Managing a Distributed Workforce
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Last month I wrote that many TAS owners use a management style called “management by walking around.” The default method of many entrepreneurs and small business owners, this is a simple yet effective way to oversee a single-location business, provided the owner is on-site.
However, if the manager isn’t present, the business can quickly degrade. For that reason, absentee owners and telephone answering services with multiple locations or work-at-home agents need to use another form of management.
Management by Objective: Once a popular management method, the basic premise is simple: set objectives, and evaluate staff based on meeting those objectives. This works best for higher-level employees. For agents, the objective could be to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, but this veers into the next option.
Management by Numbers: Set numeric goals for employees; reward them for meeting those goals. Of course, only work that can be measured will be done.
Management by Manual: Larger businesses develop policy-and-procedure manuals, which grow increasingly heftier as the enterprise expands. These documents specify everything imaginable, from where to hang your coat to what to do during a disaster. This requires employees to study, internalize, and adhere to the manual. If a situation falls outside the manual, it’s often ignored.
Management by Monitoring: At the most basic level, this is why we have shift supervisors. This method can also entail remote observation of employees. Monitoring is labor intensive; in extreme cases companies end up with people monitoring the monitors. While some of this can be automated, the human element cannot be removed completely.
All of the Above: In most cases, business owners combine elements of all these management methods to effectively oversee staff working in multiple locations. Much of it hinges on the business goals and personal preferences of the owners. They’ll likely mix in a bit of management by walking around as well.
Lead-Generation: Why “Build It and They Will Come” Doesn’t Work
By Arthur Cronos
People used to say, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Then, from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.” Sadly, however, this doesn’t work.
I’ve known many businesses that were built, and no customers came. Some of those businesses were better mousetraps, but so what? The world ignored them.
Especially today, with the amount of daily clutter bombarding us, if you want new clients, then you must be the one to reach out to them, and you need to do it better than your competition. You can’t just set up shop, do a good job, and expect new clients to race through the door.
How can you reach out? There are methods that work, generally lumped under the heading of “lead generation.” Aside from tried-and-true direct mail, much of what works in today’s world is a kind of technological art form.
For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) makes your website show up better in Google results. “Follow-Me” ads display themselves to everyone who ever visited your website, no matter where they go on the Internet. “Stars Marketing” – where your company generates scores of positive reviews online, making eye-catching stars show up beside your company name in Google – elevates you on the search page, and sets you apart from competition. There are dozens of systems proven to work in today’s world, but none of them will do you any good unless you begin to use them.
What is your lead-generation strategy? Is it random and occasional, or is it systematized? Do you have more than one lead-generation method? And most importantly, are your lead-generation systems bringing you more than enough new clients to fuel steady growth?
Fact: Effective lead-generation strategies create cash flow, and cash flow solves a majority of business problems.
A new year beckons. You can make this the year when you do better than ever before. Implement lead-generation systems that work, and watch the steady growth begin.
Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.
Telephone Answering Service News
Steve Michaels Quoted as “Industry Expert”
In the recently published 2014 Business Reference Guide for entrepreneurs and business owners, Steve Michaels, broker at TAS Marketing, Inc., was quoted as being an industry expert when it comes to valuing telephone answering services.
Under the section “Call Centers (Telemarketing),” Michaels is quoted several times under subsections of “Rules of Thumb,” “Pricing Tips,” and “Industry Trends.” The book may be purchased from Amazon.com for $143.
Steve Michaels can be reached in his office in Montana at 800-369-6126 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amtelco’s IS Backup Operator Provides Business Continuity
Amtelco released IS Backup Operator business continuity tool, which configures each operator station with a read-only copy of the Intelligent Series database so a TAS can maintain essential call handling functions in the event the IS Server is inaccessible due to a network outage. The feature creates a copy of the IS database, which is compacted and copied to individual agent workstations. It contains only the elements of the client account and system setup configurations essential to continue call-processing activities until the service outage is corrected. A telephone instrument is required at each workstation.
Gail Smit Receives CAM-X Recognition
Gail Smit, formerly of Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., received the Barbara Bradbury Pay It Forward Mentoring Award. This award recognizes an industry leader who has made a difference in the lives of others by supporting and encouraging them to develop new skills and maximize their potential. “Barbara has been an amazing contributor to so many,” Gail said upon receiving the award. “Being acknowledged for making a difference truly means more than I can put in words, and sharing this moment with all my CAM-X mentors, the very people who have made such a difference in my life – well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
Towne Answering Service Earns Gold – Again
Towne Answering Service received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification for the third time. Towne was the first answering service certified on the Pinnacle platform and is an active member of the PINetwork. The ATSI-sponsored certification indicates that Towne Answering Service has met or exceeded high standards in the areas of business practices, life safety, operations (including normal and emergency procedures), and personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time.
Quotes for the Month
“Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except the best.” – Henry van Dyke
“No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding.” – Plato
“A lot of money is tainted: ’Taint yours, and ’taint mine.” – 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.