Memories of Moving
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
My wife and I plan to move in a few weeks. The last time we moved was twenty-seven years ago, so the process of preparing, packing, and loading isn’t too fresh. Yet the enormity of the task has never left us and is now being reinforced. Moving represents new opportunities, a new start, and new friends. It also means saying good-bye to the present and to longtime friends.
We’ve only moved our household a handful of times. What I’ve experienced more frequently is moving a TAS; I’ve lost track of how many. For my company, sometimes the moves were the result of an acquisition, while others were to a new facility. Often I’d be involved in every aspect: preparing the facility, scheduling staff, ordering telco services, communicating with clients, forming an action plan, physically transporting equipment and furniture, and cutting over – ideally all without any downtime. Of course, this takes a team of qualified employees to pull off, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by some truly great people.
As a consultant, sometimes I focused just on the technical aspect of the move. Other times I merely developed the plan, with other people to carry it out.
Moving a TAS is intense. There is diligent planning, careful preparation, long hours of work, possibly a night without sleep, lots of pressure, and often the need to respond to the unexpected at the worst possible moment. Yet when the move is complete and call processing has returned to normal, there’s time to take a break, survey the situation, and realize it was all worth it.
May I say the same about our move in a few weeks!
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.
Is a Weak Online Reputation Costing You Sales?
By Arthur Cronos
Bad online reputation? No reputation? Even a so-so “good” reputation? You’re losing sales. EBay grew huge with its “seller-reputation” voting. Amazon was fueled by on-site book reviews. Yelp’s reviews can make or break any restaurant.
In the faceless Internet world, statistics show that buyers turn to reviews to choose what they buy. Search for “dentist near Dallas” on Google. Notice the three paid ads at the top and some on the right, under the map.
Mid-page, there are seven listings corresponding to the map; Google thinks these seven are the top dentists in Dallas. One of the ways Google selects them is by how many good reviews they have.
Do your eyes go to any of these listings more than the others? Yes. Some dentists have bright orange stars. One is a five-star dentist. If you needed a dentist fast and you can’t ask a friend, would you choose the dentist with five stars? Most people would.
Welcome to the world of reputation marketing. A good reputation and stars will get you a better listing on Google, attract people’s attention, and make customers trust you. This trend has been sneaking up on us. Google recently merged 80 million business websites with its “Google Plus” business pages, added reviews, and now reports the number of stars on search pages. If you have a bad reputation from poor reviews or no online reviews, it’s there for the world to see.
And when you have no online reputation at all – in other words, no reviews – any competitor’s listing with stars will hijack anyone searching for you. If you’re wise, you will create a five-star reputation for yourself now; use these reviews and stars as modern-day testimonials, forcing your website visitors to realize that you’re the best. A five-star reputation draws more inquiries and closes more sales.
Now, search around. Most answering services have no reputation at all, no reviews. The TAS industry remains unaware about this method of marketing. So far, that is. The opportunity is wide open. Will you lead? Or will you wait and trail behind?
Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel, and wrote several books.
Telephone Answering Service News
Szeto Releases New Asterisk-Based Smart Switch, the SSS-100
Szeto Technologies has newly released its versatile and sophisticated smart telephony switch SSS-100 based on the Asterisk platform. This switch is fully compatible functionally with its predecessor, VMS4500, acting as front-end equipment to Szeto’s Call Linx TAS system. Tightly integrated into the Call Linx software, the SSS-100 provides real-time redundancy backup. It is designed to be very robust, cost-effective, and scalable from a few channels to a several hundred channels. The switch has many embedded standard features, including voice call logger, voice mail, and conferencing multi-channel SIP connections.
Alston Tascom ADAM Installation Surpasses 100 Seats
Answering Service Care, a division of Global Response, is utilizing Tascom’s new soft-switch “ADAM” with over 100 seats. The 100-plus seats are spread out over the corporate office, a satellite office, and remote operators throughout the United States. The dynamic operator login allows any agent to log in to any position, from any place, at any time, which is a tremendous aid in scheduling agents. ADAM is a native SIP-based switch that also provides direct PRI connections. ADAM’s browser-based interface and HTML coding utilizes today’s and tomorrow’s communication technology.
Phyllis Shaw Receives Allen Kalik Award of Excellence
During the PINetwork’s annual conference, Phyllis Shaw of Business & Professional Exchange in Beverly, Massachusetts, received the prestigious Allen Kalik award from PIN User Group president, Angelo Celesia. The Allen Kalik award was implemented in 2011 after the passing of the industry leader and president of Professional Teledata, Allen Kalik. “A more perfect recipient of this award could not have been chosen; Allen would be very pleased,” said Professional Teledata current president, Pat Kalik. “Phyllis goes above and beyond when it comes to educating her fellow PIN users. We are so lucky to have her as part of our community.”
AnswerPro Honored with Business Excellence Award of Merit
AnswerPro Limited received a 2014 Kansas Regional Business Excellence Award of Merit, according to Doug Gregg, general manager. The awards were presented during Kansas Business Appreciation Month by the Kansas Department of Commerce. AnswerPro was recognized in the service category. Founded in 1956 as Lee’s Secretarial Service, today AnswerPro specializes in private sector critical response for healthcare-related businesses, as well as private companies ranging from manufacturers and small businesses to contractors and delivery services. AnswerPro offers “front office” service to customers so they don’t need to go to the trouble and expense of setting up a traditional office.
NAEO 2014/2015 Board
The National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) members elected a new board of directors at their 2014 conference in Dallas, Texas: Kurt VanderScheer, president: Robert Donnelly, future directions committee chair; Billy Peppard, past president; Theran Mossholder, education committee chair; Gerald R. Brosseau II, vice-president/president-elect; Lina Masri, education committee co-chair; Gordon Mott, secretary/treasurer; Matt Crocker, committee chair; Chair Laurie Blow, conference committee; Sydney Ryan, sponsorship task force chairman; Gerald R. Brosseau II, certification development committee chair; Kelli Harrigan, ATSI representative; Lisa Phillips, membership committee chair; Kelli Harrigan, Newslinks editor, hospital liaison; Mike Crossman, membership committee co-chair. The executive director is Andy Shelp.
Sound Telecom Discusses TAS Continuity Plans
Sound Telecom’s article, “Brick House Answering Services Can Handle the Huff and the Puff,” focuses on what answering services do to ensure they stay up and running. The piece uses the Three Little Pigs metaphor, questioning why any business would trust an answering service that isn’t the equivalent of a house of bricks. The Big Bad Wolf could be anything from technical glitches, system failures, and power outages to lack of staffing due to bad weather, illness, or natural disasters. Brian Gabriel, the author of the article, says that when a company considers a TAS, they often overlook the services continuity capability.
Quotes for the Month
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats
“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” -Aldous Huxley
“A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.” -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, head-sets (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.
Answering Service for Sale: Upper East Coast – Entrepreneurs Delight. Solid 35 year-old TAS business billing $70k+ per month with 29% profitability. Averaging $1.28 per transaction, this answering service has management in place and is listed for only 13.4 times monthly billing or $950k, cash. Broker 800-369-6126. For more listings, log onto www.tasmarketing.com and sign up for the “TAS Tips” newsletter.
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ATSI Convention Photos
By Steve Michaels
Look for a list of the 2014 ATSI Award of Excellence Winners in the next issue of TAS Trader.