How Do You Use Social Media at Your TAS?
Use Social Media as the Spokes of the Wheel and Your Website as the Hub
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Most telephone answering services (TASs) have a website. That’s great! But not all do. They don’t think it’s worth the modest investment and feel social media serves them quite well. I’ve even heard from services that are thinking about ditching their website in favor of social media. That would be a bad move. Here’s why:
Just Because Social Media Is Easy Doesn’t Make It Ideal: Social media is simple to use. Most of your staff is already adept at using the major platforms. And you likely have a platform-specific expert on staff who could help with any up-and-coming provider you might consider.
This is not the case with websites, which require a bit of expertise to manage and have a cost component, even though it may be small. But just because social media is easy doesn’t mean it’s the best solution. With social media come significant risks, which you can smartly avoid by having your own website. Read on to learn more.
The Narrative is Harder to Manage on Social Media: The messaging on social media is challenging to manage—not yours, but everyone else’s. Anyone can say about anything in response to any one of your messages. On some platforms you can block these offending messages, but on others you can’t. And too often these contrary messages spark an online war between your supporters and your detractors. No one wins.
Nowadays few websites allow for visitor interaction. And for those that still do, you—as the website owner—can delete the offending message. Your website is a safe place with relevant information about your business. Its free from trolls and malcontents.
You Can’t Control How Social Media Looks or Works: The wonderful thing about social media is it has a predetermined format for you to follow. Though you can control what you add, you have little say over where it goes or what it looks like. It offers little flexibility or customization capabilities.
Though some website providers follow this same philosophy, a self-hosted website offers a blank canvas for you or your design team to configure the way you want it and make it function however you wish.
You Don’t Own Your Social Media Presence: I’ve saved the most compelling reason for last. You don’t own your page on any social media platform. Your provider does. They can limit who sees your messages. More infuriatingly, they can charge you so that the people who want to see your information actually can.
Even worse, they can summarily shut your account down at any time, leaving you with little recourse. When this happens you’ve lost all the traffic and the audience that you took years to build.
Owning your own website smartly avoids these problems and you falling victim to the whims of the social media overlords.
Conclusion: If you like social media, go ahead, and use it for your TAS. But don’t put all your eggs in one proverbial basket. Instead use social media to point people to your website, the one online destination that you can own and control.
And if you don’t like social media, don’t use it. Focus on your website. That’s what matters most.
Addressing the Agent Dilemma
By Lance Brandon
As a telephone answering service (TAS) owner, dependable agents are the lifeblood of your business. Since they’re the ones interfacing with your clients’ customers, it’s vital that they represent your answering service in the right manner. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more difficult to find smart, motivated, and dependable agents locally due to economic and macro industry trends.
Agent Location, Local vs Remote vs Hybrid: When you hire agents, you must first consider the flexibility of your TAS software. If you run an on-premise setup with onsite hardware, it’s often a requirement that the operator must be physically located in your office. This minimizes your potential pool for agents, as you will have to find someone living close enough to drive to the office. A cloud-based software solution, however, will allow you to find agents worldwide that are able to work from home just using an internet connection and a headset.
Local Agents Only: The advantage of having local agents that work in your office is clear. You will have control and oversight into their activities, and there is some benefit to communicating face-to-face for meetings, company culture, and team building.
The downside is that you must find employees within driving distance to the office which is a lot more constraining than dipping into the pool of worldwide agents.
Remote Agents Only: Having a team fully work from home remotely is becoming more popular, especially since the Covid era began. Not only are there millions more candidates available to you, but oftentimes they are much cheaper than hiring locally. However, it’s critical to have good systems in place to monitor your agents and communicate changes, policies, and updates.
Hybrid Approach: Another option is having a physical office with some local agents but not limiting yourself to that alone. This way you have a core group of agents and then you can fill in the cracks or scale up with remote agents. The hybrid approach is good for services that want to have more control over their company culture but also maintain the flexibility and cost effectiveness of adding more staff remotely.
Going Global: If you hire remote agents from outside your country, there are a few things to consider. First, different countries have diverse cultures. Something that may be considered rude to say in Japan, for example, may be perfectly acceptable in the US. Having a platform with good, thorough scripting capabilities can help agents from other locations overcome these cultural barriers and better adjust to the expectations for interacting with your clients’ customers.
The Philippines is currently one of the hottest markets for remote agents. Filipino culture is very customer service oriented, and the workforce is motivated to succeed due to fewer good local options for employment. In addition, accents are not difficult to understand, infrastructure continues to improve, and labor is flat out cheap. For the same capital you may be able to hire four Filipino agents verses one local US agent.
Conclusion: Having the flexibility to go remote, whether fully remote or a hybrid approach, provides are large advantage from both a cost savings and hiring pool perspective. However, without a cloud-based software with dynamic scripting this advantage is difficult, if not impossible, to gain.
In today’s age, it’s getting more challenging to find enough motivated agents willing to work in the office, and the most successful answering services will adapt to this reality.
Lance Brandon is head of sales and product design at Electronic Voice Services, a Dallas-based software company providing cloud calling solutions for the call center and TAS industry. He and his team are helping answering services transition to all-inclusive web-based software. For more information, visit: www.evs7.com/answering-service-software
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Rochester Telemessaging Center: Five-Time Gold Call Center Certification Recipient
The Association of Teleservices International (ATSI) announced that Rochester Telemessaging Center (RTC) has re-qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award for the fifth consecutive time, originally qualifying in 2008 and operating as the only Gold 24/7 Call Center in Michigan. Rochester Telemessaging Center was started by current owners Herb and Jan Chinoski in 1972 with continued operations and are celebrating their fiftieth anniversary in business this year.
The certification shows that RTC 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 99.9 percent annual run time.
“As Michigan’s only ATSI-24/7 Certified Call Center, Rochester Telemessaging Center demonstrates a continuing effort to bring the highest quality to the telephone answering service industry,” said Dan L’Heureux, certification examiner.
“The Telephone Answering Service industry is very competitive and one way we are able to differentiate ourselves is by third party testing,” RTC president Ryan Chinoski said.
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Quotes for the Month
“Those who believe without reason cannot be convinced by reason.” -James Randi
“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” -Bruce Lee
“Don’t spell part backwards. It’s a trap.” -unknown