TAS Opportunities from the Affordable Care Act
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Though some people have a wait-and-see attitude toward the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most hold polarized views, either loving it or hating it. Many business owners and managers, including telephone answering services, are wary. They see the ACA as one more item pressuring their business’s viability and threatening their future.
While this may be true, there is another facet of the ACA that’s good news for the TAS industry. The fact that many businesses are struggling to deal with the cost implications of the ACA signals opportunity for companies who provide outsourced services. This includes telephone answering services.
As companies strategize how to deal with the ACA by not hiring new employees, asking existing ones to do more, increasing hours of current staff, and tapping part-time workers, pressure builds within their organization. Eventually, something has to give. TASs are in a great position to relieve some of that pressure for these companies: taking overflow calls during the day; covering the phones during vacations, absences, and even breaks; and handling after-hours calls. In addition, TASs can also process email and respond to social media interactions for companies with overworked and stretched staff.
Although telephone answering services must deal with the ACA just like everyone else, they are also in a position to help other companies deal with some of the pain the ACA causes.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. Check out his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.
TAS of the Month: AnswerNet
AnswerNet posted a photo their TAS on our Facebook page. This is from their corporate location in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
“The employees of AnswerNet continue to show their dedication to our mission, providing our customers with the people, services, and technology that allow them to run their businesses their way,” said Gary Pudles. “I have an amazing team and could not be prouder of all their hard work.” Learn more at www.answernet.com.
To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!
Leverage Your Business Acumen Locally
By Russell Trahan
Here are a few of the ways that you, as a TAS owner, can employ your expertise to build your local reputation and secure a strong customer base:
1. Speak at Service Clubs: Speaking at local service clubs is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the professional community and share your business savvy with others. The first step is to research service clubs in your area and start contacting the necessary parties about guest-speaking opportunities.
When speaking, you need to stretch your expertise so that it applies to a wider audience. You do not want to delve into the intricate details of how your TAS is run. Instead, focus on the overarching principles that apply to operating a flourishing business.
2. Stir the Pot by Writing Op-Eds: There are numerous hot-button business issues that continuously circulate in the media and spur lively debates: minimum wage, unions, and mandatory insurance, to name a few. By writing an opinion-editorial for your local newspaper, you can state your position on a variety of relevant issues and establish wider name-recognition.
3. Foster a Thriving Business by Mentoring: What better way to put your skills on display than to take an aspiring business owner under your wing? Businesses thrive when there is a layer of mutual support, and that often involves working together for a common goal: carving a niche in the community for profitable, locally owned companies. Attend networking events and connect with others who are in the same position you were in before you owned your own business. Find an individual with an idea and an implementable plan, and offer to coach them through the process that you experienced.
By acting as a mentor and advisor, you can help others navigate some of the roadblocks they are bound to encounter along the way, creating a tight-knit community of proprietors and reciprocal customers for life in the process.
4. Guest Columns in Local Publications: Weekly and monthly publications regularly seek fresh content with local angles to fill space on their pages, and submitting guest columns reinforces your identity as a stalwart in the local business arena. Common themes can include commercial trends, regional events, or new opportunities – essentially any topic that allows you to provide your unique insight.
5. Participate in Regional Radio Interviews: Radio interviews can provide an immediate impact. Connecting with decision makers with local radio outlets, via social media or email, is a fantastic first step to donning headphones and contributing in-studio. Many producers and personalities are also active at community networking events, and a brief conversation and a number exchange may lead to an on-air interview.
By utilizing your distinct set of expertise to contribute to other facets of the business realm, you can amplify your reach and cement your position as a knowledgeable presence in the local community.
Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target market in print and online. For more information, visit www.prpr.net or email email@example.com.
Five Questions to Ask in an Interview
By Brad Remillard
Conducting interviews for managers and key personnel doesn’t have to be complicated. It shouldn’t be so sophisticated that a person needs to go through extensive training every time they have an interview. In fact, interviewing should be simple, thorough, and easy for everyone to understand.
Well-trained interviewers can get about 80 percent of the information they need to decide whether the person can do the job with just five questions and six words. That’s it.
If the interviewee can’t answer these five core questions, all other questions are irrelevant. For most hires at the manager level and higher, if the candidate can’t get past the first three, you should move on.
The five questions are:
1) When and how did you demonstrate high initiative? Just about every position requires initiative. The degree of initiative may change based on the position, but if the person doesn’t have it at the level you need, do you really need to continue?
2) How did you successfully execute on a critical project? If you have critical issues you need addressed and an employee can’t execute and get them done, you may not have the right person.
3) How did you lead a cross-functional team on a complex project? Leadership is something managers must possess. Cross-functional is important, because motivating people that one does not have authority over is just one difference between managing and leading.
4) Where you have done X in your current company? Aligning experiences and accomplishments with scope, size, and organization is important.
5) When you come on board, how would you accomplish X within X timeframe? Asking a candidate to describe how he or she will do the job in your company, with your resources and your culture, demonstrates the ability to adapt to your company.
Once the interviewer asks each of these questions, he or she can then probe more deeply with who, what, when, where, why, and how. Simply ask follow-up questions that start with one of these six words. If the candidate really did what he or she claims to have done, that person will be able to describe it in detail.
Probing deeply is what will separate those who did it from those who claim they did it.
Telephone Answering Service News
Amtelco’s Intelligent Series 4.1 Moves into Beta: Amtelco’s Intelligent Series 4.1 software has been installed for beta testing at a number of sites across the country. IS 4.1 includes the first operational release of Amtelco’s IS voice services platform, a software-only solution that includes a flexible Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based telephony switch with intelligent call routing, switch-based configurable call control, and multilingual voice-processing resources. IS 4.1 also includes new features, including a redesigned reporting interface, secure two-way email, IS server-based faxing, and improved agent password management capabilities. “We…expect to move IS 4.1 from beta testing into the general release in the relatively near future,” said Amtelco’s Kevin Beale.
Amtelco’s Establishes Partnership with Vocer: Amtelco and Vocera have established a partnership to integrate the Vocera Badge messaging device with Amtelco’s Intelligent Series suite of call center applications and RED Alert automated notification system. Vocera is a provider of mobile communication solutions for hospital staff and mobile workers across diverse enterprise organizations. The Vocera Badge also is used in hospitality, retail, energy, and libraries, where workers are highly mobile. “This new integration between Vocera and Amtelco will expedite critical communications with hospital staff, instantly getting a response that could impact a positive outcome for all concerned,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco president.
Sound Telecom Promotes Derrec Williams: Sound Telecom, a nationwide provider of telephone answering services, call center solutions, and cloud-based phone systems, announced the appointment of Derrec Williams as its AR credit and collections manager. Williams has been with Sound Telecom since 2008. He brings a wealth of experience with him in credit and collections management in the finance and banking industries and B2B services. “Derrec is the consummate professional,” said Sydney Morgan Diamond, Sound Telecom’s CFO. “He likes to bring value to every department. As our A/R credit and collections manager, Derrec assists me in staff supervision and oversight of the billing, administration, and order entry processes as well.”
[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]