience your business from your clients’ vantage. You need to understand what happens to them before you can encourage or discourage behaviors.

Encourage What You Want: Next, identify the actions you want your clients to take, and put people and processes in place to encourage those behaviors. Do you and your staff model this behavior yourself?

Invite Clients to Participate in the Process: Like anyone else, most clients are more willing to help you reach your service goals if you remind them of the mutual benefit of lending a hand. Let folks know what they can do to aid the common cause, and make it easy for them to do it.

Discourage What You Don’t Want: Beyond communicating your desired end and encouraging clients to participate in achieving it, you need to ensure that you and your staff are not working against yourselves by inadvertent enablement.

Create Alternatives: Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, clients continue to behave in ways you don’t like. While it’s not always possible to creatively accommodate these people, often it is. Whatever the solution, it should never berate clients or accuse them. Instead, keep the message positive.

Left up to chance, you get what you get from clients, but with an understanding of your clients’ experience and by making deliberate choices, you can influence how people behave.

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.

[This is adapted from Kate’s article “They Did What?” in Article Weekly.]

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Introduces Tools to Ease Upgrades to IS and Genesis Platforms: Amtelco updated their Intelligent Series Transformer data portability utility. The Intelligent Series (IS) Transformer is a set of tools that transfer information from external sources to the IS database and from the IS database to external destinations. Each transformer tool runs in its own window within the IS supervisor application. The transformer tools are packaged in two optional features: IS Transformer Directory/Data and IS Transformer Client/Agent. For more information on IS Transformer, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148, info@amtelco.com, or visit callcenter.amtelco.com.

Alex Karanau Joins Call 4 Health as CIO: Call 4 Health hired Alex Karanau as their new chief information officer. With fifteen years of IT experience, including system administration, software engineering, and management, Alex provides leadership for an innovative, efficient, and secure IT environment at Call 4 Health. Prior to joining Call 4 Health, Alex worked as a consultant for small to medium size businesses and was a technical lead for numerous projects in a multibillion-dollar hospitality-company. Alex graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and maintains certifications from leading IT providers.

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


Quotes for the Month

“People forget years and remember moments.” -Ann Beattie

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” -Arthur Rubinstein

“A will is a dead giveaway.” -unknown

Be Thankful for Your Staff

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

We will celebrate Thanksgiving Day next week in the United States. And our friends to the north celebrated it last month. Aside from having a day off from work—not that anyone in the answering service industry ever gets a day off, especially holidays—Thanksgiving is a time for us to think about things we’re thankful for.

Top on most people’s list is family and friends. Other items might include our business or job. For most of us who work in the answering service industry, this implies we’re thankful for our clients who provide revenue and our staff who serve our clients.

Where would we be without our staff? This fall let’s take time to thank our employees for all the work they do to handle our clients’ communication needs and keep our business open.

Thankful Minds: We start with the realization that without our answering service staff, we would have no business to run and no clients to serve. Without our staff, we’re nothing. Even though we deal with staffing issues and employee problems from time to time, the reality is that our staff is essential to all that we do. Instead of complaining about errors, attendance, and attitudes, we should develop a perspective of thankfulness. Let’s focus on the positive elements of our employees, because they give us much to be positive about.

Thankful Words: Once we have adjusted our outlook to be thankful for our staff, we need to let them know what our mind is thinking. We must take time to thank them for their work. While some managers feel there’s no need to thank employees for merely showing up and doing the job they were hired to do, that’s an old-school perspective. We need to take time to tell our staff we appreciate them. Thank them for coming to work. Thank them for trying to always do their best. Thank them for trying extra hard on a difficult phone call we’d have surely hung up on. Thank them for smiling most all the time. A simple word of thanks can go a long way in helping our employees feel appreciated.

Thankful Actions: Having the right attitude and saying the right words is a great start. But let’s build upon our thankful words with thankful actions. What actions can we do to show our thanks? While there’s no single right answer, there are many possible ideas. For some people a handwritten note or thoughtful card means a lot. For other people a bonus in their paycheck or even an envelope with cash speaks volumes. How about having a party just because? (Of course, we’d never have a party on Thanksgiving. Let’s save it for when the call traffic returns to normal.) Being publicly recognized goes a long way with others. What about a small gift, even a trinket, that reminds them—every time they look at it—of how thankful we are for them and their work?

We can use the celebration of Thanksgiving as a reminder to be thankful for our staff. Yet what we do in this season, we should carry over throughout the whole year. We need to be thankful for our staff and the work they do 365 days a year, 24/7.

When was the last time you thanked your employees?

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 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Be Thankful for Your Staff

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

We will celebrate Thanksgiving Day next week in the United States. And our friends to the north celebrated it last month. Aside from having a day off from work—not that anyone in the answering service industry ever gets a day off, especially holidays—Thanksgiving is a time for us to think about things we’re thankful for.

Top on most people’s list is family and friends. Other items might include our business or job. For most of us who work in the answering service industry, this implies we’re thankful for our clients who provide revenue and our staff who serve our clients.

Where would we be without our staff? This fall let’s take time to thank our employees for all the work they do to handle our clients’ communication needs and keep our business open.

Thankful Minds: We start with the realization that without our answering service staff, we would have no business to run and no clients to serve. Without our staff, we’re nothing. Even though we deal with staffing issues and employee problems from time to time, the reality is that our staff is essential to all that we do. Instead of complaining about errors, attendance, and attitudes, we should develop a perspective of thankfulness. Let’s focus on the positive elements of our employees, because they give us much to be positive about.

Thankful Words: Once we have adjusted our outlook to be thankful for our staff, we need to let them know what our mind is thinking. We must take time to thank them for their work. While some managers feel there’s no need to thank employees for merely showing up and doing the job they were hired to do, that’s an old-school perspective. We need to take time to tell our staff we appreciate them. Thank them for coming to work. Thank them for trying to always do their best. Thank them for trying extra hard on a difficult phone call we’d have surely hung up on. Thank them for smiling most all the time. A simple word of thanks can go a long way in helping our employees feel appreciated.

Thankful Actions: Having the right attitude and saying the right words is a great start. But let’s build upon our thankful words with thankful actions. What actions can we do to show our thanks? While there’s no single right answer, there are many possible ideas. For some people a handwritten note or thoughtful card means a lot. For other people a bonus in their paycheck or even an envelope with cash speaks volumes. How about having a party just because? (Of course, we’d never have a party on Thanksgiving. Let’s save it for when the call traffic returns to normal.) Being publicly recognized goes a long way with others. What about a small gift, even a trinket, that reminds them—every time they look at it—of how thankful we are for them and their work?

We can use the celebration of Thanksgiving as a reminder to be thankful for our staff. Yet what we do in this season, we should carry over throughout the whole year. We need to be thankful for our staff and the work they do 365 days a year, 24/7.

When was the last time you thanked your employees?

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 answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com. For less than a dollar a day, you can’t miss. Join other industry leaders on this newly redesigned TAS locator site. Email Valerie for details.


The TAS Industry Responds to Help Its Own

By Lina Cunningham

The past couple of months we have been hit hard by hurricanes, earthquakes, and natural disasters, as well as some not-so-natural gunmen tragedies. My heart goes out to all of those and their families who have been affected by these devastating circumstances.

Following hurricane Harvey, NAEO pulled together with the help of CAM-X and ATSI members, to raise funds for those in need, by establishing the NAEO Relief Fund. NAEO offered to match all donations up to 10,000 dollars. The contributions flooded in.

The relief fund’s mission is to provide financial assistance to needy employees of TAS industry companies who experience a natural disaster or suffer unexpected personal hardship. In a very short time we raised $44,500, and we received twenty-two applications for assistance.

After reviewing some very heart-wrenching stories from applicants, we are humbled to announce that all twenty-two requests were granted. Each recipient received the maximum disbursement amount of $1,500.

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all who made donations. A big thank you goes out to the Maryann Wetmore Foundation for a generous $10,000 donation. I would also like to give a special “Thank you” to CAM-X members and Linda Osip who participated in a challenge that helped raise $11,573.84 CAD. Combined with the individual donations made on the NAEO website and the contribution matched by NAEO, our expectations were pleasantly exceeded.

I know these donations will be put to good use and are very much appreciated by the recipients. I’m proud to be a part of a group of people who care so much for each other. Thank you all.

If you would like to donate, it’s not too late.

Lina Cunningham is the NAEO president, 2017.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Call Center Sales Pro Taps Chris Calhoun as VP of Operations: Call Center Sales Pro announced that Chris Calhoun has joined their team to fill the newly created position of vice president of operations. In this role, Calhoun will focus on optimizing the company’s infrastructure to maximize staff effectiveness to better serve clients. Janet Livingston, founder of Call Center Sales Pro, brought Calhoun on board to provide added structure to her mission to serve the call center industry. “Chris brings the leadership and team-building skills to the table that will allow us to better scale Call Center Sales Pro,” Livingston said. “This will enable us to provide more services, products, and innovations to the call center and contact center industry.” Calhoun added, “I look forward to bringing my thirty plus years of leadership, management, and systematic approach to human performance to the Call Center Sales Pro team.”

Amtelco Announces miSecureMessages Version 6.6: New features in miSecureMessages (MSM) version 6.6 were developed in collaboration with members of the miSecureMessages Certified Partner program and MSM app users and are designed to make it easier to use. These include contact importing, email registration, password expiration and reset, personal circle, fingerprint scanning, and more group settings. Many system settings are configurable on a per-group basis allowing device-to-device messaging, registration type, default notification attempts and interval, and the IS web settings.

OnviSource Rolls Out ia.Enterprise: OnviSource announced ia.Enterprise, a new generation of customer experience management (CXM) and business process automation (BPA) integrated solutions. It’s driven by intelligent automation capabilities. The solutions automate the customer journey including the steps before, during, and after customer engagement. “We are experiencing an emerging customer environment that is connected, mobile, and demanding, challenging enterprises to better understand their customers’ demands, behavior, and sentiment to positively manage their customers’ experience,” said Ray S. Naeini, CEO and chairman of OnviSource. Several ia.Enterprise solutions have been deployed and are in use by OnviSource customers.

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


Quotes for the Month

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” -Helen Keller

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Responding to Industry Consolidation

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

As the telephone answering service industry continues to consolidate amid a sellers’ market, it leaves many wondering what the future looks like as they contemplate their long-term strategy. There are three general scenarios that apply to most any situation: buy, sell, or stay.

Buy: Some large players, both from outside the industry and from within, continue their buying spree. While most of the good deals have been snatched up, there still exists many attractive targets. The objectives of this strategy vary. For some it’s the cash flow. For others it’s to pursue economy of scale. And for still others it’s the basic driving force that bigger is better. Regardless, these folks continue to make their acquisitions in pursuit of their core objective.

Three essential steps exist for those who by answering services. First is the ability to strike a sound deal. Second is to orchestrate a smooth transition. And third, which some people skip, is optimizing the acquisition for maximum financial results.

Some mid-sized players wonder if they should pursue this strategy. If it meets their objective, yes. However, they might fit better in one of the next two groups.

Sell: Some single location answering services (and perhaps all at one time or another) wonder if they should sell. This is a legitimate question, especially given the sellers’ market and the competition that exists across North America. Selling could make for a smart exit strategy.

For answering services pursuing this scenario, the goal is to do everything possible to make the answering service attractive to a potential buyer. This means maximizing EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). Items included in this pursuit include maximizing the profitability of each account, eliminating unnecessary spending, and removing owner perks from the equation. Each step made to improve EBITDA will serve to increase the sales price.

Stay: The remaining group of answering services are interested in neither buying nor selling. They want to maintain their operation as a single location answering service. Although there are many strategies to allow this to work successfully, the most promising one is to implement a niche and then pursue it for growth and profitability.

This niche could be a certain segment of the market, a unique way of on boarding or serving clients, or a compelling marketing vision that sells the company image as much as its service. Many answering services are successfully pursuing this course, proving that it can be done. But don’t copy their specific strategy. Instead tweak it to make your own.

When done strategically and intentionally, any of these options can produce a successful outcome. And that’s good for the industry and for its clients.

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 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Responding to Industry Consolidation

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

As the telephone answering service industry continues to consolidate amid a sellers’ market, it leaves many wondering what the future looks like as they contemplate their long-term strategy. There are three general scenarios that apply to most any situation: buy, sell, or stay.

Buy: Some large players, both from outside the industry and from within, continue their buying spree. While most of the good deals have been snatched up, there still exists many attractive targets. The objectives of this strategy vary. For some it’s the cash flow. For others it’s to pursue economy of scale. And for still others it’s the basic driving force that bigger is better. Regardless, these folks continue to make their acquisitions in pursuit of their core objective.

Three essential steps exist for those who by answering services. First is the ability to strike a sound deal. Second is to orchestrate a smooth transition. And third, which some people skip, is optimizing the acquisition for maximum financial results.

Some mid-sized players wonder if they should pursue this strategy. If it meets their objective, yes. However, they might fit better in one of the next two groups.

Sell: Some single location answering services (and perhaps all at one time or another) wonder if they should sell. This is a legitimate question, especially given the sellers’ market and the competition that exists across North America. Selling could make for a smart exit strategy.

For answering services pursuing this scenario, the goal is to do everything possible to make the answering service attractive to a potential buyer. This means maximizing EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). Items included in this pursuit include maximizing the profitability of each account, eliminating unnecessary spending, and removing owner perks from the equation. Each step made to improve EBITDA will serve to increase the sales price.

Stay: The remaining group of answering services are interested in neither buying nor selling. They want to maintain their operation as a single location answering service. Although there are many strategies to allow this to work successfully, the most promising one is to implement a niche and then pursue it for growth and profitability.

This niche could be a certain segment of the market, a unique way of on boarding or serving clients, or a compelling marketing vision that sells the company image as much as its service. Many answering services are successfully pursuing this course, proving that it can be done. But don’t copy their specific strategy. Instead tweak it to make your own.

When done strategically and intentionally, any of these options can produce a successful outcome. And that’s good for the industry and for its clients.

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 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.

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.


Hurricane Harvey Help

By Janet Livingston

Over the years, I’ve been in a lot of answering services. I’ve seen it all, but one thing I never see enough of is the willingness of one answering service to help another during a crisis. I saw this again with hurricane Harvey.

As the tempest bore down on the Texas coast, answering services scrambled to ensure they could provide continuous operations to their clients at this critical juncture. One coastal answering service experienced a direct assault. Fortunately their facility withstood the hurricane’s beating and remained intact. Unfortunately many of their staff were affected and unable to make it in to work.

For some the storm had left them homeless. Survival suddenly became their number one priority. Others were relatively unaffected, but they were unable to reach the office due to flooding and impassable roads. The remaining employees, who could make it in, couldn’t handle the number of calls backing up in queue. This included their normal call traffic as well as additional emergency communication.

Almost 1,000 miles away another answering service was poised to help. Management alerted staff to go on standby and be ready to supplement the work of other answering services, should they need assistance.

Within hours the operators at this remote answering service were on the phone, taking calls for the hurricane-ravaged answering service and its displaced staff who they had never met. Using a VPN (virtual private network) connection, the remote staff tapped into the distant answering service’s system.

Before taking calls, however, these operators had to familiarize themselves with the specific configuration and protocol the other staff followed. Fortunately both services used the same answering service platform. Because if this commonality, the remote staff could get up to speed quickly and begin taking calls.

During this time the remote answering service provided the staff needed to round out the schedule of this distant answering service. This went on for two weeks, providing an additional three to four operators for both first and second shift. For a time, they also covered overnights.

This is one more example of how our industry helps its own, with two services working together to serve clients. This is one of the reasons I love this industry. Entrepreneurs ready to help one another during difficult times.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier telephone answering service consultancy, which helps clients grow their revenue. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Releases Contact Management Center v14

Startel Corporation announced the availability of Startel Contact Management Center (CMC) v14. “With this latest release, Startel continues the advancement of the Startel Contact Management Center and its commitment to helping enhance the overall customer experience,” said Brian Stewart, chairman and CEO of Startel. The CMC v14 release includes client scrub (to help maintain HIPAA compliance), multi-site responses, enhanced search function, skip voice record (for HIPAA, PCI, and HITRUST compliance), and SMS replies tied to the last message sent to the replying device (to help users to locate and respond to conversations quickly).

Rochester Telemessaging Receives Gold Certification

Rochester Telemessaging Center re-qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award for the fourth consecutive time, originally qualifying in 2008. The certification, provided by the Association of Teleservices International, indicates that Rochester Telemessaging Center (RTC) has met or exceeded high performance standards. “As Michigan’s only ATSI-24/7 Certified Call Center, Rochester Telemessaging Center demonstrates a continuing effort to bring the highest quality to the telephone answering service industry,” said Dan L’Heureux, certification examiner. Ryan Chinoski, RTC director of operations, noting the industry’s competitiveness, stated, “One way we are able to differentiate ourselves is by third-party testing.”

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


Quotes for the Month

“What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?” -Adam Smith

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” -Steve Jobs

“A dentist and a manicurist fought tooth and nail.” -unknown

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What’s Your Exit Strategy?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

If you own a telephone answering service, you spend a lot of time thinking about the future. And if you’re not the owner, you should also consider what’s ahead. More on that later.

Future considerations for owners may include growth, acquisition, or new technology. However, when you think about the future, you should also plan your exit strategy. There are four options to consider when it’s time to scale back or retire.

Sell to Employees or Family: Look to those around you, to your staff and your family, for people who could take over your answering service and buy it from you. And if you sell to a family member, make sure they understand the industry and know how to run the business. Identify these potential people, and then groom them to take over.

Sell to Another Company: Aside from employees and family, you can also look to sell to another answering service or to an investor outside the industry. Going this route may produce the highest selling price, but it might be at the sacrifice of your legacy, staff, or clients. Balance the pros and cons.

Work Until the End: By intention, or sometimes not, business owners continue in their role until the day they die. This eliminates the need for an exit strategy, but it passes the burden on to their heirs. Do them a favor and leave them with a plan.

Shut Down the Business: Some answering services, especially small ones, assume the business has no value, so they close their doors. There’s no reason to do that. Though you may not have a big enough operation to attract high-dollar buyers, your accounts do have value and other services are anxious to buy them.

This discussion focuses on answering service owners, but what if you’re a manager? Then consider these four scenarios, and envision how you can be part of the business owner’s exit strategy. This may involve a direct discussion, or it may require a subtler approach. Either way the potential exists for you to end up as an answering service owner. And then you can form your own exit strategy.

The key is to make a plan, and then work the plan.

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

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The September 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

What’s Your Exit Strategy?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

If you own a telephone answering service, you spend a lot of time thinking about the future. And if you’re not the owner, you should also consider what’s ahead. More on that later.

Future considerations for owners may include growth, acquisition, or new technology. However, when you think about the future, you should also plan your exit strategy. There are four options to consider when it’s time to scale back or retire.

Sell to Employees or Family: Look to those around you, to your staff and your family, for people who could take over your answering service and buy it from you. And if you sell to a family member, make sure they understand the industry and know how to run the business. Identify these potential people, and then groom them to take over.

Sell to Another Company: Aside from employees and family, you can also look to sell to another answering service or to an investor outside the industry. Going this route may produce the highest selling price, but it might be at the sacrifice of your legacy, staff, or clients. Balance the pros and cons.

Work Until the End: By intention, or sometimes not, business owners continue in their role until the day they die. This eliminates the need for an exit strategy, but it passes the burden on to their heirs. Do them a favor and leave them with a plan.

Shut Down the Business: Some answering services, especially small ones, assume the business has no value, so they close their doors. There’s no reason to do that. Though you may not have a big enough operation to attract high-dollar buyers, your accounts do have value and other services are anxious to buy them.

This discussion focuses on answering service owners, but what if you’re a manager? Then consider these four scenarios, and envision how you can be part of the business owner’s exit strategy. This may involve a direct discussion, or it may require a subtler approach. Either way the potential exists for you to end up as an answering service owner. And then you can form your own exit strategy.

The key is to make a plan, and then work the plan.

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


Classified Ads

Blog Posts: Need content for your TAS website or answering service newsletter? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Nonexclusive content starts at only $25 per post. Email Peter for more info.

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.


How Do You Measure Up?

By Janet Livingston

In my presentation at the ATSI convention this year, I spoke about “High Performance Sales.” I shared some alarming stats to highlight the need for salespeople to diligently follow up with prospects.

Four Shocking Facts:

  • 48 percent of salespeople never follow up with a prospect: This means almost half of all salespeople ignore leads. The survey didn’t say if this was because they were busy, lazy, or forgot. But any reason is inexcusable. It could also mean that salespeople make judgment calls about lead quality and cherry pick who to call. Shame on them. They’ll never know for sure if it’s a good lead until they pick up the phone and call.
  • 25 percent of salespeople make a second call and then stop: Of the salespeople who bother to call prospects, one fourth stop after two contacts. Though this is better than nothing, it’s barely better. (More on this later.)
  • 12 percent of salespeople make three contacts and then stop: One out of eight salespeople make three calls. This may seem good, but it’s not. (We’ll see why in a moment.)
  • Only 10 percent of salespeople make more than three contacts: Just one out of ten salespeople bother to contact a prospect more than three times. Statistically these are when most sales occur. We’ll classify the outcomes for the other nine salespeople as failures. You don’t want them on your team.

Here’s Why Follow-up is So Critical:

  • 2 percent of sales are made on the first contact.
  • 3 percent of sales are made on the second contact.
  • 5 percent of sales are made on the third contact.
  • 10 percent of sales are made on the fourth contact.
  • 80 percent of sales are closed after four calls, usually on the fifth to twelfth contact.

In combining these two sets of numbers, we see that 90 percent of salespeople make three calls or less and account for 10 percent of all sales. Now look at the other end of the spectrum. That one salesperson who makes more than three contacts closes 90 percent of the sales.

This shows why following up with prospects is so critical. This also shows why sales managers need a system to ensure their sales staff follow up an appropriate number of times. What’s that number? Not three, not two, and certainly not one, but at least twelve times.

Even more important is for sales managers to make sure their staff follow up with every prospect, and that they don’t dismiss a single one.

Follow up is the key to sales success. Anything less is sales failure.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier telephone answering service consultancy, which helps clients grow their revenue. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or 800-901-7706.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Announces Merger with Alston Tascom

Startel Corporation announced that effective September 1, 2017, Alston Tascom is a wholly owned business unit of Startel. In September 2015, Startel also acquired Professional Teledata. “We are thrilled to combine three of the telephone answering service’s top providers to form the industry’s premier choice for on-premise and cloud contact center solutions and services,” said Brian Stewart, chairman and CEO of Startel and Professional Teledata.

“The synergies the combined company will generate will be of tremendous benefit to current and future customers,” said Wayne Scaggs, president of Alston Tascom. “I am excited for the opportunities the merger will bring.” Wayne Scaggs, will join the senior management team of Startel and Professional Teledata to help lead the combined company.

 ASTAA Workshop a Success

Maryellen Pruitt became the new executive director of ASTAA just in time to support the supervisor workshop “You Can Move Mountains,” held in Baltimore. “There is nothing like trial by fire,” said Jim Reandeau, president of ASTAA.

“Maryellen was a delight to work with at the supervisor workshop,” said presenter Donna West. “She took care of a few issues before I even knew they existed. Her support was invaluable. I know this is going to be a great relationship.” Maryellen has been a part of the industry since 1997. She also recently accepted a position as the new executive director of the Telecommunications Users Network (TUNe).

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


Quotes for the Month

“I want to walk through life instead of being dragged through it.” -Alanis Morissette

“Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s levels of aspiration and expectation.” -Jack Nicklaus

“If you take a laptop for a run you could jog your memory.” -unknown

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Don’t Be in a Hurry

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Last week I couldn’t log into one of my financial services accounts. I had three options: online help, email, or phone. I opted to call. That’s what you do when you’re in this industry.

I reached their automated attendant and listened to the prompts. After a couple of button pushes I reached a real person, perky and positive sounding. But before I could finish telling her what I needed, she interrupted me. Apparently anticipating what I was going to say, she knew just what to do. “Becky can help you. Let me transfer you.”

I expected to hear ringing. Instead I heard more prompts and after more button-pushing I heard the pleasant voice of the first person again. “I think I’m stuck in a loop.”

She didn’t apologize. “Yeah, it’s best to leave a message in voicemail. You’ll get a call back within 24 hours.”

I didn’t want to wait 24 hours. I wanted help right away. Isn’t that what phone support is for? I left a message and hung up.

I’m still waiting for a call back. Fortunately I figured out the problem myself.

Although the receptionist I talked to was pleasant and confident sounding, she also hurried to pass me on to someone else. Also, both times we talked, she interrupted me to offer her solution. Though the second time I was appropriately transferred to voicemail, I doubt she routed my call correctly the first time.

In the answering service industry, our agents may be tempted to make this same mistake. With callers holding in queue and likely growing less patient by the second, agents may feel pressure to complete their present call quickly and go to the next caller.

I understand this. I suspect it’s common at most answering services, but it shouldn’t be. There are two side effects when agents rush through one call to get the next:

Poor Service: The first outcome is poor customer service. This may result in the caller feeling they weren’t heard, the agent jumping to a wrong conclusion, or the agent handling the call inappropriately. In each scenario, the result is failure.

Lower Revenue: The second outcome of rushing through a call is less time spent talking. If you bill by the minute this means reduced revenue. Now I would never suggest you train agents to stretch calls to boost revenue, but you should train them to take as much time as they need to appropriately respond to the caller while they’re on the line. This will allow the caller to receive great service and end the conversation confident their concern was addressed.

You’ll see improved service, along with a decrease in complaints, as well as an increase in billing. And all it takes is a reminderer to your agents to slow down and not rush through their calls.

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.