Streamline Your Answering Service Administration
Don’t Neglect Admin Functions as You Optimize Your TAS
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
In past issues we looked at streamlining various aspects of telephone answering services: sales, client onboarding, and customer service, agent hiring and training, billing and collections, and processes and procedures. Now we turn our attention to upper management: the admin function.
Every role in every business carries a bit of fluff, some more than others. This includes upper management, also known as administration. Here are three areas to look at when it comes to streamlining your answering service’s admin function:
1. What Can You Eliminate? What admin tasks fall short in producing a tangible benefit for your service? These include activities that once held value but no longer do, as well as work that never did contribute to overall business success. Especially scrutinize projects which are done because they’re enjoyable, and duties pursued because they seem essential. Analyze each one.
Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen if no one did this chore? If the answer is nothing or if there’s a risk of investing in an inconsequential amount of time at some point in the future, then cut that activity.
2. What Can You Streamline? Of the remaining tasks, consider how to make each one of them more efficient. This includes removing steps that don’t significantly contribute to the outcome, as well as cutting the number of people involved in the project. Each resource removed from the undertaking will serve to make it easier to do and less time consuming. This frees up energy and staff for other activities of greater importance.
3. What Can You Delegate? For those items that past the first screen—the ones considered essential to your service’s profitability, viability, or effectiveness— and are appropriately streamlined, consider who should handle them. You may not be the right person for the job. It could be you’re overqualified to manage it, that your time is too valuable to devote to it, or that someone else is better suited to the task.
Look to delegate what you can. This will not only lighten your load, but it will also empower people on your team. Most will jump at a chance to oversee a higher-level responsibility at your answering service. And if someone claims they’re too busy to do your delegated assignment, challenge them to look at what existing tasks they can eliminate or delegate to others.
Act Now: To realize the benefits of streamlining admin functions requires a bit of effort to get there. If you think you’re too busy to do this, you’ve just confirmed how essential this optimization project is.
Start with doing a time study of everything you do for at least a week. Yes, it’s a hassle, but the information is invaluable. And, as a bonus, many people who keep a time log find it automatically makes them more efficient because they don’t want to document their inefficiencies or poor time investments.
Summary: Once you determine how you spend your time, ask how important each task is to your answering service’s overall well-being. Look to cut non-essential work. Then streamline what remains. And last, delegate what you can.
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Maintaining Quality and Productivity in a Virtual Work Environment
By April Forer
With the increase in more employees working remotely, you might be concerned about a decrease in work quality and productivity, and you are not alone. But there are a variety of analytics and performance measurement functions you can use to ensure that productivity and quality are not taking a hit with your transition to a virtual telephone answering service.
Consider these tools:
Call Analytics: Measure a variety of both historical and live call information with call analytics, such as:
- Total calls per day
- Calls per agent
- Calls per call type
- Calls per client
Service Level Reports: A helpful way to determine the productivity of your answering service is with service level reports. You can watch agents’ interaction with callers, traffic patterns, agent abandons, and system abandons.
Keeping an eye on the call queue to make sure agents answer calls on time can be a mundane task. However, a system monitor can display the number of calls in queue and which agents are logged in. Any calls that have a longer wait time than the critical time set can trigger an alert. This stands out as a warning that calls are exceeding the wait time threshold.
Quality Assurance: Another important process to ensure agents are adhering to customer service standards is quality assurance (QA). Setting standards to assess agent performance gives agents a clear understanding of expectations. By recording all calls or a sample of calls, you can use a pre-built web script or create your own list of questions to score each agent on their performance.
Assign different points or score values to each question, based on their importance. This is a great training tool for giving feedback to your agents and can also be used to incentivize your staff. Call recordings can also be available to your clients to listen to their calls and ensure their calls are being handled correctly, which is a great selling tool.
Conclusion: Use data from call reports, and set clear expectations of agent performance. Then you can have more confidence in your virtual answering service running smoothly and productively. And you might even see an improvement.
April Forer is the marketing specialist for Amtelco TAS Division. Amtelco has a strong history in the telemessaging industry and was founded in 1976 to provide communication solutions to the answering service and medical messaging industry.
Amtelco Deemed Top Workplace: Amtelco received a Top Workplaces 2020 honor and a special award for work/life flexibility by The Wisconsin State Journal. These awards are based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey. The anonymous survey uniquely measures fifteen drivers of engaged cultures that are critical to the success of any organization.
“My father, Bill Curtin, II founded Amtelco in 1976. We have always been family-owned and managed through multiple generations of our family who care for and understand our customers’ business.” said Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco. “We truly believe that our customers and employees are extended family and that culture is what fuels our business success. Being named in the Top Workplace list is a testament to the importance of continually making our company culture a top priority.”
NAEO 2021 in Atlanta: The National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) users’ group has announced that the 2021 NAEO Annual Conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia. The conference will run from March 7–10, 2021 and be held at the Omni Hotel at the Battery overlooking Truist Park, home of the Atlanta Braves. We were all disappointed by the international circumstances that resulted in the cancellation of the 2020 conference in New Orleans and are confident that missing a year of sharing ideas and fellowship at conference will make the hunger for 2021 even deeper.
Send us your TAS articles and news for consideration in the next issue.
Quotes for the Month
“There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.” -Leo Tolstoy
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” -Bruce Lee
“I can’t believe I got fired from the calendar factory. All I did was take a day off.” -unknown