The February 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineChange is Normal – So Embrace It

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderIn reviewing my past five columns in TAS Trader I see a trend in what I’ve written. I can best summarize this theme as embracing change. Indeed I wrote about looking forward to the new year, re-envisioning ourselves as information processors, asking is our industry shrinking, looking at our changing industry, and pursuing a niche strategy. That’s a lot of words about change, all because we are confronted with a pressing need to change.

While certainly a concern, change is nothing new to our industry. Change has always been a part of the telephone answering service landscape, especially since the introduction of computerized answering systems, circa 1980. We’ve always had things to worry about, transitions to navigate, and technology to master. Change permeates our thoughts, our informal discussions, our industry meetings, and the things we write about.

We can have two responses to these ever-present changes.

One approach is to resist them. We can seek to maintain the status quo. We can lament about the good old days. We can even try to convince ourselves that things will get better if we just stay the course.

The other approach is to embrace change. We can see change as opportunity. As technology evolves our prospects for growth and improvement follow closely along. The opening is there for us, if we will but take it.

The challenge is to see change as opportunity in disguise and then figure out a way to grab hold of it to seize the potential that it presents.

Change is normal; so embrace it.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Help Wanted: Northwest Indiana telephone answering service seeks to add an operations manager to our team. We want someone with experience in the telephone answering service industry and are willing to relocate the right candidate. Salary range $50,000-$70,000. For consideration please email your resume and salary history to adam.berkson@teleservicesdirect.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

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 rodmastar@gmail.com


 

Giving Back to Our Community

By Jason Gazaway

VoiceNation made the recent holidays brighter for twenty-seven local families through their Operation Give Back outreach program. Now in its fourth year, Operation Give Back is VoiceNation’s outreach effort to help ensure local children living in shelters and those in need of assistance receive gifts during the holiday season.

VoiceNation worked with Jackson County Family Connection in Jefferson and Georgia Calls in Buford to provide holiday gifts for sixty-five children, ranging in age from three months to seventeen years old. The gifts included BMX bicycles, arts and crafts, clothes, shoes, and toys.

VoiceNation receives referrals from agencies that work with families in need. VoiceNation provided their employees with funds to purchase gifts along with Operation Give Back profile folders of the children in need, which include the child’s age, gender, holiday wish list, and preferences, such as their favorite color, clothing size, favorite activities, and hobbies.

“Many participants in Georgia Calls’ re-entry program are working hard to become CEOs of their own lives and to do better by their families but are still in need of assistance. They are amazed at the outpouring of support from anonymous donors,” explained Mark Mobley, executive director of Georgia Calls.

“Our Operation Give Back program has become a highly sought after volunteer initiative here at VoiceNation. As our staff learns about the children in need, they feel a connection to them and are incredibly enthusiastic about the gifts they purchase for them,” explained Jay Reeder, the company’s president. “Operation Give Back is a tremendous opportunity to support children and families in need within our community while spreading holiday cheer.”

Jason Gazaway is the marketing coordinator for VoiceNation, a leading professional telephone answering service serving 50,000 businesses worldwide.


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Celebrates Fortieth Anniversary: Amtelco, founded in 1975 by Bill Curtin and headquartered in McFarland, Wisconsin, recently celebrated its fortieth anniversary. During the past four decades, Amtelco has built a tradition of excellence and works closely with customers to help develop systems to meet unique and demanding performance requirements. Today Amtelco software and hardware is used in all fifty US states and in more than forty other countries. Millions of telephone calls, text messages, and secure communications a day are processed by Amtelco products throughout the world.

Tom Ryan Award Goes to Gary Pudles: Gary Pudles of AnswerNet received the 2015 Tom Ryan Award for Ethics, Integrity and Quality Above All. He accepted this honor at the 51st Annual CAM-X Convention and Trade Show. The Tom Ryan Award is presented annually in memory of one of the contact management field’s most ardent advocates, Tom Ryan, a pioneer of the telephone message industry. This industry-specific award pays homage to companies that exhibit quality service while adhering to a mandate based on commitment to ethics and integrity.

2016 TUNe Conference Announced: The 2016 TUNe (Telecommunications Users Network, Inc.) conference will take place April 17-21 at the Marina Inn at Grand Dunes in Myrtle Beach, SC. TUNe, an association of Telescan product users, is an active users group, which benefits Telescan, a division of Amtelco. By furthering call center technology and efficiency, TUNe helps members by sharing new ideas. For more information about TUNe contact executive director Maryellen Pruitt at 877-817-7262 or admin@tunegroup.org.

CAM-X Hall of Famer Bill Tucker: Bill Tucker was inducted into the 2015 CAM-X Hall of Fame during the Gala Banquet at the 51st Annual CAM-X Convention and Trade Show. Sherry Oxner, who nominated Bill for this Hall of Fame Award, said, “Bill is always passionate about improving, partnering, and finding ways to evolve the business and is a true advocate for every individual he coaches in business or otherwise along the way.”

Amtelco’s MiSecureMessages v6: With the new miSecureMessages (MSM) version 6.4 users can include attachments when sending messages to each other, including audio, photos, videos, and PDF files. They can also have the ability to update and enhance their contact information within MSM, including contact image, contact phone number, and ability to call from the app. The new info button, associated with a message thread, provides details about the current thread – such as updated visuals for changes to a message’s status, sent timestamp, delivered, read, completed, and deleted. The archival, purge, and retrieval of message threads is also supported. Event notifications is enhanced and encryption, improved.


Quotes for the Month

“Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.” -Isaac Newton

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” -Helen Keller

“A backward poet writes inverse.” –unknown

Save

The January 2016 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineWhat Are You Looking Forward to in the New Year?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderDo you set annual goals for yourself or your business? I think everyone should. I don’t mean the New Year’s resolution type of wishful thinking, but a strategic plan for the upcoming year.

When you set goals for your answering service for the next twelve months, what do they look like? Are your goals along the lines of surviving, of hunkering down and getting by? Or are your goals forward thinking and growth-oriented?

Put another way, is your cup for 2016 half-empty or half-full?

I see similarities between my industry (publishing) and yours (telephone answering service). Both are experiencing rapid changes and an uncertain future. With both we have ample reason to worry and fret. Yet with these changes come opportunity.

These opportunities are a reason to celebrate. I need to remind myself of this as much as I feel I should encourage you to do the same.

We have much we can look forward to in the New Year. And even if we can’t see the end clearly, may we move forward with bold confidence to pursue it.

Having something to look forward to is the surest way to realize it.

Happy New Year!

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.


Classified Ads:

Help Wanted: Northwest Indiana telephone answering service seeks to add an operations manager to our team. We want someone with experience in the telephone answering service industry and are willing to relocate the right candidate. Salary range $50,000-$70,000. For consideration please email your resume and salary history to adam.berkson@teleservicesdirect.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

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 rodmastar@gmail.com

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.


No Matter What, You’re Always Marketing

By Russell Trahan

Public relations executives recognize that their brand and its associated image are the lifeblood of their professional identity, and any blemishes incurred can derail the potential for lucrative returns.

In the same vein that a PR firm would continually promote their services as results-driven and effectual, small businesses, such as telephone answering services, must utilize around-the-clock marketing to promote their goods and services through a scope of success and viability, safeguarding against any possible harm to their reputations.

Whether you’re a telephone agent on the front lines of customer support or the owner representing the company at the local chamber of commerce meeting, your actions or inaction can throw a monkey wrench into the gears of your vision and goals. There is never a moment, on or off the clock, that you are not representing your company.

Maintain your marketing vigilance in order to grow and succeed.

Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target audience in print and online.


Telephone Answering Service News

A Better Answer Earns Re-Certification

A Better Answer, Inc. of Dallas, Texas, has been awarded the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification by the Association of Teleservices International (ATSI) for the third time, originally qualifying in 2009 and becoming the first call center certified in Texas. Founded by Dee Hawkins in 1971, A Better Answer Call Centers (ABA) is nationally recognized for its excellence as an award-winning bilingual telephone answering service. ABA has also earned ATSI’s Award of Excellence annually for the past seventeen years. The company’s home office is in Plano-Dallas with offices in Ft. Worth and Houston, and serves business professionals’ messaging and order entry needs globally, nationally, and locally throughout Texas.

Direct Line Tele Response Exceeds Industry Standards For Business Continuity

Direct Line Tele Response has been recertified as a Gold Level 24/7 answering service by ATSI. This certification is a result of completing and successfully passing a comprehensive business continuity audit, which investigates key areas so a TAS can provide uninterrupted service for their clients in the event of any type of disaster or emergency. “It’s nice to be acknowledged for our efforts by this confirmation of excellence. We have a wide variety of clients, including the American Red Cross, that require us to have a robust business continuity plan intact,” said Ken Goldenberg, president of Direct Line.


Quotes for the Month

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” -Jimi Hendrix

“Whatever you fear most has no power – it is your fear that has the power.” -Oprah Winfrey

“Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses.” –unknown

Save

The December 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineAre You in the Information Processing Business?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderAlthough it’s not my intention to relabel the answering service industry, it is my goal to redefine it to better understand the potential that exists. Instead of calling yourself an answering service, let’s adopt the mindset that we are “information processors.” So stop thinking calls and start thinking communication.

Yes, we will still make and receive calls (after all, that is “processing information”), but we can do so much more. Consider the Internet, which affects all areas of business, life, and human existence. With email, social media, text chat, and online order assistance, do you know of any business that can keep up? How does this relate to being an answering service or more correctly, an information processor?

Email: Quite simply, everything you can do with a call, you should apply to email. Screen email, prioritize email, redirect email, answer email, and send email; you can fax a form, mail a brochure, or even call that person back. Most every organization has at least one, probably more, general purpose email addresses, such as sales@…, service@…, and info@… How quickly do they respond to these messages, if at all? Your answering service can handle these email addresses for your clients.

Text Chat: Your call center can become the centralized communication processor for all of your clients’ general text chat options: respond to questions, process information, forward requests, and so on. Staff at many organizations already have too much expected of them. It simply isn’t an option to pile on one more thing. Plus, there is no need to; you can handle this for them.

Order Assistance: Online retailers fret over abandoned shopping carts. With the right interface an answering service can offer a 24×7 response to visitors’ questions who are viewing clients’ websites.

How do you proceed? Visit each of your client’s websites. Send an email to their generic email address. Note how long it takes them to respond. Do they have an option for text chat and “call me?” By now you should have several ideas of how you can better serve your clients.

The future of the telephone answering service industry may reside with the Internet more than the telephone. The opportunities are limited only by imagination and creativity.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

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 rodmastar@gmail.com

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.


The following is an example of content marketing from Peter DeHaan. Email him to learn how content marketing and guest blog posts can breathe new life into your website and increase leads.

Answering Service Case Study: Are You Ready to Take the Call?

Dazed, Bill Mason cradled his head in his trembling hands. Five minutes before, his line supervisor had rushed into his office reporting that the LM-1100 had broken its diamond saw blade, and they did not have a backup on site. Bill had just made an emergency call to his supplier and left an anxious message on their answering machine.

At 2 a.m., Bill knew it was unlikely anyone would respond to his message before 9 a.m. For every minute the machine was down, he had to idle the entire line, with each hour of downtime costing several thousand dollars.

In desperation, Bill called supplier after supplier looking for a replacement blade. Unfortunately, all his calls were answered by voicemail or answering machines – or nothing at all. Finally, he called Pendergast Industrial Supplies. To his surprise, a person answered the phone. He poured out his story to the representative, who assured him she could help. Although Mr. Pendergast was not in the office at that early hour, she would have someone call Bill back as soon as possible. Bill hung up the phone and waited, hoping to hear back soon.

What Bill didn’t know was that his call had been answered by a telephone answering service, which Pendergast Industrial Supplies set up to address emergencies just like his. Immediately, and in accordance with instructions, the answering service operator called Mr. Pendergast at home.

Five minutes later, Bill’s phone rang. He spilled his predicament to an empathic Ken Pendergast. Ken, an experienced industrial professional, knew how costly the down machine would be. He also knew he had a replacement blade in stock.

The next morning, Ken Pendergast called his answering service to share some great news. Thanks to their quick handling of the call, just as he instructed, he took Bill’s order over the phone and personally delivered the saw blade. By 4 a.m. the plant was back in production, and the plant’s employees were back at work. “What could have been a nine or ten-hour shut down turned into a couple hour maintenance operation, all because a person answered the phone at 2 a.m.,” said Ken.

In addition to getting the plant up and running, he also secured a $20,000 contract from a new, satisfied customer. “We weren’t the first place he called,” said Ken, “but we answered when he did, and that made all the difference.”

Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.

Telephone Answering Service News

Combined Communications Recertified Gold
Combined Communications has received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award for the third time, originally qualifying in 2007. Combined Communications was purchased in 1982 by Larry Kinder, who has since partnered with Kristen & Shawn Borne to further grow the company. Both Larry and Kristen have been active on the SNUG board of directors with Kristen currently serving as president. The certification indicates that Combined Communications has met or exceeded high standards in 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.

Angelo Celesia Receives the 2015 Allen Kalik Award
Professional Teledata announced Angelo Celesia as the 2015 Allen Kalik Award recipient. The announcement was made during the annual PIN user group meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. The Allen Kalik Award was implemented in 2011 after the passing of industry leader and Professional Teledata’s late president, Allen Kalik. “We are thrilled to recognize Angelo with the 2015 Allen Kalik Award. Angelo truly embodies the award and everything it stands for,” said Pat Kalik, director of customer relations for Professional Teledata. “It is an honor to receive this award,” Angelo added. “I am humbled to be included among such esteemed company.”

Quote for the Month

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” -Will Rogers

Save

The November 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineIs the TAS Market Really Shrinking?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderIt doesn’t require much of a look at the telephone answering service industry to know that the number of answering services has been dramatically decreasing in recent years. While I don’t have an exact number, and doubt that anyone does, I think everyone agrees that we have fewer players in our industry today than at any time in recent memory.

But this isn’t because the industry is in trouble. In fact it’s just the opposite. Many business people and entrepreneurs see opportunity to grow and make money. They are bullish about the industry. They believe in the idea of helping businesses by serving people over the phone.

These folks have been on a buying spree. Industry consolidation runs rampant. While this consolidation provides serious challenges for vendors and associations, as well as the publications that cover the industry, it does not spell doom for the industry as a whole.

Another thing we can’t verify is market size. Although the number of actual answering services is on the decline, I suspect the number of TAS customers is not. Even more so I speculate that the amount of revenue generated industrywide is on the upswing. Though I can’t prove it quantifiably, I sense that it must be true.

I don’t think the TAS market is shrinking. It’s just changing, and we need to change with it.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Content Marketing: Need content for your website or blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Add exclusive content to your website to boost your marketing impact and drive organic search. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

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 rodmastar@gmail.com

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.com.

CAM-X 2015 Award of Excellence Winners

TAS Trader and Connections Magazine salutes the 2015 CAM-X Award of Excellence Winners. The award is cumulative, with many answering services earning this recognition for multiple years. The complete list of this year’s honorees are:

One Year

  • Newtown & Flemington Answering Service, Langhorne, PA
  • Anserve, Inc., Bulter, NJ
  • A Courteous Communications, Orlando, FL
  • Prestige Communications, Inc., Fayetteville, GA
  • ProComm, LLC, Seneca, SC

Two Years

  • Bennett Telephone Answering Service, Flint, MI
  • Nationwide Inbound Inc., Freeport, IL
  • Call 4 Health, Boca Raton, FL
  • Carolyn’s Communications Incorporated, Snellville, GA

Year 3

  • AnswerPlus Montreal, Montreal, QC
  • Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY
  • Infinity Telecentre, London, ON

Year 4

  • Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA
  • A Better Answer, Houston, TX
  • A Better Answer, Hurst, TX
  • A Better Answer, Plano, TX
  • Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX

Year 5

  • Callnet Call Center, Bloomington, IN
  • Answer Plus, Inc., Las Vegas, NV
  • AAMCOM, Redondo Beach, CA
  • Commercial Telephone Exchange, Reno, NV
  • Com Net, LLC, Muncie, IN

Year 6

  • Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
  • Tel-Us Call Center, Beverly Hills, CA
  • TAS-PAGE Communications, Peterborough, ON

Year 8

  • Always On Call Answering Service LLC, Concord, NH
  • Keystone Answering Service, Levittown, PA
  • AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
  • Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
  • Call Experts, Charleston, SC
  • Allgood Communications, Inc. dba Executive Service, Professional Communication Services & NTC Answering Service, Pueblo, CO
  • Dexcomm, Carencro, LA

Year 9

  • Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
  • Anser, Green Bay, WI

Year 10

  • Scotia Business Centre, Bridgewater, NS
  • Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
  • The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
  • Keener Communications, Inc., Richmond, VA

Year 11

  • Answer 365, Halifax, NS
  • Focus Telecommunications Inc., Eldersburg, MD
  • Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ

Year 12

  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL

Year 13

  • Select Call Centre – Red Deer, Red Deer, AB
  • Select Call Centre – Calgary, Calgary, AB
  • Central Communications, Welland, ON
  • Encore TeleSolutions , Barrie, ON

Year 15

  • Kelcom, Windsor, ON
  • Intercon Messaging Inc., Drayton Valley, AB

Year 16

  • Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
  • Select Call Centre – Grande Prairie, Grande Prairie, AB

Year 17

  • Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON

Year 18

  • AnswerPlus Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • Select Call Centre – Edmonton, Edmonton, AB
  • Connections Call Center, Squamish, BC

Year 19,

  • IMAGE-24, Montreal, QC
  • A.S. Communications, Belleville, ON

Year 21

  • AnswerPlus Hamilton, Hamilton, ON,

Year 23

  • SureCall Contact Centers, Calgary, AB,

Year 26

  • @liveconx, Cornwall, ON

Telephone Answering Service News

Startel and Professional Teledata Merge
Professional Teledata is now a wholly owned independent subsidiary of Startel. “We are very excited about Startel and Professional Teledata coming together,” said Bill Lane, president and CEO of Startel. “We are thrilled with the merger,” added Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata. “It is a positive development for both organizations, customer bases, and employees.” They both see this merger is a win-win for the two organizations and their customer bases. Jim Graham, Alan Hartmann, and Pat Kalik will join the senior management team of Startel to lead the combined company, which will maintain offices in Irvine, California, and Manchester, New Hampshire.

Advantage TeleMessaging Earns Gold Certification – Twice
Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. (ATM) has re-qualified for the 24/7 Call Center Certification Gold Award, an ATSI peer review program focused on call centers’ ability to maintain 99.99 percent annual run-time. Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc. owner and president Drew Ritter said, “Earning the 24/7 Gold Certification demonstrates that high level of commitment to readiness to be on-line available for our client’s callers.” Mr. Ritter has served the Startel National Users Group board in various capacities including its president and in 2015 was elected to the ATSI board and currently serves as marketing chair.

Quotes for the Month

“Silence will save me from being wrong (and foolish), but it will also deprive me of the possibility of being right.” Igor Stravinsky

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” Madeleine L’Engle

“Frustration is trying to find your glasses without your glasses. ” –unknown

Save

Save

The October 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineThe Changing TAS and Call Center Industry

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderBy classification a telephone answering service is a call center, a centralized place from where calls are made and received. Yet many of today’s call centers are neither! They are not centralized, nor do they deal with just calls.

The label contact center more accurately reflects the current reality of many operations: handling various forms of contact, including phone calls. Even so, this doesn’t address the reality that call centers are increasingly not centralized, but dispersed, with multiple locations and even home-based operators.

While a centralized telephone answering service is easier to manage and operate, decentralization offers numerous benefits. A key reason to decentralize is to tap new labor markets. After all it’s hard to expand when qualified workers are in short supply. Opening a second location near where workers live makes a lot of sense.

A second reason is redundancy. With two operations, each one can back up the other. If both are fully self-contained and interconnected they represent an elegant disaster recovery plan.

A third benefit is time-zone shifting. Imagine one location’s midafternoon lull meshing with another location’s 5 p.m. rush. Or what about a location in another part of the world whose first shift staff answers third shift calls for the United States?

Last, consider a completely decentralized answering service with every agent working from home. This broadens the labor pool even more, provides the greatest flexibility, and can reduce or even eliminate real estate costs.

True, a decentralized answering service isn’t for everyone, but it does offer some intriguing possibilities.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

Content Marketing: Need content for your blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates are $25 to $50 for non-exclusive content and $150 per post for exclusive content. Themes include TAS case studies, customer service stories, general business, and more. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

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 rodmastar@gmail.com.

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.


Why USA Call Center Work Should Not Be Sent Overseas

By Michael LaBaw

Here are eight reasons why it may be a bad idea to outsource to an overseas call center.

1) Language Barriers: It’s common to hear complaints about communication failures with agents in overseas call centers. Why is that? It’s simple. Callers don’t want to talk to people who can’t understand them or talk to people who they can’t understand.

2) Cultural Barriers: The cultures of the United States, India, and the Philippines differ in many ways. Briefly take a look at the Indian culture. They have a problem saying “no,” often feel uncomfortable giving bad news, don’t understand American colloquialisms, and lack a comprehension of holidays and customs in the United States.

3) Privacy Issues: Most people are uncomfortable with their social security number, financial data, and medical information floating around in a foreign country. In today’s world of heightened security requirements, what’s more important, cheap labor or maintaining security? It is vital to reconsider sending sensitive customer information offshore. While privacy laws are relatively new in the United States, they are almost nonexistent in many foreign countries.

4) Security Issues: Even in foreign countries with legal protection for data theft and security issues, actual prosecutions are minimal. Simply put, there isn’t much risk in committing data theft or a security crime in many overseas countries, particularly if the victims are foreigners. Another factor is that new-hire background checks and interviewing, common in the United States, don’t always happen in foreign countries.

5) Regulatory Issues: Security breach notification is a huge consideration. An offshore service provider may have the contractual obligation to protect data for USA citizens, but cyber crime laws are often lacking.

6) Poor Customer Service: Overseas call centers seek customer service training from the United States call center industry. There’s a reason for that.

7) Accessibility: It’s difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to send team members to an offshore location. This cuts the valuable interaction needed in outsourcing engagements and the experience gained when the outsourcer and outsourcing teams communicate, share, work together, socialize, and collaborate.

8) Location Issues: Geographic dislocation hinders oversight of an overseas call center by the outsourcing company. This is complicated by time zone differences. There is also potential for political instability in some countries and public relations nightmares for moving jobs from the United States.

Consider the Real Cost: While cost savings has been the compelling reason to outsource call center services offshore, this is rapidly changing. Considering the hidden costs and risks of outsourcing overseas makes for a convincing case to leave the business in the United States.

Telephone Answering Service News

Peter DeHaan Expands Blogging Service
Earlier this year, Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader and a freelance writer, unveiled a new blogging service to provide blog content relevant to call centers, telephone answering services, and customer service organizations. Rates are $25 per post for non-exclusive posts about TAS case studies. A new category of content is now available in the area of customer service for only $50 per post. Posts are available once a month or more frequently if needed. Contact Peter at dehaan@tastrader.com for more information.

Bob Vornberg Promoted to Telescan GM
Robert Vornberg, a member of Telescan’s software development team since 1994, was named general manager of the Telescan division of Amtelco in addition to his duties as director of product development. Vornberg assumed the position on July 8. Vornberg has been involved in the development of Telescan products as a consulting designer and programmer since 1981. He worked on Telescan’s first paper-based messaging system and participated in the development of every subsequent Telescan product offering. Vornberg joined Telescan full-time in 1994 when he was named director of product development by Telescan founder George Meyer.

Amtelco Receives 2015 DevConnect Award
Amtelco received a 2015 Avaya DevConnect Partner Excellence Innovation Award, presented on June 15, 2015, in Denver, Colorado. Amtelco received the award for its soft agent solution, which uses patented intuitive call flow navigation to guide agents through each call. The Amtelco soft agent integrates with the Avaya Aura® suite. This enables Avaya and Amtelco customers to improve customer satisfaction by providing fast call processing using this solution. Amtelco vice president for software, research and development Kevin Beale said, “It is an honor to receive this award from such a prestigious company as Avaya.”

Quotes for the Month

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -Anne Frank

“How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.” -Benjamin Disraeli

“My wife and I had words, but I didn’t get to use mine.” -unknown

Save

The September 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineShould Your TAS Pursue a Niche Strategy?

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderThere is nothing wrong with being a generalist, but if you are a broad-based telephone answering service, you might decide to grow your business by pursuing strategic niches. But how do you determine which niches to pursue?

Look at the types of accounts you currently handle. Do you see any trends or groups? Poll your staff. Ask them which accounts they like and why. Also consider items such as profitability, customer service needs, and payment history. These factors often vary by industry or subgroup. If so, they should be easy to identify.

Ideally, you want to pursue a niche that you are already good at, you have proven yourself in, your staff enjoys and serves well, can be charged profitable fees, doesn’t overtax your support team, and pays on time. It is unlikely to find a market segment that matches all these goals, but seek to match as many items as possible.

Pursuing a niche, however, is “putting all your eggs in one basket.” If that niche experiences a downturn, so will you. The key is to develop multiple niches. After you establish yourself in one niche, pursue a second and then a third.

How many niches to pursue? You need at least three. That way if one niche tanks, you have the other two to prop up your answering service and maintain some degree of stability. Of course this assumes each niche represents an equal portion of business. A general guide is that it is unwise to derive more than half of your business from any one industry or market.

When pursued strategically, niches can provide a means for growth and stability.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

Content Marketing: Need content for your blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates are $25 to $50 for non-exclusive content and $150 per post for exclusive content. Themes include TAS case studies, customer service stories, general business, and more. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

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 rodmastar@gmail.com

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.


9 Tips for Returning Phone Calls

By Mark Hastings

You probably have no trouble returning personal calls, but what about business calls? How do you reconnect with customers in a professional, courteous way? Here are nine strategies and etiquette tips I’ve gleaned from a lifetime of phone customer service:

1) Return Their Call as Soon as Possible: This is one of the easiest ways to demonstrate that you respect your caller and their time. They went through the effort to call you, so you owe the courtesy of a quick response. In a sales context, this increases the likelihood that individual will choose your service.

2) Document When You Made the Call: I keep a spiral notebook on my desk. On every call I jot down the date, time, who I talked to, and their phone number. You should use whatever record keeping system works for you so you can look up whom you talked to and when.

3) Give Key Information When Calling Back: Say the name of the person who called you, your name, and that you are returning their call. For example, I would say, “Jane Doe, please. This is Mark Hastings returning her call.” Never, ever say you are returning a call if it is not true; I never do business with someone who would lie to me. If the person you are calling is in a different city than you, be sure to note where you’re calling from, for example, “This is Mark Hastings, calling from Austin.” This occasionally gets heightened attention and quicker action by the person answering the phone.

4) Always Leave a Message: If the person you are calling is unavailable be sure to leave a message. Don’t just say you’ll call back later. If they called asking for specific information, leave it in the message. Demonstrate that you value their time.

5) Give Key Information When Leaving a Message With a Person: Give your name and number, even if you think they know it. This will make it easier for them to return your call. Note the name of the person who took your message. Be polite, courteous, and respectful.

6) Provide Vital Details When Leaving a Voicemail Message: Say who you are, what your call is regarding, when is the best time to call you back, and how they may reach you: “This is Jane Doe, I’m returning your call regarding the contract. You may call me back between now and 8 p.m. or tomorrow morning. My phone number is 512-555-1212.”

7) Pick the Right Channel: Should you call, text, or email? If they specified the method then your choice is easy, just do what they asked. If you know they’re likely to be driving, it’s best to call.

8) Be Prepared: Have the information they asked for ready to deliver when you call back.

9) Be Easy to Reach: Even if you leave a message with your contact information, the caller might not be able to get back to you immediately. They might not be able to hear your phone number clearly, or they might lose or accidentally delete the message. Prominently display your business’s phone number on your website, online listings, and social media channels. Also, put all of your relevant contact information in your email signature.

Mark Hastings is the CEO of Hastings Humans, hastingshumans.com. This piece originally appeared on Hastings Humans’ Good Call Blog.

Telephone Answering Service News

VoiceNation Releases Open Source Answering Service Software
VoiceNation recently launched their OpenAnswer answering service software, which uses leading technology and open standards without the restrictions of binding contracts. This lets answering services have complete control over their operations. It is the same software VoiceNation uses in their answering service. OpenAnswer is available free of charge to download, install, and modify. There are no licensing fees, and answering service owners get unlimited seats and scalability in their operations. Since it is open source, telephone answering services can share their code changes with the budding OpenAnswer user community. For more information: www.voicenation.com/openanswer.

The Maryann Wetmore Leadership Development Fund Update
The Maryann Wetmore Leadership Development Fund was established in December 2014 in honor of Maryann Wetmore. The fund’s purpose is to cultivate tomorrow’s industry leaders. In addition to Maryann, within recent months the industry has lost Tom Gelbach and Judy Vincent. “As we honor Maryann we also want to pay tribute to Tom, Judy, and the many leaders who contributed to ensuring the sustainability of the telecommunications industry,” noted Gary Kerner. Send donations to Maryann Wetmore Leadership Development Fund, c/o ATSI Educational Fund, 222 S Westmonte Dr, Ste 101, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714.

Amtelco’s miSecureMessages App Version 4.1
Amtelco released miSecureMessages app version 4.1. Highlights include: 1) Menu Icon: The user interface is updated with an icon for the menu drawer, which is used to change accounts, navigate to the various pages of the app, and access user settings and other functions. The first section lists the names of the miSecureMessages accounts registered to that user; a checkmark show which account is selected. 2) Dynamic Contact Circles: Users can collapse and expand contact circles in their master list of contacts. 3) Color Themes: Users can customize the color theme of the headers of the miSecureMessages screens.

Quotes for the Month

“Don’t try to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” – William Faulkner

“Pleasure may come from illusion, but happiness can come only of reality.” -Nicolas de Chamfort

“Acupuncture: a jab well done.” -unknown

The August 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineThe Dog Days of Summer

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderI’ve never seen an answering service that didn’t have seasonal traffic fluctuations. Most experience an increase in the summer months. This is likely a result of vacations at their clients’ offices and those clients using the answering service more. Or maybe they are on summer hours or more of their customers call afterhours – such as for A/C problems. Whatever the reason, the result is more calls into the TAS and increased billing during the dog days of summer: July and August.

This also means a corresponding jump in payroll to handle the extra calls. (If traffic increases and you don’t need to add hours to your schedule, then you were overstaffed to begin with.) The key to appropriately adjusting the schedule is anticipating the need to add hours or staff in advance, not reacting to the changed traffic afterwards. When reacting, the ideal schedule typically lags the actual need by a week or two – or even more. This happens both when ramping up to meet increased demand and scaling back in response to decreased traffic. On the frontend this causes understaffing and results in a drop in service quality. On the backend this causes overstaffing and a drop in profitability. That’s another reason why we might dread the dog days of summer.

Seasoned managers and schedulers can tap into their experience of past summers and intuitively make the right adjustments at the right time. This is an art. Short of having this ability, or to be even more precise, workforce management (WFM) tools can supplement the art of scheduling with the science of scheduling.

Either way, the schedule moves with traffic changes and the billing tracks with labor costs. Service levels remain consistent and clients have no added reason to complain. Then the dog days of summer aren’t so bad after all.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

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 rodmastar@gmail.com

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Blogging Service: Need content for your blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates start at $25 per post for non-exclusive content and $150 per post for exclusive content. Themes include TAS case studies, customer service stories, general business, and more. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.


How Long Will Americans Wait on Hold?

Americans are more patient than expected when it comes to waiting on hold during calls to businesses, new research has revealed. The study of 2,234 consumers, conducted by audio branding specialist PH Media Group, discovered more than half (55 percent) of Americans are prepared to wait on hold longer than one minute. This makes them more patient than their British counterparts, where only 45 percent would consider holding for more than sixty seconds.

American women are more patient than men, with 60 percent willing to remain on the line for longer than a minute, compared to 49 percent of men.

“Traditionally, waiting on hold is perceived as an annoyance for customers, so these figures might come as a surprise, suggesting Americans are fairly patient when waiting to have a query answered,” said Mark Williamson of PH Media Group.

“The fact that consumers are willing to wait shows that businesses should prioritize improvements to call handling practice rather than necessarily aiming to answer each call within a matter of seconds. When customers do need to be put on hold, it is essential they are kept engaged and entertained.”

The survey also discovered people become more patient with age, with 59 percent of 45 to 64-year-olds prepared to wait more than sixty seconds, in comparison to half (50 percent) of 18 to 34-year-olds.

However, young people are much more receptive to on-hold messages, with 55 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds stating it would make them hold longer, in contrast to 40 percent of 55 to 64-year-olds. Millennials are a generation that seeks instant gratification, so it is surprising they are more patient when it comes to waiting on hold.

London-based PH Media Group is the world’s largest provider of audio branding services, with more than 20,000 clients in 39 countries worldwide.

Telephone Answering Service News

Professional Teledata Announces New Credit Card Interface for TBS
Professional Teledata announced that a new cloud-based option for processing credit card payments directly from TBS3 is now available: an interface to Authorize.Net’s Customer Information Manager (CIM). With the interface, users can process credit card payments directly from TBS3, simplify PCI-compliance efforts by “tokenizing” accounts’ sensitive card data, process pre-authorized credit card payments faster, maintain and track multiple account card profiles, securely process card transactions from any TBS3 workstation, settle transactions immediately, and improve merchant rate discount by using optional card security code, address verification, and cardholder verification features not available in legacy credit card interfaces.

Quotes for the Month

“Bad weather always looks worse through a window.” -Tom Lehrer

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” – Lewis Carroll

“Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.” -unknown

Save

The July 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine

How Was Your Holiday?

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderIn the United States we celebrated a holiday a few days ago. Though the official date was on Saturday, most businesses closed on Friday to give their staff a three-day weekend. A few tacked on Monday as well, giving their employees even more time off.

Telephone answering services (TAS) aren’t able to do that. Most answering services need to schedule more staff to take extra calls for all their clients that are closed.The reality is that in the TAS industry, a holiday is a workday, often a busy one. For TAS staff, their holiday celebrations often need to happen earlier or wait until later.

Many answering services pay their staff extra to work on holidays: time and a half, double time, or even more. Some do it because they need to, while others pay more because they feel it’s fair. The agent benefits financially for the inconvenience of working while most other people have the day off for celebration and time with family and friends.

This extra pay increases the operating costs of the TAS. Hopefully extra billing will result from the jump in call volume, enough to offset the additional payroll.

So when I ask someone in the answering service industry, “How was your holiday?” what I often mean is “Did you have to work?” “How busy was it?” and “Did your extra billing cover your increased labor costs?”

Regardless, I hope your holiday was a good one.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

Seeking to Acquire TAS: Looking to purchase an answering service or call center. Please contact me if you are selling! gm@answerally.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Blogging Service: Need content for your blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates start at $25 per post for non-exclusive content and $150 per post for exclusive content. Themes include TAS case studies, customer service stories, general business, and more. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com TAS systems: Get Free 3:1 Emergency Remote TAS on a Memory Stick; email/text/TAP; app optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or rodmastar@gmail.com.

Americans Unhappy With the Way Businesses Answer the Phone

Less than a third of Americans are satisfied with the way businesses handle their phone calls, new research has revealed. The study of 2,234 consumers, conducted by PH Media Group, discovered just 32 percent of respondents are pleased with companies’ phone manner. The study also found women are more unhappy than men.

Older people were particularly dissatisfied, with only 28 percent of 45 to 64-year-olds claiming to be happy with how their calls are handled, compared to 37 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds.

“Poor call handling is a common complaint for American consumers, but this research suggests businesses are still not doing enough to improve standards and delight customers,” said Mark Williamson of PH Media Group. “There is perhaps a tendency among companies to focus their attention and budgets on visual marketing and Internet presence, but the telephone remains a crucial aspect of branding, marketing, and sales.

“Businesses also seem to have lost touch with older customers, which should provide cause for concern given this generation are less inclined to seek information online than their younger counterparts. If companies want to have a wide appeal, it is essential to maintain high service standards across all customer touchpoints. Responding to calls quicker or establishing a set practice for answering the phone, both represent a good start.”

Telephone Answering Service News

VoiceNation’s Releases Open Source Call TAS Software
VoiceNation launched their OpenAnswer telephone answering service software on June 22, 2015. OpenAnswer is freely available to download, install, and modify. There are no licensing fees and answering service owners can have unlimited seats and scalability for their TAS operation. Since it is open source, TAS owners can share their code changes with the budding OpenAnswer user community. OpenAnswer uses leading technology and open standards without the restrictions of binding contracts, so answering services can have complete control over their operation. This is the same software used at VoiceNation’s answering service. For more information, visit www.voicenation.com/openanswer.

PIN Conference Rescheduled; Webinars Set
When a state of emergency was declared in Baltimore, PIN board directors faced a tough decision regarding this year’s PIN meeting scheduled for May 3-6. “This was not an easy decision, but the board unanimously agreed that it was the best option under the circumstances,” said board vice president Phyllis Shaw. “The meeting has been rescheduled for October 14-18, 2015, at Hotel Monaco in Baltimore, Maryland.”

In the meantime, the board has put together a series of information-enriched Webinars for both members and nonmembers.

  • July 15: “What’s New with eConn and Skills-Based Routing,” presented by Professional Teledata
  • July 22: “Upcoming PInnacle Upgrade, Part A,” presented by Professional Teledata
  • August 5: “Upcoming PInnacle Upgrade, Part B,” presented by Professional Teledata
  • August 19: “G-Lock – Beginner Session,” presented by John Freire and Nate Gefvert
  • September 2: “G-Lock – Advanced Session,” presented by John Freire and Nate Gefvert

If you would like more information on how you can attend the PIN meeting or one of the Webinars, please visit pinetwork.net.

Quotes for the Month

“Never confuse motion with action.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Beware of the man who won’t be bothered with details.” -William Feather

“Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.” -unknown

The June 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections MagazineDoes Your TAS Have a Niche?

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderIt used to be that telephone answering services (TAS) could function as a generalist – serving all clients – or specialize in specific niches. I now wonder if a niche strategy might be needed in today’s marketplace.

A huge answering service niche is the healthcare industry. Within this focus, there are sub-niches, such as medical answering service, hospital console, telephone triage, physician referral, appointment setting and verification, pharmaceutical support, patient follow-up, clinical trials, and so on.

Other examples of niches for answering services to consider include property management or transportation. There are also regional opportunities, such as with the logging, shipping, oil and natural gas, farming, tourist, or entertainment industries.

The niche a telephone answering service elects to pursue should hinge on the size of that market and the answering service’s connection and affinity with that market. Never pursue a promising niche if your company lacks experience serving it or if it bores you.

Developing services specifically geared towards a particular industry establishes expertise and increases proficiency that is unobtainable by a generalist answering service. Increased efficiencies will result. This provides the option to charge less, improve profitability, or both.

Pursuing a niche, however, is akin to the adage of “putting all your eggs in one basket.” The key is to diversify by developing multiple niches. After establishing yourself in one niche, pursue a second, and then add a third. In most cases, three niches is the minimal number. This keeps an economic downturn in one niche from financially devastating your TAS. However, if you have too many niches, the risk is diluting your focus and becoming a generalist.

Only you can decide if a niche strategy is right for your answering service. But if it is, be intentional and then diversify.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Cash is king! Solid, 45-year old TAS looking to grow. We keep staff and business in place. All conversations confidential. Contact Susan at 908-770-3779 or SEMH0429@yahoo.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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Blogging Service: Need content for your blog? Let Peter DeHaan provide it for you. Rates start at $25 per post for non-exclusive content and $150 per post for exclusive content. Themes include TAS case studies, customer service stories, general business, and more. Contact Peter at peter@tastrader.com or 616-284-1305.

Mastar.com TAS systems: Get Free 3:1 Emergency Remote TAS on a Memory Stick; email/text/TAP; app optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or rodmastar@gmail.com.

It’s Time to Go Back to Calling Ourselves an Answering Service

By Michael Shooster

Years ago, many warned that voicemail would replace telephone answering services. This did not happen; there is no technology that brought an end to what we do. But there is something we ourselves are doing that is detrimental to our industry. It is the terminology we use.

Our Own Worst Enemy: I see many answering services doing all they can to avoid using the term answering service. They use call center, teleservice provider, customer services, and other phrases that sound good but don’t reflect the work we do or the clients we serve.

Unfortunately, when we use the term answering service less frequently, the rest of the world does, too. In working hard to position ourselves as both relevant and cutting-edge, we have lost the essence of who we are. When we avoid saying “answering service,” we hurt ourselves as far as potential clients and new business.

Call Centers Are Great Businesses, Too: When answering services refer to themselves as teleservices companies or call centers, they are not doing anyone any good – not the industry or customers. Don’t get me wrong: Call centers are thriving. In fact, it’s a significant part of our family’s business.

But call centers and answering services are two different industries; it is up to us to make this distinction in the marketplace. Call centers provide customer life cycle services, which include customer service, sales, collections, and order taking. Telephone answering services take messages, primarily for service businesses, and relay them according to clients’ specifications.

If you provide both answering service and call center services, consider marketing them as distinct (but potentially complementary) offerings that have different client needs, employee training, and target markets.

If you are a telephone answering service, perhaps it’s time to update your marketing to include only services that relate to your core answering service. If you have bigger aspirations and wish to also promote call center services, then treating that part of your business as a separate entity may allow you to become more successful.

Are We Losing Our Identity? I keep hearing that answering services – both as a term and as an industry – are old-fashioned, throwbacks to a time with less advanced technology and more human-to-human contact. However, when it comes to serving our customers’ ever-evolving needs, we are actually at the forefront of industries that effectively combine technology and human touch. It’s important we promote ourselves in the most accurate, relevant, and powerful way possible.

Look at how you market your answering service. Might you be using the wrong term because that’s what your colleagues are doing? Have you considered going back to basics and calling your business an answering service? Be open to ways in which you can more accurately (and effectively) market your answering services to those who need them.

Michael Shooster is co-CEO of Answering Service Care division of Ding-A-Ling Answering Service LLC, a subsidiary of Global Response Corp, provider of call center services.


Telephone Answering Service News

PInnacle Spring Upgrade to be Unveiled at PIN Conference
Professional Teledata unveiled several new features for the Spring 2015 PInnacle Upgrade at the recent PIN User Group Meeting. “It’s been a long cold winter in New England and we all made the best of our time stuck indoors adding new features to an already powerful and flexible platform to make it even more robust and feature rich,” said VP Jim Graham. “We are excited to put our hard work on display to our users in Baltimore.” Timed auto actions, rotating oncall, and template driven locates with current Oncall support are some of the new features that were presented.

2015 NAEO Employee of the Year Award
Amtelco customer project manager Jana Olson was honored with the National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) Amtelco employee of the year award at the recent 2015 NAEO convention. Jana joined Amtelco as a trainer in 1997. Before moving to the project management team in 1999, Jana served as an installer and a field-engineering technician. In 2000, she received Amtelco’s William J. Curtin employee of the year award, the most cherished award available to employees. Jana primarily works with answering service and Billing Link customers. Caring for Telescan customers was added to her responsibilities after Telescan’s acquisition by Amtelco in 2012.

Quotes for the Month

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” -Flannery O’Connor

“The real problem is not whether machines think but whether men do.” -B.F. Skinner

“When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.” -unknown

The May 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine

The Key Things Never Change

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderSince its beginning, every year brings changes to the telephone answering service (TAS) industry. And the scope of change seems to increase each year. However, not everything changes. Some things stay the same. Though these four keys may fluctuate in importance from year to year, they are always on the forefront of our efforts to provide answering services to organizations and individuals.

Timely Communication: We exist because there is need to respond quickly: to answer the phone as soon as possible and provide information to our clients when and how they need it.

Professional Service: We are representatives of every client; they expect us to be professional. In many cases, we are their public face, be it part of the time or all of the time.

Personal Touch: A decade ago or so, the need for personal touch fell into question in some circles. Self-service and automation would surely prevail. That didn’t work out so well; a backlash occurred. When self-service and automation fail, people are the answer; that means us.

Cost-Effectiveness: Although TASs vary in their billing strategies from low-cost provider to premium boutique, the common factor is that our service must be cost-effective when compared to other options. If we cease to be cost-effective, the first three items don’t matter.

Yes, there are changes afoot, ranging from technology to staffing to legal to financial, but what remains is our four keys: timely communication, professional service, personal touch, and cost-effectiveness. May we never lose sight of them.

Peter DeHaan is publisher and editor of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine.

Classified Ads:

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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 douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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Mastar.com TAS systems: Get Free 3:1 Emergency Remote TAS on a Memory Stick; email/text/TAP; app optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or rodmastar@gmail.com.

Equipment For Sale: Full CMC Cabinet with SCMC/TP (version 9.0) plus Dispatch Server, Voice Processor, 4-U SDB (the KVM doesn’t work). The lower cabinet has 14 DID/Loop Start cards and the all the standard processor cards to function. Components/spares include: 1 Data Multiplexer / OP Interface card; 1 Switch / ACD Gen card; 2 BICs; 1 BIC CPU Master; 1 BIC CPU Slave; 1 SWC CPU; 2 Power Supplies; 3 spare DID/Op Con Cards; 13 OpCon Boxes. Contact Andy at 612-490-7150 or etzelandy@gmail.com.

ASTAA and Donna West Move Mountains

During the last week of April ASTAA held a supervisor workshop entitled, “You Can Move Mountains,” presented by Donna West, with help from Dr. Seuss. The event sold out early and attendees gave the workshop high scores. “Each year I bring something new back with me,” said one attendee. “My fav was proper wording for angry clients with complaints.”

Another said, “I don’t believe it could have been any better. It was very informative and will help me in the future to make some supervisory decisions that I may not have had the knowledge to make prior to this workshop.” Still another added, “The interaction and group work was wonderful. I look forward to the next one.”

Supervisors had plenty of time to contribute, as well as “homework assignments” to complete with a small team. And they had fun doing it. “The training is much more effective than in a classroom setting. I felt more comfortable asking questions and making comments during this seminar,” said one attendee. “Seeing how enthusiastic Donna is about what she does, makes me love listening to her.”

The goal in providing this workshop is to teach employees things every TAS owner wants them to know but doesn’t necessarily know how to communicate it. Topics included the importance of proper scheduling; curtailing overtime; how to handle specific employee issues, like call outs and conflicts; the importance of documentation; attention to a hostile environment; and the cost of a lost customer. How supervisor actions contribute to the bottom line was a common thread throughout.

ASTAA will present another supervisor workshop in April 2016 that will concentrate on supervisor interaction with customers. The “You Can Move Mountains” workshop will repeat in September 2015 at the STA meeting in Nashville. For more information, contact Dan L’Heureux at dan@callconsult.net or 763-473-0210.


Telephone Answering Service News

Professional Teledata Welcomes David Screeton
David Screeton joined Professional Teledata as telephony engineer. David brings thirty years of telephony experience with him to Professional Teledata. His duties include support for the eQueue phone switch, the Manchester co-located equipment and network, the in-house eConn phone switch and network infrastructure, phone and network equipment for remote employees, premise installed eQueue and Millennium phone switches, and network infrastructure at customer sites. David is certified on Nortel Meridian PBX systems, Executone and Samsung keysystems, and has much experience with IBM blade servers, HP and Nortel switches and routers, and POS systems.

Amtelco Introduces Intelligent Series 4.2
Amtelco introduced v4.2 of its Intelligent Series (IS) suite of TAS applications. Included is a new automated dispatching feature, MergeComm. Dispatch scenarios can run automatically based on an inbound trigger such as an email, scheduled to run on a recurring basis, or initiated by a call center agent, Web user running a Web script, or a third party application. HTML message formatting provides a professional email and fax output for clients. Additionally, IS system scripts reduces the need for repetitive script editing for clients that share the same requirements. IS mobile extends the functionality of Amtelco’s IS Web to Apple users.

Quotes for the Month

“The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.” -William Wordsworth

“The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealized past.” – Robertson Davies

“If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.” –unknown

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