Category Archives: Issues

Read the current issue of TAS Trader. (Scroll down to see past issues.)

The November 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Streamlined Billing and Collections

Increase Cash Flow by Shortening the Time Between Billing Cut Off and Payment Receipt

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As we look at ways to be a responsive answering service, one critical, but too-often overlooked, area is billing and collections. This affects cash flow and is a critical consideration in maintaining the financial viability of your answering service. Each additional day that you wait to receive payment is a day left with you trying to operate without the money that’s due you. 

Let’s look at some ways to streamline billing and collections.

Billing Cutoff Date: How close is your billing cutoff date to when you begin processing invoices? The goal is to make it as short as possible. If you bill monthly, what happens when the end of the month occurs on the weekend? What if it’s a long weekend? Do you wait until Monday or the next business day to begin work on billing? If so, that’s one, two, or even three extra days added to your collection cycle.

If you bill every twenty-eight days, you can strategically pick your billing cutoff date to when you can best work on it. This might be on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Billing Cutoff Time: When do you download or transfer your billing statistics? Though midnight is a logical cutoff time, does that make sense if you won’t start processing information until 9 a.m.? Though nine hours may not seem like much, it represents nine hours of billing that you can collect this billing cycle as opposed to the next one.

Regardless, the goal is to shorten the time between downloading your stats and sending invoices. Strive to make it the same day.

Sending Invoices: Most businesses today email their invoices. Do you? Mailing them adds an extra two or even three days to your collection cycle. Look for ways to get your invoices to your clients’ payables department as quickly as possible. Is texting invoices an option? Most people open text messages within a few minutes. That’s faster than email and much faster than snail mail.

Receiving Payments: Do you have clients mail you a check? That adds another couple of days to your collection cycle. Can you have them pay by credit card instead? Though credit card payments involve additional fees, it may be worth it to collect on time, especially for chronic late payers. What about ACH (Automated Clearing House) and ETF (electronic funds transfer)? These are low-cost ways to collect faster.

Related to credit card and ACH payment is timing. When do you process those payments? Is it when you generate the invoice, at the due date, or sometime in between? Shortening the number of days will allow you to collect faster and reduce your collection cycle. However, don’t change your processing timing without first clearly communicating the new policy to your clients.

Conclusion: Seek ways to shorten the time between your billing cutoff and receiving payment. This will improve your cash flow and increase the health of your answering service. For further information, explore two related accounting principles: average collection period and accounts receivable turnover.

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.

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

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.


The 5 Myths of Business Strategy

By Rich Horwath

The most important leadership behavior critical to company success is strategic thinking. As a good strategy is at the core of any organization’s success, it’s important to understand the five strategy myths that may hold back your team from reaching greater levels of success. 

Strategy Myth 1: Strategy Comes from Somebody Else: The strategy that you execute should be your own. 

Identify the corporate strategies, product strategies, functional group strategies, and your strategies. Then seek alignment.

Strategy Myth 2: Strategy Is a Once-A-Year Process: The number one driver of revenue growth is the reallocation of resources throughout the year from underperforming areas to areas with greater potential. Strategy is the primary vehicle for making these vital resource reallocation decisions.

Conduct a monthly strategy tune-up to review and calibrate strategies.

Strategy Myth 3: Execution Is More Important Than Strategy: The number one cause of bankruptcy is flawed strategy, not poor execution. Strategy and execution are both important, but all great businesses begin with an insightful strategy. 

Create strategy first. Then shape an execution plan.

Strategy Myth 4: Strategy Is About Beating the Competition: Attempting to be better than the competition results in competitive convergence. Doing the same things in the same ways as competitors, blurs the line of value between your company and competitors. 

Remember that competitive advantage is providing superior value to customers. It’s not beating the competition by being better.

Strategy Myth 5: Strategy Is the Same as Mission, Vision, and Goals: Since strategy is an abstract concept, it’s often wrongly interchanged with the terms vision, mission, and goals. Remember, mission is your current purpose, and vision is your future purpose. Goals are what you are trying to achieve, and strategy is how you will allocate resources to achieve your goals.

Conclusion: If left unchecked, strategy myths can cause you and your business to fail. The number one cause of business failure is bad strategy. Counter these strategy myths with right thinking and decisive action. Then watch your business soar.

Rich Horwath has helped more than 100,000 managers develop their strategy skills through live workshops and virtual training programs. To sign up for the free monthly newsletter Strategic Thinker, visit: www.StrategySkills.com. 

[This piece is adapted from Article Weekly. Read the full article.]

Industry News

Advantage TeleMessaging Turns 25: Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary on September 28th, 2019. Since 1994, they have been dedicated to the success of every one of their clients by striving to offer nothing less than excellence in customer service. Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. has grown from a one-agent, local answering service in West Reading, PA to a multi-award-winning, call management center with over 500 clients throughout the United States and Canada. Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. would like to express their gratitude to all of their clients throughout the years for helping them achieve this milestone. Here’s to another successful twenty-five years.

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


Quotes for the Month

“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” -Wendell Berry

“Education is the transmission of civilization.” -Will Durant

“Acupuncture: a jab well done.” -unknown

The October 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Ideas to Streamline Agent Training

Look to Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Instructing New Employees

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Last month we looked at ways to streamline answering service agent hiring. Now that they’re hired, the next step is to optimize their training. For this initiative, we have two potential goals. One is to train better, and the other is to train faster. Ideally we want to do both.

To address the speed element, we can look for ways to streamline training from both the company standpoint and the new hire perspective. When we streamline the trainer component, we reduce training costs and decrease trainer hours. When we streamline the trainee component, the new employee becomes productive faster and does so at a lower cost. This reduces the chance of them getting bored or frustrated during training and quitting. It also allows them to generate revenue for your answering service faster.

Here are some techniques to streamline agent training:

One-to-Many Instruction: The more agents you can train at the same time by one instructor, the more efficient that trainer will be. This has the highest potential at larger answering services that hire and train more employees. But smaller answering services that typically train one agent at a time, can still look to employ one-to-many training opportunities. Even if one trainer instructs two trainees, it will double the trainer’s output. But what about classroom-style environments with an instructor training four, eight, or even twelve employees at one time?

Though some aspects of training may require one-on-one instruction, look to minimize those instances whenever possible. This allows you to maximize the instructor’s effectiveness with one-to-many training scenarios.

Recorded Lessons: Look for segments of training that are highly repetitive. Record the instructor giving that lesson. Then have future trainees watch the recording. This is a one-time investment that you can use repeatedly for many new employees for months or even years. Just be sure to periodically review the recording to make sure the information hasn’t changed. When the recording becomes out-of-date, make a new one.

Self-Study Opportunities: Not every part of agent training requires an instructor. New employees can conduct some aspects of training by themselves. This may include reading training materials or engaging in hands-on interactive instruction. Though you might need to develop some of these tools yourself, you may be able to get others from your vendor or user group. Whenever possible, adapt what’s already provided instead of making your own.

Fast Productivity: Does your answering service have a high-volume account or a group of accounts that are easy to serve? It might be worthwhile to structure training so that your new hires can handle just this one high-volume account or a group of easy accounts quickly. This will let them gain experience early in the training process. And it will allow them to be productive much faster. 

After they’ve taken these specific types of calls for a while, they can return to training and prepare to handle your other accounts. Not only does this benefit your TAS by having these new hires handle billable transactions quickly, it also benefits the employee by giving them a break in their training and letting them take calls—which is what you hired them to do.

Summary: Streamline agent training to save money, improve results, and produce productive employees faster.

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:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.com.

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

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.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.


The 4 C’s of Customer Experience

By Tra Williams 

Remember the old saying that if you never expect anything then you’ll never be disappointed? Well, that might work on blind dates and birthday presents, but in business, expectations are impossible to avoid. Fortunately, if you properly position your business in the minds of your customers, you can mold their expectations in ways that are consistent with the service and value you provide. 

There are four foundational elements that define your customers’ expectations. Mastering all four is the key to exceeding your customers’ expectations every time and retaining their business.

1. Culture: Who you are is the key to what you should do and how you should do it. Potential customers begin to build a mental profile of your business the moment they become aware of it. They make assumptions about what to expect from the culture they observe. Subtle and not so subtle clues convey information and frame the expected tone of your interaction even before your initial contact. 

The key to mastering this element is to maintain consistency between the service you provide with your branding and messaging.

2. Credibility: An impressive depth of knowledge is nothing without parallel performance and vice versa. Your customer makes assumptions about your credibility because of and sometimes despite your performance. Knowledge of your industry isn’t enough. Past performance isn’t enough. 

The key to mastering this element is to know why and how, not just one or the other. 

3. Capacity: Revenues will not materialize without the infrastructure they require. How you execute at a smaller level creates expectations with customers of your ability to execute at a larger level. 

The key to mastering this element is to realize that preparation creates opportunity.

4. Command: Your command over the process should eliminate customer effort. Customers expect results without effort on their part. If a customer must call multiple times and talk to multiple people to yield results, your process has failed, and you have likely lost that customer’s business. On the contrary, effortless results yield ongoing business. 

The key to mastering this element is clear communication of a well-defined and effortless process.

Conclusion: Customers choose businesses that consistently meet or exceed their expectations. Your culture, credibility, capacity, and command define whether you exceed their expectations and gain a customer for life or fall short and send them to a competitor. 

Tra Williams is a speaker, business consultant, and author of the upcoming book Feed Your Unicorn. For more information, visit www.TraWilliams.com

 [This piece is adapted from Article Weekly. Read the full article.]

Industry News

Amtelco Offers Weekly Webinars: Amtelco conducts webinars every week to provide customers with up-to-the-minute solutions to their business needs. Many of the webinar topics were developed in collaboration with Amtelco customers. Some upcoming topics include: Web Agent, Telescan R1–R10 Update, MiSecureMessages, Migrating to Contact Architecture, Telescan Prism II, Introducing IS Genesis dashboard, Social Media Monitoring Opportunities, and Agent Status Lights. For more information or to access these webinars, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or webinars@amtelco.com.

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


Quotes for the Month

“Every student needs someone who says, simply, ‘You mean something. You count.’” -Tony Kushner 

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” -Peter Ustinov

“Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.” -unknown

The September 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Optimize Agent Hiring

Streamline Your Hiring Process to Realize Fast Results

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Have you ever offered a promising job candidate a position only for them to decline because they already accepted a job with another company? I have. I took too long. Even though they claim to have preferred to work for me, they grabbed the first job offer that came their way.

People today—including job seekers—have little patience. We live in a world that wants instant gratification, and we have little tolerance for waiting. Unless you want to continue to lose qualified candidates, you need to optimize your hiring process. Look for ways to make it more efficient so you can hire the best applicants before someone else does.

Don’t continue to follow yesterday’s hiring practices, because they’re no longer appropriate for today’s workplace. What is the average time between a job seeker first expressing interest and you hiring them? I hope your answer isn’t more than a week. Even a couple of days is too long. Can you get down to twenty-four hours? How about a same-day decision? Just how fast can you act?

Here is an idea to consider. Note that this isn’t a proven plan to follow but merely a possibility to spark your creativity:

Online Self-Assessment: Once you’ve captured a prospective employee’s attention, provide them with an online self-assessment tool that will allow them to determine if an answering service environment is a good fit for them. Present a series of questions that reflect work at your answering service. The more questions they answer “yes” to, the better fit they are. Score their answers. Then tell them: “People who score between X and Y tend to like working for our company, whereas people with lower scores may struggle to succeed in this position. Do you want to apply?” [Note: unless you take time to validate the outcome, don’t record their score or ask them their results. To avoid a legal quagmire, let them use this tool privately to determine if they want to move forward.]

This assessment occurs online and automatically without any involvement on your part.

Phone Screening Call: If they want to proceed after taking the online self-assessment, move them immediately to a prescreening evaluation over the phone. This is a standardized set of questions to rule out candidates who don’t fit your criteria, such as people wanting full-time work when you’re hiring part-timers or candidates seeking a business-hour’s position when your openings are for evening and weekends.

You should script the call flow so that any of your operators can conduct the phone screen call. Anyone who passes should move on to a phone interview.

Same Day Phone Interview: For candidates who pass the phone screen, give them the option of an immediate phone interview, or let them schedule one. Yes, an immediate phone interview. Connect them with your hiring manager or HR department. Again, this should be a structured process that will provide an instant pass/fail outcome.

Though you may prefer an in-person interview, remember that all their work at your answering service will take place over the phone, so a phone interview should be more indicative of their capabilities than an in-person meeting.

Make an Immediate Offer: For candidates who pass the phone interview, make an offer at that point. Don’t delay. Desiring to compare a group of candidates who pass the phone interview will not only take more time, but it also increases the risk of your best candidate receiving a job offer from someone else before you make yours.

Once you’ve made the offer, don’t push them for an immediate yes/no answer. Though some people will accept right away, others will want to think about it. If that’s the case, schedule a follow-up phone call.

This idealized hiring process could take less than an hour. Though it will require effort to fine-tune each step and compress it into a sixty-minute procedure, you can do it.

Now your next task is to optimize your onboarding and training process to make it just as efficient.

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.

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.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 online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.


Reactions: The Superpower You Didn’t Know You Had

By Jennifer Powers

If you want to take more control of your reality you need to take more control of your reactions. But how do you do that? Start with this simple three-step formula:

1. Observe and Resist Your Knee-Jerk Reaction: Observe how you tend to react when things don’t go your way and resist going there. Give yourself time and space to allow any negative reactions to flow through you.

By pausing, you allow your “fight or flight” mechanism time to calm down. This gives yourself a second to regain your composure. Consider taking deep belly breaths, counting to ten, or humming a tune. This will occupy the space that a crappy reaction would normally take.

2. Ask Yourself a Question: To redirect your focus, ask yourself a question. Not just any question, but one that will help you shift into a more positive mindset from which you can react. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • What about this situation can I be grateful for?
  • What belief or opinion would serve me better?
  • How do I deserve to feel?
  • Who would love to switch places with me? 

Feel free to come up with your own powerful questions that will shift you into a positive mindset.

3. Answer the Question: You can’t skip this step. If you only ask yourself the question you are only halfway there. The shift in perspective and your ability to react from a more positive outlook occurs when you answer the question. This part may be challenging at first, but push through it because the payoff is big.

Then you can calmly respond.

Conclusion: Remember, seemingly bad things happen to everyone. You’re not alone. But you have way more power over your day than you may recognize. The moment you begin to take control of your reactions you begin to take control of your reality. 

Jennifer Powers, MCC is an international speaker, executive coach, author of the best-selling book “Oh, shift!” and host of the fun and binge-worthy “Oh, shift!” podcast. For more information visit www.ohshift.com.

[This piece is adapted from Article Weekly. Read the full article.]

Industry News

Amtelco Releases IS Social Media Monitor: The Intelligent Series (IS) social media monitor translates popular social media posts, messages, and notifications into dispatch jobs that call center agents can manage on behalf of their clients. The social media monitor polls the client’s social media accounts—such as Facebook and Twitter—for incoming activity and presents the resulting notifications to the IS server as MergeComm Web API triggers. The MergeComm triggers are presented to agents as dispatch jobs that can be scripted as needed in IS supervisor. For more information, contact Amtelco at 800-356-9148 or info@amtelco.com.

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


Quotes for the Month

Life can be perfectly satisfying without major achievements. -Alice Munro

“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” -Sean O’Casey

“When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.” -unknown

The August 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Don’t Forget SEO for Your Website

Your Website Isn’t Finished Until It’s Optimized for Search Engines

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

If you have a website for your answering service, I suspect you’ve heard of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s a critical component of every website, assuming you want people to find you. SEO means that the content of your site is optimized for search engines. If you skip this step, expect the search engines to skip you.

SEO is part art and part science. Many people promote themselves as SEO experts, promising grand outcomes. Some know what they’re doing and produce great results. Others talk a good game but can’t deliver. Even more irritating, some SEO experts disagree on best practices. The final frustration comes from the reality that SEO best practices change often.

In addition to consultants, there are books, classes, and seminars that teach about search engine optimization. Though I can only touch on SEO in this short article, here are some things to consider.

Pages and Posts: Though the terminology may vary from one web platform to the next, a page is static content that doesn’t change often. Examples include your home, services, get started, about, and contact pages.

In contrast to pages are posts. Posts are the dynamic content that you publish on your blog—assuming your site has one. You use pages for content marketing.

Both pages (your online marketing brochure) and posts (your content marketing gateway) benefit from SEO. 

The Essentials: Every page or post will have a title for visitors. Write a title that will capture their attention. Beyond this, there’s also an SEO title working behind the scenes. This is for search engines. Search engines will evaluate the title and display it in their search results. Most web platforms allow you to differentiate between these two types of titles. If not, you must write a title that will work for both visitors and search results.

Next is a page or post description, called meta-description. Your visitors won’t see this directly, but it will display in search results. You want this meta-description to provide information that will grab the search engines’ attention.

The third element is a keyword or key phrase. The content on each page or post should revolve around this word or phrase. But avoid repeating keywords or phrases on different pages and posts.

There are many other SEO elements, such as headings, graphics, link strategy, keyword density, content length, and URL selection. But title, description, and keyword are the essential SEO elements.

SEO Tools: Your website designer should have handled SEO for your pages when they designed your site, but not all do. Ask if they did. Then verify. But what about the content you add, such as blog posts? They need search optimization too. You can pay someone to do this, or you can use an SEO tool, often called a plug-in. A couple of leading SEO tools are Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO. They’re easy to use, but mastering them—just like SEO—takes time. 

Remember, your answering service website isn’t finished until you’ve added SEO.

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:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.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 online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.


Congratulations to ATSI’s 2019 Award of Excellence Winners

The 2019 ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction (AoD) Recipients are:

Year 1
MAP Communications, Riverside, CA
A.V. Lauttamus Communications & Security, Weirton, WV
Medical TeleCommunications, Denver, CO
Intercon Messaging, Inc., Drayton Valley, AB
Answering 365, Los Angeles, CA

Year 2
Answer Ally, Sandy, OR
MASCO Services Inc., Boston, MA
Jefferson County Medication Foundation Trust, Birmingham, AL

Year 3
VoiceNation, Buford, GA
Professional Exchange Service Corp, Fresno, CA
A Superior Answering Service & Call Center, Madison, GA

Year 4
AAMCOM, Redondo Beach, CA
Answer—Southern States, Hopkinsville, KY

Year 5
Call 4 Health, Delray Beach, FL
Anserve Inc., Butler, NJ
Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA
Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY
AnSer, Clive, IA

Year 6
Sunshine Communication Services, Coral Gables, FL
AnswerPro Limited, Mission, KS
Communication Business Service, Inc., Marietta, GA
Alliance Communications Center, Orlando, FL
Bennett Answering Service, Flint, MI
Torcom The Perfect Answer, Madison, WI

Year 7
PWC Message Center, Dothan, AL
King’s Telephone Answering Services, Shreveport, LA

Year 8
AAA Message Connection, Chattanooga, TN
Carolyn’s Communications Inc., Snellville, GA

Year 9
Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI

Year 10
Mid-State Communications Network, LLC, Manchester, TN
Secretariats, Inc., Norfolk, VA
Phone Center Answering Service / Answer, Reno, NV

Year 11
Time Communications, Roseville, MN
Nationwide Inbound, Inc., Freeport, IL
The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL

Year 12
Quick Connections, Greenbelt, MD
Always on Call Answering Service, LLC, Ft. Myers, FL
Answering Advantage LLC, Memphis, TN
I24 Call Management Solution, Montreal, QC
Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC

Year 13
Action Telephone Exchange, Rochester, NY
Business & Professional Exchange, Beverly, MA
Personalized Communications Inc., Duncanville, TX
AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
IPN Messaging Center, LaPorte, IN

Year 14
King Communications, Saginaw, MI
Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
MedConnectUSA, Las Vegas, NV
AnswerTel of Athens, Inc., Athens, AL
Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
Alphapage, LLC, Denver, CO

Year 15
CallStar, St. Petersburg, FL
StatCall, Alexandria, VA
Central Communications, Inc., Norwalk, CT
Answer Excellence, Clearwater, FL
Messages & more, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ
Berkshire Communicators, Inc., Pittsfield, MA
ComNet, LLC, Muncie, IN

Year 16
Port City Communications, Port Huron, MI
CallNet Call Center, Bloomington, IN
Antietam Call Center, Hagerstown, MD
A Better Answer, Hurst, TX
Extend Communications, Inc., Brantford, ON
Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON

Year 17
TAB AnswerNetwork, Santa Ana, CA
Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
Corporate Message Services, Inc., Richmond Hill, GA

Year 18
Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
AnSer, Green Bay, WI
Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL

Year 20
T.A.S. Communications, Inc., Madison, WI

Year 22
Answer United, Kalamazoo, MI
Hastings Humans, Austin, TX
Business Connections, Inc., Salem, OR
MedCom Professional Srvcs, Inc. dba Keystone Answering Srvc,
Newtown, PA

Year 23
Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI


Industry News

Amtelco Introduces Text-Enabled Landlines: Amtelco’s Intelligence Series software and MergeComm platform integrate with Infinite Convergence Solution’s (ICS) text enabled number service to allow enterprises to send short message service (SMS) messages to their customers using landline numbers. Enterprises can use the same toll-free and landline numbers for their messaging and voice customer communication, providing a better user experience.
Amtelco partners with ICS to provide SMS aggregator services to send and receive SMS text messages using a secure web connection to the internet. Amtelco customers that have already purchased ICS’s SMS aggregator services can text-enable landlines for no additional charge. ICS provides SMS messaging to landlines based on a per message fee.

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


Quotes for the Month

“If you have the knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” -Margaret Fuller

“Art is science made clear.” -Jean Cocteau

“If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.” –unknown

The July 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Consider Content Marketing for Your Answering Service

Provide Valuable Information Your Clients and Prospects Will Appreciate

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, author, blogger, publisher, editor

In past columns, we looked at how to make your answering service website stand out and the main pages every site should have. Now let’s switch our focus to content. You know what to put on your homepage, services, get started, about us, and contact us pages. But what if you want to incorporate a blog on your website? 

Coming up with good, fresh content on a regular basis is a challenge for TAS owners and managers who are already too busy. So if you’re going to make it a priority, you want to make it count. Avoid blogging about random topics that don’t provide value to your readers. You want to post what matters. This means content marketing.

What Is Content Marketing? Content marketing is providing information that your audience will appreciate, find useful, and see as beneficial. It is not advertising. And it is not the place for self-promotion. Also, your content marketing piece will seldom end with a direct call to action.

Though this will frustrate advertise-focused people, the goal of content marketing is to provide value to readers. In doing so you establish yourself or company as a credible source a practical content they’ll want to read month after month.

Find a Theme: To guide your writing and direct your vision, you need a theme for your blog. That way your audience will know what to expect, and you’ll meet their expectations every time. What should your theme be? That’s a great question. 

What are you and your team knowledgeable about? This is an ideal place to start. There are two general areas to consider: answering service content and client-focused content.

Answering Service Content: For content marketing focused on the answering service industry, you’ll certainly be writing about what you know: answering services. Just remember this is not a place to promote your business. This is a place to provide intelligent and actionable content that will help clients better use their answering service and prospects better understand how to select one.

When you do this honestly, you help everyone who uses, or may use, an answering service, even if it’s not yours. But if this is the case, don’t despair. Your excellent posts about the industry positions you as a go-to expert. And eventually they’re bound to go to you.

Client-Focused Content: You can also do content marketing around the topic that’s of interest to your clients or a large group of your clients. Think of this as a value-added service. If you are a medical answering service, cover topics of interest to healthcare practitioners. If you specialize in the service industry, right about that. If most of your clients are small businesses, provide them with valuable information about running their company.

The Goal: Regardless of the theme you pick, the goal is not to sell your services but to position yourself as a thought leader and earn their trust. Over time, your content marketing pieces will help drive business your way. And even if you have a regular reader who loves what you write but never uses your service, you can take solace in knowing that your words are benefiting the industry as a group. 

Everyone wins with content marketing.

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.

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to jeanpearson49@gmail.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 online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.


ATSI Recognizes Top Answering Services

The 2019 ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction (AoD) Recipients are:

  • Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
  • Call 4 Health, Delray Beach, FL
  • Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC
  • Extend Communications, Inc., Brantford, ON
  • First American Payment Systems, Fort Worth, TX
  • Nationwide Inbound, Freeport, IL
  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL
  • Time Communications, Roseville, MN

And the answering services that earned the ten highest scores in the 2019 ATSI Award of Excellence (AoE) are: 

  1. Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
  2. Alphapage, LLC, Denver, CO
  3. Answer – Southern States, Hopkinsville, KY 
  4. Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL
  5. AnswerTel of Athens, Inc., Athens, AL
  6. Carolyn’s Communications Inc., Snellville, GA
  7. Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC
  8. King’s Telephone Answering Services, Shreveport, LA 
  9. Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA 
  10. Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI

Congratulations to these fine organizations and all who participated in the AoD and AoE programs this year. You’ll notice that Connections Call Center is on both lists. They earned the highest scores in both programs. [Look for a full list of ATSI AoE winners in the next issue.]


Industry News

Ansercomm Acquires Academy Messaging: Ansercomm announced that they acquired Academy Messaging of Hackensack, NJ. Ansercomm has helped businesses since 1964 with 24/7 answering services serving the United States and Canada. Academy Messaging of Hackensack, NJ is a 60-year-old answering service, giving Ansercomm a third call center location in addition to their Maple Shade, NJ and North Lauderdale, FL operations. Ansercomm president, Anthony Greenfield says, “The acquisition gives us an additional bank of live operators. In today’s digital world, customers still want to speak to a person at some point in the sales and service process, and that’s what we do.”

Szeto Technologies Expands Leadership Team: Szeto Technologies announced that Robert Bidewell and Garrett Bidewell will join the Szeto family as they expand and continue to grow. Robert and Garrett bring over twenty years of collective experience as owners of several thriving answering services in Alberta, Canada. Robert will collaborate with engineers bringing his experiences and know-how with telephony installations and technical skills. Garrett brings his strengths in marketing and business to the company. Szeto Technologies looks forward to working with these new team members and welcomes them to their family.

Amtelco Introduces Genesis Service Level Reports: Amtelco’s Genesis provides reporting on service level statistics for each agent ID, agent ACD skill, agent skill group, and client account. There is also a service level report grouped by interval. Service level reports include color-coded indicators of thresholds that aren’t met or exceeded. Benefits of these reports for the answering service include improved customer satisfaction and better business management.

NAEO Summer Series: The National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) users’ group Summer Series will offer three separate tracks: IS 101 for beginners, IS 102 for intermediate to advanced programming, and a supervisor leadership path. Sessions will run simultaneously from 9-5 each day from Monday, July 29 through Wednesday, July 31 in Atlanta, Georgia. While the IS 101 and 102 tracks are specific to Amtelco software, the leadership track would be beneficial to supervisors and operations managers of answering services and call centers with any equipment. Learn more at https://www.naeo.org/event/2019-summer-series.

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


Quotes for the Month

“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” -Hal Borland 

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” –Norman Cousins

“When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.” -unknown

The June 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Look to Fine-Tune Your TAS Processes

Seek to Provide the Fast Responses Your Prospects and Clients Expect

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

We live in an I-want-it-now culture. People, in general, and your answering service clients, specifically, expect quick responses to their inquiries. If they don’t get what they want when they want it, they’ll seek solutions elsewhere.

That’s why we need to look at our various answering service processes and seek to fine-tune them. The goal is to develop new ways of doing things so we can respond quicker with our present and future clients.

Here are some areas to consider.

Streamline Sales

How long does it take from the time a prospect clicks a button for more information until they’re interacting with a person who can help them? Though it’s a good practice, an automated response doesn’t count, nor does someone texting, calling, or emailing that someone will get back with them in a few minutes. What matters is contact from a salesperson who can answer questions and move toward a successful close.

The patience of prospects is extremely short. The chances of success decrease noticeably as response times increase. For many situations, a five-minute response time is the new standard. Making prospects wait even thirty minutes, dramatically decreases the chance of someone connecting with them and closing the deal. That’s why some companies push for a one-minute response time. Most prospects will wait sixty seconds before they contact another company.

This means you need to figure out a way that the information on the clicked form goes immediately to a salesperson who can contact them right away. Any other steps or delays is unacceptable.

Streamline Onboarding

Once you sign up a new client, what’s your process for getting them setup so you can take calls? This doesn’t mean giving them a generic solution now and fine-tuning it later. This means a fully functional, working answering service solution.

In pursuing this goal, the objective is to balance speed with accuracy. Don’t program their account so quickly that it contains errors. But don’t take so long that they give up on you.

This means sending the information collected by the salesperson directly to the programmer. Even if you sell customers on the paradigm that “it will take us three business days to set up your account properly, because we’re focused on quality,” still look for ways to do things faster and better.

Streamline Customer Service

Now you’ve turned a prospect into a client. Ideally, they’ll never have any customer service issues, but they will.

When it comes to responding fast to customer service inquiries, there are two considerations. The first is how quickly the client can share their concern with someone who can act upon it. The second is how quickly the customer service agent can implement and communicate the solution to the client. Address both these issues, looking for ways to fine-tune your processes to respond with speed and accuracy.

Streamline Other Areas

Sales, client onboarding, and customer service are the three big areas to address first. But when you’re finished with those, this doesn’t mean you’re done. There’s more to do. In accounting, look at the timeliness of sending invoices, handling receivables, and processing payables. What about dealing with technical issues? First restructure procedures that address problems affecting more than one client. Then look at simplifying the process to resolve the technical concerns of one client.

A related issue is in your agent hiring and training procedures. Though this isn’t a client-facing concern, it does directly affect your answering service’s productivity and profitability.

Be Ever Streamlining

Once you’ve fine-tuned the processes in all these areas, now you can sit back and take it easy, right? Wrong! Always seek ways to do things faster and better. Don’t accept the status quo, and don’t assume that if something was good enough last year, it’s good enough now.

Always seek to do things faster and better. Other answering services are. If you want to keep up, so should you.

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:

Specialty TAS/Call Center for Sale: Health forces sale. Specialty TAS/Call Center started in 2005. We are the leader in our segment of the market, with an excellent reputation. Sale includes: URLs, toll-free number, trade show display if you want it, and 33 accounts averaging $25,568 monthly billing. Accounts are currently on Infinity. Contact: mycallcenter4sale@gmail.com or 628-220-0647.

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to: jeanpearson49@gmail.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 online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.


5 Signs it’s Time to Say “Goodbye” to Your Client

By Kate Zabriskie

Sometimes you can’t meet clients’ expectations, other times clients require an inordinate amount of time, and on rare occasions, a client’s behavior may expose an organization to undue peril. When any of these situations occur, it’s best to say “goodbye” and to do so quickly in a way that creates the least resentment on both sides.

1. They cause 80 percent of your problems but don’t cover 80 percent of your revenue: From time to time, any client could require more energy than others. Those high-demand situations are normal. What isn’t normal, however, is the perpetual squeaky wheel that routinely disrupts normal business operations.

These clients may not be the clients you want to keep. This is especially true if serving them prevents you from taking care of clients who are more profitable and easier to help. If they insist on staying anyway, consider raising their rates.

2. They’re abusive: When management allows clients to abuse employees, it’s the same as perpetrating the abuse directly. Do clients swear, yell, demean, or harass your employees? If so, it’s time to let them know their behavior isn’t acceptable.

If the bad behavior continues, the relationship should stop. Not acting could expose your company to a lawsuit, erode morale, and negatively affect your culture.

3. Their behavior doesn’t align with your ethics: You are the company you keep. If you enable your clients to act in a way that conflicts with your organization’s values or the law, it may be time to say, “Goodbye.”

Do you really want to associate yourself and your organization with those whose business practices are illegal, immoral, or questionable? When a client exposes you to unneeded risk, it’s prudent to disassociate yourself from them pronto.

4. They expose you to unneeded financial risk: If you spend more time chasing payments than performing work, it’s time to consider a new payment plan or a permanent breakup if that doesn’t solve the problem. It’s best to avoid an organization that puts your pocketbook on the line.

5. You’re no longer a good fit: Sometimes providers and their clients grow apart. Nobody has done anything wrong. The two parties are just in different places, and it’s time to say goodbye.

Conclusion: No matter the reason, prolonging a relationship that isn’t working does no one any favors. It’s usually not fun to say “goodbye,” but once you do, you’ll have more time to say “hello” to clients you want to work with.

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.

[Read the full article, which contains additional information.]


Industry News

Amtelco’s Newest Genesis IS Release Rated Avaya Compliant: Amtelco announced that its Genesis Intelligent Series solution is compliant with key Avaya IX Workplace Calling solutions from Avaya. The Genesis software switching solution provides the Intelligent Series applications with advanced software-based telephony. Genesis provides an all-inclusive, enterprise-wide call center with skills-based automatic call distribution (ACD), built-in speech recognition, text to speech, and voice services to improve call routing and management. 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 businesses to grow without adding additional hardware, helping save time and money.

Inspecta offered automation and management of surveys, notifications, and responses, as well as new telecom and VoIP-based technologies to reduce the telecom expenses and response time.

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


Quotes for the Month

“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” -Moliere

“Never harbor grudges; they sour your stomach and do no harm to anyone else.” -Robertson Davies

“A plateau is a high form of flattery.” -unknown

The May 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

The Essential Pages Every TAS Website Should Have

An Effective Website Doesn’t Need to Be Big, but It Does Need to Cover the Basics

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-April 2019

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In Does Your TAS Have a Great Website? we looked at how to make your website stand out as an essential marketing resource for your answering service. The tips offered aren’t revolutionary and comprise best practices for website design. Unfortunately, too many websites in the industry fall short of meeting these essential requirements. Though some answering services can fix their failing websites by updating them, other sites need a complete overhaul.

Regardless of where you are in the process, every website should have five essential pages. Though this discussion is specifically for answering services, the principles apply to any website for any industry.

1. Homepage

Your homepage should embrace visitors and draw them in. It should give them a reason to stick around and explore the other pages on your site. Don’t make your homepage about you. Seriously.

Focus on your audience. Make it about them. This is hard to do well. To see if your words resonate with your audience, ask someone who doesn’t know you or your business to read your homepage and tell you what they think. Adjust the text as appropriate to hone your message to resonate with visitors, that is your prospects.

2. Services

Next you need a page that lists your services. Don’t provide too many options or you will overwhelm them, and visitors will bounce, searching for a more user-friendly site. Ideally, give them two options. That will make it easiest for them to decide. The more options, the harder you make it for them to choose, and if it’s too complicated, they’ll choose to go elsewhere.

Only listing two service options, however, presents a challenge. Three would be okay, four at the most.

Don’t attempt to list every option you offer on this page. Instead, include the popular ones and the ones you want to sell. Then add something about contacting you for custom solutions. In most cases, you should include pricing for each service option. The only exception might be if you are a premium provider and don’t want to get into pricing until after you’ve sold them emotionally on the value of your service.

3. Get Started

The next page should explain how easy it is for a prospect to become a client. Businesses that have used answering services will know what to expect and will skip this page. So write the content for someone who has never used an answering service. Spell things out for them in an easy-to-follow list.

They may not be familiar with call forwarding. Explain it. They won’t have any idea as to which billing package they should select. Give them guidelines on how to figure it out. The goal is to make the process of hiring you simple, easy-to-understand, and painless.

End this page with the call to action, designed to move them from prospect to new client. This may include a sign-up form or a phone number to call.

4. About Us

After these pages, include a section that talks about your answering service. The goal is to make your service shine, while hinting at how your unique characteristics will benefit your prospects. Talk about anything that will make your answering service stand out. This could include how long you’ve been in business, awards you’ve won, or your leadership in the industry or your community.

Every answering service talks about their great staff, so you should too. Share your vision to serve your clients. As appropriate, talk about your quality service, easy-to-understand invoices, or the outcomes your clients can expect.

Don’t be afraid about making this page too long, but make sure it’s easy for visitors to scan. If they’re interested, they’ll read whatever you put there. At the end, list client testimonials. Though you can sprinkle selected testimonials throughout the site, one on each page, listing them all here is a great idea.

5. Contact Us

The final page should tell prospects how to reach you. At minimum there should be a phone number, but most people expect an email address as well. Also list your social media pages. This, however, assumes they’re up to date and you’re active on them. Unless you’re trying to obscure where you’re located, include your mailing address. If you have multiple offices, this is a great place to list them.

Though your essential contact information—phone number and email address—should prominently appear on every page at least once, include all options here. Some prospects will immediately look for a “contact us” page.

Other

There are a couple of other items to include on your website. These are not part of the main five essential items and don’t deserve one of the main navigation tabs, but they should be someplace. One good location is in the header that appears on the top of every page.

Client Portal: Assuming you have a client portal, add a login link for your clients.

Employment Opportunities: If you’re like most services, you’re on the outlook for quality staff. Include a link for employment opportunities. On this page, sell them on the desirability of working for your answering service, and make it easy for them to apply

Blog: Some answering services have a blog. This is an option you should only take if you’re committed to posting regular, valuable content. For most answering services, a blog is a time-consuming item that they don’t have time for.

However, a blog is a great long-term move that will engage your audience, improve your SEO rankings, and make you stand out in the industry. (Unlike “client portal” and “employment opportunities,” you will want to list your blog as one of your main navigation tabs.)  To learn more about the value of a blog, explore content marketing.

Conclusion

Use these tips to improve or overhaul your website. This will attract more visitors. It will help you turn more prospects into clients. You’ll sign them up faster and keep them longer.

That’s what the right website can do for you.

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:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to: jeanpearson49@gmail.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 online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.

Call for Submissions

Because the first article of this issue is twice the length as usual, we won’t have a second one this time. However, were looking for content for the rest of the year.

Will you help?

Please email Peter with your thoughts about the industry. If you’re not a writer, that’s okay. We’ll polish it and make your piece shine. You may even be able to repurpose something you’ve already written, such as a blog post or excerpt from a client letter. Just remember that our audience is other answering services, not answering service prospects.

Together we can work to make the industry better.

Thank you!


Industry News

TAS Marketing Celebrates 40 Years: Since 1979, Steve Michaels and his wife Chris have supported the industry selling various products such as the ACI teleprinter system, the AVI training program, and the DC 7 call management system, along with launching Connections Magazine. (Now published by Peter DeHaan.)

Recently the team has been one member short due to cancer, but Chris is on the mend and should be back at her desk in June. TAS Marketing sells six to ten businesses per year, now totaling almost 500 businesses sold. As a service to the industry, Steve publishes a newsletter “TAS Tips.” Reach Steve at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com

MiSecureMessages Secure Messaging App 4.2.0 for iOS/Apple Devices: Amtelco released version 4.2.0 of the miSecureMessages secure messaging app. Version 4.2.0 features enhanced functionality with Apple Watch. Apple Watch Series 3 and 4 users with Watch OS 5 or later can read and reply to secure messages. A new Apple Watch menu displays which accounts contain new messages.

The miSecureMessages Apple app provides secure messaging and paging services for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It receives notifications of secure messages sent from the miSecureMessages Web Service via the Apple Push Notification Service. Users can view, respond to, and initiate messages to other miSecureMessages users within their organization. Customers may update the app from their iPhone’s App Store account.

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


Quotes for the Month

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -E. M. Forster

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” -Abigail Adams

He had a photographic memory which was never developed.” -unknown

The April 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

How to Make Your Website Shine

Discover How to Make Your Website an Essential Marketing Resource

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan-April 2019

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In Does Your TAS Have a Great Website? we talked about the importance of having a killer website to serve as your online home base for your marketing plan.

You can hire a professional web developer to do this for you. You can also do it yourself. Either way, here are some tips to guide the process. Follow these and you’ll be ahead of most websites in the answering service industry.

Seek a Clean, Fresh Design

First, pursue a website that looks fresh and clean. If this tip doesn’t provide enough clarity, then avoid the opposite: a dated, cluttered website. Don’t try to squeeze everything in a small area. Instead use white space to make the content more inviting and readable. Stick with one common font, with black type on a white background. Anything else is hard to read, as well as trendy, which will become dated fast. Also, keep a simple color palette that matches your logo.

Provide Search Engine Friendly Content

If you want people to find your site through organic search, make sure you have at least 300 words on every page. Google needs to see that many to properly index it. This means don’t put text in graphics, which search engines can’t read. It also means avoiding making visitors click “more” to read additional text. Be sure all the text on a page is readily available without an extra click.

Avoid Industry Jargon

Most answering service websites contain industry terms that most prospects won’t understand—unless some answering service has trained them. Don’t make a prospect speak your language to do business with you. Instead speak their language. This means explaining your service in terms they can understand from a basic business perspective. Keep things simple, and you’ll close more sales and do it faster.

Make It User Friendly

If someone ever asks you how to navigate your website or where to find something, this is a clue that you need to simplify its structure. Make it user friendly. Make it intuitive. Don’t hide links to needed information. Visitors should be able to find everything from your home page. The more clicks they need to make or the longer they need to search for something, the more likely they are to bounce.

Focus on Mobile First

A few years ago, website traffic reached a tipping point, where more visitors used mobile devices then computers. This means you need a mobile-first strategy when it comes to website design. Merely being mobile ready isn’t enough, though it’s a good start. View your website on a mobile device, and see how easy or hard it is to navigate. I’ve been to some websites on my smartphone and was so frustrated that I closed my browser and went to my computer. Few prospects, however, will bother to do that.

Proof Content and Test Links

I’m surprised at how often I see errors and typos on TAS websites. Website designers are weak when it comes to catching problems. You need to hold them accountable. Get as many people reviewing your website as possible. Even more valuable is asking people who don’t use answering services to give you feedback.

Prioritize Search Engine Optimization

I suspect you’ve heard of SEO (search engine optimization). If you’re like most business owners, you’re ignoring it or giving it scant attention. This is a mistake. The best website will struggle without SEO, while a less than ideal one will get more traffic if they do a good job at SEO.

SEO is part science and part art. You need someone who can master both. And just because they say they’re an expert, doesn’t mean they are. The proof is in results. As an SEO guru begins optimizing your site, you should see results within a month, two at the most. If your traffic isn’t increasing, you’ve hired the wrong person. How much should traffic increase under a good SEO program? The answer depends on how bad things are to start with, but the results must be measurable and should be significant.

Conclusion

Apply these tips when you update or overhaul your website. You’ll get increased traffic, fewer complaints, and hopefully more sales.

Next month we’ll look at the essential pages every TAS website should have.

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

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to: jeanpearson49@gmail.com.


10 Commandments for the Inspirational Leader: The Foundation of Business Solutions

By Michele Wierzgac

There are many theories in leadership ranging from vision to self-awareness to service. The simplest way to develop your leadership skills is to have a work ethic mixed with a solid foundation of core values.

Inspirational leaders have commandments they work with and live by. These commandments, or guidelines, lay the critical foundation for the development of leadership and business solutions.

These Ten Commandments will work as a guidebook to inspire your staff, increase workplace morale, and lay the foundation for a successful company.

1. Be truthful
2. Be consistent
3. Be empathetic
4. Be generous
5. Be strong
6. Be articulate
7. Be approachable
8. Be a brand champion
9. Be a genuine spirit
10. Be credible

As an inspirational leader, do you have commandments that you work and live by? If not, use this list as a starting point.

Michele Wierzgac is a leadership expert, keynote speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, Ass Kicking Women: How They Leverage Their Informal Networks for Success. With her high energy presentations, Michele conveys sound leadership solutions and promotes audience engagement and on-your-feet participation.

[Read the full article at ArticleWeekly.com.]


Telephone Answering Service News

Join Answering Service Forum, a Free Online Meeting Place for the TAS Industry

Rob Hudelson unveiled the Answering Service Forum for everyone in the TAS industry. There you can find “everything you always wanted to know about the answering service industry but were afraid to ask,” said Hudelson. Join the Answering Service Forum today and start exchanging ideas with others in the industry.

“I have long thought there should be a meeting and exchange place for everyone involved in the TAS industry regardless of their ability to join associations or attend conventions,” said Hudelson. “So, I created the Answering Service Forum. It’s a free place for TAS owners, managers, and employees to share ideas and ask questions.”

ASTAA to Present 2019 Sales Symposium

The 2019 TAS Sales Symposium, hosted by ASTAA will be August 7–8 at the Hotel Indigo in Baltimore MD. “This will be a full two-day class on all aspects of sales specifically geared toward answering services,” said executive director Maryellen Pruitt. “As a bonus, the last half of day two will be a panel discussion from some of the best sales people in our industry.” 

Presenters include: Stacey Brown Randall on “Generating Referrals Without Asking”; Farnoosh Brock on “Addressing Objections Effectively” and “Charging Appropriately”; Diane Helbig covering “Long Term Results from Real Time Engagement” and “Sales Management”; Michael Schmidtmann on “How to Be More Persuasive in Sales”; and Liz Dederer addressing “The Four Currencies of Conversation.”

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


Quotes for the Month

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.” -Mark Twain

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“A boiled egg is hard to beat.” -unknown

The March 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Does Your TAS Have a Great Website?

Regardless of How You Market Your Answering Service, a Killer Website is Key

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

There are many ways to market your answering service, limited only by your creativity and budget. Regardless of which strategy you use, you need a website. Even if you claim you’re not accepting any new clients—and I never met an answering service that meant that—you still need a website for existing clients.

And this isn’t just any website but a great one. Your website stands as your make-or-break element to close sales. Regardless of your marketing tactics, prospects expect to find a website. In most cases your website will be part of your marketing campaign. But even if it isn’t, buyers may still look for one. What they see will determine whether they say “yes” or “no.”

Impress them and they’re likely to sign up. Disappoint them and they’ll go to your competitor. And if you don’t have a website, or they can’t find it, you’ve lost their business.

What about Social Media?

Some businesses, including those in the answering service industry, insist a website isn’t necessary, that they get along just fine using social media—thank you very much. However, using social media as your online home base is foolish. You don’t own it or have any control over what happens to it.

On social media, you’re at the whim of corporate overlords. At any moment, your online social media presence could go away or your audiences’ ability to see your content could face severe limitations. All social media platforms are moving to a pay-to-play scenario, some faster than others. At the most basic level, they want to charge you to reach your audience.

Instead, use social media to point people to your website, your home base, the only online real estate that you can own and control.

What about Print?

In the old days, back before the internet, businesses did just fine without a website. They relied on various forms of print media to promote their business and gain new clients. This included the Yellow Pages, newspaper ads, and direct mail. When is the last time you’ve seen the Yellow Pages? When’s the last time you read a newspaper? And what do you do when you receive direct mail? You throw it away without opening it. Even for specific print niches that still work, today’s consumers expect you to have a website. To not have one means you’re not viable. You’re invisible.

What about Online Advertising?

Many people love online advertising. It’s easy to track and determine your ROI. You can measure your success, or the lack thereof, fast. Though the call to action for online marketing can be to call a phone number, most involve a website. And even if the goal is to have the prospect pick up the phone, having a website adds essential credibility to your offer.

Rethink Your Website

You should view your website as your online home base. Use social media to point to it. Social media is ancillary to marketing, not central. And if you prefer print media, the results will be stronger if you have a killer website riding shotgun. The same is true for online advertising. Without a website, you might get a lot of ad clicks but few conversions.

So, scrutinize your website. Is it as good as it can be? Or does it look tired and dated. I’ve looked at a lot of TAS websites. Most could be better. And too many are embarrassing. For the sake of the industry, and the sake of your business, that needs to change.

Hopefully you’re convinced of the importance of a website, a good website. Next month I’ll share tips on how to make yours stand out.

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:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to: jeanpearson49@gmail.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 online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.


5 Philosophies that Lead to a Destructive Company Culture

By Magi Graziano

Most leaders say they want a constructive corporate culture, but many are uncertain of what it really takes to shape it. Consequently, these executives and managers unintentionally lead their people toward the fatal, destructive side of the culture coin. They do this by buying into five positive-sounding philosophies:

1. Winning Above All Else: Winning is a powerful motivator. The desire to win can make things happen and bring in profits. However, a once healthy desire to “beat the competition” gone unchecked often creates opportunities for unproductive behavior and perpetuating ways of thinking that result in an organization eating itself alive.

These show up with people arguing for win/lose scenarios, as well as in-fighting for power, control, rewards, promotions, and resources. A workplace culture that values winning more than anything else can be fertile ground for destructive behavior and employment brand erosion.

2. Commanding and Controlling: In power-driven organizations, hierarchy reigns and members of the management team must take charge, control subordinates, and yield to the demands of superiors. Historically, this has been the “right” way to lead, and for many decades it worked.

This model is flawed, however, and those managed by people who pursue this approach atrophy and stagnate. In workplace cultures that rewards this type of behavior, the powerful take over and the powerless surrender.

3. Opposing Others:In oppositional workplace cultures there is often a root of overcoming obstacles that afforded the organization sustainability and success over the years. But what often got us here will not get us there. Opposition is one of those elements of culture, much like winning at all costs, that turns the organization against itself. In work cultures where members are expected to be critical, oppose ideas of others, and make “safe” decisions, people drop into fear and suppress their ideas and creativity.

4. Pursuing Perfection:In other cases, leaders’ of quality-driven organizations pride themselves with a commitment to excellence. While this intention may have been initially pure, too often the unconscious underlying behavior fostered with this value is perfection. In a culture of perfection, people do not take risks, they do not try new things, and they certainly do not put themselves or their reputation on the line.

5. Keeping the Peace and Getting Along:Everyone who is anyone in business understands the need to cooperate with others in the workplace and the need for teamwork and collaboration. However, creating a work culture where everyone must get along with little to no emphasis on performance or results, most often leads to over-the-top consensus building, perceived favoritism, a loss of focus and ambition, inconsistent accountability, and a destructive fear of conflict.

Conclusion

These seemingly-good philosophies can undermine your company’s overall mission and get you off track. Shaping constructive culture is about intentionally causing the corporate culture that exemplifies your brand promise. Intentional culture is all about monitoring what you are creating and making necessary shifts along the way to ensure you are accomplishing what you set out to do by creating the intentional culture in the first place.

Magi Graziano is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert, and author of The Wealth of Talent. Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. She empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information visit www.keenalignment.com.

Read Magi’s full article at Article Weekly.


Telephone Answering Service News

2019 TAS Events: Though some events have already occurred, and others haven’t yet been announced, we now know most of this year’s industry calendar. Here’s a current list:

Check out our TAS Events Calendar for the latest updates and new postings.

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


Quotes for the Month

“A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” -Margaret Fuller

“That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” -Abraham Lincoln

“A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.” -unknown

The February 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

How to Start a Telephone Answering Service

Key Information Provided as a Service to the Industry

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

When I consulted for the answering service and call center industries, people kept contacting me who wanted to start a telephone answering service. I didn’t feel right taking their money and tried to talk them out of it. After all, who wants to go into a business that is labor-intensive, capital-intensive, and never closes? (Though running an answering service is no longer as capital-intensive, it certainly was back then.) And the few people who insisted on hiring me, soon gave up.

Yet the inquiry calls continued to roll in, taking up too much of my time and providing no business in return. In desperation, I set up a website, StartAnAnsweringService.com and referred people to it. That little site gave all the essential information and appeased most people.

When I stopped consulting to focus on publishing, I left the website up as a service to the industry. I even added occasional updates. With no promotion, it continued to get traffic, month after month, year after year. Though it had always been my intention to turn that website into a book, I never got around to it.

Until now.

How to Start a Telephone Answering Service book

On January 29, 2019, I released my first call center book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service. And I turned StartAnAnsweringService.com into its sales page. It even has a book trailer. On that day, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, became the number one new book on Amazon in the outsourcing category.

For those of you in the answering service industry, you already know everything that’s in this book. But if you’re new to the industry or thinking about getting into it, this book contains valuable information. I think it’s the best information you’ll ever find on the subject, but then I’m a bit biased.

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

Industry Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, LocateACallCenter.com, and Outsourcezine.com. Make an offer. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit 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.


One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know

By Kate Zabriskie

Without trying too hard, it’s easy for many managers to compile a list of reasons not to meet with the people they supervise. Guess what? These excuses don’t outweigh the value and importance of a regularly scheduled meeting with a direct report.

Benefits of Regular One-on-One Meetings

If used correctly, over time managers and employees can enjoy many benefits by meeting one on one.

  • Visible Appreciation: Time is currency. If managers carve out time for their people and are prepared when they meet, they show they value their direct reports.
  • Better Thinking: Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals, and development opportunities.
  • Stronger Results: Accountability tends to improve when people have an opportunity or a requirement to report on their progress.
The Perfect One-on-One

Once a manager has bought into the value of one-on-one meetings, the next step is to execute them in a way that works for the manager and the employee. Good one-on-one meetings are not one-size-fits-all activities. That said, here are a few guidelines to make a one-on-one meeting successful.

  • Schedule: Pick a schedule and stick to it. One-on-ones shouldn’t regularly disappear from the calendar simply because something else suddenly comes up.
  • Frequency: Choose a frequency that makes sense. For some people meeting once a month may be enough. For others, meeting weekly may be more appropriate. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, circumstances evolve. Depending on what’s happening inside and outside the organization, an employee’s needs could change drastically. Evaluate meeting frequency from time to time. If the rate of meetings is correct, managers and employees should not routinely find themselves with no reason to meet.
  • Plan: Follow a written agenda. Well-run one-on-one meetings are not free-for-all conversations. They follow an agenda just as any other good meeting does. A one-on-one meeting agenda might include such topics as current projects, progress on yearly development goals, current challenges, and so forth.
Dealing with Obstacles

One-on-one meetings rarely go from nonexistent or dysfunctional to perfect overnight. For that reason, managers should prepare to overcome a variety of obstacles. Read the full article to learn how to deal with four common obstacles.

Reevaluate from Time-to-Time

Like anything, one-on-one meetings can get stale. It’s important to look at the format and frequency from time to time and to solicit feedback regarding what’s working and what isn’t.

If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look. After all, can you really afford not to?

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Peter DeHaan Releases TAS Book: Longtime industry veteran Peter Lyle DeHaan released his insider’s guide to starting an answering service on January 29, 2019. Titled How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, the book concisely shares the essential information needed for an entrepreneur to start an answering service. Based on decades of industry experience and years of consulting, Peter DeHaan, PhD, released this book as a service to the industry.

“Though I open the book trying to talk people out of starting an answering service, if they decide to proceed, I want them to do it right and not damage the industry by making naïve mistakes,” said DeHaan. “It’s a must read for anyone thinking about getting into the answering service industry.”

Learn more at StartAnAnsweringService.com.

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


Quotes for the Month

“Patience is also a form of action.” -Auguste Rodin

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” -Samuel Johnson

“A calendar’s days are numbered.” -unknown