What Does Your Website Say About Your Answering Service?
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Having a professional website is essential for any telephone answering service that wants to grow. The emphasis is on the word professional. Though collectively our industry websites are much better than a decade ago, too many TAS websites still aren’t professional looking or professional sounding.
Here’s how to develop a professional website for your answering service:
Clarify Your Brand: Before you do anything with your website, you need a clear, strong brand. This includes the overall image you want to project and the supporting materials, including logo, color palate, tag line, mission, and so forth.
Decide Who You Are: You must also determine if you will brand yourself as an answering service, a call center, a contact center, a BPO (business process outsourcer), or something else. If you pick multiple answers, seriously consider a separate website for each one. They can look similar and even duplicate some content, but they each need a separate website and domain name.
Establish Goals: What goals do you want your website to accomplish? It can be as an online brochure to support your sales team, a means to capture leads, a way to order online, or some other goal.
Hire an Experienced Website Developer: With your brand, identity, and goals established, now hire a professional website designer. Though they could produce your logo and determine your color palate, if you don’t have all these other elements firmly in place before you call them, expect to pay two or three times as much for them to help you work through these decisions. Also ask them to use WordPress. I’m biased here, but one quarter of the websites worldwide use WordPress. It’s open-source, has a great online support community, and there are scads of developers to step in if needed (in case your developer disappears, which happens too often). Plus, if you want to, you can make simple changes yourself.
Don’t Survey Other TAS Sites: Don’t look at other TAS websites for ideas. Seriously. Instead look at the successful websites in other professional service organizations. You don’t want to look like other TAS websites; you want to look better than other TAS websites. You have to look outside the industry to do so. Tell your designer which ones you like and why.
Hire a Writer: Your developer could write your content or you could do it yourself, but the likely outcome is you will end up sounding like everyone else in the TAS industry. Hire a professional freelance writer or journalist to interview you and write the content. Your website developer may have recommendations of who to contact.
Hit Refresh Every Couple of Years: In looking at TAS websites, I see a few that were great websites – ten or fifteen years ago. Now they merely look dated and imply the same about the company. Plan to update yours about every two to three years. If you like your developer and stay with them, the refresh shouldn’t cost as much as the first version – unless you wait too long before doing the update.
Having a professional website is critical to helping your answering service grow. It is your first step to a better tomorrow.
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Five Tips for Family Business Succession Planning
By Lois Lang, Psy.D.
When it comes to family business succession planning most family business leaders don’t do it, they don’t do it well, or they wait until it’s too late. While CEO longevity in non-family businesses is about six years, for a family owned businesses CEOs tend to stay for twenty to twenty-five years.
Sure, that long tenure contributes to stability and consistency, but it can also fuel flat growth, narrow business focus, and decrease leadership drive. Additionally, when CEO and top level executive family members do not step aside in a timely manner, it causes a high level of frustration in the next generation, and it becomes hard to hold on to the ambitious ones.
That’s why family businesses need to have a solid succession plan in place. As you plan your company’s future leadership, keep these points in mind:
- Think Beyond Seniority: Many family business executives choose future leaders based on seniority or age. But this easy choice can backfire if the adult child has not gained respect from other family members and employees.
- Embrace a Professional Process: The more thoughtful, objective, and inclusive the process of bringing on the next leader is, the more likely the transition will be embraced. Succession readiness calls for a written transition plan and an individual development strategy for the future CEO. This involves establishing a coaching arrangement and providing stretch assignments in different areas of the company.
- Rank Possible Successors on Key Criteria: Rather than just promote the next oldest family member, create a list of all possible successors and rank them, from 1 to 10. This will help you see which ones are best positioned to move the company forward. Consider these areas:
- Work experience and advancement history
- Learning agility
- Prior leadership positions
- Advancement potential
- Advancement desire
- Interpersonal skills
- Assessment of their values compared to the company’s
- Past performance
- The ability to take risks
- Decision-making ability
- Problem-solving skills
- Groom the Next Generation: Once you have a successor in mind, offer additional development through job rotations, stretch assignments, additional profit and loss responsibility, and greater exposure to board members and customers. The more emphasis you place on prepping the next leader, the smoother the transition.
- Consider a Non-Family Leader: Often known as a “bridge CEO,” a non-family member can be a great mentor for the next generation of family leaders, and bring diverse, in-depth experience to drive business growth, bringing professional alliances, partnerships, and strategy opportunities.
Thoughtful, on-going succession planning is necessary for long-term business success and sustainability. Therefore, start now. Develop a clear plan about who, when, and how. The more planning you do now, the better the future will be – for you and your family business.
Lois Lang is a speaker and consultant with Evolve Partner Group, LLC where she helps organizations become high performance workplaces. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 209-952-1143.
Telephone Answering Service News
Alston Tascom Unveils Tascom SQL 4.0
Key enhancements to Tascom SQL includes operator companion, which allows managers to have assurance that the agent on duty is responding to items in the queue in a timely manner; reply and deliver, allows email and SMS message clients to mark messages as delivered when they reply; client web access, lets clients view messages, if-messages, locates, and on-call messages using any web browser; and secure messaging on auto deliver
VoiceNation Appoints Jason Gazaway as Marketing Communications Specialist
VoiceNation appointed Jason Gazaway as marketing communications specialist. Jason will oversee marketing communications around the offerings and features of VoiceNation, which includes the company’s open source answering service software, OpenAnswer, as well as VoiceNation’s outreach program, Georgia Calls. He will be responsible for internal and external branding, project management, article and content development, social media, and raising awareness. A recognized speaker, Gazaway has led national webinars and sessions on customer segmentation and retention. He is a member of eMarketing Association and a former member of the Technology Association of Georgia.
Send us your TAS articles and news for consideration in the next issue.
Quotes for the Month
“Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.” -Carl Sandburg
“The way we see the problem is the problem.” -Stephen Covey
“In a democracy it’s your vote that counts. In feudalism it’s your count that votes.” –unknown