Technology Versus People
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Technology is exciting—at least to me. I love technology and its application. We talk a lot about the technology we use to help our telephone answering services function more effectively and provide a greater array of services to clients. It’s hard to imagine processing calls without technology.
Yet without staff the best technology means nothing. Though the technology in our TASs is critical, the staff who use it is even more critical.
When we analyze our operation, it’s not our technology that makes us unique, it’s our staff. Other answering services can match our technology: computer for computer, application for application, and feature for feature. But no one can match our staff.
Yet the emphasis at too many answering services is the technology. These operations carefully investigate the options and pick the best one. They implement the technology, train their staff how to use it, and form marketing campaigns to reach a quick payoff for their investment and then generate a profit.
All the while, the staff at too many answering services gets whatever attention is left over, which, by the way, isn’t much. Too often staff seems expendable. Hire and train and then fire those who don’t work out.
Too many answering services have an embarrassingly high level of employee churn. Hire ten to find five good ones, one of which may actually work out for the long term. And frankly, some operations would view those numbers as good, but they’re not.
Working at an answering service is hard. Not everyone can do it. And some who could, don’t care to. The key is to discover this before hiring them, not after training them.
Just as we would never buy ten TAS applications and hope one would work out for the long term, we shouldn’t accept this when it comes to hiring staff.
Let’s stop accepting high employee churn as normal. Our employees are our strategic advantage. Let’s reimagine our staffing practices to reflect this reality.
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.
Freelance Writer: Need content for your TAS website or written materials for your answering service? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Email Peter or call 616-284-1305.
OnviSource Equipment for Sale: OnviSource system and many spare parts and pieces. Includes a brand new Portica VM. Tadiran switch (dual cabinet) with Coral Flexicom phones. Will sell as a complete package or by the piece. Please email PrimeTAS@aol.com for a complete list of available parts; pictures available upon request.
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.
Who’s Protecting Your Business Culture?
By Jason Gazaway
Yes, this is a loaded question. Every day we face choices, decisions, opportunities, attitudes, and a multitude of other factors that make it impossible to protect every aspect of your business culture.
You are not everywhere all the time to know what your answering service staff is saying or doing. That is impossible. Or is it?
Who is Your Brand Ambassador? In marketing, we use the term brand ambassador to describe someone who represents the business externally. This could be a customer, a partner, or a vendor. The list can go on. But what about inside the business? Are your employees’ brand ambassadors? Or better yet, are they culture ambassadors?
While you cannot be everywhere at all times, your answering service staff is. They are your business. They are your culture.
Now, stop and ask, “Do your employees understand the culture of the business?” If the answer is no, then you have a gaping hole in the protective barrier around your business.
Think about it. If your employees do not understand, or even know about, the culture in your business, how are they supposed to function in it? Or better yet, how are they supposed to protect it and fight for it, both internally and externally?
Employee Loyalty Equals Customer Loyalty: Why is this such a big deal? Every employee represents your business, whether they interact with your customers or not. Web developers do not interact with customers directly, but the customers interact with what your web developers create.
Your customers do not usually interact directly with your accounting manager, but if the numbers and money aren’t handled correctly, then the billing could be off and customers would be upset. Or what if your manager forgot to submit payroll? Then you have an uprising. Just think how that would affect your customers.
We have often heard, “Happy employees equal happy customers.” This is possibly true, but it might be better to say: “Loyal employees produce loyal customers.”
If your employees trust and believe in the business at its core, its culture, then they will fight for and protect the business, exerting the effort to treat and serve the customer in such a way that the customer can’t help but fall in love with, trust, and be loyal to the business. (Yes, some customers are just hard to deal with.)
But, if you create an environment and culture of teamwork, trust, mutual loyalty, and growth, then you will have a business your employees will want to be a part of, give themselves to, and go that extra mile for you and your customers, every day.
Jason Gazaway is the growth manager for VoiceNation.
Telephone Answering Service News
CCSP Fuzion Expands to Empower TAS Management
Call Center Sales Pro announced their new one-stop TAS management portal, CCSP Fuzion, is now system agnostic, working with all major TAS platforms. CCSP Fuzion brings all relevant TAS system information together to enable management and supervisors to quickly make informed operational decisions.
CCSP Fuzion was developed by Call Center Sales Pro, a team of industry insiders who understands the importance of timely data presented in easy-to-digest methods. “Today’s systems produce an array of detailed reports, but they are time-consuming to track down, merge, and make sense of,” said Janet Livingston, president of Call Center Sales Pro. “In the worst-case scenario, managers simply ignore the data.”
Everything TASs need to effectively gauge agent and operational performance is included in CCSP Fuzion. Built-in modules include message logs, customized agent QA (quality assessment) and report cards, agent productivity stats, scheduling data, and KPI and SLA metrics.
Learn more about Fuzion and view the informational video at fuzionme.com.
STA to Close June 30
It is with sadness that Southern Telemessaging Association (STA) announces the end of an era. At its last annual meeting, the STA board and members present voted to close the STA by the end of its fiscal year June 30, 2017. The difficult decision was made because of declining member participation. A final workshop and farewell dinner was held April 12, 2017 to allow members to celebrate the association and remember past meetings and friendships. The STA board encourages those in the southern region to continue to participate in ATSI and other regional events.
Maryellen Pruitt New Executive Manager of ASTAA
At the last ASTAA board of directors’ conference call, Dan L’ Heureux announced he would like to step down from his position as the executive manager. He is not fully retiring from the industry, just reducing his roles to spend more time with family. Dan recommended Maryellen Pruitt be considered as his replacement. After a telephone interview with Maryellen, the board hired her.
“Maryellen has been the executive manager of TUNe, also assuming that association’s management from Dan. She has worked with our own board member Gary Edwards, in that association as well,” said ASTAA president, Jim Reandeau. “I want to thank Dan for eleven years of service to our association and wish him happiness as he is about to enjoy more time for himself, his family, and less time on the road or airplane.”
Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.
Quotes for the Month
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” -Edith Wharton
“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”-Malcolm Forbes
“When the smog lifts in Los Angeles, U.C.L.A.” -unknown