A Possible Messaging Opportunity
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Two common ways to grow a telephone answering service are through acquisitions and via sales and marketing. A third way is to provide additional services. With the announcement that Frontier will offer texting on business landlines (see their announcement in the News Section), TASs will have the opportunity to offer more services.
In some cases, the need to handle text messaging will occur by default when text-enabled Frontier customers sign up for an answering service. Another opportunity resides with Frontier customers who feel pressured by their customers to accept text messages but aren’t prepared to receive and respond to those messages. The reasons could be many: a lack of the needed technological infrastructure, not enough staff, a desire to focus on other activities deemed more important, unable or unwilling staff, or the perception that texting is a distraction.
Regardless of the motivation, answering services can screen, respond to, and reroute text messages, just as they do with phone calls now. Of course, working out the technical details of interfacing telco texting services is another issue, but it should be relatively easy to figure out on newer, Web-enabled systems. While this opportunity may not be a good fit for every TAS, it is worth considering.
Make Your TAS Unique and Selling Gets Easier
By Arthur Cronos
Recently I talked with an answering service sales manager and discovered that his company offered free service to get prospects on-board but failed to sign up most of the people who inquired, and of those who signed up, the majority left at the end of the free period.
Not very impressive sales results! Then he revealed the source of the problem: “When the only difference between us and the next answering service is price, what can you do?”
The question answers itself. If your marketing portrays you as the same as the next guy, there is no reason a prospect should choose you.
Consider Starbucks selling coffee for five dollars. Joe’s Diner charges a dollar. If the coffee is the same, then Joe’s Diner should be brimful of customers and Starbucks empty. But Starbucks is full and sometimes Joe’s Diner goes broke, because the coffee at Starbucks and the coffee at Joe’s Diner is not the same—not to buyers.
So the key is not being the same as the next answering service. This requires change.
Powerful sales come when you establish a congruence between your message (what you say), your market (the prospects you seek), and your media (the channel through which you reach out).
Market: Starbucks is designed to appeal to young-thinking, stylish adults with disposable income.
Message: “You’re young and hip. Indulge yourself with exotic coffees, because you’re so cool.”
Media: Warm, classy appearance, vaguely European storefronts, young “baristas,” Italian words, and with-it media like text messaging. Think back: Starbucks sounded, looked, and felt unlike any coffee shop you’d ever seen. So why is it that every answering service in the country has the same website? Young woman with headset, techno-babble regarding 24/7/365, and claims of caring but offering no proof. Change the business name on these websites, and what difference would it make?
Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel, and wrote several books.
Telephone Answering Service News
Alston Tascom’s Autonomous Secure Messaging Server
Alston Tascom released an autonomous secure messaging server for any TAS system in the industry. Autonomous secure messaging offers a solution when clients require sending a secure message on their messaging provider. To date, the browser-based secure message server communicates with the following secure message providers: OnPage, Tigertext, DocbookMD, GroupMD, Twistle, Global, and Mediprocity. Even more important, for customers that use this product and have a customer with a different secure messaging provider, Alston Tascom will work with them to add them to the secure messaging server.
Professional Teledata Enhances PInnacle Voice Logger
Professional Teledata introduced a recently enhanced PInnacle voice logger to their lineup of technology solutions. PInnacle Voice Logger is a SIP-based audio recorder, tightly integrated into the well-received PInnacle TAS system. Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata, states, “Since PInnacle voice logger is entirely SIP-based, no special computer hardware or proprietary add-in cards are required, thus improving operational efficiencies, further cost reductions, and – of course – peace of mind.” PInnacle users have the immediate ability to integrate PInnacle voice logger with their current eQueue and eConn switches, and Millennium integration support is now available.
Spectrum Dialer Installed at Answerphone, Inc
Amtelco installed the first Spectrum Dialer at Answerphone, Inc, in Albany, New York. Spectrum Dialer is a platform-independent, fully featured SIP-based dialer that performs automated services such as appointment reminder calls and mass notifications; it is designed for use by contact centers wishing to serve multiple clients on a shared platform. System administration and client account setups are handled by an intuitive graphical user interface. Call lists may be imported as CSV and Excel files or uploaded via Web-based self-service. After dialing, the system can automatically email a summary report to the client; users also may create custom reports.
TUNe 2014/2015 Board
The Telecommunications Users Network, Inc. (TUNe) is an association of Telescan product users who share, exchange, and profit from innovative ideas. TUNe members elected a new board of directors at their 2014 conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The new TUNe board members are president: Tom Baur; vice president: Dustin Cremeans; secretary: Kim Cotner; treasurer: Angela Hightower Nally; ATSI rep: Gary Edwards; and director: Michael Bloomberg. The Telescan rep is Mary Stuckey; Maryellen Pruitt is TUNe’s executive director.
Voltos Announces Free Reputation Report Service
Voltos Marketing Engineers, who manage the free webinars for TAS Trader, announced a free service for TAS owners. The Reputation Report online calculator searches dozens of online sites where business reviews are visible to Internet searchers to assemble a report of a company’s online reputation. In a recent Nielsen survey, 72 percent of buyers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Bad reviews or a lack of reviews undermine marketing efforts, but busy owners lack time to track down and monitor the growing list of online review sites.
Sound Telecom Taps Bruce Valles to Join Sales Team
Sound Telecom added Bruce Valles to their sales department in response to growing interest in their telephone answering service. While his title is sales consultant, Bruce could easily be dubbed relationship manager. Sound Telecom offers free consultations, and it will be his duty to handle many of those requests. His focus for a consultation will be to ask questions, listen, and understand the challenges the individual and company faces. By building relationships and offering honest recommendations, advice, and expertise, Bruce will help customize answering service solutions for each person or company.
Startel Releases New Stand-alone Voice Logger Solution
Startel Corporation announced the availability of the Startel standalone voice logger application, an easy-to-use tool that allows users to search, play, save, and email Startel voice logger clips. As a stand-alone application, customers and end users will benefit from time saved when with searching for and listening to inbound and outbound calls. “Now that the application is separate from the Startel soft switch, it frees up resources and optimizes retrieval and playback, resulting in a quicker response time of customer requests,” said Bill Lane, president and CEO of Startel.
Quotes for the Month
“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” –Joseph Addison
“The worst days of those who enjoy what they do are better than the best days of those who don’t.” –Jim Rohn
“You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.” –Unknown
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month – smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or email@example.com.
Mastar.com TAS systems: Get Free 3:1 Emergency Remote TAS on a Memory Stick; email/text/TAP; app optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equipment for Sale: 1940s 557 Cord Switchboard restored, rotary dial, headsets (over the head and Plantronics), dialer pens, James Reminder clock, original operator chair, and many new cordboard parts, plugs, light pullers, and pliers. Call and make offer: 559-264-4806.
See all ads.
ATSI Award of Excellence Winners 2014
TAS Trader and Connections Magazine salute this year’s ATSI Award of Excellence Winners. The award is cumulative, with many answering services earning this recognition for many years. With the top ten scores in bold, the complete list of this year’s honorees are:
Sunshine Communication Services, Coral Gables, FL
Emerald Coast Answerphone, Lynn Havel, FL
Bennett Answering Service, Flint, MI
Alliance Communications Center, LLC, Orlando, FL
The Perfect Answer, Madison, WI
Nationwide Inbound, Inc., Freeport, IL
CBSI, Marietta, GA
AnswerPro Limited, Mission, KS
TigerTel Communications Inc., AB
A Courteous Communications, Corp, Orlando, FL
King’s Telemessaging Services, Shreveport, LA
PWC Message Center, Dothan, AL
Network One Message Center, Tampa, FL
AAA Message Connection, Chattanooga, TN
Carolyn’s Communications Inc., Snellville, GA
Range Call Center, Marquette, MI
Answer Plus, Inc., Las Vegas, NV
Answer California, El Cajon, CA
Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
TigerTel Communications Inc., Nanaimo, BC
Advanced Answering, Manchester, TN
Commercial Telephone Exchange, Inc., Reno, NV
Answer Bay Area, Tampa, FL
TigerTel Communications Inc., Richmond, BC
Central Communications Corp., Riverdale, CA
Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX
Answering Service Care by Global Response, Margate, FL
Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
Secretariats, Inc., Norfolk, VA
The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL
Quick Connections, Greenbelt, MD
IMAGE 24, Montreal, QC
TigerTel Communications Inc., Vancouver, BC
Always On Call Answering Service LLC, Concord, NH
Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
LABELL EXCHANGE, Santa Ana, CA
Connections Call Center Ltd., Squamish, BC
The Answer Network, Roanoke, VA
Action Telephone, Rochester, NY
AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
TigerTel Communications Inc., Oshawa, ON
AnswerNow, Phoenix, AZ
Keener Communications, Inc., Richmond, VA
Cosmopolitan Medical Communications, Phoenix, AZ
IPN Messaging, La Porte, IN
Call Experts, Charleston, SC
King Communications, Inc., Saginaw, MI
Business & Professional Exchanges Inc., Beverly, MA
MedConnect USA, Las Vegas, NV
The Message Center, San Antonio, TX
Information Communications Group, Leawood, KS
Medcom Professional Services, Inc., Allentown, PA
Santa Cruz Answering Service, Santa Cruz, CA
Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
Alphapage LLC, Denver, CO
Allgood Communications, Inc., Pueblo, CO
StatCall, Alexandria, VA
Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
CALLSTAR, St. Petersburg, FL
Central Communications Inc., Norwalk, CT
Com Net, LLC, Muncie, IN
Messages & more, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ
Answer Excellence, Inc., Clearwater, FL
AnswerTel of Athens, Inc., Athens, AL
Answer Center, Virginia Beach, VA
Finger Lakes Answering Service, Auburn, NY
Communications Group, Syracuse, NY
Contact One Call Center, Inc., Tucson, AZ
Berkshire Communicators Inc., Pittsfield, MA
Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
Antietam Call Center, Hagerstown, MD
A Better Answer – Hurst, Hurst, TX
Port City Communications, Inc., Port Huron, MI
Dexcomm, Carencro, LA
Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
Callnet Call Center, Bloomington, IN
Corporate Message Services, Savannah, GA
Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
TAB AnswerNetwork, Santa Ana, CA
A Better Answer – Houston, Houston, TX
Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL
OmniCall, Carrollton, GA
Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
Anser Services, Green Bay, WI
Answer All, Westminster, CO
T.A.S. Communications, Inc., Madison, WI
A Better Answer – Plano, Plano, TX
Answer United, Kalamazoo, MI
Hastings Communication Services, Austin, TX
Medcom Professional Services, Inc., Levittown, PA
Business Connections, Salem, OR
Answernet Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ
Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI
[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan.]