Tag Archives: TAS news

The April 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine
Dealing with Owner Life Cycle Changes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

A problem faced by telephone answering service owners (like all business owners) is addressing life cycle changes: dealing with shifting priorities as we age. While some people may have both the drive and ability to run a business for the remainder of their lives, most get to a point where they want to scale back: not handling day-to-day issues, taking longer vacations, semi-retiring, or not working at all. These are all various forms of letting go. Yet letting go is often hard for someone who sacrificed to launch or grow a business. As the longtime owner, you may make every key decision and oversee all activities.

If there is a family member or key employee interested in taking over the business, this may be the best solution to help you achieve your goals, providing there is enough time to make an orderly transition. Alternately, adopting a new management style is another option. However, many TAS owners find themselves in a position where their kids don’t want the business and they can’t change their management style, so they opt for the only other solution – they sell the business.

nCall Answering Service Software

Whatever path you choose, the key is to carefully consider all the options and make an informed decision after taking time to make the best choice for your situation. Whatever you do, don’t put things off and then be forced to make a rash decision.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

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.

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 $100 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.

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.


Are You “Phonogenic?”

By Barbara Bradbury

We use the telephone to speak to our clients and customers every day, so we should be pretty good at it, right? Consider these questions before you respond:

  1. Do you answer the phone with a smile in your voice?
  2. Is the information you provide clear and understandable?
  3. Do you take down telephone messages completely and accurately?
  4. Are you tactful and courteous?
  5. When requesting information, are you able to get the complete story on one call?
  6. Do you treat every call as important?
  7. Do you answer in a tone of voice that tells the caller you are wide-awake and alert?
  8. Do you handle every call with a pleasing and friendly tone of voice rather than one that is curt or indifferent?
  9. Do you speak at a moderate rate?
  10. Do you use a natural tone?
  11. Do you ask necessary questions in a pleasant, businesslike manner and wait for the caller to reply?
  12. When necessary, do you screen calls tactfully?
  13. Do you practice good enunciation: are you easy to understand?
  14. Do you emphasize the right words for clear meaning?

The answer to each question should be yes. Work to improve those that aren’t.

Barbara Bradbury is VP special counsel at AnswerPlus, Inc.


Telephone Answering Service News

Date Change Allows Magnificent Venue for ASTAA 2015
The historic Gettysburg Hotel (circa 1797) will host the Fall ASTAA Conference. By moving the dates up, from October 12–14 to October 6–8, ASTAA secured this spectacular hotel with the charm of the past and the amenities of today. It has become tradition for ASTAA attendees to enjoy a pre-conference event, and in honor of Abraham Lincoln, this year’s event will take place where Lincoln finished writing the Gettysburg Address, at the Wills House located next to the Gettysburg Hotel. Conference sessions will tie into this historic place and the events that took place here and changed our nation forever.

Amtelco’s MergeComm Automates Dispatching
Amtelco introduces MergeComm, which brings automated dispatching to answering services. MergeComm dispatch scenarios can be triggered by agents, customers, and external systems, such as Amtelco’s miSecureMessages, POP3 and SMTP email, phones, EMR-HL7 healthcare interfaces, SMS modems and aggregators, and Web services. Processes can provide dispatch services that include scripting, directory, status, on-call schedules, automated dispatching, retries and escalation, reporting, monitoring, and EMR-HL7 integration. Notifications can be sent to appropriate personnel by miSecureMessages, email, pagers, phones, smart devices, SMS, and Vocera Badges. MergeComm’s ability to integrate with an answering service system and its ease of operation offers savings and expands earning potential.

TAS Marketing Reports Sales Stats for 2014
TAS Marketing’s Steve Michaels reported that multiples for sales of telephone answering services slipped a little last year. For 2014, sales for accounts only had an average multiple of 10.9, with a high of 11.5 and a low of 4.3 (distress sales were not included in the average). For the entire going concern, the average multiple was 13.2, with a high of 19.65 and a low of 8.6. In 2013, sales for accounts only had an average multiple of 12.6; the high was 13.2 and the low was 12. For the entire going concern, the average multiple was 14.2, with a high of 18 and a low of 11.5.

Quotes for the Month

“There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” –Ansel Adams

“You don’t deteriorate from age, you age from deterioration.” –Joe Weider

“When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.” –Unknown

The March 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
Does Your TAS Have a Blog?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

A blog is a great way to connect with people online. It also provides fresh content, which makes search engines happy. And happy search engines show your site to more people, giving you a higher position in their listings.

If a blog brings more people to your site, it seems like a can’t-miss strategy. It can be, providing you can sustain it.

I began blogging in 2008. When I started, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough ideas for new posts. I quickly learned that I did. I also wondered if I had the discipline to write on a regular basis. I’ve proven I can do that as well. To date, I’ve written 1,500 posts, enough to fill several books.

Here are some tips to successful blogging. Your blog should be:

  • Integrated: Your blog should be part of your website, not separate. I recommend WordPress.
  • Focused: Have a theme to guide your content. Pick something of interest to your target audience, such as answering service, customer service, communications, human resources, technology, and so forth. If you serve a vertical market, focus your theme around that.
  • Scheduled: Determine how often you will post. The key is consistency. Once a month is the minimal frequency; once a week is better. But don’t commit to more often than you can handle.
  • Staffed: Decide who will write the posts. Pick people who like to write and have a knack for it. Don’t force department heads to each take a turn; nothing good will come of that.
nCall Answering Service Software

Some companies outsource some or all of their content creation to freelance writers or professional bloggers. This is an option, too, especially if you’re struggling for ideas or lack time. If you do this, pick someone with a proven record who understands your market.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

— 

How Telephone Answering Services Improve Customer Service

By Ashley Meszaros

A telephone answering service, staffed with live persons, is far better than an automated response. Here are four reasons to consider:

Make a Good First Impression: Small businesses that cannot afford to hire full-time receptionists might have full-time staff handle calls as part of their jobs, along with the other multiple tasks they must manage. Instead, a telephone answering service can focus on the caller. They are trained to answer the call politely and ask how they can help the person. Listen to Callers: Customers calling with complaints expect to be heard. Answering service agents can listen to complaints, ask questions, and give a professional response, letting customers know they will get back with them in a certain time frame. Customers feels heard and know someone is working on their issues.

Present a Professional Image: Hiring an answering service to handle customer calls gives businesses a professional image while freeing up staff to take care of other work. An answering service can handle after-hours calls, too, so callers don’t have to wait until the next business day.

Defuse Customer Complaints: An answering service makes it easier to deal with customer complaints. Instead of being put on the spot, businesses receive information about the call, have time to research the issue, and can contact the customer with a well-thought out response.

A telephone answering service can benefit businesses of all sizes in all industries. While the reasons may change, the results are often the same: improved customer service.

Ashley Meszaros is the owner and president of We An-Ser Communications, serving North America. We An-Ser provides award-winning dispatching, medical answering services, man down services, lone worker support, and wireless panic services.

Telephone Answering Service News

PInnacle Freedom Hits Milestone
Professional Teledata announced that its hosted TAS system, PInnacle Freedom, has processed its 100,000,000th incoming call. Saturday, December 20, 2014, at 10:21:13 a.m. came and went with little fanfare when a caller from area code 717 became the 100,000,000th call to be processed through PInnacle Freedom. The hosted TAS system sat quietly at the co-location, doing its job connecting hundreds of agents to millions of callers around the world. Professional Teledata provides systems and software products for the telemessaging and call center industries. For more information or to set up a demo, contact Karen Black at 800-344-9944.

CAM-X Launches Online Pre-Employment Test
Due to high industry demand, CAM-X has developed a cloud-based pre-employment testing program specific to the inbound call center industry. The online program tests six core skills deemed necessary for a successful customer service receptionist. The intent of the test is to aid in the screening and hiring of candidates, minimizing the number of unqualified candidates and reducing the overall time and cost associated with recruitment. Test results are emailed immediately to the call center’s office, allowing for a prompt decision about whether or not to bring the candidate in for a face-to-face interview.

TUNe Announces 2015 Conference
The 2015 TUNe (Telecommunications Users Network, Inc.) conference will take place April 19–22 at the Hotel Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center, 5300 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach, Florida. TUNe, an association of Telescan product users, is an active users group that benefits Telescan, a division of Amtelco. At the conference, attendees can see the Spectrum Prism II technical preview and demo of its enhancements. Spectrum Prism® is a telephony server that connects the Spectrum system to a range of telephone services such as DID, ISDN, and T-1. For more information contact Maryellen Pruitt at 618-696-8174 or pruitt1295@gmail.com.

Signius Announces Two New Directors
Signius Communications president and CEO William Robertshaw announced two major promotions: Chris Moschella has taken over as the new director of operations, while Chris Gronberg has become the company’s director of sales. Both men bring a substantial amount of industry experience and expertise to their new roles. Mr. Moschella has been active in the telephone answering service industry since 1988, and his career to date has encompassed a diversity of responsibilities, including operations, IT, and sales. Mr. Gronberg has ten years’ experience in the call center industry, having served as national sales executive and national sales manager during this time.

Quotes for the Month

“Patience is also a form of action.” –Auguste Rodin

“Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.” –Malcolm Forbes

“A plateau is a high form of flattery.” Unknown

Classified Ads:

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 $100 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.

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, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

The February 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
What Are Your Future Plans?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Most telephone answering services are small businesses with closely held ownerships. Even many larger ones are still privately held, while a few are public companies or part of a public company. Regardless of size and structure, all answering services must plan for the future. Interestingly, their core concerns are essentially the same.

They all must look to the future, with the present in mind, and consider what overarching strategy they will pursue. There are three primary paths:

  1. Develop the TAS: The common solution is to continue to develop the business. Considerations include investing in infrastructure, pursuing controlled growth, seeking competitive advantages, controlling costs without sacrificing quality, and increasing revenue without irritating clients. Often all of these are simultaneously pursued to varying degrees.
  2. Sell the TAS: Sometimes selling a TAS is necessary because it is unprofitable and possesses no reasonable chance for a turnaround. However, most times selling is a calculated decision. Reasons include the owner’s retirement, no one able to take over the business, or the owner leaving to pursue other interests, such as family, charitable work, or other businesses that are more appealing or have greater profitability.
  3. Buy Other TASs: Answering services can enjoy an economy of scale, where larger operations are more efficient and can generate higher profits. Though a TAS should already be in good shape before looking to buy another one, there is another possibility. It is feasible for two struggling answering services to unite – through either a merger or an acquisition – with their combined size able to become profitable.

Wise owners periodically re-evaluate their future plans. They don’t follow what everyone else is doing; they do what’s right for them and their business. There is no right answer, but it’s important to seriously ask the question. Not asking is the best way to flounder.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Keener Communications

Capturing Sales

By Arthur Cronos

Last month we discussed increasing sign-ups from people who visit your website. Basic statistics and thousands of experiments by marketers confirm this fact: If you capture information from website visitors – name and address, email, or phone – and then follow up at least eight more times, your sales will double or even triple. It works best if the follow-up is through multiple channels: phone, email, and letter. But any multiple-touch follow-up will steadily increase your sales.

Too many answering service owners, not wanting to become marketers or salesmen, prefer advertising as the best way to get their name out there. But it doesn’t work. Yes, it may pay off on TV for Nike and Coca-Cola, but answering services can never spend enough, for long enough, to reach enough people to make it cost-effective. It’s a low-percentage shot that’s only advisable for those with deep pockets.

Here’s what does work for answering services:

  • Measure the results from every ad and every active lead generation activity. If you can’t measure results, don’t continue it. Try two versions. See which works better. Drop the loser and scale up the winner.
  • Every ad and every active lead generation activity must end with a super-attractive offer, to drive prospects somewhere. And when they get there – to sign up for the special report, video, dinner for two, or whatever your bait is – make sure to capture their contact information. Then follow up eight or more times.
nCall Answering Service Software

The best offer is not free service, which degrades your value. Besides, customers only buy after they trust you. How will you know when they reach that point? When they give you money.

Therefore, stop giving away free service. Instead, provide a trial subscription with a guarantee: You might offer a half-price subscription for three months with three referrals, or consider selling a month’s subscription for a dollar. More prospects will buy for a dollar than for free. The result? Your service will grow.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel, and wrote several books.

Telephone Answering Service News

Hastings Humans Turns 66
Austin-based answering service center Hastings Humans is celebrating its sixty-sixth year of providing twenty-four-hour customer service to businesses across the country. Ann Hastings, a housewife who was looking for a way to earn extra money for her family in post-war America, founded Hastings Communications in 1948. Initially operating from a single room in her home, the company has grown over the decades. Ann eventually handed the reins to her sons Mark and Scott. In 2013 the company changed its name to Hastings Humans to reflect its commitment to lending businesses a friendly voice for their customer service needs.

Amtelco’s miSecureMessages Partner Program Tops One Hundred
Amtelco works with answering service partners to help them market miSecureMessages (MSM) to their clients. The MSM Certified Partners Program continues to grow, and it currently includes more than 100 partners. For MSM-certified partners, Amtelco provides marketing materials, including a new movie, a marketing call script, a case study full of marketing tips, brochure text ideas, and an email template. MSM-certified partners also receive discounted per-device monthly rates that give call centers a better profit opportunity on each miSecureMessages user, access to tier-one customer support, and a “miSecureMessages Certified Partner” marketing logo. MSM-certified partners also are featured on miSecureMessages.com.

Alston Tascom Releases ADAM v1.2
Alston Tascom released ADAM version 1.2, which provides the foundational structure for its graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI allows management to view the system activities pictorially, such as graphically viewing all their pools (queues) or seeing how many agents and how many calls are in each pool (queue). The GUI also allows for listen-in capability, so managers and supervisors can monitor agents’ conversations live, with multiple supervisors able to simultaneously listen in to different calls.

Christian Vargas Join Professional Teledata
Professional Teledata is pleased to welcome Christian Vargas to its Manchester office. Christian Vargas, technical support specialist, is a bilingual graduate of Lincoln Technical Institute and is currently enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University where he is earning his degree in software development. Christian’s background includes customer support and troubleshooting workstation- and network-related issues. His duties with Professional Teledata will begin with technical support of both PInnacle and Freedom clients. 

Main Line Telecommunications Earns Gold Certification
Main Line Telecommunications re-qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification award. Main Line, the first call center certified for the Amtelco Infinity platform and NAEO Users Group, was originally certified in October 2011. The certification indicates that Main Line Telecommunications has met or exceeded high standards in the areas of business practices, life safety, operations (including normal and emergency procedures), and personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time.


Quotes for the Month

“Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration.” –Igor Stravinsky

“We touch other people’s lives simply by existing.” –J.K. Rowling

“He had a photographic memory which was never developed.” –Unknown

Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

The January 2015 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
Six Steps to Surviving an Acquisition

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I’ve been involved in buying over a dozen telephone answering services. While some parts of the transition were fun to plan and easy to handle, the employee aspect was always the hardest. Despite my hard work to successfully integrate new operators into our existing workforce, they often thwarted my best efforts and ended up quitting in spite of themselves.

If your TAS is acquired, here are six steps to help secure your future with the new company:

  1. Stay Positive: Change is hard, and change is scary, but complaining won’t make it go away. No one likes to be around negative people; having a positive attitude is your first key to success.
  2. Treat It as a New Job: Regardless of what stays the same, this is a new job, with different procedures and new expectations. Accepting this quickly will ease your transition.
  3. Avoid an Us Versus Them Mentality: Staff from the acquired answering service invariably bands together and opposes everyone else, a.k.a. the enemy. While understandable, this “us versus them” mentality is divisive and harmful. The solution is to simply change from exclusive language to inclusive wording. “Us” means all of us, and there is no “them” anymore. This makes you a team player. Then avoid anyone who persists saying “us” and “them.”
  4. Be Willing to Learn: Yes, you amassed years of experience with the prior company, but some of that doesn’t apply now, and some may need to be unlearned. Be open to learn whatever you can, whenever you can. This can be hard, especially if you have more experience than your trainer, but set your ego aside, and be easy to teach.
  5. Look Forward: When your old TAS was sold, there was a time to mourn what was lost and revel in how things used to be. Work through this; don’t dwell there. No amount of wishing will bring it back; focusing on the past will keep you from realizing new opportunities.
  6. nCall Answering Service Software
    Put Potentially Toxic Relationships on Hold:
    Staying connected with former co-workers who, for whatever reason, are not part of the new team, is a bad idea. They will try to pull you down and make you as miserable as they are. Simply tell them, “Right now, I need to focus on my new job; once things settle down, maybe we can hang out again.”

Implementing these six steps will help turn you into a dream employee in the mind of your new employer.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

How to Boost Your Website’s Selling Power with the Tail of a Rat

By Arthur Cronos

Consider these statistics: First, the average person who visits a website never returns. Second, the average buyer usually makes a significant purchase only after twelve “touches.” This is how people get comfortable with something new. At first it’s strange; prospects are wary. As they interact with it several times, they become more comfortable. If it’s a purchase, then around encounter number twelve, they decide to buy. From this, you can assume that most of the people who might buy from you leave your website – never to return and never to buy.

Recall the bell curve from statistics, with many occurrences in the middle that taper off on either end. I call these ends the rat’s tail. The rat’s tail on one side of the bell curve is the person who visits your website once and buys. (The people in the middle of the bell curve require twelve touches, while people on the other side require many more.)

What about these other people? Unless you now know who those other visitors are – so you can touch them at least eleven more times – your website has failed.

Most of the money you spend on advertisements, search engine optimization, AdWords, and newspaper ads is wasted. This is because your website lets them all wander away, and now you can’t touch them eleven more times.

What if you discovered who these people were when they first visit? What if you captured their name, address, email, or phone number? What if you followed up with them eleven more times?

The secret is to build a “capture and follow-up” system. This works for the most profitable companies in the world, and it will work for you, too. Next month, I’ll explain how to build such a system.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.

Keener Communications

Telephone Answering Service News

Tascom User Group Holds Annual Meeting
The annual TUG (Tascom User Group) meeting was held November 6–7, 2014, at the Los Angeles County Fairplex grounds in Pomona, California. At this user meeting, they celebrated the Tascom product’s thirty-five years of providing workhorse systems, which includes twenty years of ownership by Alston Tascom, Inc. The meeting started with a pre-conference day of touring the hosted system datacenter in downtown Los Angeles followed by the Tascom office and development lab in Chino, California. The conference brought re-energized users together, who freely shared ideas. They also celebrated the ADAM softswitch that has been in production and ongoing deployment for eighteen months.

Shawn Griswold Join Professional Teledata
As Professional Teledata continues to grow, they are pleased to welcome Shawn Griswold to the Manchester office. Shawn Griswold, senior software quality assurance engineer, spent fourteen years working in software quality assurance, five of them as a software systems engineer for the Telecommunications Division of Compaq and HP where he designed and ran test environments in SS7/TDM and SIP/VoIP platforms. Shawn’s duties with Professional Teledata include testing and verifying software releases, incorporating functional, boundary, and load testing. He also works on reproducing customer issues for diagnosis and is improving a development process that includes bug tracking and test case management.

Towne Answering Service Receives Gold Certification
Towne Answering Service has received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification award for the third time. Towne was the first center certified on the PInnacle platform and is an active member of the PINetwork. The certification indicates Towne Answering Service has met or exceeded high standards in the areas of business practices; life safety; operations, including normal and emergency procedures; and personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time.

Amtelco’s Rick Freitag Receives Employee of the Year Award
Final assembly and test technician Rick Freitag of Amtelco’s Production Department is the recipient of the company’s William J. Curtin Employee of the Year award. This distinction, conferred annually at year’s end, is awarded in honor of Amtelco founder William J. Curtin II and is the most cherished award available to employees. Freitag was recognized for his commitment to advancing the quality assurance and testing program for Amtelco’s miSecureMessages encrypted text messaging and pager replacement technology. Freitag will celebrate his thirtieth anniversary with Amtelco in February.

Quotes for the Month

“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” –Jean-Paul Sartre

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life.” –Sophia Loren

“A boiled egg is hard to beat.” –Unknown

Classified Ads:

Startel Equipment Wanted: I am looking for a used Startel Transporter or Comm Server for our Startel 2700 system. Please email to answerall84@aol.com with details.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

The December 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
Managing a Distributed Workforce

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Last month I wrote that many TAS owners use a management style called “management by walking around.” The default method of many entrepreneurs and small business owners, this is a simple yet effective way to oversee a single-location business, provided the owner is on-site.

However, if the manager isn’t present, the business can quickly degrade. For that reason, absentee owners and telephone answering services with multiple locations or work-at-home agents need to use another form of management.

Management by Objective: Once a popular management method, the basic premise is simple: set objectives, and evaluate staff based on meeting those objectives. This works best for higher-level employees. For agents, the objective could be to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction, but this veers into the next option.

Management by Numbers: Set numeric goals for employees; reward them for meeting those goals. Of course, only work that can be measured will be done.

Management by Manual: Larger businesses develop policy-and-procedure manuals, which grow increasingly heftier as the enterprise expands. These documents specify everything imaginable, from where to hang your coat to what to do during a disaster. This requires employees to study, internalize, and adhere to the manual. If a situation falls outside the manual, it’s often ignored.

Management by Monitoring: At the most basic level, this is why we have shift supervisors. This method can also entail remote observation of employees. Monitoring is labor intensive; in extreme cases companies end up with people monitoring the monitors. While some of this can be automated, the human element cannot be removed completely.

All of the Above: In most cases, business owners combine elements of all these management methods to effectively oversee staff working in multiple locations. Much of it hinges on the business goals and personal preferences of the owners. They’ll likely mix in a bit of management by walking around as well.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.


Keener Communications

Lead-Generation: Why “Build It and They Will Come” Doesn’t Work

By Arthur Cronos

People used to say, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” Then, from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come.” Sadly, however, this doesn’t work.

I’ve known many businesses that were built, and no customers came. Some of those businesses were better mousetraps, but so what? The world ignored them.

Especially today, with the amount of daily clutter bombarding us, if you want new clients, then you must be the one to reach out to them, and you need to do it better than your competition. You can’t just set up shop, do a good job, and expect new clients to race through the door.

How can you reach out? There are methods that work, generally lumped under the heading of “lead generation.” Aside from tried-and-true direct mail, much of what works in today’s world is a kind of technological art form.

For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) makes your website show up better in Google results. “Follow-Me” ads display themselves to everyone who ever visited your website, no matter where they go on the Internet. “Stars Marketing” – where your company generates scores of positive reviews online, making eye-catching stars show up beside your company name in Google – elevates you on the search page, and sets you apart from competition. There are dozens of systems proven to work in today’s world, but none of them will do you any good unless you begin to use them.

What is your lead-generation strategy? Is it random and occasional, or is it systematized? Do you have more than one lead-generation method? And most importantly, are your lead-generation systems bringing you more than enough new clients to fuel steady growth?

nCall Answering Service Software

Fact: Effective lead-generation strategies create cash flow, and cash flow solves a majority of business problems.

A new year beckons. You can make this the year when you do better than ever before. Implement lead-generation systems that work, and watch the steady growth begin.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.

Telephone Answering Service News

Steve Michaels Quoted as “Industry Expert”
In the recently published 2014 Business Reference Guide for entrepreneurs and business owners, Steve Michaels, broker at TAS Marketing, Inc., was quoted as being an industry expert when it comes to valuing telephone answering services.

Under the section “Call Centers (Telemarketing),” Michaels is quoted several times under subsections of “Rules of Thumb,” “Pricing Tips,” and “Industry Trends.” The book may be purchased from Amazon.com for $143.

Steve Michaels can be reached in his office in Montana at 800-369-6126 or by emailing tas@tasmarketing.com.

Amtelco’s IS Backup Operator Provides Business Continuity
Amtelco released IS Backup Operator business continuity tool, which configures each operator station with a read-only copy of the Intelligent Series database so a TAS can maintain essential call handling functions in the event the IS Server is inaccessible due to a network outage. The feature creates a copy of the IS database, which is compacted and copied to individual agent workstations. It contains only the elements of the client account and system setup configurations essential to continue call-processing activities until the service outage is corrected. A telephone instrument is required at each workstation.

Gail Smit Receives CAM-X Recognition
Gail Smit, formerly of Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., received the Barbara Bradbury Pay It Forward Mentoring Award. This award recognizes an industry leader who has made a difference in the lives of others by supporting and encouraging them to develop new skills and maximize their potential. “Barbara has been an amazing contributor to so many,” Gail said upon receiving the award. “Being acknowledged for making a difference truly means more than I can put in words, and sharing this moment with all my CAM-X mentors, the very people who have made such a difference in my life – well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

Towne Answering Service Earns Gold – Again
Towne Answering Service received the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification for the third time. Towne was the first answering service certified on the Pinnacle platform and is an active member of the PINetwork. The ATSI-sponsored certification indicates that Towne Answering Service has met or exceeded high standards in the areas of business practices, life safety, operations (including normal and emergency procedures), and personnel hiring, training, and ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing on 99.9 percent annual run time.

Quotes for the Month

“Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except the best.” – Henry van Dyke

“No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding.” – Plato

“A lot of money is tainted: ’Taint yours, and ’taint mine.” – Unknown

Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

The November 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
Management by Walking Around

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Many small business owners, including TAS owners, use the simple yet effective management style of “management by walking around.” They manage what they see. However, to be effective the manager must be physically present. If the manager can’t be around on a regular basis, the results are often disastrous, producing either micromanagement or mismanagement that can thwart growth, hamper quality, and limit profitability.

Most TAS owners work hard to grow their business. Regardless of their management style, this growth is generally workable when it occurs under the same roof. However, problems can crop up when a single location TAS adds a second site or acquires a geographically removed competitor.

Management by walking around works great for an active owner in one location, but not two or more. It’s impossible to successfully use management by walking around for multiple sites. Only the location where the manager is present will be “managed,” with other locations left to themselves. This is especially true for service businesses such as answering services.

nCall Answering Service Software

The solution is simple, albeit difficult. Quite simply a change in management style is required. Either the owner must adapt to a new way of doing things or find someone else who can – and then give him or her space to do the job. However, this often is uncomfortable for an entrepreneur used to putting his or her mark on everything that happens and making all the decisions. Such is the challenge of growing a business!

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Keener Communications

How to Use a Unique Message to Make Selling Easier

By Arthur Cronos

When the market you target, the message you present, and the media channels you select come together, sales blossom. Many business owners skip targeting a specific market and ignore unique media channels where no competition exists, instead focusing on writing an advertisement or a website. They read what other people say and copy that. And they sound exactly like everyone else. Their ads and website say, “Yeah! We’re another one! Except we’re better! Just like everyone else!” There is absolutely no reason a prospect would choose their company.

You can do so much better. After you’ve carefully consider what market you’ll target and what media channels you’ll use to reach that market, consider how to position your company as unique. This is your “unique selling proposition.”

Once upon a time, a young man opened a pizza shop next to a college campus, where high-metabolism young people love junk food and get the munchies. Thinking about what this target market might value most, getting a pizza fast would be the most important thing to them – not imported ingredients, not the most delicious pizza, but the fastest pizza.

Thirty years later, we still remember the unique selling proposition of Domino’s Pizza: “Pizza, delivered fresh and hot to your door within thirty minutes or it’s free.”

In the early days of the women’s liberation movement, the Virginia Slims cigarette company concocted a powerful message that appealed strongly to that particular market: “You’ve come a long way, baby.” It wasn’t designed to appeal to Camel-smoking mechanics or hoity-toity Benson & Hedges smokers. It uniquely positioned Virginia Slims for a particular young adult, female market.

United Airlines, addressing travelers who feared air travel, created the perfect reassuring message: “Fly the Friendly Skies.”

Market, media, and message: Make each of them strong, working in unison, and you’ll stand alone in your own marketplace, with no competition and in demand, at whatever price you deem appropriate.

Concocting a unique selling proposition can be tricky, but when you succeed, you become the only company in the world like that. And when you’re unique, you need not compete – because there is no competition.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.

Telephone Answering Service News

More on the Successful ASTAA Supervisor Workshop
The ASTAA two-day supervisor workshop, “An Adventure Is Going to Happen,” with assistance from Winnie-the-Pooh, was the second in a series of three workshops designed specifically for supervisors and middle-level employees. The reviews lived up to those of the first workshop and encouraged ASTAA to commit to a third seminar.

Donna West

In the workshop, “we looked at how to correct people so that they learn without harboring resentment,” explained presenter Donna West. “We covered showing real appreciation…and the importance of allowing numbers help define the goals you want to reach. I believe our attendees left with enthusiasm for their jobs and for the things they wanted to accomplish when they returned to their offices. Most importantly, they believed they could make the changes they wanted to see. We gave them tools to do the job.”

“I thought it was a great seminar,” said Gary A. Edwards, Edwards Answering Service. Days later his staff members were still “bubbling over with enthusiasm. They picked two items from the seminar that we are going to tackle immediately.”

Drew Ritter, owner and president of Advantage TeleMessaging, sent three people to the workshop. “All three of them really enjoyed the conference,” and when they returned, they pelted him with ideas for improvements. “It’s so nice to see the team get excited about their careers.”

“This workshop was spot on,” said Joan Smith. It was “perfect for our supervisors.”

ASTAA will repeat this workshop in the spring and is planning a third one in 2016.

TAS Marketing Commits to the Personal Touch
Offering the personal touch is key to running a successful TAS. “A customer is not a cog in the wheel but a real person who deserves personalized service,” says TAS Marketing’s Steve Michaels. And the personal touch is what Steve and Chris Michaels offer clients who sell their answering service through TAS Marketing. “I am there for them no matter what,” said Steve. This handholding approach has been successful for Steve and Chris, who have served 465 business owners since 1979. Their personal touch includes offering an attorney-written non-compete, solicit, and disclosure agreement to any owner who does not have one in place with their agents. They do a business valuation, provide a listing sheet along with a financial package so that prospective buyers can make a quick decision; all closing documents are included.

Professional Teledata Welcomes Daniel Leis and Johnathan Socha
Daniel Leis and Johnathan Socha recently joined Professional Teledata. “Daniel and Johnathan bring vitality and perspective to their positions that fit perfectly with our vision for the future at Professional Teledata,” said Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata. “They both understand what we are all about. Their military backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences make them the perfect additions to our telephony team.” Daniel’s duties include the technical support of customers for both PInnacle and telephony, while Johnathan’s duties include configuration support and troubleshooting the eQueue, eConn, and Millennium phone switches for both premises based and hosted (Freedom) networks.

Amtelco Enhances Infinity Web Chat
Amtelco recently enhanced its Infinity Web chat to improve the customer experience and provide a tighter integration with Intelligent Series (IS) message scripting. Highlights of the new interface include an improved user experience with user link and popup window, an improved operator interface, and modernized chat bubbles. An IS Web script can be used to guide the agent through the chat, push text into the chat, and retrieve the text of the chat to save it in an IS message.

The Tom Ryan Award Goes to Gary Darychuk
Gary Darychuk of Directors’ Choice in St. John, NB, received the 2014 Tom Ryan Award for Ethics, Integrity, and Quality Above All. Gary accepted the honor at the 50th Annual CAM-X Convention and Trade Show. The award is presented annually in memory of Tom Ryan, a pioneer in the telephone message industry. Upon receiving the award, Gary said, “Being recognized for my ethics, integrity, and quality of service by CAM-X and its members, whom I admire and respect so much, is, in a word, overwhelming. Having so many previous honorees present, from whom I have learned so much, provided for a remarkable evening.”

Telescan Online Technical Certification
The latest Telescan Level 2 technical certification class was held on October 20–23. The new online version of Level 2 brings a great set of benefits to Telescan Spectrum owners, including system and server knowledge and additional support discounts. Level 2 technical certification is available to all Level 1 certified Spectrum sites.

Main Line Telecommunications Repeats Gold Certification
Main Line Telecommunications has re-qualified for the Gold 24/7 Call Center Certification Award. Main Line was the first call center certified for the Amtelco Infinity platform and NAEO Users Group, having first earned the honor in October 2011. The ATSI-sponsored certification indicates Main Line has met or exceeded high standards in the areas of 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.

Quotes for the Month

“Mistakes are part of the dues that one pays for a full life.” –Sophia Loren

“I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time.” –H.B. Swope

“A calendar’s days are numbered.” unknown

Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

The October 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
The Next Generation: Successfully Passing Your TAS to Your Kids

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

The majority of family businesses aren’t successfully transferred to the second generation, and only about 15 percent make it to the third. There are many theories why.

A likely factor is that the second generation, who didn’t sacrifice to launch the business and see it through the lean, early years, lacks the resilience to persevere. Another reason is that problems occur if parents hand the business over too quickly to adult children who still lack experience.

Some entrepreneurial parents attempt to avoid these problems by making their successor children start at an entry-level position and work their way up the organization. But this fast-track status often backfires, causing resentment from non-relative staff who may be more qualified, better educated, or have longer tenure.

To circumvent this, some founders require their children to earn a college degree and put in time at another firm to learn essential skills before joining the family business. Although this approach offers the greatest chance for success, it’s not a sure-fire strategy.

Regardless, if your goal is to pass your TAS to your children, be intentional about it and plan. Don’t leave business succession to chance, or you may end up like the majority of family-owned businesses that fail to successfully pass the baton to the kids.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

KeenerCommunications

How to Use Smart Market Selection to Make Selling Easier

By Arthur Cronos

Powerful sales happen within a congruence of the market you target, the message you present, and the media used to reach out. Each of these three marketing factors affords opportunities to make you unique. And when you’re unique, you don’t have to compete.

Tiffany’s doesn’t need to compete with Kay’s Jewelers. Trader Joe’s doesn’t need to compete with Costco. Holiday Inn doesn’t worry about competing with the Waldorf Astoria.

You get to choose the market you’ll pursue. Many of us (including me) have made the mistake of trying to appeal to everybody and wound up sounding like every other answering service, offering nothing different and leaving us with little to offer except slashed prices, free service, and unsupported claims of “we’re the best.” Try to appeal to everybody, and you appeal to nobody in particular.

Consider Costco. Do they appeal to everyone? Nope. They’re designed for larger families with moderate incomes. On the other hand, Trader Joe’s is designed for smaller, often single-person households. Does Trader Joe’s try to carry all the sizes and brands of Costco? No.

As a simple example, some of your clients have “patients,” others have “clients,” and still others have “customers.” So how do you write an advertisement that sounds right to everyone? You can’t. But you can create an offering targeting one specific niche.

This works in other industries. Nocona Boots has a particular niche customer; they don’t try to sell Italian loafers. Starbucks aims at a particular customer, and they don’t sell cheeseburgers. Chanel doesn’t sell cheap perfume. McDonalds doesn’t sell any dinners with elegant china, silverware, candles, and tux-clad waiters. If narrowly targeting a niche market works for Nocona Boots, Starbucks, Chanel, and McDonalds, why wouldn’t it work for you?

Count all your clients by occupation, and then analyze how profitable each niche is, how many clients you have, how easily they buy, and how much you like them. Next, pick a niche you’d like to expand, and aim a marketing program at this market. Cold call them. Send direct mail. Get testimonials from your clients in this niche; ask them for referrals. Each business owner knows many other business owners on a first-name basis.

When you focus and target, you’ll begin using specific language, the language of that niche. Suddenly you sound brighter and better, more understanding and caring to that niche. It wasn’t because you claimed, “We care”; it’s because you are using the language of your target market.

Next month, we will consider developing a unique message that sounds different from everybody else’s.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel and wrote several books.

NAEO 2014 IS Summer Series Recap

NAEO’s 2014 IS summer series was once again a huge success, with nearly fifty in attendance. The workshop was broken into two day-and-a-half-long sessions and came with a step-by-step workbook.

The first day focused on the beginner’s skills, covering the basics of IS. Topics included the creation of a new account, shared fields, information pages, call flow, and flow-charting. The rest of the day delved into the heart of the program and scripted a basic account from scratch. The first half of the second day took that basic script and added some more advanced actions, including list branches, email and faxing, time of day “if” statements, and screen modes.

nCall Answering Service Software

The second half of the seminar focused on contact-based architecture. Attendees started on day two with building a contact-based directory from scratch. They then took that basic script and added features to turn it into a contact-based dispatching script.

The education committee thanks Amtelco for their support and for sending two of their trainers, Susan Kirkpatrick and John VanWalsum, to assist with the seminar. The committee also thanks Debbie Imes of Advantage Answering Plus, Michael Goumas of ProComm, and Theran Mossholder of Newtown & Flemington Answering Service for their time and expertise at this year’s seminar. Finally, they thank all committee members who made the event possible.

Telephone Answering Service News

Telescan Training Goes Online
Telescan’s popular Level 1 Technical Training moved to the Internet earlier this year. The TUNe/Telescan joint training program began in 2010 with classroom training. This summer’s two-day online course had more than thirty attendees and a 100 percent pass rate for the Level 1 certification exam on day three. Congratulations to the trainees.

TAS Marketing Announces Year-to-Date Sales
So far this year, several TASs have been sold by TAS Marketing:

  • Bay Area Answering Service, Houston, Texas. JR Patterson sold to Steve and Vonda Tackett of Rite Response.
  • Answer Network, Inc., Carpentersville, Illinois. Bob Shields sold to Marty and JC Tibbitts from Citadel Contact Systems Inc.
  • TeleSpectrum Communications, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota. Lisa Bortnem-Wiser sold to Pete Hainey from Customer Elation.
  • A Communications Link, Azusa, California. Vicky Chavez sold to Doug Lindsey from A Better Answer.
  • Custom Communications, Inc., Livermore, California. Keith Benton sold to Roger Roberge and Shamess Twardy of Excel TeleMessaging, Inc.

This is a partial list; some buyers or sellers requested nondisclosure.

Successful ASTAA Supervisor Workshop Sparks Plans for More
The two-day ASTAA supervisor workshop, “An Adventure Is Going to Happen,” with assistance from Winnie-the-Pooh, was the second in a series of three workshops for supervisors and middle-level TAS employees. “This workshop was about the relationship between supervisors and agents; it was completely different than the first workshop in the series,” explained Donna West. The first workshop, “You Can Move Mountains,” with advice from Dr. Seuss, introduced supervisors to concepts they may not have thought about before. ASTAA will repeat this workshop next spring. They plan a third workshop in spring 2016, concentrating on the role supervisors play in customer satisfaction.

Quotes for the Month

“Once you label me you negate me.” —Soren Kierkegaard

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” —Charles Spurgeon

“He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.” —Unknown

Classified Ads

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

CAM-X 2014 Award of Excellence Winners

TAS Trader and Connections Magazine salute the 2014 CAM-X Award of Excellence Winners. The award is cumulative, with many answering services earning this recognition for many years. The complete list of this year’s honorees are:

One Year

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

Two Years

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

Three Years

  • TigerTel Montreal & Quebec, Montreal, QC
  • Advantage TeleMessaging, Inc., West Reading, PA
  • Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX
  • A Better Answer, Hurst, TX
  • A Better Answer, Plano, TX
  • A Better Answer, Houston, TX

Four Years

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

Five Years

  • TAS-Page Communications, Peterborough, ON
  • TigerTel Nanaimo, Nanaimo, BC
  • Advanced Answering, Manchester, TN
  • Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI

Seven Years

  • Call Experts, Charleston, SC
  • TigerTel Vancouver, BC
  • Always On Call Answering Service LLC, Concord, NH
  • AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
  • Keystone Answering Service, Levittown, PA
  • Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
  • Allgood Communications, Inc., Pueblo, CO
  • Dexcomm, Carencro, LA
  • Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA

Eight Years

  • TigerTel Richmond, Richmond, BC
  • Directors’ Choice, Saint John, NB
  • Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
  • Anser, Green Bay, WI

Nine Years

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

Ten Years

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

Eleven Years

  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL

Twelve Years

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

Fourteen Years

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

Fifteen Years

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

Sixteen Years

  • Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON

Seventeen Years

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

Eighteen Years

  • Northern Communication Services Inc., Sudbury, ON
  • Image-24, Montreal, QC
  • A.S. Communications, Belleville, ON

Nineteen Years

  • Teleconnect International, Wetaskiwin, AB

Twenty Years

  • AnswerPlus Hamilton, Hamilton, ON

Twenty-two Years

  • SureCall Contact Centers, Calgary, AB

Twenty-five Years

  • @liveconx, Cornwall, ON

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

The September 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Connections Magazine sponsors TAS Trader
Preparing the Next Generation of TAS Owners

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I’m not sure how the telephone answering service industry compares with other industries, but there seems to be many second and third generations running the answering services their families started. (If you’re a fourth or fifth generation owner, please let me know.)

While the process of handing over ownership and control to the next generation used to be straightforward, the path is less clear today. Not only are TASs more complex to run from a technical, legal and business standpoint, they’re also bigger.

Learning the answering service business from the ground up is a perennial prerequisite in preparing the next generation. Having a college degree was once an optional bonus, but it is more critical now, as running an answering service has become more complicated with additional layers to comprehend. Another common stipulation is to first work outside the industry before joining the family business. This gives the future leader a better understanding of business and added background to provide a more balanced perspective. It’s also wise to study other multi-generational family businesses to learn the pitfalls and challenges of succession.

nCall Answering Service Software

Lastly, while each decade has presented its share of threats to the TAS industry, there seems to be more now than ever before. Being ready to deal with these challenges requires even more preparation, as well as fortitude.

As long as the next generation receives all the training needed to continue the legacy, a TAS is still a great business to own and operate, especially when it’s the family business.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Success and Commitment for ASTAA Supervisor Workshop

By Dan L’Heureux

The ratings were great! The ASTAA supervisor two-day workshop, An Adventure Is Going to Happen, with assistance from Winnie-the-Pooh, was the second in a series of three workshops for supervisors and middle-level employees. The reviews lived up to those of the first workshop and encouraged ASTAA to commit to the third seminar.

“This workshop was all about the relationship between supervisors and their agents, and it was completely different than the first workshop in the series,” explained Donna West. “We looked at how to correct people so that they learn without harboring resentment. We covered showing real appreciation and the importance of allowing numbers to help define the goals supervisors want to reach. I believe our attendees left with enthusiasm for their jobs and for the things they wanted to accomplish when they returned to their offices. Most importantly, they believed they could make the changes they wanted to see. We gave them tools to do the job.”

Joan Stagg-Smith of Answer One, in New York City, wrote, “Donna just held a seminar for supervisors that had a profound effect on one of the people I sent. It opened this girl’s eyes to a whole new way of looking at her job and her value. She came back completely motivated and, dare I say, excited! The creative juices are following at warp speed around here! Thank you for another great conference. I think there is no better venue then ATSAA for such a thing, and no one does it better than you!”

The first workshop, You Can Move Mountains, with advice from Dr. Seuss, introduced supervisors to concepts they may not have thought about before – such as the costs of hiring and training and how part of a supervisor’s job is retaining new employees. It also looked at the costs of bringing on a new client compared to those of keeping the current ones. Most importantly, it helped attendees understand how critical their role is in inspiring agents and helping them to grow the company. In both workshops, using quotes from these well-known children’s books helped make the concepts memorable. ASTAA will repeat You Can Move Mountains in the spring of 2015.

“We will roll out the third and final workshop in the spring of 2016,” said Gary Edwards, president of ASTAA. “The third segment will concentrate on the role the supervisor plays in customer satisfaction. And, while these workshops originate with ASTAA, Donna West is willing to conduct these workshops for other organizations.”

KeenerCommunications

How to Use Unique Media to Make Selling Easier

By Arthur Cronos

Last month we discussed how most answering service advertising appears interchangeable; there is no reason why prospects would choose one company over another. But Starbucks sells like gangbusters because they’ve managed to differentiate themselves from their competition.

Powerful sales follow when there’s a congruence of the market you target, the message you present, and the media you use. Each of these provides the opportunity to make you unique.

Consider media. If you only advertise where your competition does, you must compete. But what if you advertised where your competition doesn’t? Consider the following examples.

  • Direct Mail: When someone opens your letter, there’s no competition. True, many fail with direct mail, but that’s because they didn’t complete the learning curve. Every day, thousands of companies collect fortunes using direct mail. You can, too.
  • Co-Op: Set up an arrangement with a company who sells to the same market. You refer them; they refer you. Use printed flyers for the referral, and then monitor and enforce your system.
  • Cold Calling: Few answering services do cold calling; it’s tricky to learn, but it works. If you learn it, you will have no competition.
  • Referrals Program: Sometimes we put off calling existing clients for fear of hearing some new problem. Get over it. Call your customers, actively solicit their views, and regularly ask for referrals. When they refer you to someone, you have no competition.
  • Think Local: Set up your Google Local for Business page. Google has created 80 million webpages, one for every business they could find. You have one – whether you are aware of it or not. It has a built-in reviews system, and for businesses that work it right, Google will display you on the map, in a special section of seven local businesses, with eye-catching stars by your name. If you have five stars and nobody else does, you have no competition.
  • Super-Targeted Ads: Use Facebook ads. Tap the United States Postal Service EDDM service (Every Door Direct Mail®) to saturate your local area. Use door hangers. Nobody else is doing it, so you won’t have any competition.

Business means trading service for money. Giving service is part of your business; selling and marketing your service are also part of your business. Skimp on sales and marketing, and you’ll pay dearly. For easier selling, choose media where your competition isn’t. Next month, we’ll examine smarter market selection.

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel, and wrote several books.

Telephone Answering Service News

Jim Marchbank teaches business strategy

Jim Marchbank to Lead Business Strategy Seminar
Attend an ATSI-sponsored seminar on business strategy led by Jim Marchbank in St Louis on Sept 28–30, 2014. Jim has taught this class to leaders in the US, Europe, and Bangkok. This program is for TAS owners who want to increase their profitability and take their business to the next level.

Previous attendees touted this seminar as an “unbelievable experience in enhancing problem-solving skills.” Here you can examine your business strategy and decide if it needs to be updated or changed. Best-selling author Tom Peters said, “If it is not broken, fix it anyway.” Non-members can enjoy member pricing; sign up today.

Major Telescan Spectrum Update
In August, Telescan distributed their second major update of the Spectrum System in 2014. Included are improvements to handling inbound SMS and email, enrichments to the secure delivery messaging feature, and a new Spectrum chart for analyzing targeted service levels and operator productivity. Overall, there are sixteen enhancements plus numerous smaller changes to benefit Telescan users and their customers.

Amtelco’s Intelligent Soft Agent Receives Cisco Certification
Amtelco’s Intelligent Soft Agent Attendant Console received certification with Cisco’s UCCX 9.X. Amtelco’s Soft Agent uses SIP connectivity to add a simple agent interface screen to expand call center capabilities. Soft Agent provides a next-generation operator interface, simplifies training, and streamlines call and application processes. Soft Agent integrates with third-party SIP-enabled PBXs to provide call centers with the ability to become part of their clients’ PBX. Soft Agent can eliminate the need for call forwarding and open the door for remote receptionist services.

Quotes for the Month

“Never cut what you can untie.” – Joseph Joubert

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain

“Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.” – Unknown

Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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.

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

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The August 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

A Possible Messaging Opportunity

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Two common ways to grow a telephone answering service are through acquisitions and via sales and marketing. A third way is to provide additional services. With the announcement that Frontier will offer texting on business landlines (see their announcement in the News Section), TASs will have the opportunity to offer more services.

In some cases, the need to handle text messaging will occur by default when text-enabled Frontier customers sign up for an answering service. Another opportunity resides with Frontier customers who feel pressured by their customers to accept text messages but aren’t prepared to receive and respond to those messages. The reasons could be many: a lack of the needed technological infrastructure, not enough staff, a desire to focus on other activities deemed more important, unable or unwilling staff, or the perception that texting is a distraction.

US Risk Brokers

Regardless of the motivation, answering services can screen, respond to, and reroute text messages, just as they do with phone calls now. Of course, working out the technical details of interfacing telco texting services is another issue, but it should be relatively easy to figure out on newer, Web-enabled systems. While this opportunity may not be a good fit for every TAS, it is worth considering.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

KeenerCommunications

Make Your TAS Unique and Selling Gets Easier

By Arthur Cronos

Recently I talked with an answering service sales manager and discovered that his company offered free service to get prospects on-board but failed to sign up most of the people who inquired, and of those who signed up, the majority left at the end of the free period.

Not very impressive sales results! Then he revealed the source of the problem: “When the only difference between us and the next answering service is price, what can you do?”

The question answers itself. If your marketing portrays you as the same as the next guy, there is no reason a prospect should choose you.

Consider Starbucks selling coffee for five dollars. Joe’s Diner charges a dollar. If the coffee is the same, then Joe’s Diner should be brimful of customers and Starbucks empty. But Starbucks is full and sometimes Joe’s Diner goes broke, because the coffee at Starbucks and the coffee at Joe’s Diner is not the same—not to buyers.

So the key is not being the same as the next answering service. This requires change.

Powerful sales come when you establish a congruence between your message (what you say), your market (the prospects you seek), and your media (the channel through which you reach out).

Market: Starbucks is designed to appeal to young-thinking, stylish adults with disposable income.

Message: “You’re young and hip. Indulge yourself with exotic coffees, because you’re so cool.”

Media: Warm, classy appearance, vaguely European storefronts, young “baristas,” Italian words, and with-it media like text messaging. Think back: Starbucks sounded, looked, and felt unlike any coffee shop you’d ever seen. So why is it that every answering service in the country has the same website? Young woman with headset, techno-babble regarding 24/7/365, and claims of caring but offering no proof. Change the business name on these websites, and what difference would it make?

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel, and wrote several books.

Telephone Answering Service News

Alston Tascom’s Autonomous Secure Messaging Server
Alston Tascom released an autonomous secure messaging server for any TAS system in the industry. Autonomous secure messaging offers a solution when clients require sending a secure message on their messaging provider. To date, the browser-based secure message server communicates with the following secure message providers: OnPage, Tigertext, DocbookMD, GroupMD, Twistle, Global, and Mediprocity. Even more important, for customers that use this product and have a customer with a different secure messaging provider, Alston Tascom will work with them to add them to the secure messaging server.

Professional Teledata Enhances PInnacle Voice Logger
Professional Teledata introduced a recently enhanced PInnacle voice logger to their lineup of technology solutions. PInnacle Voice Logger is a SIP-based audio recorder, tightly integrated into the well-received PInnacle TAS system. Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata, states, “Since PInnacle voice logger is entirely SIP-based, no special computer hardware or proprietary add-in cards are required, thus improving operational efficiencies, further cost reductions, and – of course – peace of mind.” PInnacle users have the immediate ability to integrate PInnacle voice logger with their current eQueue and eConn switches, and Millennium integration support is now available.

Spectrum Dialer Installed at Answerphone, Inc
Amtelco installed the first Spectrum Dialer at Answerphone, Inc, in Albany, New York. Spectrum Dialer is a platform-independent, fully featured SIP-based dialer that performs automated services such as appointment reminder calls and mass notifications; it is designed for use by contact centers wishing to serve multiple clients on a shared platform. System administration and client account setups are handled by an intuitive graphical user interface. Call lists may be imported as CSV and Excel files or uploaded via Web-based self-service. After dialing, the system can automatically email a summary report to the client; users also may create custom reports.

TUNe 2014/2015 Board
The Telecommunications Users Network, Inc. (TUNe) is an association of Telescan product users who share, exchange, and profit from innovative ideas. TUNe members elected a new board of directors at their 2014 conference in St. Louis, Missouri. The new TUNe board members are president: Tom Baur; vice president: Dustin Cremeans; secretary: Kim Cotner; treasurer: Angela Hightower Nally; ATSI rep: Gary Edwards; and director: Michael Bloomberg. The Telescan rep is Mary Stuckey; Maryellen Pruitt is TUNe’s executive director.

Voltos Announces Free Reputation Report Service
Voltos Marketing Engineers, who manage the free webinars for TAS Trader, announced a free service for TAS owners. The Reputation Report online calculator searches dozens of online sites where business reviews are visible to Internet searchers to assemble a report of a company’s online reputation. In a recent Nielsen survey, 72 percent of buyers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Bad reviews or a lack of reviews undermine marketing efforts, but busy owners lack time to track down and monitor the growing list of online review sites.

Frontier Communications Text Enables Landline Numbers
Frontier Communications, in partnership with Zipwhip, Inc., will allow its business landline numbers to become text messaging channels. Frontier Texting powered by Zipwhip gives businesses the ability to connect with customers who choose the convenience of text messaging as their preferred means of communication. With Frontier Texting, Frontier customers can text or receive a text from a business’s existing landline or toll-free number. The message is pushed at the same time to the business’s Internet-connected devices, such as laptops, desktops, smartphones, or tablets. Business users can then reply from whatever device they’re on using a Frontier Texting app.

Sound Telecom Taps Bruce Valles to Join Sales Team
Sound Telecom added Bruce Valles to their sales department in response to growing interest in their telephone answering service. While his title is sales consultant, Bruce could easily be dubbed relationship manager. Sound Telecom offers free consultations, and it will be his duty to handle many of those requests. His focus for a consultation will be to ask questions, listen, and understand the challenges the individual and company faces. By building relationships and offering honest recommendations, advice, and expertise, Bruce will help customize answering service solutions for each person or company.

Startel Releases New Stand-alone Voice Logger Solution
Startel Corporation announced the availability of the Startel standalone voice logger application, an easy-to-use tool that allows users to search, play, save, and email Startel voice logger clips. As a stand-alone application, customers and end users will benefit from time saved when with searching for and listening to inbound and outbound calls. “Now that the application is separate from the Startel soft switch, it frees up resources and optimizes retrieval and playback, resulting in a quicker response time of customer requests,” said Bill Lane, president and CEO of Startel.


Quotes for the Month

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” –Joseph Addison

“The worst days of those who enjoy what they do are better than the best days of those who don’t.” –Jim Rohn

“You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.” Unknown

Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month – smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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: 1940s 557 Cord Switchboard restored, rotary dial, headsets (over the head and Plantronics), dialer pens, James Reminder clock, original operator chair, and many new cordboard parts, plugs, light pullers, and pliers. Call and make offer: 559-264-4806.

See all ads.

ATSI Award of Excellence Winners 2014

TAS Trader and Connections Magazine salute this year’s ATSI Award of Excellence Winners. The award is cumulative, with many answering services earning this recognition for many years. With the top ten scores in bold, the complete list of this year’s honorees are:

Year 1
Sunshine Communication Services, Coral Gables, FL
Emerald Coast Answerphone, Lynn Havel, FL
Bennett Answering Service, Flint, MI
Alliance Communications Center, LLC, Orlando, FL
The Perfect Answer, Madison, WI
Nationwide Inbound, Inc., Freeport, IL
CBSI, Marietta, GA
AnswerPro Limited, Mission, KS
 
Year 2
TigerTel Communications Inc., AB
A Courteous Communications, Corp, Orlando, FL
King’s Telemessaging Services, Shreveport, LA
PWC Message Center, Dothan, AL

Year 3
Network One Message Center, Tampa, FL
AAA Message Connection, Chattanooga, TN
Carolyn’s Communications Inc., Snellville, GA

Year 4
Range Call Center, Marquette, MI
Answer Plus, Inc., Las Vegas, NV
Answer California, El Cajon, CA
Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
 
Year 5
TigerTel Communications Inc., Nanaimo, BC
Advanced Answering, Manchester, TN
Commercial Telephone Exchange, Inc., Reno, NV
Answer Bay Area, Tampa, FL

Year 6
TigerTel Communications Inc., Richmond, BC
Central Communications Corp., Riverdale, CA
Monroe Telephone, Beaumont, TX
Answering Service Care by Global Response, Margate, FL
Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
Secretariats, Inc., Norfolk, VA
The Legacy Connection, Tuscaloosa, AL

Year 7
Quick Connections, Greenbelt, MD
IMAGE 24, Montreal, QC
TigerTel Communications Inc., Vancouver, BC
Always On Call Answering Service LLC, Concord, NH
Billie Clarke’s Answering Service, San Diego, CA
LABELL EXCHANGE, Santa Ana, CA
Connections Call Center Ltd., Squamish, BC
The Answer Network, Roanoke, VA

Year 8
Action Telephone, Rochester, NY
AnswerOne, Brooklyn, NY
TigerTel Communications Inc., Oshawa, ON
AnswerNow, Phoenix, AZ
Keener Communications, Inc., Richmond, VA
Cosmopolitan Medical Communications, Phoenix, AZ
IPN Messaging, La Porte, IN

Year 9
Call Experts, Charleston, SC
King Communications, Inc., Saginaw, MI
Business & Professional Exchanges Inc., Beverly, MA
MedConnect USA, Las Vegas, NV
The Message Center, San Antonio, TX
Information Communications Group, Leawood, KS
Medcom Professional Services, Inc., Allentown, PA
Santa Cruz Answering Service, Santa Cruz, CA
Main Line TeleCommunications, Aston, PA
Alphapage LLC, Denver, CO
Allgood Communications, Inc., Pueblo, CO

Year 10
StatCall, Alexandria, VA
Alert Communications, Ventura, CA
Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
CALLSTAR, St. Petersburg, FL
Central Communications Inc., Norwalk, CT
Com Net, LLC, Muncie, IN
Messages & more, Inc., Flagstaff, AZ
Answer Excellence, Inc., Clearwater, FL
AnswerTel of Athens, Inc., Athens, AL
Answer Center, Virginia Beach, VA
Finger Lakes Answering Service, Auburn, NY
Communications Group, Syracuse, NY

Year 11
Contact One Call Center, Inc., Tucson, AZ
Berkshire Communicators Inc., Pittsfield, MA
Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
Alliance Wireless Communications, Kingston, ON
Antietam Call Center, Hagerstown, MD
A Better Answer – Hurst, Hurst, TX
Port City Communications, Inc., Port Huron, MI
Dexcomm, Carencro, LA
Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
Callnet Call Center, Bloomington, IN

Year 12
Corporate Message Services, Savannah, GA
Answer Quick, Louisville, TN
TAB AnswerNetwork, Santa Ana, CA
A Better Answer – Houston, Houston, TX
 
Year 13
Answer Midwest, Inc., Alton, IL
OmniCall, Carrollton, GA
Direct Line Teleresponse, Berkeley, CA
Anser Services, Green Bay, WI
 
Year 14
Answer All, Westminster, CO
 
Year 15
T.A.S. Communications, Inc., Madison, WI

Year 16
A Better Answer – Plano, Plano, TX
 
Year 17
Answer United, Kalamazoo, MI
Hastings Communication Services, Austin, TX
Medcom Professional Services, Inc., Levittown, PA
Business Connections, Salem, OR
Answernet Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ

Year 18
Rochester Telemessaging Center, Rochester Hills, MI

[Posted by Peter Lyle DeHaan for TAS Trader, a telephone answering service e-publication from Peter DeHaan Publishing Inc.]

The July 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Memories of Moving

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

My wife and I plan to move in a few weeks. The last time we moved was twenty-seven years ago, so the process of preparing, packing, and loading isn’t too fresh. Yet the enormity of the task has never left us and is now being reinforced. Moving represents new opportunities, a new start, and new friends. It also means saying good-bye to the present and to longtime friends.

We’ve only moved our household a handful of times. What I’ve experienced more frequently is moving a TAS; I’ve lost track of how many. For my company, sometimes the moves were the result of an acquisition, while others were to a new facility. Often I’d be involved in every aspect: preparing the facility, scheduling staff, ordering telco services, communicating with clients, forming an action plan, physically transporting equipment and furniture, and cutting over – ideally all without any downtime. Of course, this takes a team of qualified employees to pull off, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by some truly great people.

As a consultant, sometimes I focused just on the technical aspect of the move. Other times I merely developed the plan, with other people to carry it out.

nCall Answering Service Software

Moving a TAS is intense. There is diligent planning, careful preparation, long hours of work, possibly a night without sleep, lots of pressure, and often the need to respond to the unexpected at the worst possible moment. Yet when the move is complete and call processing has returned to normal, there’s time to take a break, survey the situation, and realize it was all worth it.

May I say the same about our move in a few weeks!

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.

Is a Weak Online Reputation Costing You Sales?

By Arthur Cronos

Bad online reputation? No reputation? Even a so-so “good” reputation? You’re losing sales. EBay grew huge with its “seller-reputation” voting. Amazon was fueled by on-site book reviews. Yelp’s reviews can make or break any restaurant.

In the faceless Internet world, statistics show that buyers turn to reviews to choose what they buy. Search for “dentist near Dallas” on Google. Notice the three paid ads at the top and some on the right, under the map.

Mid-page, there are seven listings corresponding to the map; Google thinks these seven are the top dentists in Dallas. One of the ways Google selects them is by how many good reviews they have.

Do your eyes go to any of these listings more than the others? Yes. Some dentists have bright orange stars. One is a five-star dentist. If you needed a dentist fast and you can’t ask a friend, would you choose the dentist with five stars? Most people would.

Welcome to the world of reputation marketing. A good reputation and stars will get you a better listing on Google, attract people’s attention, and make customers trust you. This trend has been sneaking up on us. Google recently merged 80 million business websites with its “Google Plus” business pages, added reviews, and now reports the number of stars on search pages. If you have a bad reputation from poor reviews or no online reviews, it’s there for the world to see.

And when you have no online reputation at all – in other words, no reviews – any competitor’s listing with stars will hijack anyone searching for you. If you’re wise, you will create a five-star reputation for yourself now; use these reviews and stars as modern-day testimonials, forcing your website visitors to realize that you’re the best. A five-star reputation draws more inquiries and closes more sales.

Now, search around. Most answering services have no reputation at all, no reviews. The TAS industry remains unaware about this method of marketing. So far, that is. The opportunity is wide open. Will you lead? Or will you wait and trail behind?

Arthur Cronos ran Network Answering Service in San Francisco, then worked at Startel, and wrote several books.

KeenerCommunications

Telephone Answering Service News

Szeto Releases New Asterisk-Based Smart Switch, the SSS-100
Szeto Technologies has newly released its versatile and sophisticated smart telephony switch SSS-100 based on the Asterisk platform. This switch is fully compatible functionally with its predecessor, VMS4500, acting as front-end equipment to Szeto’s Call Linx TAS system. Tightly integrated into the Call Linx software, the SSS-100 provides real-time redundancy backup. It is designed to be very robust, cost-effective, and scalable from a few channels to a several hundred channels. The switch has many embedded standard features, including voice call logger, voice mail, and conferencing multi-channel SIP connections.

Alston Tascom ADAM Installation Surpasses 100 Seats
Answering Service Care, a division of Global Response, is utilizing Tascom’s new soft-switch “ADAM” with over 100 seats. The 100-plus seats are spread out over the corporate office, a satellite office, and remote operators throughout the United States. The dynamic operator login allows any agent to log in to any position, from any place, at any time, which is a tremendous aid in scheduling agents. ADAM is a native SIP-based switch that also provides direct PRI connections. ADAM’s browser-based interface and HTML coding utilizes today’s and tomorrow’s communication technology.

Phyllis Shaw Receives Allen Kalik Award of Excellence
During the PINetwork’s annual conference, Phyllis Shaw of Business & Professional Exchange in Beverly, Massachusetts, received the prestigious Allen Kalik award from PIN User Group president, Angelo Celesia. The Allen Kalik award was implemented in 2011 after the passing of the industry leader and president of Professional Teledata, Allen Kalik. “A more perfect recipient of this award could not have been chosen; Allen would be very pleased,” said Professional Teledata current president, Pat Kalik. “Phyllis goes above and beyond when it comes to educating her fellow PIN users. We are so lucky to have her as part of our community.”

AnswerPro Honored with Business Excellence Award of Merit
AnswerPro Limited received a 2014 Kansas Regional Business Excellence Award of Merit, according to Doug Gregg, general manager. The awards were presented during Kansas Business Appreciation Month by the Kansas Department of Commerce. AnswerPro was recognized in the service category. Founded in 1956 as Lee’s Secretarial Service, today AnswerPro specializes in private sector critical response for healthcare-related businesses, as well as private companies ranging from manufacturers and small businesses to contractors and delivery services. AnswerPro offers “front office” service to customers so they don’t need to go to the trouble and expense of setting up a traditional office.

NAEO 2014/2015 Board
The National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) members elected a new board of directors at their 2014 conference in Dallas, Texas: Kurt VanderScheer, president: Robert Donnelly, future directions committee chair; Billy Peppard, past president; Theran Mossholder, education committee chair; Gerald R. Brosseau II, vice-president/president-elect; Lina Masri, education committee co-chair; Gordon Mott, secretary/treasurer; Matt Crocker, committee chair; Chair Laurie Blow, conference committee; Sydney Ryan, sponsorship task force chairman; Gerald R. Brosseau II, certification development committee chair; Kelli Harrigan, ATSI representative; Lisa Phillips, membership committee chair; Kelli Harrigan, Newslinks editor, hospital liaison; Mike Crossman, membership committee co-chair. The executive director is Andy Shelp.

Sound Telecom Discusses TAS Continuity Plans
Sound Telecom’s article, “Brick House Answering Services Can Handle the Huff and the Puff,” focuses on what answering services do to ensure they stay up and running. The piece uses the Three Little Pigs metaphor, questioning why any business would trust an answering service that isn’t the equivalent of a house of bricks. The Big Bad Wolf could be anything from technical glitches, system failures, and power outages to lack of staffing due to bad weather, illness, or natural disasters. Brian Gabriel, the author of the article, says that when a company considers a TAS, they often overlook the services continuity capability.

Quotes for the Month

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats

“There’s only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” -Aldous Huxley

“A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France, resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.” -unknown

Classified Ads

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k per month – smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers, too. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

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: 1940s 557 Cord Switchboard restored, rotary dial, head-sets (over the head and Plantronics), dialer pens, James Reminder clock, original operator chair, and many new cordboard parts, plugs, light pullers, and pliers. Call and make offer: 559-264-4806.

Answering Service for Sale: Upper East Coast – Entrepreneurs Delight. Solid 35 year-old TAS business billing $70k+ per month with 29% profitability. Averaging $1.28 per transaction, this answering service has management in place and is listed for only 13.4 times monthly billing or $950k, cash. Broker 800-369-6126. For more listings, log onto www.tasmarketing.com and sign up for the “TAS Tips” newsletter.

See all ads.

ATSI Convention Photos

By Steve Michaels

ATSI Conference Photos

Look for a list of the 2014 ATSI Award of Excellence Winners in the next issue of TAS Trader.

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