Celebrating Subscription Services
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
It seems that subscription services surround us: from Dollar Shave Club, to HP Instant Ink, to Microsoft 365. For the record, I’ve passed on all three, though I recently questioned that decision as I made another trip to the office supply store to purchase printer ink. Nonprofits also embrace this approach, preferring ongoing, automatic monthly donations, in lieu of chasing larger annual contributions. Rather than fight their paradigm, I have acquiesced to their new method of fund-raising.
The telephone answering service industry may have been the first to stumble unto this idea of monthly reoccurring revenue when it emerged some ninety years ago. I understand they followed a flat-rate billing model then, which fully exemplifies this concept. (I discount magazine subscriptions from this discussion because they bill annually, not monthly.)
Ten years ago, I first heard about the subscription model being offered by a TAS vendor. I immediately saw the brilliance of their plan. Assuming their cash flow could tolerate a transition from large system sales to reoccurring monthly revenue, they would position themselves well for the future, helping to ensure their ongoing viability.
This software subscription service is commonly called hosted solutions or SaaS (software as a service). While some claim distinctions between the two, they are essentially the same model. The concept also once went by ASP (application service provider), though that acronym now means something else.
As I said, this plan is brilliant – for the vendors. What took me longer to comprehend was that this makes sense for the answering services, too. As one firmly entrenched in the buy-once-and-use-it-forever perspective, I dislike the idea of paying a small fee every month.
Yet as I learn more about the TAS platform subscription model, I see it makes sense for answering services, too. This is especially true for startups and small to medium answering services, as well as larger ones.
Although I’ll stop short of saying that the subscription service model is right for all answering services to acquire their technology, I do assert that all answering services should look into it. The possible benefits are too big to ignore.
Mastar.com…for in/outbound stand-alone TAS systems since 1986. Startup as low as $1,500 per station and you own it. Contact 541-606-9272 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! email@example.com.
Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Ways a Team of Virtual Receptionists Cures Your Customer Issues
By Parker Davis
Your business prides itself on not only selling quality products or services but also providing excellent customer service. Your customers choose you because of what you can do for them and stay because of how you treat them. Every interaction is a chance to give them more than what they were expecting, which is why it can be so disappointing when you find out a client isn’t happy with the level of service you provide.
Do you have customers who are unable to speak with someone after your office closes? Are there peak times during the day they have to wait on hold? Are messages and appointments being missed? These issues are a big sign of subpar customer service, which can dramatically decrease the level of trust people have in your company. Fortunately, a team of virtual receptionists can help make sure your customers are always receiving the high level of customer service they expect.
Here are three issues that virtual receptionists can help with:
1) Missed Calls: A missed call is a missed opportunity. It can cost you a potential sale or even a long-term customer. Part of providing a consistent level of service is making sure your customers can always reach you.
With a virtual receptionist, when you are unable to answer your phone, the call transfers automatically to a friendly virtual receptionist, who can take messages and collect contact information or even quote and dispatch service. Your customers will always be able to reach a live person no matter what time of day it is.
2) Too Many Phone Calls: It’s always better to have too much business rather than not enough, but if all of your phone lines are busy, the busy signal or long hold times can cause customers to become upset or hang-up before you have a chance to help them.
If your phone lines become overwhelmed, your virtual receptionist can pick up the calls you can’t handle. You can even provide them with a script of what to say and what questions to ask.
Is there going to be a company meeting? Pre-arrange to have virtual receptionists answer all your calls for you even during the middle of the day.
3) Lost Messages and Missed Appointments: With everything you have to keep track of during the day, it can become easy to let customer messages and appointments slip through the cracks. If a phone call or email isn’t returned quickly, you leave clients wondering just how much you truly value their business. If an appointment is missed, you’ll have to spend valuable time rescheduling.
With a virtual receptionist, every email and phone message can be sent to a specific person or team of people. A virtual receptionist can even follow-up for you. You can also have them call your customers with appointment reminders or reschedule appointments when necessary, which will leave you with more time to take care of other issues.
The Bottom Line: Missed calls, too many calls, lost messages and missed appointments can leave customers frustrated or angry over inconsistent customer service. A team of virtual receptionists can be the cure for your customer service woes.
Parker Davis is the CEO of Answer 1, a provider of virtual receptionist service and technology enabled answering services.
Telephone Answering Service News
STA Goes South of the Border: The Southern TeleMessaging Association (STA) announced that their 2016 meeting will be at the Barceló Maya Palace Deluxe Resort in the Rivera Maya, Mexico, August 20-24, 2016. This all-inclusive luxury resort features junior suites; the exclusive group rates will be available three days pre or post conference for those that wish to extend their stay.
The hotel offers six restaurants, all with views over the Caribbean sea; plus there are four bars strategically placed throughout the hotel. The Barceló All Inclusive program offers snacks, meals, and beverages 24-hours-a-day.
Enjoy the hotel’s facilities: three spectacular swimming pools including the children’s water park and exclusive adults swimming pool, gym, shopping center, U-Spa, and the mini-club and U-Kids Spa for the littlest ones. During the day you can play tennis, paddle tennis, and basketball, or do snorkeling, kayaking, and windsurfing. At night enjoy the hotel’s vibrant nightlife: live shows at the Monte Albán Theater and Jaguar’s Nightclub.
Alston Tascom Hits Ten-Year Milestone of Providing Hosted Solutions: Alston Tascom, in its thirty-sixth year of serving the industry, hit another milestone by celebrating ten years of providing hosted systems for the answering service industry. Alston Tascom’s hosted-system companies range in size from one position to over forty. Together they process over 1.7 million calls per month. No company is too large or too small for the hosted system. Two of the key features of the Tascom system include the client Web interface and ADAM Web interface. Learn more at www.alstontascom.com.
Supervisors Achieve Recertification: CAM-X supervisor recertification demonstrates strong leadership skills coupled with the desire to contribute to the overall success of the call center while dealing with the ever-changing challenges within the industry. Based on their ongoing commitment to excellence in customer service skills and their proven ability to lead, coach, and support agents the following supervisors successfully attained CAM-X recertification:
Rebecca Foster, Jessica Fennelly, Kathy Stout, Jacqueline Laxo-Poettcker, Mildred Pulma, Kayleigh Rae, Alana Nikiforuk, Jhuvic Sangco, and Nadine Sans-Cartier with Intercon Messaging; Ann Legault, Crystal Loxley, Joyce Dutrisac-Johnson, and Dianne Shorey from T.A.S. Communications; Jody Iverson, Trish Brown, and Lil Lyle at Connections Call Center; Andreanne Cloutier and Holvie Senosier at Image 24; Leisa McDonald and Sheila Jessup with Northern Communications; and Hazel Topp and Charlene Burgess from AnswerPlus.
2016 NAEO Conference Recap: The National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) conference took place in San Diego, California, February 28 to March 2. More than 175 NAEO members attended the conference to learn about and share their success using the Infinity system and other Amtelco products.
Kevin Beale, Amtelco’s vice president for R&D software, presented “40 Years of Innovation, and We’re Just Warming Up!” The session addressed the new Genesis soft switch, soft agent, MergeComm, miSecureMessages, miTeamWeb, and miTeamMobile developments.
Greg Beale, Amtelco’s vice president for customer service, and Jody Laluzerne, customer service supervisor, shared the best practices for maintaining the Infinity IS and peripherals. An InfinityPlus breakout session was also held.
Send us your TAS articles and news for consideration in the next issue.
Quotes for the Month
“We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.” -Konrad Adenauer
“We cannot change anything unless we accept it.” -Carl Jung
“When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.” –unknown