The March 2011 Issue of TAS Trader

Case Study: Best Reception Offers Virtual Reception Service

Best Reception received their first call in Jan 2007. Their team of twelve now provides a virtual reception service to hundreds of customers from their offices in Hertford, England. Services include telephone answering, sales support, appointment booking, order placing, and frontline IT support.

As Best Reception’s business expanded, they found that, while their existing system could manage the increased call volumes, it didn’t provide the speed, flexibility, and rapid access to client information to enable them to provide the depth of service that their clients needed. It was time to look for a software system purposely built for their industry.

Best Reception’s business is all about customer service; they wanted to ensure that every call was dealt with in a polite, courteous, and professional manner. Best Reception represents a wide range of businesses, including private medical practices, solicitors, recruitment agencies, and Web designers. Andy McKenna, Best Reception’s managing director, needed a software solution that could be tailored to each client’s specific requirements. He found that many of software packages on the market were based on a scripted approach that required receptionists to follow a specific trail of steps. Best Reception promises their clients that they will “fit our service to suit your needs, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ mentality.” Therefore, Andy was seeking a software system that could deliver the same. This would allow them to offer each customer exactly the service he or she needs, winning new business and keeping existing clients happy.

Andy needed the transition from their old systems to be seamless. Vendor staff were on hand to assist with this process, helping with the transfer of data, and explaining how the software could be tailored to each individual client’s needs. On April 2, 2010, once all the data was in the new system, Best Reception took the plunge and switched over. The transition went smoothly, and within a day they were fully up and running, having quickly forgotten their old systems and processes.

Andy and his team are already reaping the benefits of their new system. “Our operators are able to wrap up calls far more quickly, enabling us to take on more clients and offer other secretarial services. Client information is instantly available, enabling us to answer calls on their behalf more efficiently while maintaining our high levels of customer service.”

For further information about Best Reception, visit their Web site at www.bestreception.co.uk or email Andy at andy@bestreception.co.uk. The system Best Reception installed was nCall, designed specifically for answering services and virtual receptions. To learn more about it, contact Alison Richards at 617 273 2304 or visit www.nSolve.com.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Submitted by Dan L’Heureux

The Great Lakes TeleServices Association (GLTSA) spring seminar will be on “Conflict Resolution.” It is April 13, 2011, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is open to all lead agents, supervisors, managers, and owners who might sometimes encounter conflict. Let’s face it, who doesn’t? Now you can learn effective skills in an entertaining format.

Michael Corleone (aka “the Godfather”) once said that his father taught him to “keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.” This advice might work for the Mafia, but what about communication professionals? Conflicts are inevitable, and knowing how to successfully resolve them will help navigate around potentially sticky situations.

During this presentation, participants will learn:

1)     how to recognize the different conflict struggles that occur in the workplace and at home
2)     the different conflict styles
3)     techniques for resolving conflict every day

Viewing and discussing scenes from The Godfather will help participants to understand conflict examples, as well as resolution techniques, while learning how to create positive communication climates in the workplace and at home. Communication is the key to success.

The seminar will help attendees learn how to resolve conflicts in a positive manner by using effective communications skills taught by Dr. Joe Trahan III. Dr. Trahan has over twenty-nine years of public relations/affairs experience in governmental, association, educational, and nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Trahan is a retired lieutenant colonel, United States Army Reserve (USAR), and a former commander of the 314th Public Affairs Operations Center located in Birmingham, Alabama. Since 1998, he has trained more than 3,500 people annually in media relations throughout the United States, England, Norway, France, Belgium, Paraguay, Mexico, and the Netherlands.

Dr. Trahan graduated from Tulane University with a bachelor of arts degree in American Military History. He holds a master of arts degree in Public Relations from Ball State University and a PhD in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Southern Mississippi.

For more information or to register for this seminar, go to www.gltsa.org or contact Dan L’Heureux, GLTSA executive director, at dan@callconsult.net or 763-473-0210.

Selling Your Answering Service

By Steve Michaels

When people are contemplating selling their answering service, they often wonder about hiring a broker. There are many reasons why they may want to; a broker will present your business to more buyers, properly execute the paperwork, handle the escrow, and maximize the selling price. Even so, some people still decide to go it alone. If you do decide to sell your answering service yourself, here are a few suggestions from my thirty years of experience:

•    Never fall in love with a deal or a buyer; there will be other deals and other buyers.
•    Empty yourself and believe that you do not care; it is only a business.
•    Listen carefully when engaged in serious negotiations. Nobody ever got poor by listening. If you are in a hurry, you are in a position of weakness.
•    Set a price that you will not deviate from; this is where a skilled negotiator excels.
•    The buyer’s job is to downplay your answering service and to diminish its worth. You must do the opposite.
•    Be ready to walk away if your price is not met. Remember that your answering service is not for every buyer; you just have to find the right one.
•    Establish where the balance of weakness lies. Most strengths are self-evident; weaknesses are usually hidden. Ferret them out, comprehend them, and make a plan to compensate for them.

Steve Michaels is a telephone answering service broker and can be reached at 800-369-6126 or tas@tasmarketing.com; his Web site is www.tasmarketing.com.

News

CAM-X Announces 2011 Supervisor Seminars
Dates have been announced for the 2011 CAM-X supervisor leadership training seminars. This year, the first one will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, on April 15-16. The second one will be held in Montreal, Quebec, on September 22-23, concurrent with the annual CAM-X convention. An exciting agenda for the Edmonton seminars has been set. Confirmed speakers include Debbie Iacovone, who will talk about goal setting; Brenda Preston, who will address time and stress management; and Wayne Lee, who will speak about creating personal and professional success. There will also be sessions on personality profiles, call center issues, and certification, as well as time set aside for networking and socializing. Learn more at www.camx.ca.

Appletree Acquires Answer Center America
Appletree recently completed their acquisition of Chicago-based Answer Center America (ACA). Appletree now has seventeen locations and more than 100 employees. The acquisition brings together two customer-focused contact centers, allowing Appletree and ACA to combine talent and resources to deliver innovative, customer-driven solutions to their family of customers. The motivation behind the acquisition is the fact that Appletree and ACA are strongly united by similar core values and corporate cultures. Plus, both companies have developed an ethos to sustain employee retention and surpass competitors with quality of service. The acquisition also supports Appletree’s mission to enhance the lives of customers and employees, one interaction at a time.

Answer Quick Receives Call Center Recertification
Answer Quick has received the ATSI Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award for the tenth year in a row. Additionally, they are the first to be certified on the Startel soft switch. The certification, which requires a physical inspection every three years, indicates that Answer Quick has met or exceeded high standards in the following areas: business practices, life safety, operations (including normal and emergency procedures), personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on a 99.9 percent annual run time. Dan L’Heureux, SNUG executive director, notes that Beth Cooper, president of Answer Quick, “is a pioneer and founding member of the committee and advocate of the entire certification program.”

New Call Recorder Identifies Agents by Voice
VirtualLogger AgentPrescience™ uses speaker recognition technology to identify agents on recordings. This new, patent-pending approach streamlines the installation process. For on-site installations, the recorder is shipped to the call center and plugged into the phone lines, using a simple T-splitter and a LAN connection for Internet access. Each agent records his or her own voice. Once all agent voices are registered, the installation is complete and the system is ready. A forty-eight-agent recording setup starts at $3,120 and includes all hardware and software. To find out more, call 866-864-5376 or email info@virtuallogger.com.

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[Posted by Peter DeHaan for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

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About Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., (http://peterdehaanpublishing.com) the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly. Peter DeHaan’s personal website (http://peterdehaan.com) contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.