Welcome to the New TAS Trader!
By Peter DeHaan, PhD
As I announced last month, TAS Trader begins its sixth year with a new look to meet readers’ changing needs. With more people reading emails on their smartphones than not, the old PDF format of TAS Trader has been retired in favor of this new mobile-friendly version, ideal for smartphone and portable devices, while also working well on computers.
For readers who prefer to read a printed copy, go to www.tastrader.com/category/issues and click on the print icon at the end of each issue. Also, our archives have already been converted to this new format, so you can read them online, forward them to others, and print them out. Additionally, each issue has a comment section for you to add to the discussion.
TAS of the Month: Answer United
Answer United is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in its new facilities located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Having experienced growth over the last several years, Answer United outgrew its original location. “We found the perfect building for our needs; it was like it was built for us forty-five years ago,” said Scott Gignac, president of Answer United. “We took nine months to renovate the 13,000-square-foot building and moved in last August. Our people love the space. We were crowded in our old building, and now we have a large break room, a twelve-seat training facility, and plenty of room to grow.”
To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!
The Essential First Step to Increase Sales
By Arthur Cronos
The most valuable thing I learned from Michael Gerber, author of the best-selling book The EMyth is why most small businesses sell poorly and what to do about it. He says the business development cycle consists of innovation, quantification, and orchestration, applied to how you do business. That means thinking up a new way to operate, finding a way to measure how much it succeeds, and adopting the good methods into permanent systems. If more sales sounds good to you, then the first step in quantifying your sales process, which we’ll call “benchmarks,” is to reveal where the sales process falls down.
Benchmarks: When somebody (an inquiry) calls you about service, several steps happen in sequence, and the last step is that they buy. Your steps may vary, but it’s something like this: Sales line rings ⇒ call answered ⇒ information captured ⇒ transfer to sales ⇒ speaks with sales ⇒ script initiated ⇒ script completed ⇒ signup form completed
Your sale can succeed or fail at any of these benchmarks. For example, suppose you have the world’s best salesperson sitting beside the phone, but what if the sales line isn’t answered? Or never transferred to sales? What if call is answered and transferred, but sales doesn’t answer? What if the salesperson just wings it?
Quantification: You’re most likely using a sign-up form. And if you’re getting the best sales, your sales staff probably uses a tested script. Try creating a benchmarks form, to be completed daily, with a column each day and a box beneath for each step.
Use your system to track how many times the sales line rang, how many calls were answered, and the number of calls that were transferred. Have each salesperson fill out a form for each call, even nonproductive ones. Each day, count the forms to determine the number of inquiries spoken to. Also count how many forms have any information, meaning the script was started, and how many forms are filled out, indicating the script was completed. Last, how many inquiries signed up?
Each week add up the daily totals. Prepare to be surprised.
Results: By measuring the key points (benchmarks) along the way, you can tell where the sales process needs improvements. Do this for two to three weeks, and the results will shout at you. Naturally, you can ignore quantification and fly by the seat of your pants. That’s what most TAS owners do. To discover how well that works, listen to other owners complain about sales. That’s what an unquantified approach can provide for you, too.
If you decide you’d rather enjoy better results, try the benchmarks approach. It’s not exciting, but the money is.
Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.
Telephone Answering Service News
Emergency TAS Runs on Memory Stick
Mastar EmergRemote allows telephone answering services to run their TAS on a memory stick during emergencies. A TAS can get up and running instantly, with unlimited accounts and clients, including email, text, and other TAS functions. The database can be populated manually or by using Excel. Mastar Telemessaging provides answering service software systems, dispatch systems, hosted VoIP services, DID hardware, inbound messaging, outbound marketing, and custom Filemaker applications.
Sound Telecom Unveils Comprehensive Guide to Shopping for a TAS
Sound Telecom released a guide for businesses to use when looking for an answering service. The document, “9 Questions You Should Ask when Shopping for an Answering Service: The Comprehensive Guide” is based on numerous blog entries written by their COO, Brian Gabriel. The guide is designed to familiarize shoppers with some of the important things to consider, along with pertinent background information, when searching for an answering service. The primer also warns of potential traps that buyers should be wary of. Sound Telecom aims to make the process of selecting an answering service a straightforward, pleasant experience.
Tascom Users Hold Annual Meeting
Tascom users’ meeting was held at South Point Casino Hotel in Las Vegas on November 7–8, 2013. The main discussion centered around their new softswitch Adam, which several sites have already installed. The discussions also compared traditional individual servers, virtual servers, and hosted servers. The meeting ended with plans for next year’s Tascom user meeting and the celebration of thirty-five years of service to the telemessaging industry, with twenty years of ownership by Wayne and Joanne Scaggs.
For more information, contact Alston Tascom 866-282-7266 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Professional Teledata Offers No-Cost Secure Messaging
Professional Teledata announced a new secure messaging feature added to the PInnacle platform. No third-party services are required to provide the secure Web interface functionality. The feature will work by emailing or texting a link to a message that will be viewed via https using an Internet browser. Not only is this feature HIPAA-compliant, it is also device-agnostic (works with iPad, iPhone, Android, Surface, Windows, and others). The secure messaging feature will be provided to all PInnacle users at no charge as part of Professional Teledata’s ongoing software-support program. It also offers TAS the ability to increase revenue.
Amtelco’s miSecureMessages Partners Program Success
Amtelco works with answering services to market miSecureMessages (MSM) to their clients; the program includes over 100 partners. For MSM-certified partners, Amtelco provides marketing materials, including a movie, a marketing call script, a case study of marketing tips, content ideas for brochures, and an email template. MSM-certified partners also receive a set of core benefits that can help answering services become more profitable, better serve customers, and build connections to reach their full business potential. Some of the benefits of being a MSM-certified partner include discounted per-device monthly rates, access to tier-one customer support, and an MSM-certified partner logo for promotional use.
CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction Winners for 2013
The CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction addresses customer relationship management (CRM), courtesy, etiquette, and professional call handling for call centers. The 2013 CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction winners are:
- Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
- Appletree Answering Service, Anaheim, CA
- Appletree Answering Service, Chicago, IL
- Appletree Answering Service, Portland, ME
- Answer Plus, Toronto, ON
- Answer Plus, Hamilton, ON
- Connections Call Center Ltd., Squamish, BC
- Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
- Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
- Intercon Messaging, Drayton Valley, AB
- PDL Contact Centres, Calgary, AB
- Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., Abbotsford, BC
- Select Call Centre, Edmonton, AB
- TigerTel Communications Inc., London, ON and Winnipeg, MB
- TigerTel Communications Inc., Oshawa, ON
- TigerTel Communications Inc., Vancouver, BC
- Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
- Telelink, St. John’s, NL
The top scores were earned by Answer 1 Communications and Re: Messaging Solutions Inc. TAS Trader salutes these top call centers and all who participated. Collectively you raise industry standards and exceed client expectations.
Quotes for the Month
“Several excuses are always less convincing than one.” –Aldous Huxley
“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
“A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.” –Unknown
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in Eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k 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 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: 2 Americom Identifier Plus units, one 8 Line Video Adapter, 6 VFR5050 Voice Repeaters. All equipment is in excellent working condition. I replaced my phone system, which eliminated the need for this equipment. Please visit www.imageofficeservices.com/equipment.htm to view equipment and prices.