Category Archives: Issues

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The August 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

The Power of No

Learning to Say No Opens the Door to Yes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Classified Ads:

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

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

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


3 Keys to Successful Strategic Planning

By Andy Slipher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Telephone Answering Service News

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

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

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

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


Quotes for the Month

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

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

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

The July 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Scheduling Answering Service Staff for Holidays

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

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Classified Ads:

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

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

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

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


3 Simple Training Tips to Boost Performance

By Cordell Riley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Telephone Answering Service News

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

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

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

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


Quotes for the Month

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

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

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

The June 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Welcome to Summer

Be Intentional to Make the Most Out of the Summer Season

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great summer!

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


Classified Ads:

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

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

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

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


5 Tips to Make Your Family Business Last

 By Mitzi Perdue

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

So, how do you create this kind of culture?

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

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

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

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


Telephone Answering Service News

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

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

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

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


Telephone Answering Service News

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

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

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


Quotes for the Month

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

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

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

The May 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Tips for Selling Shoes and Answering Service

 Mishandling Leads Will Result in Lost Sales

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Classified Ads:

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

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

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

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


Six Ways to Put Stories into Action

By Henry DeVries

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

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

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

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

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


Telephone Answering Service News

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

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

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


Quotes for the Month

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

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

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

The April 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Are You an Answering Service or a Call Center?

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

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Classified Ads:

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

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

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

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


Prepare for Family Business Quarrels

By Mitzi Perdue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Telephone Answering Service News

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

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


Quotes for the Month

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

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

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

The March 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Staff Communication is Key

Effective leaders take time to get input from their employees

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderOne of my goals when I ran an answering service was to provide the best possible headsets for my staff. After all, they spend all day on the phone, so voice quality, ease-of-use, and comfort are critical.

To pursue this, I always looked for a better headset. When a new model came out that boasted better technology or results, I wanted to test it. In most cases these trial headsets were as good as what we already had, so they ended up in a box in my closet, which I later moved to the trash. However, I would snag the least objectionable of them for my own use.

Since I used the phone sporadically during the day, headset comfort wasn’t a priority. And less-than-ideal voice quality wasn’t an issue either. What mattered was that my employees had the best.

However, after a couple years I discovered my staff had made their own conclusion about why my headset differed from theirs. They reasoned that I kept the best for myself and forced them to languish with old, subpar units.

Don’t Make Decisions in Isolation

At first this upset me. Then I figured out how to set the record straight. I asked one of our senior operators if we could swap headsets for the day. I wanted her opinion about which one was best.

With a smirk she handed me hers and put on mine. Leaving a smiling operator to do her work, I returned to my office. During her next break, she poked her head inside my doorway. She wasn’t smiling anymore. “I don’t like this headset—not at all.” She shook her head. “The audio’s lousy, and the band hurts my head.”

“Do you want to switch back?” I asked.

“Yes.” She nodded in enthusiasm.

Now it was my turn to smile. “My goal is for you and your coworkers to have the best headsets. It doesn’t matter what I use, because my work isn’t as important as yours.” I paused for dramatic effect. “So, do you think your headset is better?”

She nodded, and I handed her headset back to her. Beaming, she bounced out of my office.

From then on, whenever I tested a new headset, I made sure to check with an operator before making a final decision. If they liked it, they could use it. And if they didn’t, then I would. That stopped the grumblings about me having a better headset.

As an answering service owner or manager, it doesn’t matter if we make the right decisions for the right reasons, because if our staff doesn’t know what we’re thinking, they’ll likely assume the worst.

Effective managers communicate with their staff and seek their input.

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

 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.


Should You Offer a Free Trial When Selling Answering Service?

By Janet Livingston

Some answering services offer a free trial to new clients. Others do not. Both camps are adamant about their reasons for making this decision. While there isn’t a right answer, it’s critical to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option, strategically picking the approach that best fits your business and business goals. Ask yourself these questions:

Will a Free Trial Show Confidence?

The implication in offering a free trial is that an answering service wouldn’t do so unless they had a high expectation that clients would stay on when the trial period ends. A free trial sends the message that the answering service can back up their verbal promises with verifiable action. This signals that the answering service means what it says about their service.

Will a Free Trial Make You Look Desperate?

The less a business charges for a product or service, the less value it possesses to clients. Sometimes giving something away for free carries a too-good-to-be-true vibe, even to the point of making a company appear desperate for sales. Some prospects may assume your service is so poor that you need to give it away to entice them to use it.

Will a Free Trial Open You Up to Abuse?

Yes, some people will take advantage of you. For this reason, you should be careful with your screening of prospects and be strategic about the structure of your offer.

Will a Free Trial Increase Your Bottom Line?

Offering a free trial will certainly provide you with more clients, but will it provide you with more paying clients? To be successful you must convert a high percentage of free trial prospects into paying clients.

A related concern is how long a client must remain on service to offset your costs in providing them with free service. For example, if they need to remain on service for one year, but on average cancel after nine months, then overall you lose money when you offer a free trial, which drags down your bottom line.

Will a Free Trial Devalue Your Offering?

When answering services talk about the excellence of their work, the quality of their staff, and the value of their processes, they send a strong message to prospects that they’re dealing with a top-notch provider. Their sales staff, website, and literature all back this up.

Many answering services worry that offering a free trial diminishes their assertions and offers a counterpoint to their claims. The concern is that all the talk of quality, and the costs to provide that quality, will be offset by offering a free trial.

Will a Free Trial Subtly Change Prospects into Clients?

When a salesperson works with the prospect, the goal is to get the prospect to say “yes” and become a client. Prospects either say “yes” or “no.”

However, when offering a free trial, a third option presents itself. When a prospect agrees to a free trial, they say “maybe,” stopping short of making an unequivocal commitment. When the trial period ends, they will likely continue using the service, sliding into client status without ever explicitly saying “yes.” It just happens.

Whether to offer a free trial is a tactical decision. When pursued strategically, either approach can produce positive results. So, make sure you choose the right path for the right reasons, and then don’t question your decision.

Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at contactus@callcenter-salespro.com or call 800-901-7706.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Introduces Intelligent Series v5.1: Amtelco announced version 5.1 of its Intelligent Series (IS) suite of call center applications at the annual meeting of the National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) users group in February. New features and enhancements include: Virtual Terminals for the SMS, SNPP, TAP, and WCTP contact methods; Genesis Just Say It IVR; Genesis Just Say It directory assistance; the miTeamWeb dashboard; the Intelligent Series two-way WCTP messaging interface; integration with Infinite Convergence Solutions, a new SMS text messaging aggregator; the Genesis meet me park; and auto attendant behavior.

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


Quotes for the Month

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” -John Ruskin

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” -Jim Rohn

“A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.” -unknown

 

The February 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

How Many Names Does Your Answering Service Have?

Having multiple business identities for your TAS may be strategic or happenstance.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderNot that I expect many readers to notice, but did you see I made a small tweak to my byline? Instead of Peter L DeHaan it has become Peter Lyle DeHaan. There’s a reason for this. Let me explain

I’m working on some books for the TAS and call center industry. Though I have one finished, I need time to publish it. I planned on listing my name as Peter L DeHaan to distinguish this from other books I’ve written under the name Peter DeHaan, which focus on biblical spirituality. I want to keep these two areas separate, so as not to confuse—or frustrate—readers when they go searching for a particular book using my name.

However, I learned that when most people encounter authors with a single middle initial, they drop the initial. In my case Peter L DeHaan would become Peter DeHaan, thereby defeating my goal of using two different names. The solution, I understand, is to use two initials or a full middle name. Readers tend to not drop those. Therefore, all my writing for the TAS and call center industry now carries my middle name.

And to further complicate matters, I’ve written some young adult (YA) fiction, which I’ll publish under the pen name P D Haan. This means I’m one author, using three names, for three distinct topics, for three diverse audiences.

Why am I telling you this? Because answering services often do the same thing.

You may have one answering service, but for marketing purposes you use different names for different audiences. One example is having one name for medical clients and another one for commercial accounts.

In other instances, answering service names reflect a geographic location, such as a state or city: Answering Michigan, Answering Grand Rapids, or Answering Kalamazoo. (These aren’t actual TAS names. I know, because I just checked. But you get the point.)

Another multi-name scenario occurs when making acquisitions. For strategic reasons the new owner opts to keep the old name. This may be a short-term decision or a long-term strategy.

What I do know is that having multiple names complicates marketing. Whether you’re an answering service or an author, you need a separate online identity for each name that you use. For my three author brands, each one has its own website.

However, I stopped short of having separate social media pages for each name. That’s sheer madness. Maintaining multiple social media identities is a challenge. I know because I have a separate Facebook page and Twitter account for each of my publications. (And this is the point where I’m obligated to encourage you to like TAS Trader on Facebook and follow TAS Trader on Twitter.)

My decision to use three author names is strategic. I have a well-considered reason for doing so. The same thoughtful process applies to many multi-named answering services, too.

However, other answering services accumulated multiple names over time. These names now complicate their branding and their marketing. If this describes your situation, I encourage you to streamline your business names as much as possible. Phase out and redirect those old brands to one consistent, strong brand. It will make your life easier and your marketing and branding simpler to manage. You’ll be glad you did.

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

 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.


Four Ground Rules for Successful Conflict Resolution

By Chris Ciardello

A major subject in many businesses is conflict resolution. Every office has conflict, but not every office handles it the same way. Here are four ground rules for successful conflict resolution.

Ground Rule #1: Each side must listen fully to the other side before responding. Often when one party explains something, the second party wants to justify their actions. There is nothing more frustrating when someone interrupts you, especially when trying to resolve a problem.

Instead the first person listens to everything the other person has to say. Then the second person can explain their side. This process repeats until both sides have sufficiently made their case.

Ground Rule #2: Identify the issues clearly, professionally, and concisely. Unless the issue is identified, a resolution cannot be found. This morning Betty came into work and snapped at Sally when she said good morning. The reason Betty snapped at Sally could be that Betty got a text from her son saying he forgot his homework. This has nothing to do with Sally, yet the frustration was taken out on her, which caused tension between them the rest of the day.

In some cases this kind of tension can slowly come to a boil, making it extremely important to have open communication with co-workers. You may not always know what is going on in another person’s life, so try not to jump to conclusions.

Ground Rule #3: When both parties meet to discuss their issues, they may only use “I” statements. “I felt ignored at the meeting this morning when I was trying to explain the details about Mrs. Jones.” Framing an issue you have with another person with an “I” statement helps to lower their defenses and move to a resolution.

“You” statements put people on the defensive because they feel their integrity is attacked: “You always leave your things in the breakroom,” or “You never take out the trash.” When someone gets defensive, they stop hearing. But when you bring the problem back to how it makes you feel, it lowers guards and a conversation can begin.

Ground Rule #4: The final and most important rule is: no personal attacks, name-calling or finger pointing. These are surefire ways to put the other person on the defensive. There is no room for this in a professional environment.

Having conflict in an office is okay; in fact, it’s actually healthy. However, preventing conflict from turning into heated confrontation is crucial to avoid division in an office. Everyone wants to work in a happy, peaceful environment, so it’s important to talk it out.

Chris Ciardello is a practice management consultant with Global Team Solutions. Passionate about sharing his expertise in technology and marketing, Chris has a distinctive knack for understanding the needs of office environments and assisting companies in building productive, cohesive teams. For more information visit www.GTSGurus.com.

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


Telephone Answering Service News

Global Messaging Network Launches the Attorneys Receptionist: Global Messaging Network, Inc. launched The Attorneys Receptionist, a five-star virtual receptionist service for attorneys, law firms, and legal professionals. “There are many benefits attorneys can leverage by using The Attorneys Receptionist service as a communications tool with current and potential clients,” said Edmond Cariolagian, chief operating officer, of Global Messaging Network. “We help busy attorneys, especially those who are proactively marketing their law firms, acquire leads and potential clients, at any time of the day or night.” The Attorneys Receptionist monthly service packages start at $239 per month.

Amtelco Tests Cox SIP Trunking: Amtelco and Cox Communications successfully completed interoperability testing of Cox’s SIP trunking services with Amtelco’s Genesis intelligent soft switch, the internet protocol (IP) based private branch exchange (PBX) capability of Amtelco’s Infinity platform, and the Telescan Spectrum Prism II platform. Cox SIP trunking is a scalable, IP trunking telecommunication solution that provides traditional telephony services. Cox SIP trunking calls are routed over Cox’s proprietary fiber-optic network, with guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS), rather than over the internet. To use Cox SIP trunking, Amtelco customers must maintain a separate business agreement with Cox Communications.

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


Quotes for the Month

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” -Bob Dylan

“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” -Leonardo da Vinci

“In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.” -unknown

 

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

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderI’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

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

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderHow 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.


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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

The November 2017 Issue of TAS Trader

Be Thankful for Your Staff

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderWe 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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