Tag Archives: TAS news

The June 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Two Ways to Grow Your TAS

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

I enjoyed doing acquisitions. And I was quite good at it – or at least the strong team I had made it look that way. I still relish our dozen-plus transactions: the search, the dialogue, the offer, closing the deal, planning the transition, overcoming problems, and realizing the results. I miss it.

Conversely is my feeling about sales and marketing. I’m not wired that way. Although awkward at it, I have a decent closing ratio in sales. However, selling sucks the life out of me, so I avoid it whenever possible. If my livelihood depended on sales, I’d surely starve. Parallel to sales is marketing. To increase my marketing knowledge, I’ve attended seminars, gone to workshops, and taken graduate and post-graduate classes. I’ve amassed much marketing theory but had trouble successfully transferring it to real-world situations. My marketing efforts required much time and produced little results. Of course, this is no wonder since I dislike marketing almost as much as sales.

Not surprisingly, under my leadership the TAS grew mostly by acquisition and not much by sales and marketing.

From this, I’ve learned two things: if you have a strength, go with it; if you have a weakness, work to improve it.

With all this in mind, check out our monthly webinars to help your TAS grow through marketing.

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

Wealth Building with Your Answering Service, Part Three: A Workable Exit Strategy

By Arthur Cronos

Perhaps you’ve thought of retiring someday. The dream goes like this: Someday your TAS will be larger and more profitable, and you’ll transfer it to your children or sell it to a trusted employee or another answering service owner. With your truckload of money, you’ll buy a house on the golf course (beach, mountain), sip Bacardi (iced tea, orange juice) while soft music plays and a sweet breeze drifts across your manicured lawn with roses (tulips, daffodils). Something like that, right? Prepare for shock.

The Startling Reality: Although 85 percent of small business owners believe family or employees will take over, statistics reveal it only happens 20 percent of the time. A Massachusetts Mutual study found that 65 percent expect to transfer their business to a family member; 24 percent expect to sell to an employee. From author John Brown’s address to the International Brokers Association, in actuality 15 percent transfer their business to a family member; 5 percent sell to one of their employees. Another 10 percent expect to sell their business to an outsider, and 10 percent expect to sell to a competitor. Add them up and discover that 100 percent of business owners expect to transfer or sell their company. However, only 40 percent of them succeed. We may want our businesses to continue, but most of the time, they will not. Either the hard assets will be sold off, or the business closes with the owner walking away empty-handed.

Annual surveys of 5,000 quick print franchisees consistently report that of the companies who exited during the years of the survey, only 24 percent sold and 76 percent simply closed their doors. That is, three businesses closed for each one that sold.

More Statistics

  • Only 2 percent of owners who tried to sell their business on their own were successful.
  • Only 5 percent of businesses attempting to sell via real estate brokers succeeded.
  • Around 14 percent to 25 percent of sales through business brokers succeeded.
  • Of larger businesses sold using investment bankers, 90 percent succeeded.

Can These Results Be Improved? Yes. The simplified answer is to grow your business, design it to run with systems so you don’t have work there, and then manage the sale using methods similar to investment brokers. Investment brokers don’t simply grab a listing and advertise the business. That approach yields low success and lower selling prices.

Instead, the high-success approach happens in two steps. First, do a proper analysis of the business – not back-of-napkin scribbling or a simple multiple of gross. An accurate, detailed analysis is required to predict the probable selling price for each of the four types of buyers.

nCall Answering Service Software

Then, if the numbers are favorable, the actual sale can frequently be accomplished without ever announcing that the business was for sale. Although this method is uncommon outside of Wall Street, it has been used successfully thousands of times with small businesses.

If higher-than-average selling prices and higher probabilities of success sound attractive to you, here is a three-step success formula: Grow your business, set it up to run with systems, and find an experienced intermediary who can provide a detailed analysis.

Then happily retire to that lawn with the roses.

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

Telephone Answering Service News

Call 4 Health Adds Maryland Location
Call 4 Health has opened another call center location in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. “We celebrated our seventeenth anniversary by starting a new chapter and opening up another office in Linthicum Heights, Maryland,” said Bryan Weinstein, Call 4 Health VP of business development and contracts. “[It was] on the same day seventeen years later!”

Telescan Spectrum Charts
Telescan released enhancements to Spectrum Charts, a Spectrum system feature that enhances the ability to analyze system and agent performance. Agent labor cost is the single largest expense in the call center, and these new charts (which are accessed via a Web browser) let Spectrum users schedule more precisely and quickly adjust staffing to meet call volume. Spectrum Charts also allows for more accurate agent evaluation and validates agent performance metrics. Beta-tester Todd Kamp said, “Now that I have this feature, I know exactly what the agents are doing or not doing.” Spectrum Charts is just one of the features in Spectrum software release R1-14.

Szeto’s Employee Safety Monitoring via Mobile Apps
Complementary to its traditional check-in and checkout procedures, Szeto Technologies has developed special mobile apps with the capability to automatically identify the whereabouts of an employee in danger and to determine a “man-down” situation with an instant “emergency” alert. The automatic employee safety-monitoring feature, part of the Call Linx system from Szeto Technologies, enables answering services to monitor the safety of employees working in unsupervised or dangerous environments. Employees are required to periodically check in during their work shift to confirm their safety. Missing a check-in is interpreted as “employee-in-trouble” and will trigger an escalation procedure to alert the rescue team.

Startel Updates Multichannel Contact Center Platform
Startel Corporation released the latest CMC version, featuring several security enhancements. “The Startel CMC 12.1 demonstrates our dedication to helping organizations better understand the use of sensitive data and how to mitigate their risk,” said Bill Lane, president and CEO of Startel. “Sensitive information is a major concern for any business that handles patient health information and credit card data. Electronically stored and transmitted data is essentially fluid, and as a result most organizations don’t know with certainty where their sensitive data is at all times.” Contact Startel technical support to upgrade to this latest version.

VoiceNation Launches New Website
VoiceNation, a provider of live answering, professional voicemail, and virtual PBX services to businesses, launched a new generation of their website, VoiceNation.com. The new site unifies VoiceNation’s online presence through brand consistency and has an eye-catching, modern, clean look. Visitors will enjoy a number of improvements, including easier navigation with multi-level menus and a sleeker visual design, which gets users to the content faster. It’s easier to contact a salesperson via VoiceNation’s click, chat, or call options. “Site visitors can learn about our services, place their order online, and have their virtual phone service up and running in minutes,” noted Jay Reeder, the company’s president.

Quotes for the Month

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesel

“People always call it luck when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have.” – Anne Tyler

“The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.” – 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.

See more classified ads.

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

The May 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

The System’s Down

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

On Monday I called a vendor about my invoice. “I’m sorry,” the rep said, “but we’re doing an update, and I can’t access your records.”

Given that they only operate sixty hours a week, doing an update in the middle of the day was strange timing. Evening would be a great time, and the weekend would be even better, but not in the midst of the busiest day of the week.

Then I realized the true meaning of her words: “The system’s down.”

I remember in the early 80s, switching from cordboards to a computerized TAS system. This was in the early days of computers, before many businesses had them and before many PCs existed.

On occasion we needed to tell clients the system was down. They reacted strongly to that, especially given the relative stability of cordboards and accessibility of handwritten messages. However, as more businesses installed computers and more people brought PCs into their home, the concept of a down computer became understood – and accepted.

I’ve heard the “doing an update” excuse a lot recently, but it’s been years since I heard “The system’s down.” I guess the euphemism of an “update” is less jarring than “We’re down.” An update sounds planned; a down system isn’t.

nCall Answering Service Software

However, as much of the industry migrates to cloud-based solutions with monitored data centers, redundancy, backups, and controlled upgrades, the chance of being down or caught in the midst of an update decreases dramatically.

The new threat becomes a lost Internet connection. But I’m not sure what reason call centers will give for that problem, because if they also use VoIP, they won’t be able to tell callers anything.

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

Wealth Building with Your Answering Service, Part Two: Replace Yourself Using Systems

By Arthur Cronos

The second essential often overlooked by TAS owners is making their business capable of independent operation, instead of a series of activities requiring the owner’s personal skill set. This is important if you intend to someday sell the business and turn your years of work into a big payout.

If it all depends upon you, then the only thing you have to sell is you. On the other hand, if the business is a working system and makes money whether you’re there or not, then the business is a value-producing asset. This asset can be sold, allowing you to walk away with a profit.

So how do you create systems when you’ve been handling everything on your own? The basic process is time-consuming but simple:

  1. Break down all your activity into small “tasks.”
  2. Choose the simplest of the tasks, document what you do, and spell out a method that will produce the same result every time. Eliminate random results by defining the exact process that produces the exact results needed.
  3. Devise a way to quantify these results so the exact result is measured and verified. So far, it’s your task, and it may seem silly to measure yourself. But wait, there’s more.
  4. Now assign someone to do that task. Train them, and document the training so the training can be precisely repeated. Set them loose, and monitor the quantification to see if they’re producing the correct results.
  5. Getting variable results? Revise your procedure, documentation, quantification, and monitoring.

When you have that one task working right, you now have a system for that task – a system that includes a procedure, documentation, quantification, and monitoring. Now do the next task.

When all your tasks have been systematized and assigned, assign somebody to do the training and monitoring process, which should now become a system itself. Now you don’t have to work there anymore. Even better, you own a wealth-creation asset. It can be sold. Wealth can be pocketed. Wonderful!

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

Telephone Answering Service News

Robin Bailey Named One of Top 25 Entrepreneur Alumni
The National Alumni Society at the University of Alabama at Birmingham announced the winners of its UAB Excellence in Business, Top 25, Class of 2014. Robin Bailey, owner of Tuscaloosa-based The Legacy Connection, was one of the top twenty-five. The UAB Excellence in Business Top 25 award program identifies, recognizes, and celebrates the success of the top 25 UAB alumni-owned or UAB alumni-operated businesses. Ms. Bailey, a graduate of the Collat School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said, “When I think of the number of successful business owners who call UAB their alma mater, I am particularly honored.”

Szeto Secured Messages via Mobile Apps
To protect medical patient privacy and personal health information among medical professionals and answering services and to enhance features of its product to better support its customers, Szeto Technologies has developed its own mobile app, Central Secured, to ensure that messages transported via wireless mobile devices are secured for HIPAA compliance. The app is integrated into Szeto’s Call Linx TAS system. The service is also available to other call center platforms to ensure that messages are secured among end users and the answering services via an easy and simple API interface. Szeto’s mobile app is compatible with various types of market-available cell phones.

Professional Teledata Adds Skills-Based Routing to eConn IP-PBX Softswitch
Since their acquisition of the eOn product lines last July, Professional Teledata continues to offer enhancements. Most recently, they announced a software update to the eConn IP-PBX Softswitch to support skills-based routing (SBR). SBR is a call assignment strategy used to assign incoming calls to the most suitable agent instead of the next available agent. The need for SBR has risen as call centers have become larger and deal with a wider variety of calls. Skills-based routing “improves customer service, makes training shorter and easier, increases agent utilization and productivity, and even increases revenue,” stated Pat Kalik, president.

Telescan Spectrum Dialer
Telescan announced the release of Spectrum Dialer, a SIP-based outbound dialer that supports appointment reminders using imported CSV- or Excel-formatted call sheets. Once the calls are made and the responses are gathered, Spectrum Dialer automatically emails a summary report to the client showing the results of each person’s confirmation request. Spectrum Dialer is platform-independent, softswitch-based, and works with any call center system. With Spectrum Dialer, call centers can offer customers a cost-effective tool for appointment reminders with the ability to automatically route calls back to the call center for rescheduled appointments or cancellations.

Amtelco and the 2014 NAEO Conference
The 2014 National Amtelco Equipment Owners Conference took place in Dallas, Texas, March 11–13. Over 200 NAEO members attended the conference to learn and share their success using the Infinity system and other Amtelco products. Amtelco participated in the pre-conference activities by presenting an Amtelco University (AU) session and welcomed attendees to a reception on Tuesday evening. Kevin Beale, Amtelco’s vice president of R&D software, Greg Beale, Amtelco’s vice president of customer service, and Jody Laluzerne, customer service supervisor, all made presentations. Additionally, the Amtelco demo room was always full of attendees looking for more information and one-on-one demonstrations.

Quotes for the Month

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” -Elie Wiesel

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy.” -Jane Goodall

“When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.” -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.

See all ads.

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

The April 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Do You Like Snow?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In Michigan, as well as in many other parts of the United States, winter has wearied everyone. It’s lasted too long, been too cold, and piled on too much snow. Everyone I talk to longs for this season to end. Even those who adore winter weather have ceased their praise for lower temperatures and blankets of white adorning our landscape.

Finally, signs of winter’s retreat are emerging. Despite a dusting of snow over the weekend, the daytime temperatures are now mostly above freezing, and the stockpiles of snow are disappearing. Now, at last, I feel it’s safe to reminisce.

One December several years ago, I made an offhand comment to some of the answering service staff: “What we need is a good snowstorm to drive up call volume and pull us together.” A few weeks later, my wish came through – and then some.

Over the New Year’s weekend, it snowed and snowed…and snowed: fifty-two inches over a five-day period. Call volume shot up – higher than ever before – and stayed there. At the peak we were getting one call every second, not that we could answer them all. Our staff pulled together, doing far more than I could ever ask: working double shifts, sleeping at the office, skipping breaks, and cutting meals short. I even took calls – at least the easy ones I couldn’t mess up.

When it was over, we all had war stories to share. Overtime had jumped, but billing increased even more. Overall the result was good, but I never want to repeat it.

In all my adult life, that was the first and last time I wished for snow.

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.

TAS of the Month

Nicholas Koutrakos, Joe Pores and Bryan Weinstein
CFO – Nicholas Koutrakos, Joe Pores and VP, Business Development & Contracts – Bryan Weinstein

Call 4 Health is one of the nation’s leading medical and home healthcare call centers, providing professional and accurate service to its national clientele. With compassion and empathy as its key principles, Call 4 Health offers its customers the utmost attention while operating twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Call4Health staff
Creative juices flow at Call 4 Health coaching and development meeting with Candelle Santos, Stella Pores, Maysoun Abutineh, Ricardo Gutierrez and Alana Perlmutter.

“Our entire team is very excited to be honored as the TAS of the month by TAS Trader as we approach our seventeenth anniversary,” said Call 4 Health CEO Joe Pores. “We had a vision seventeen years ago of being a leading medical call center known in the industry as ‘the compassionate call center,’ and we have been working tirelessly towards that goal ever since. It is astonishing to see the growth and expansion that has occurred over the years.”

Keener Communications

Wealth Building with Your Answering Service, Part One: Creating Growth

By Arthur Cronos

This is part one of a three-part series to build wealth, covering three essentials often overlooked by busy TAS owners. Most of us focus on creating cash flow to pay bills, but few consider building long-term wealth. The series will address:

  1. Creating growth
  2. Creating systems to replace yourself
  3. Creating a workable exit strategy

These three essentials work together to create wealth; they also create cash flow. But most important, they change your focus so you won’t be caught off guard years from now, with the bills paid but little to show for your efforts.

How to Create Growth: Do you ever ask, “Why don’t we get more new clients?” The answer will become clear if you look at this a different way. Pretend calls aren’t being answered. Then ask, “Why don’t we answer the calls?” If calls aren’t being answered, we must allocate resources: time, money, training, a method, and supervision. We know what’s required to get calls answered, right?

So it’s surprising that we are mystified when we don’t have enough new clients, because the answer is the same. To get new clients, we must allocate resources: time, money, training, a method, and supervision.

Add up the money you spend on operations (phone lines, equipment, and operators). Then add up what you spend on marketing. You’ll most likely find that marketing receives far less. Why then do you expect more results?

You Are in the Marketing Business: Being in business means exchanging something for money. Therefore marketing is your business, and answered calls are simply your deliverable. You don’t get to answer calls until marketing brings in clients.

You’re in the marketing business. So get good at it.

This view reflects a useful reality. Accept this, and your business can thrive. Without it, management by abdication will stumble along, yielding the same results. An unfunded, undeveloped, unmanaged department can’t provide good outcomes.

nCall Answering Service Software

The idea of “build it and they will come” doesn’t work. Marketing is more important than ever. Due to Internet-expanded reach, competition has turned services into commodities; the public believes all services are the same and it’s just a question of price. When only price is used to sell, profits plummet.

How to Get Off the Merry-Go-Round

  1. Realize you are in the marketing business.
  2. Make a good marketing plan. Develop a system. Get help if you need it. You figured out how to get phones answered; now do the same for marketing.
  3. Allocate funds and time. Fund your plan, and then measure and manage the results.

Then your business will grow.

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

Telephone Answering Service News

NAEO Intelligent Series Programming Seminar
From August 4–6, 2014, NAEO’s Education Committee will be offering a three-day, hands-on training seminar on Intelligent Series Programming. The Embassy Suites Hotel at the St. Louis Airport is hosting this event for commercial and medical answering services, hospital switchboards, and contact centers. Speakers include industry experts and NAEO board members Theran Mossholder and Gerald R. Brosseau, II; Amtelco training manager Susan Kirkpatrick; and Amtelco software expert John Van Walsum. Whether you are new to Intelligent Series or looking to cross-train co-workers and build a programming department, you’ll gain firsthand invaluable knowledge to efficiently and consistently program or convert your clients to Intelligent Series. Registration opens April 21 at naeo.org.

Sound Telecom Discussed Benefits of Live Chat
To help businesses grow, Sound Telecom released an information article, “10 Benefits of Live Chat for Ecommerce Companies.” The piece describes the most positive effects of live chat and its key features. It also explains how successful live chat operations can be implemented by collaborating with a reputable answering service to execute the program. Online shoppers have the ease and convenience of leaving a website whenever they feel like it, which is like having business walk out the door. Using live chat allows customers to get answers to questions about products and services in real time.

 —

Quotes for the Month

“Persons appear to us according to the light we throw upon them from our own minds.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” –Albert Einstein

“Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft, and I’ll show you A-flat miner.” –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.

See all ads.

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

The March 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Evaluating Change

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In the March issue of Medical Call Center News (check it out if you serve medical accounts), I wrote about implementing change in your operation. It reminded me of the change TAS Trader went through in January when we switched from a PDF format to an email format.

Though making that change was both timely and warranted, I wondered how you, our readers, would react. I’m pleased to report reader engagement (based on open and click stats, as well as reader comments) is even higher than before. That’s sweet confirmation that we made this change correctly and you appreciated it.

Thank you for the affirmation and your encouraging support of TAS Trader. We are here to serve you and will continue to do so.

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.

TAS of the Month

Jannemieke Keener CEO
Jannemieke Keener, CEO, being interviewed and recognized by the local newspaper.

Keener Communications, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, provides twenty-four-hour live answering services, specializing in the home care services and medical markets, and serving companies in the greater Richmond area and across the US.

Jula Day at Keener Communications
Hula Day

Some of team when the entire office dressed up for a Hawaii-themed party to celebrate Gaylan Garrett’s twenty-fifth anniversary with Keener Communications. Keener gave Gaylan an all-expense-paid two-week trip to Hawaii to thank her for her years of service.

To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!

 —

Keener Communications

Making Efficiency Scalable for Messagemail’s Telephone Answering Service

Messagemail is a virtual office service provider of professional telephone answering services. Based in London, the company is proud of its “answered within three rings” guarantee and its in-house call center staff, who answer calls with a personal touch. The telephone answering service had grown increasingly popular, but that presented a problem.

Problems of Speed and Scalability: Messagemail used Microsoft Outlook to handle their client contact data. The team’s efficiency depended on how fast they could find callers’ details within Outlook. “It was limited and left a lot to the operator,” said Tara Vorster, Messagemail’s account manager. “Scripts had to be manually searched for within the database and opened. With an increasing client base and call volume, the manual element was getting more and more problematic.”

By the start of 2013, Messagemail had reached a critical moment: Outlook wasn’t fast enough to maintain the high standards of call answering efficiency it intended to deliver. “If we had stuck with the old system, we would not have been able to grow,” said Vorster.

Improved Efficiency and a Better Customer Experience: “Call scripting software is something we had been considering for a number of years,” Vorster said. “The bulk of the work [in switching systems] was collating our client information and instructions from Outlook into a workable database for importing,” Vorster recalled. After collating the data into Excel and importing it, operators found the software “very straightforward to use… the team picked it up almost instantaneously.”

With the new system, the process of receiving calls and pulling up the necessary information became faster and simpler. Messagemail gave each client a direct dial-in (DDI) telephone number for forwarding calls they wanted Messagemail to answer. When calls arrived, the system displayed client details on the operator’s computer. The operators were able to answer each call swiftly and knowledgeably.

After the operator handled the call according to the client instructions – take a message, transfer the call, take orders, or complete support requests – the system automatically recorded details of the call outcome according to the client’s requirements and forwarded the information to them via email, fax, or SMS.

nCall Answering Service Software

Impressive Results from Day One: Messagemail can now complete call handling and reporting with reduced effort and provide a smoother caller experience at the same time. The first difference Vorster noticed was “streamlining of the whole call handling process, saving significant time on call handling and almost completely eliminating the margin for operator error.” She also cited the ease of detail capture, call transfer, and message sending, as well as several other tools and features of the system, for the boost in Messagemail’s performance. A year later, Messagemail remains pleased with the results. Additionally, clients and callers are more satisfied.

Messagemail selected nCall answering service software, developed and supplied by nSolve

Six Prospect Types

By Arthur Cronos

Not all prospects are equal; some yield better returns for your investment in money and time. Shockingly, most companies put all their money into the most difficult and lowest-yield prospects. Consider these other prospect types, and watch profits climb.

1) Existing Clients: Your best return on your marketing investment is when you sell more to existing clients. For example, sell something new or an add-on, or create a larger and fancier service to sell. Even better, position yourself so you’re no longer in competition with other companies, then stop selling on price and double your rates. (It can be done.)

2) Past Clients: This is likely to give you the next best return. You will need a list of past clients and a solid plan to approach them.

3) Inquiries: These people have already inquired about your services and need proper follow-up. It works far better when your follow-up is prompt and provides multiple touches. For example, according to a 2010 Velocify study, doing six to eight follow-ups with proper timing creates as much as 600 percent more sales than a single follow-up.

4) Referrals: Most small businesses get occasional referrals as a happy accident. These inquiries are easier to sell: they are less price-resistant and less suspicious. Why not create a referral program instead of waiting for referrals to just happen?

5) Cooperative or Joint-Venture Referrals: This can pay off nicely. For example, assume you provide answering services to attorneys and the instant printer up the street offers document printing with delivery to smaller law firms. Each of you creates a special-offer flyer. The printer includes your flyer in each boxed order being delivered. You include his as a billing stuffer or newsletter insert. Each flyer offers a special deal; your flyer offers a special introductory rate because the law firm is one of the printer’s customers.

6) New Leads: Even though this generally provides the lowest return on your marketing investment, most small businesses usually put all their marketing money here. Now, if you’re just starting up, you have no choice but to invest in lead generation. However, when you’re a mature business and possess developed programs for selling more to existing clients, reclaiming past clients, proper follow-up with prospects, an active referrals program, and co-op arrangements, then your costs for new-prospect lead generation will be smaller. New lead-generation is simply an additional source of clients.

The bottom line: Put your money where your best prospects are. It pays.

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

Telephone Answering Service News

Alston Tascom Promotes Richard Fung and David Wong
Alston Tascom promoted Richard Fung to general manager. Richard is a graduate of UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and has been with Alston Tascom for eighteen years. David Wong was promoted to director of engineering. David is a graduate of UCI (University of California Irvine), also with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. David has been with Alston Tascom for eleven years. “We thank both Richard and David for their many years of service, and we look forward to the exciting times ahead,” said Wayne Scaggs, Alston Tascom president.

Amtelco’s Introduces IS Mobile
Amtelco’s IS mobile app extends Amtelco’s IS (Intelligent Series) Web functionality to handheld devices, providing access to status, messages, directories, and on-call schedules. Users can view and update their status, read and send messages, access directory information, see on-call schedules, and request changes to on-call schedules. Users can also contact other users via a range of methods, including email, phone, miSecureMessages, SMS text messaging, pager, fax, and Vocera. The initial release of the IS mobile app supports version 7.0 and later of Apple’s iOS operating system for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices.

Amtelco’s Mobile App Developers
Amtelco welcomed two new members to its software team in 2013: Ellen Phillips and Robert Haworth. Both were instrumental in the development of the miSecureMessages (MSM) mobile apps and the new Intelligent Series (IS) Mobile app. They joined as interns while attending Madison Area Technical College (MATC) and were hired upon completing their degrees. Phillips, with a focus on Apple™ iOS development, and Haworth will work on mobile apps. To build upon this, MATC will provide Amtelco with an Android™ development intern during the spring 2014 semester.

Sound Telecom Launches New Website
Sound Telecom updated their website to provide an inviting, informative, and easy-to-use interface for customers and prospects. There were three goals for the new site: 1) remove industry jargon or corporate-speak, 2) present a crisp style that didn’t overwhelm users and was easy to navigate, and 3) work well with mobile phones and tablets. “The biggest challenge was taking the existing value in the old site and recreating it with a responsive design and content management system that gives Sound Telecom control of the site,” said Jason LaBaw, the site’s developer.

Quotes for the Month

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mohandas K. Gandhi

“Better shun the bait than struggle in the snare.” -John Dryden

“With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.” -unknown

Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in Eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k 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.

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.

See all ads.

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

The February 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Two Ways to Grow Your TAS

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Although there are exceptions, most TAS owners want to grow their business. (Even those who want to keep the operation at its present size need to add new accounts to make up for cancellations.) To grow your TAS, there are but two ways: through sales and marketing or through acquisition.

Sales and marketing allows for controlled expansion at a steady and manageable rate, without taxing staff or infrastructure. This requires no extra stress or additional work, and other projects aren’t put on hold.

Acquisition provides a nice jump in size all at once. A team spirit develops as staff pull together to integrate the new accounts or another location into an existing operation. The effort is intense, and then things return to normal.

Considering which method best fits your goals is a great place to start. However, don’t overlook your own strengths. I always desired the methodical predictability of the sales and marketing approach, yet I had trouble finding the right sales staff and managing them to succeed. What I was good at was acquisitions: the pursuit of the deal, the negotiation, and the integration afterwards.

nCall Answering Service Software

Both growth options are legitimate considerations, but don’t do what everyone else is doing; pick the option that works best for you and your staff.

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.

Capture – Converse – Convert for Stronger Sales

By Arthur Cronos

Are your ready to get scared? Here are two horrifying statistics:

  1. The average person visits a website and then leaves, never to return again. This statistic describes most visitors to your website. Prove it for yourself: Open up the favorites tab in your browser. For 99 percent of the sites listed, you have never gone back – and these were the ones you marked as favorites. The terrible truth is that most website visitors leave and never return.
  2. The average person buys after seven touches. A “touch” is any single interaction. Touch someone seven times, and only then does that individual buy. That’s the statistic. Why is that? Because folks buy from people they know, like, and trust. And folks are far more likely to know, like, and trust you after a few interactions. Prove it for yourself. Are you more likely to trust someone you met once, or someone you’ve met seven times?

A Shocking Question: If the average person only buys after seven touches, but the average website visitor leaves forever after one touch, what are the chances that your one-time website visitor will buy?

The odds are lousy. I’ll skip the math, but the famous bell-shaped statistics curve suggests that only about a tenth of your potential buyers will buy after one contact. To look at it another way: If you could change your one-time visitor into an ongoing conversation with multiple touches, you could perhaps sell ten times as much!

How to Change a One-Time Visitor into an Ongoing Conversation

  • Capture the visitor’s contact information and permission to engage in further conversation. A common example is offering a prize or bait, like a special report, in trade for the visitor’s name, email, and permission to send the report and other emails.
  • Converse with the visitor using automated follow-up communications. First, send the promised freebie. Now there are two touches, and the visitor has the first reason to trust you because you kept your promise. Next, send follow-up emails or something in the mail. Send things that are interesting, friendly, and useful. As you build additional touches, the visitor will start seeing you as helpful, nice, and likable.
  • Convert means you persuade them to take additional actions. This could be a sale or a mini-sale, such as clicking a link in an email to view a video. Or it could be an emailed link to access a website page with a discount coupon. It could also be an invitation to reply to an email with a phone call to get a needs analysis. Anything offering a quid pro quo, where an individual both gives something and gets something, creates the experience that interacting with you is a good thing.

At some point, your visitors will know you, like you, and trust you. I guarantee, most of your competitors won’t be doing this. Only you.

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

Telephone Answering Service News

Tascom-Express System Implemented at Alston Tascom
Alston Tascom is the first location to implement Tascom-Express. They replaced their previous Fluency system with the brand new Tascom-Express, which is a complete system in a virtual server. Alston Tascom is using the system the way it will be implemented at an answering service. All options are available to include email, SMS, paging, faxing, PRI, operator pools, reporting, call recording, voicemail, SQL database, softswitch, alphanumeric, and more. For more information, contact Alston Tascom at 866-282-7266 or sales@alstontascom.com.

Amtelco’s Infinity SIP Attendant Console Completes Avaya Compliance Testing
Amtelco has completed compliance testing with its Infinity SIP Attendant Console to interoperate with Avaya Aura® Communication Manager and Avaya Aura Session Manager using SIP trunks. Amtelco’s Infinity SIP Attendant Console is a SIP-based (session initiation protocol) soft phone solution that provides phone and operator state controls during call handling. In the compliance testing, the Infinity SIP Attendant Console used the SIP trunk interface from Avaya Aura Session Manager 6.3 to provide intelligent attendant consoles for Avaya Aura Communication Manager 6.3. Testing was conducted via the DevConnect Program at the Avaya Solution and Interoperability Test Lab in Belleville, Ontario.

Article Shares How Cheap Answering Services Cost More
Sound Telecom released an article outlining significant costs businesses can face when opting for a cheap answering service. The piece educates companies on typical scenarios that occur when a business simply picks the cheapest answering service provider. Often the cheapest service actually ends up costing more in the end. The piece compares a cheap answering service to a miracle diet that delivers instant results but no sustainable success. Ideally, Sound Telecom would like every company considering enhancing their business with an answering service to read the article. That way they can make the best possible decision in picking the right vendor.

Call Centers Cut Costs Using New Voice Recording Solution
A new voice recording solution, WIOVoice, helps management evaluate customer complaints in a timely and efficient way. “The state-of-the-art system will monitor and evaluate agent efficiency by documenting the communication between the agent and the customer,” said Istvan Bata, managing director of the software developer, DSR Partner. Features include real-time access, encrypted voice data storage, and playback functions. Administrators can follow and analyze agent-customer conversations. Users can call into the conversation or apply the recorded material for training. Voice data can also be automatically transferred and archived in a written format. Conversations are traceable by word detection, date, or other search parameters.

Amtelco’s Intelligent Series 4.1 Released
Amtelco’s Intelligent Series 4.1 software is now available for general release. Enhancements and changes over the previous IS 3.7 release include a redesigned IS Web interface with interactive conversation-oriented messaging, a new IS Mobile app for Apple devices providing mobile access to IS, a new softswitch-based IS voice services platform providing new IS-based call behaviors, a redesigned IS reporting interface, a new system event manager with automated notification for selected events, IS scripting enhancements, miSecureMessages enhancements, IS secure two-way email, IS faxing, Vocera interface, security enhancements, appointment scheduling enhancements, class and event registration, and SMS text message enhancements.

Quotes for the Month

“A free society is a place where it’s safe to be unpopular.” –Adlai Stevenson

“Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” –Harvey Fierstein

“If you don’t pay your exorcist, you can get repossessed.” –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, as well as your employees and customers. 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 January 2014 Issue of TAS Trader

Welcome to the New TAS Trader!

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As I announced last month, TAS Trader begins its sixth year with a new look to meet readers’ changing needs. With more people reading emails on their smartphones than not, the old PDF format of TAS Trader has been retired in favor of this new mobile-friendly version, ideal for smartphone and portable devices, while also working well on computers.

For readers who prefer to read a printed copy, go to www.tastrader.com/category/issues and click on the print icon at the end of each issue. Also, our archives have already been converted to this new format, so you can read them online, forward them to others, and print them out. Additionally, each issue has a comment section for you to add to the discussion.

nCall Answering Service Software

See all this at www.tastrader.com, and if you have a moment, send me an email to let me know what you think about the new TAS Trader!

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.

TAS of the Month: Answer United

Answer United
Answer United, Kalamazoo, MI

Answer United is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in its new facilities located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Having experienced growth over the last several years, Answer United outgrew its original location. “We found the perfect building for our needs; it was like it was built for us forty-five years ago,” said Scott Gignac, president of Answer United. “We took nine months to renovate the 13,000-square-foot building and moved in last August. Our people love the space. We were crowded in our old building, and now we have a large break room, a twelve-seat training facility, and plenty of room to grow.”

Answer United

To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!


The Essential First Step to Increase Sales

By Arthur Cronos

The most valuable thing I learned from Michael Gerber, author of the best-selling book The EMyth is why most small businesses sell poorly and what to do about it. He says the business development cycle consists of innovation, quantification, and orchestration, applied to how you do business. That means thinking up a new way to operate, finding a way to measure how much it succeeds, and adopting the good methods into permanent systems. If more sales sounds good to you, then the first step in quantifying your sales process, which we’ll call “benchmarks,” is to reveal where the sales process falls down.

Benchmarks: When somebody (an inquiry) calls you about service, several steps happen in sequence, and the last step is that they buy. Your steps may vary, but it’s something like this: Sales line rings ⇒ call answered ⇒ information captured ⇒ transfer to sales ⇒ speaks with sales ⇒ script initiated ⇒ script completed ⇒ signup form completed

Your sale can succeed or fail at any of these benchmarks. For example, suppose you have the world’s best salesperson sitting beside the phone, but what if the sales line isn’t answered? Or never transferred to sales? What if call is answered and transferred, but sales doesn’t answer? What if the salesperson just wings it?

Quantification: You’re most likely using a sign-up form. And if you’re getting the best sales, your sales staff probably uses a tested script. Try creating a benchmarks form, to be completed daily, with a column each day and a box beneath for each step.

Use your system to track how many times the sales line rang, how many calls were answered, and the number of calls that were transferred. Have each salesperson fill out a form for each call, even nonproductive ones. Each day, count the forms to determine the number of inquiries spoken to. Also count how many forms have any information, meaning the script was started, and how many forms are filled out, indicating the script was completed. Last, how many inquiries signed up?

Each week add up the daily totals. Prepare to be surprised.

Results: By measuring the key points (benchmarks) along the way, you can tell where the sales process needs improvements. Do this for two to three weeks, and the results will shout at you. Naturally, you can ignore quantification and fly by the seat of your pants. That’s what most TAS owners do. To discover how well that works, listen to other owners complain about sales. That’s what an unquantified approach can provide for you, too.

If you decide you’d rather enjoy better results, try the benchmarks approach. It’s not exciting, but the money is.

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

Telephone Answering Service News

Emergency TAS Runs on Memory Stick
Mastar EmergRemote allows telephone answering services to run their TAS on a memory stick during emergencies. A TAS can get up and running instantly, with unlimited accounts and clients, including email, text, and other TAS functions. The database can be populated manually or by using Excel. Mastar Telemessaging provides answering service software systems, dispatch systems, hosted VoIP services, DID hardware, inbound messaging, outbound marketing, and custom Filemaker applications.

Sound Telecom Unveils Comprehensive Guide to Shopping for a TAS
Sound Telecom released a guide for businesses to use when looking for an answering service. The document, “9 Questions You Should Ask when Shopping for an Answering Service: The Comprehensive Guide” is based on numerous blog entries written by their COO, Brian Gabriel. The guide is designed to familiarize shoppers with some of the important things to consider, along with pertinent background information, when searching for an answering service. The primer also warns of potential traps that buyers should be wary of. Sound Telecom aims to make the process of selecting an answering service a straightforward, pleasant experience.

Tascom Users Hold Annual Meeting

TUG Users Meeting - Nov 2013
Attendees of November 2013 TUG Users Meeting

Tascom users’ meeting was held at South Point Casino Hotel in Las Vegas on November 7–8, 2013. The main discussion centered around their new softswitch Adam, which several sites have already installed. The discussions also compared traditional individual servers, virtual servers, and hosted servers. The meeting ended with plans for next year’s Tascom user meeting and the celebration of thirty-five years of service to the telemessaging industry, with twenty years of ownership by Wayne and Joanne Scaggs.

For more information, contact Alston Tascom 866-282-7266 or sales@alstontascom.com.

Professional Teledata Offers No-Cost Secure Messaging
Professional Teledata announced a new secure messaging feature added to the PInnacle platform. No third-party services are required to provide the secure Web interface functionality. The feature will work by emailing or texting a link to a message that will be viewed via https using an Internet browser. Not only is this feature HIPAA-compliant, it is also device-agnostic (works with iPad, iPhone, Android, Surface, Windows, and others).  The secure messaging feature will be provided to all PInnacle users at no charge as part of Professional Teledata’s ongoing software-support program. It also offers TAS the ability to increase revenue.

Amtelco’s miSecureMessages Partners Program Success
Amtelco works with answering services to market miSecureMessages (MSM) to their clients; the program includes over 100 partners. For MSM-certified partners, Amtelco provides marketing materials, including a movie, a marketing call script, a case study of marketing tips, content ideas for brochures, and an email template. MSM-certified partners also receive a set of core benefits that can help answering services become more profitable, better serve customers, and build connections to reach their full business potential. Some of the benefits of being a MSM-certified partner include discounted per-device monthly rates, access to tier-one customer support, and an MSM-certified partner logo for promotional use.

CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction Winners for 2013
The CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction addresses customer relationship management (CRM), courtesy, etiquette, and professional call handling for call centers. The 2013 CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction winners are:

  • Answer 1 Communications, Phoenix, AZ
  • Appletree Answering Service, Anaheim, CA
  • Appletree Answering Service, Chicago, IL
  • Appletree Answering Service, Portland, ME
  • Answer Plus, Toronto, ON
  • Answer Plus, Hamilton, ON
  • Connections Call Center Ltd., Squamish, BC
  • Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON
  • Focus Telecommunications, Inc., Eldersburg, MD
  • Intercon Messaging, Drayton Valley, AB
  • PDL Contact Centres, Calgary, AB
  • Re:  Messaging Solutions Inc., Abbotsford, BC
  • Select Call Centre, Edmonton, AB
  • TigerTel Communications Inc., London, ON and Winnipeg, MB
  • TigerTel Communications Inc., Oshawa, ON
  • TigerTel Communications Inc., Vancouver, BC
  • Time Communications, White Bear Lake, MN
  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL

The top scores were earned by Answer 1 Communications and Re: Messaging Solutions Inc. TAS Trader salutes these top call centers and all who participated. Collectively you raise industry standards and exceed client expectations.

Quotes for the Month

“Several excuses are always less convincing than one.” –Aldous Huxley

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.”
–Buckminster Fuller

“A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.” –Unknown

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Classified Ads

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in Eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20k 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.

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: 2 Americom Identifier Plus units, one 8 Line Video Adapter, 6 VFR5050 Voice Repeaters. All equipment is in excellent working condition. I replaced my phone system, which eliminated the need for this equipment. Please visit www.imageofficeservices.com/equipment.htm to view equipment and prices.

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

The December 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

The New TAS Trader Coming in 2014

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As TAS Trader wraps up its fifth year, many changes have occurred since our launch in early 2009. As an industry, we’ve seen a great deal of consolidation. Although it’s just a guess, I suspect the number of telephone answering services in the United States now stands at about 50 percent of what it was then. Of course, the average size of those that remain has grown a lot. Sensing opportunity, new players have entered the industry, too. The vendors that serve us have undergone changes as well: consolidation, diversification, strategic partnerships, and entering or exiting the industry. Overall, this is good for the industry.

However, the biggest change has been technology: VoIP, hosted service, ubiquitous Internet connectivity, remote operators, distributed call centers (my favorite oxymoron), off-the-shelf hardware, software apps, fiber rings, handheld devices, and smart phones.

Ah, smartphones and handheld devices.

I started TAS Trader as an e-publication with two formatting goals: make it easy to read on a computer screen and make it easy to print for those who like a hard copy. In 2009, our 11″ x 8½” PDF-formatted layout made a lot of sense.

But in 2013, the tipping point came, with more people now reading email on smartphones and handheld devices than on computer screens. This means our trusty format is no longer serving the majority of readers. Starting in January 2014, our once innovative version of TAS Trader will retire. Taking its place is an email version, designed for mobile users while still being easy to read on a computer screen or print out.

We’ve already converted our archives to this new format, which you can read, forward, and print. Plus, as text documents, they are easier to search and will aid in SEO (search engine optimization).

nCall Answering Service Software from nSolve

The best news is you won’t need to do anything to receive the new version of TAS Trader. It will arrive via email just as it always does, and copies will be available online just like always. For all the things that are changing, some things remain the same.

Happy holidays! And we’ll see you January 20 with TAS Trader 2.0!

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.

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TAS of the Month: Ambs Call Center

Ambs Call Center - Jackson, Michigan
Ambs Call Center in Jackson, Michigan

Ambs Call Center started in 1934 as The Physicians Registry, a doctors’ answering service in Jackson, Michigan. Their current building (pictured,), built in 2004, was constructed over and around their existing building – “A logistical tightrope,” said Richard Ambs.

The Ambs Call Center Management Team
Aaron Boatin, Richard Ambs, Andy Ambs, Ryan Ambs

Second-generation Aaron Boatin, Andy Ambs, and Ryan Ambs round out the management team. Ambs Call Center also has a location in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and handles over 30,000 calls a day, providing telephone answering service and call center services to the healthcare and service industries.

To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!

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When Self-Service Feels Like No Service

By Barbara Bradbury

I’m not the kind of person who needs to be waited on, but I find the recent trend towards self-service is leading even the most competitive, service-oriented companies down a slippery slope to indifference.

Take flying, for example. I accept the fact that online options and kiosks at the airport keep lines moving quickly, printing boarding passes before one reaches the counter, but even as a regular flyer, I have yet to master the ability of removing just the right amount of backing from the baggage label to affix it to my luggage without getting it tangled in my hair or stuck to the side of my face. Would it really slow progress that much for the attendant to attach it while she watches the scale bounce above or below that magic number?

On a recent trip, I used two different carriers, each requiring one layover. I nearly missed the second flight in each direction because the gate had been changed, but in each case the airline neglected to make an overhead announcement to advise travelers. Apparently it is now our responsibility to check the flight boards for gate information or risk making that last-second sprint from Gate 40 to 22 to catch our flight.

There’s a time and place for everything, but even as I recognize the advantages of technology, I fear that some companies have stretched self-service to the point where it feels more like “no service.” Let’s make sure we don’t do that with our answering service.

Barbara Bradbury is VP special counsel at Answer Plus Communications Inc (www.answerplus.ca).

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Speech-Rate Pacing: Increase Closed Sales 30 Percent

By Arthur Cronos

Jerry Richardson was one of my first answering service clients, so when he invited me to attend a Saturday seminar, I agreed. His usual attendees were from big companies like Xerox or IBM, and he showed them how to close more deals. Maybe it would work for me! That Saturday, I learned several unusual techniques, but I especially liked one that was very simple: speech-rate pacing.

When you receive a call from somebody about your service, pay careful attention, then speak at the same rate of speed as your caller. That’s it!

I first tried it for two weeks as a test. I kept careful records, and sure enough, we got the same number of people calling from advertising as usual. However, I signed up 30 percent more of them.

If you are from Georgia, and your caller is from New York, most likely you will talk slower than your caller will. The problem is that this makes him impatient; he also tends to discount your intelligence, and your credibility drops.

Now, that’s not fair, but it is human. Here’s why: Your New York caller best processes and understands words that come at him at his optimal rate of speed, the same speed he uses when he speaks. His speech rate demonstrates his optimal rate for processing spoken words. If you speak slower, it costs you sales because he comprehends less of what you say.

On the other hand, if you are from New York, and your caller is from Tennessee, he hears your speedy delivery as “one of them fast-talking city slickers,” and you lose credence. Alas, all your words are discounted – simply because you spoke too fast for him to process comfortably.

It’s simple. If he talks fast, you talk fast. If he talks slow, you talk slow.

Keep careful records. Speech-rate pacing boosted my sales by 30 percent. Give it a try. Let’s see how it works for you!

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

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CAM-X 2013 Award of Excellence Winners

For the past twenty-four years, CAM-X (The Canadian Call Management Association) has recognized call centers that have achieved and maintained excellence. This achievement puts them among the top telephone answering services worldwide. The CAM-X Award of Excellence is a mystery caller program that uses an independent panel of judges to evaluate calls.

The telephone answering services earning the top scores are Combined Communications, Inc., A Better Answer, Ambs Call Center, Dexcomm, Anser Services, The Legacy Connection, Answer 365, Select Call Centre (Red Deer), and Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., with Select Call Centre (Grande Prairie) earning the highest score.

The complete list of 2013 CAM-X Award of Excellence honorees, along with the number of years they have earned the award, are:

Year 24

  • @liveconx, Ottawa, ON

Year 21

  • Re: Messaging Solutions Inc., Abbotsford, BC

Year 19

  • Answer Plus, Hamilton, ON

Year 18

  • Teleconnect International, Wetaskiwin, AB

Year 17

  • IMAGE 24, Montreal, QC
  • Northern Communications Services Inc., Sudbury, ON
  • PDL Contact Centres, Calgary, AB
  • TAS Communications, Belleville, ON

Year 16

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

Year 15

  • Extend Communications Inc., Brantford, ON

Year 14

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

Year 13

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

Year 11

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

Year 10

  • Telelink, St. John’s, NL

Year 9

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

Year 8

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

Year 7

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

Year 6

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

Year 5

  • Tel-Us Call Center, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., St. Louis, MO

Year 4

  • Ambs Call Center, Jackson, MI
  • TAS-Page Communications, Peterborough, ON
  • TigerTel, Nanaimo, BC
  • Advanced Answering, Mid State Communications Network, Manchester, TN
  • Appletree Answering Service, Inc., Sacramento, CA

Year 3

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

Year 2

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

Year 1

  • Central Communications Corp., Riverside, CA
  • Combined Communications, Inc., Bowling Green, KY
  • AnswerPlus, Montreal, QC
  • Contact One Call Center Inc., Tucson, AZ
  • Infinity Telecentre, London, ON
  • Appletree Answering Service, San Juan, PR
  • American Communications Centers, Bristol, PA
  • A Courteous Communications, Orlando, FL

TAS Trader congratulates these telephone answering services and all those who participated in this year’s CAM-X Award of Excellence program.

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Telephone Answering Service News

1-800 We Answer Partners with Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority
1-800 We Answer Call Centers will partner with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) to boost convention attendance through event promotion and telemarketing services. LVCVA is responsible for developing and marketing the Las Vegas brand and supporting city efforts to encourage new and repeat tourism for the area. With 150,000 hotel rooms and 10.7 million square feet of convention and exhibit space available, 1-800 We Answer will be making up to 15,000 business-to-business calls for each of the approximately sixty events on the LVCVA roster per each year, encouraging and promoting conventions as well as generating hotel occupancy.

Sound Telecom Unveils Employee Lounge
On November 1, Sound Telecom celebrated the grand opening of their employee lounge in their Spokane, Washington, facility. The official opening of the appropriately dubbed “Sound Lounge” began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the winners of the naming contest. The new employee break room features traditional game room staples like a pool table, Ping Pong table, and foosball table. Other entertainment includes an HD TV with an XBox 360+Kinect for those into gaming or anyone who wants to relax with some channel surfing. One of the features of the Sound Lounge employees are most excited about is the personal use computers and phones.

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Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in Eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20K 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.

Mastar.com TAS systems: Free GalFriday 5 Bosses; Email/text/TAP; App optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or rodmastar@gmail.com.

Equipment for Sale: 2 Americom Identifier Plus units, one 8 Line Video Adapter, 6 VFR5050 Voice Repeaters. All equipment is in excellent working condition. I replaced my phone system which eliminated the need for this equipment. Please visit www.imageofficeservices.com/equipment.htm to view equipment and prices.

See all ads.

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[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 November 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

TAS of the Month: Sound Telecom

Sound Telecom just opened their new “Sound Lounge,” featuring pool, Ping-Pong, foosball, HD TV, Xbox 360 Kinect, personal use computer and phones, lounge, and reading area. Now, Sound Telecom employees can work hard and play hard!

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.

To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!

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The 49th Annual CAM-X Convention and Trade Show

The 49th Annual CAM-X Convention and Trade Show was held September 24–27, 2013, at the Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda. In addition to announcing the 2013 CAM-X Award of Excellence winners, the following individuals received special recognition.

Casey Smit Receives Hall of Fame Award at 2013 CAM-X Convention

Casey Smit Inducted into CAM-X Hall of Fame: Casey Smit was inducted into the 2013 CAM-X Hall of Fame. Casey accepted the award during the gala banquet at the recent CAM-X Annual Convention and Trade Show.

Debbie Iacovone nominated Casey for this Hall of Fame award on behalf of everyone at Re: Messaging Solutions. Debbie said, “Casey has always taken a ‘people first’ approach in business.” She added, “One of his mottos is ‘It’s not about how interesting you are but rather how interested you are.’ Casey and his wife Gail always ‘got interested’ in people.”

Upon receiving the award, Casey says, “The funny thing about an award like this, it always comes as a surprise—a very pleasant surprise. Getting involved with CAM-X back in 1990 for the first time was a huge eye-opener for me: the incredible sharing of information, the friendliness of the members, the great friendships that evolved, but mostly the determination of the board members to create a better industry for everyone. I have benefitted from all my experiences with CAM-X and this industry, and I can’t thank everyone enough for this recognition.”

The CAM-X Hall of Fame was established by the Canadian Call Management Association in 2001 to recognize dynamic individuals whose leadership has contributed to the evolution of the telephone answering service and call center industry. The Hall of Fame celebrates inductees for their accomplishments, vision, and leadership, as well as for their tireless efforts to promote, support, and protect the industry.

Michael Leibowitz receiving award from Sydney Ryan at 2013 CAM-X Convention

Michael Leibowitz Recognized for Ethics, Integrity, and Quality: Congratulations go out to Michael Leibowitz of Call Experts in Charleston, South Carolina, for winning the 2013 Tom Ryan Award for Ethics, Integrity, and Quality Above All. Leibowitz accepted this honor at the convention.

The coveted Tom Ryan Award is presented annually in memory of one of the contact management field’s most ardent advocates, Tom Ryan, a pioneer of the telephone message industry. This industry-specific award pays homage to companies that exhibit quality service while adhering to a mandate based on a commitment to ethics and integrity above all else.

Also taken into consideration is the company’s overall dedication to maintaining a cohesive working environment, practicing ongoing internal and external customer service initiatives, and continuous involvement in industry and community programs.

Upon receiving the award, Michael said, “Tom Ryan was an industry icon who raised the bar in many ways. I am honored and humbled to be chosen for this award. I share this with the people of Call Experts who are dedicated to the values Tom Ryan held dear.”

Pat Vos Receiving Award (with Linda Osip) at 2013 CAM-X Convention

Pat Vos Receives Barbara Bradbury Pay It Forward Mentoring Award: Congratulations go out to Pat Vos of Intercon Messaging Inc. in Drayton Valley, Alberta, for winning the very first Barbara Bradbury Pay It Forward Mentoring Award. Vos accepted the honor at the CAM-X Convention.

Speaking about the creation of the award, CAM-X member Gary Blair said, “If ever there was a person who emulated the embodiment of the definition of mentor, it is my friend and colleague Barbara Bradbury. When she announced that she would be retiring and moving into the next phase of her professional and personal life, I thought it imperative for an industry that has benefitted so much from having had her within our ranks over such a long while to ensure the continuation of what she created: an incredible, industry-wide focus on the importance of mentoring the next generation of agents, supervisors, managers, and owners. Such generosity of spirit, knowledge, and business acumen – and an unlimited willingness to share it could only be properly honored by the creation of the Barbara Bradbury Pay It Forward Mentoring Award. This award was created to honor those individuals following in Barbara’s footsteps.”

Upon receiving the award, Pat says, “It is truly humbling. Looking at the award is a daily reminder to be the best I can be every day. This award, for me, is a gift of forgiveness and second chances, and for that I am most grateful.”

Paul Binion receives the Donald Swift Education Endowment (DSEE)

Paul Binion Receives the Donald Swift Education Endowment: Introduced in September 2008, the Donald Swift Education Endowment (DSEE) is based on the belief that if an individual were given an opportunity not normally available to him or her, a motivated personality would deliver amazing results. The DSEE award is presented annually to the person who is deemed to most exemplify the mission statement and values promoted by CAM-X.

Matching that definition, Paul Binion of Call Experts in Charleston, South Carolina, was honored with the 2013 Donald Swift Education Endowment and attended, for the first time, the 49th CAM-X Convention and Trade Show.

The DSEE was designed to assist one dedicated person from a member organization, who may not normally attend, the opportunity to experience the value of a CAM-X convention. The trust fund was established to cover the attendee’s expenses, including conference registration, accommodation, and travel.

“The opportunity to get an inside look at our industry is an experience that I will always remember. Oftentimes my vision is limited to the location itself or the job I do for the company, and receiving the award, as well as being able to make the trip to a tropical island to receive it, gave me the opportunity to get a real inside look at our industry as a whole,” said Paul. “Being able to interact with owners and operations managers of other call centers across the continent has given me a much broader perspective of just how big our industry is.

“As for the receiving the award itself, the biggest moment for me came when I realized the award was based on the external things I do that are unrelated to the role I play here at Call Experts. The work I have done and continue to do in the nonprofit arena is done for the benefit of others without any expectations of reward or praise for those efforts. Just to have my name submitted for consideration for such an award was an honor itself, but to have received it and to have been recognized by an international organization is the highest honor I have ever been given. I am indeed humbled and thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Based in Grimsby, Ontario, CAM-X (www.camx.ca) is a Canadian-based trade association for the call management industry, which includes call centers, telephone answering services, voicemail services, and other communication services. CAM-X’s goal is to contribute to their members’ profitability by fostering a willingness to exchange ideas, experiences, and solutions while promoting the general welfare and ethical standards of the industry.

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Telephone Answering Service News

Alston Tascom’s ADAM the SoftSwitch with Dynamic Operator: Alston Tascom’s ADAM softswitch and Evolution MS-SQL database will now dynamically assign an operator to an available position when they sign in for work. The knowledge about which positions are available is already in the system, so the system decides which position to assign. This is especially useful for remote operators because it eliminates the need to coordinate which position should be used for login. For more information, contact Alston Tascom at 866-282-7266 or info@alstontascom.com.

Peter Melton Joins Professional Teledata: Professional Teledata announced that Peter Melton has joined their team as a senior telephony engineer, bringing with him twenty-eight years of expertise, knowledge, and experience in the telephony arena. “Peter Melton brings the vitality and perspective to this position that fits perfectly with our vision for the future at Professional Teledata,” said Pat Kalik, president of Professional Teledata. “Pete understands what we are all about. His experience and expertise make him the perfect person to join our telephony team, where he will continue providing quality and support for our valued customers.”

Amtelco’s miSecureMessages Compatible with Apple iOS 7: Amtelco’s miSecureMessages smartphone messaging and paging replacement application is now compatible with iOS 7, the latest release of the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch operating system. “Amtelco made a commitment to the Apple iOS platform with the development of miSecureMessages 3.0 this spring,” said Kevin Beale, Amtelco vice president for software, research, and development. “The app was totally rewritten for version 3.0 to look and feel like a native Apple app. This effort went a long way to help miSecureMessages work seamlessly with iOS 7 when iOS 7 was released.”

People to People Ambassador Programs Taps Outsourcer: People to People Ambassador Programs selected Sound Telecom to handle its after-hours and overflow support calls, which increase during the winter and holiday season. People to People Ambassador Programs sends over 15,000 students to more than forty countries each year. The company is dedicated to the design and delivery of travel programs geared toward high school and college students. “Our travelers get the best of both worlds from our programs: great educational travel experiences and excellent customer support,” said Rhonda Lashbrook, delegate care manager for People to People. “We don’t cut corners on customer service. Our traveling students require support on a 24/7 basis.”

Telescan Moves to New Space: Roger Young, president of Telescan, a division of Amtelco, announced the move of Telescan’s offices November 1. “After twenty-five years in our previous location, it was time for a change. The new space provides a more technology-driven environment and better collaboration for our sales, service, and software development groups to serve our customers’ needs. Please come and see us in our new location at 617 Salt Lick Road, St. Peters, Missouri.”

Tascom Enters Its 35th Year Serving the TAS Industry: The first Tascom system was installed in 1980 in Alaska; it was a thirty-two-position system. Tascom was one of three product lines for Conrac Alston, a company noted for building billing systems for large central offices throughout the world. In 1986, Mark IV Industries acquired Conrac Industries and renamed the company to Alston, a Mark IV Company. In 1994 Wayne Scaggs, employed since 1979, acquired Alston and renamed it Alston Tascom, Inc. Alston Tascom, Inc. is entering its twentieth year. Mark your calendar for a big celebration in November 2014 and celebrate with them.

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Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in Eastern US. Ideally, you’re billing under $20K 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.

Mastar.com TAS systems: Free GalFriday 5 Bosses; Email/text/TAP; App optional run on iPads. Contact Rod at 541-606-9272 or rodmastar@gmail.com.

See all ads.

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

The October 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

TAS Opportunities from the Affordable Care Act

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Though some people have a wait-and-see attitude toward the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most hold polarized views, either loving it or hating it. Many business owners and managers, including telephone answering services, are wary. They see the ACA as one more item pressuring their business’s viability and threatening their future.

While this may be true, there is another facet of the ACA that’s good news for the TAS industry. The fact that many businesses are struggling to deal with the cost implications of the ACA signals opportunity for companies who provide outsourced services. This includes telephone answering services.

nCall Answering Service Software

As companies strategize how to deal with the ACA by not hiring new employees, asking existing ones to do more, increasing hours of current staff, and tapping part-time workers, pressure builds within their organization. Eventually, something has to give. TASs are in a great position to relieve some of that pressure for these companies: taking overflow calls during the day; covering the phones during vacations, absences, and even breaks; and handling after-hours calls. In addition, TASs can also process email and respond to social media interactions for companies with overworked and stretched staff.

Although telephone answering services must deal with the ACA just like everyone else, they are also in a position to help other companies deal with some of the pain the ACA causes.

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

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TAS of the Month: AnswerNet

AnswerNet posted a photo their TAS on our Facebook page. This is from their corporate location in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

AnswerNet

“The employees of AnswerNet continue to show their dedication to our mission, providing our customers with the people, services, and technology that allow them to run their businesses their way,” said Gary Pudles. “I have an amazing team and could not be prouder of all their hard work.” Learn more at www.answernet.com.

To have your TAS featured in an upcoming issue of TAS Trader, just post your photo on the TAS Trader Facebook page – and then ask your staff to like it!

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Leverage Your Business Acumen Locally

By Russell Trahan

Here are a few of the ways that you, as a TAS owner, can employ your expertise to build your local reputation and secure a strong customer base:

1. Speak at Service Clubs: Speaking at local service clubs is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the professional community and share your business savvy with others. The first step is to research service clubs in your area and start contacting the necessary parties about guest-speaking opportunities.

When speaking, you need to stretch your expertise so that it applies to a wider audience. You do not want to delve into the intricate details of how your TAS is run. Instead, focus on the overarching principles that apply to operating a flourishing business.

2. Stir the Pot by Writing Op-Eds: There are numerous hot-button business issues that continuously circulate in the media and spur lively debates: minimum wage, unions, and mandatory insurance, to name a few. By writing an opinion-editorial for your local newspaper, you can state your position on a variety of relevant issues and establish wider name-recognition.

3. Foster a Thriving Business by Mentoring: What better way to put your skills on display than to take an aspiring business owner under your wing? Businesses thrive when there is a layer of mutual support, and that often involves working together for a common goal: carving a niche in the community for profitable, locally owned companies. Attend networking events and connect with others who are in the same position you were in before you owned your own business. Find an individual with an idea and an implementable plan, and offer to coach them through the process that you experienced.

By acting as a mentor and advisor, you can help others navigate some of the roadblocks they are bound to encounter along the way, creating a tight-knit community of proprietors and reciprocal customers for life in the process.

4. Guest Columns in Local Publications: Weekly and monthly publications regularly seek fresh content with local angles to fill space on their pages, and submitting guest columns reinforces your identity as a stalwart in the local business arena. Common themes can include commercial trends, regional events, or new opportunities – essentially any topic that allows you to provide your unique insight.

5. Participate in Regional Radio Interviews: Radio interviews can provide an immediate impact. Connecting with decision makers with local radio outlets, via social media or email, is a fantastic first step to donning headphones and contributing in-studio. Many producers and personalities are also active at community networking events, and a brief conversation and a number exchange may lead to an on-air interview.

By utilizing your distinct set of expertise to contribute to other facets of the business realm, you can amplify your reach and cement your position as a knowledgeable presence in the local community.

Russell Trahan is president of PR/PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in positioning clients in front of their target market in print and online. For more information, visit www.prpr.net or email mail@prpr.net. Read more of Russell’s articles at http://articleweekly.com/author/russell-trahan.

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Five Questions to Ask in an Interview

By Brad Remillard

Conducting interviews for managers and key personnel doesn’t have to be complicated. It shouldn’t be so sophisticated that a person needs to go through extensive training every time they have an interview. In fact, interviewing should be simple, thorough, and easy for everyone to understand.

Well-trained interviewers can get about 80 percent of the information they need to decide whether the person can do the job with just five questions and six words. That’s it.

If the interviewee can’t answer these five core questions, all other questions are irrelevant. For most hires at the manager level and higher, if the candidate can’t get past the first three, you should move on.

The five questions are:

1) When and how did you demonstrate high initiative? Just about every position requires initiative. The degree of initiative may change based on the position, but if the person doesn’t have it at the level you need, do you really need to continue?

2) How did you successfully execute on a critical project? If you have critical issues you need addressed and an employee can’t execute and get them done, you may not have the right person.

3) How did you lead a cross-functional team on a complex project? Leadership is something managers must possess. Cross-functional is important, because motivating people that one does not have authority over is just one difference between managing and leading.

4) Where you have done X in your current company? Aligning experiences and accomplishments with scope, size, and organization is important.

5) When you come on board, how would you accomplish X within X timeframe? Asking a candidate to describe how he or she will do the job in your company, with your resources and your culture, demonstrates the ability to adapt to your company.

Once the interviewer asks each of these questions, he or she can then probe more deeply with who, what, when, where, why, and how. Simply ask follow-up questions that start with one of these six words. If the candidate really did what he or she claims to have done, that person will be able to describe it in detail.

Probing deeply is what will separate those who did it from those who claim they did it.

Read other articles by Brad Remillard at articleweekly.com/author/brad-remillard.

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Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco’s Intelligent Series 4.1 Moves into Beta: Amtelco’s Intelligent Series 4.1 software has been installed for beta testing at a number of sites across the country. IS 4.1 includes the first operational release of Amtelco’s IS voice services platform, a software-only solution that includes a flexible Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based telephony switch with intelligent call routing, switch-based configurable call control, and multilingual voice-processing resources. IS 4.1 also includes new features, including a redesigned reporting interface, secure two-way email, IS server-based faxing, and improved agent password management capabilities. “We…expect to move IS 4.1 from beta testing into the general release in the relatively near future,” said Amtelco’s Kevin Beale.

Amtelco’s Establishes Partnership with Vocer: Amtelco and Vocera have established a partnership to integrate the Vocera Badge messaging device with Amtelco’s Intelligent Series suite of call center applications and RED Alert automated notification system. Vocera is a provider of mobile communication solutions for hospital staff and mobile workers across diverse enterprise organizations. The Vocera Badge also is used in hospitality, retail, energy, and libraries, where workers are highly mobile. “This new integration between Vocera and Amtelco will expedite critical communications with hospital staff, instantly getting a response that could impact a positive outcome for all concerned,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco president.

Sound Telecom Promotes Derrec Williams: Sound Telecom, a nationwide provider of telephone answering services, call center solutions, and cloud-based phone systems, announced the appointment of Derrec Williams as its AR credit and collections manager. Williams has been with Sound Telecom since 2008. He brings a wealth of experience with him in credit and collections management in the finance and banking industries and B2B services. “Derrec is the consummate professional,” said Sydney Morgan Diamond, Sound Telecom’s CFO. “He likes to bring value to every department. As our A/R credit and collections manager, Derrec assists me in staff supervision and oversight of the billing, administration, and order entry processes as well.”

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

The September 2013 Issue of TAS Trader

Herman Shooster: A Distinguished Answering Service Pioneer Retires

By Jim Boring

Herman Shooster

Herman Shooster was down on his luck. At forty-eight years old, he had run a famous drive-in restaurant outside Philadelphia with his brother – a business that had thrived in the early days of rock-and-roll, when stars like Bill Haley would stop by. Then the landscape changed, literally: The State of Pennsylvania decided to build an overpass that redirected traffic and left the restaurant isolated. Undaunted, Shooster went into the newly popular frozen food business. His shish kebabs were served on Eastern Airline flights, sold in major supermarkets, and even featured at the White House.

When Shooster merged his company with a competitor, he found a compatible partner and success continued. That is, until the entrepreneurial bug bit him again. Shooster formed his own company and took it public. That was a big mistake. No longer the sole decision maker, Shooster found himself on the outside looking in when his board of directors fired him.

Herman and Dorothy Shooster

With four kids and no prospects, things looked grim. Then, on a trip to Florida, Shooster’s wife, Dorothy, suggested that she wouldn’t mind living in the Sunshine State. That set off a search for a business they could afford to buy. Two friends mentioned that the answering service business had possibilities. From the perspective of 2013, they were certainly right.

Herman and Dorothy Shooster bought a small answering service called Ding-a-Ling in Fort Lauderdale and went to work learning the business. At the time, the answering service industry was a collection of small businesses, most of which did not communicate much with each other. Herman began to talk with other owners about their shared interests. Over time Shooster became a trusted competitor, someone who played the game fairly and whose word could be depended on. As competitors would go out of business, they often came to Shooster to buy them out. Thus began the rapid growth of his company.

Herman Shooster has successfully navigated the enormous technological changes as well as the equally significant ways in which people communicate. He has taken a small mom-and-pop answering service and transformed it into a major player in the contact center industry. Now called Global Response, the company provides customer service to such iconic brands as National Geographic, Tory Burch, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, MOMA, and a long list of others. And the answering service side of the business has grown to one of the largest in the industry under the name Answering Service Care.

Global Response is a true family enterprise, run by all four of Herman and Dorothy Shooster’s children. The company has grown from a handful of employees to over 1,500, with locations in Florida, Michigan, and Washington. Herman Shooster was recently recognized for his remarkable contributions to the community and business by the Sun-Sentinel newspaper in South Florida. The paper named Shooster Outstanding Business Leader of the Year for 2012 and presented him with the prestigious Excalibur Award.

Herman Shooster is a respected pioneer in the answering service community and has many friends in the industry who respect and honor him for forty years in the TAS business. If you would like to send a card or contact Herman, please contact Stephen Shooster at 954-973-7300 or steve@globalresponse.com.

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Pay Attention to Internet Security in Your TAS

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

When using the Internet, it’s critical to be aware of the risks. You don’t want to take a naive approach toward security on your telephone answering service’s computers. Computer security is a complex issue, deserving serious attention.

At the risk of oversimplification, here are some simple guidelines to follow:

  • Use anti-virus protection on each computer that accesses the Internet or is on a network with other computers.
  • Apply all critical updates for Microsoft Windows and Office products. Hackers target these programs because of their popularity and nearly universal presence.
  • Install and configure a firewall to protect computers that access the Internet.
  • Practice safe computing. Don’t open unexpected attachments; have a healthy skepticism with unsolicited warnings. Viruses and malware often use these ploys as a way to sneak unto a computer.
  • Use common sense. If something is too good to be true, it generally is; if something seems too risky, it probably is. Don’t believe everything you see online.
nCall Answering Service Software

There is much more to these basic recommendations – and there are other issues to consider – but you can start by covering these essential items first and then build on them.

The future of your TAS and the security of your clients’ data are at stake. Don’t take any chances.

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.

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Alston Tascom’s ADAM Available for General Release
Alston Tascom’s ADAM (Alston Designed Asterisk Machine) gives answering services power over their call routing and the data associated with the call, controlling all aspects of any call. Because the switch is software-based, users not only dictate how calls are routed but also know the status of calls at any moment. ADAM has completed its beta testing and is now deployed at eight locations, with more orders on the way. ADAM provides answering services with a soft switch and office PBX, which accommodates TDM, SIP, fax, remote office, remote agents, and any combination of tools needed for a call center and office.

Five Reasons to Attend ASTAA
The 2013 ASTAA Annual Conference will include valuable information you don’t want to miss. Here are five reasons you’ll want to be there:

  1. Sales: building a niche market
  2. Operations: a workshop with Bernie O’Donnell on higher agent performance and a session on determining which agents can successfully work from home
  3. Customer Care: reactive and proactive from (the best) Keener Communications
  4. Finances: geared for profits from Marilyn Landis with calculations and handouts for a critical review of costs and revenue (special one-day price of only $149 for this Wednesday session)
  5. More: sessions on cheaper money, HIPAA, ObamaCare, and selling in the cloud.

The cost is only $299, and the conference will be held October 14–16 in Annapolis, Maryland. Learn more at www.astaa.org, dan@callconsult.net, or 763-473-0210.

Sound Telecom Completes Agreement with Golden Gate BPO
Sound Telecom completed an agreement with Golden Gate BPO of Weston, Florida, to generate new contact center business. “We turned to Golden Gate because of their proven track record and the quality and depth of their high-level connections within the contact center industry,” stated Sound Telecom owner and founder Michael LaBaw. “I was impressed that Golden Gate BPO is built on the premise of being the best and most complete consultative outsourcing resource for its clients.” Sound Telecom has aggressive expansion planned for 2013 and 2014 and has determined that an outsourced model of business development would be the best way to achieve sales goals rapidly.

Amtelco Promotes Pat Dye to Sales Manager for miSecureMessages
Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco, announced the promotion of Pat Dye to sales manager for miSecureMessages, Amtelco’s subscription-based Smartphone paging and messaging application. MiSecureMessages is vital to maintaining the security of Protected Health Information (PHI), ensuring that HIPAA and HITECH regulations are met. Dye is heading a team focused on sales to the healthcare market. He is excited to show the capabilities of miSecureMessages to prospective Amtelco customers. Curtin said, “Given the September 23, 2013, government deadline for healthcare organizations to have a plan in place to secure PHI, Amtelco needed to expand our outreach with the miSecureMessages solution.”

Bob Zoellner Promoted to GM for Amtelco’s Telescan Division
Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco, and Roger Young, president of Telescan, announced the promotion of Telescan’s Bob Zoellner to the position of general manager for Amtelco’s Telescan division in St. Louis, Missouri. Zoellner has worked for Telescan for six years as technical services manager. In that position he handled technical services for customers and designed Telescan systems. As general manager of Telescan, Zoellner will be in charge of day-to-day operations and will work with the Wisconsin and Missouri offices to enhance and consolidate services. He will also continue to work directly with customers to promote products that meet their needs.

naoe-workshop-2013

NAEO IS Programmers Workshop a Huge Success
The recent NAEO Intelligent Series Workshop in Atlanta on August 5–7 was a huge success, with nearly sixty attendees. Located at the Embassy Suites Hotel at the Atlanta Airport, attendees enjoyed a focused training environment, with all the amenities and comforts of a Hilton brand hotel. The three-day event focused on the IS Supervisor, including flow charting, info pages, shared fields, building account templates, hands-on scripting, creating an account from scratch, adding scripting elements, and tips to simplify and standardize the script development and conversion process. The advanced session covered designing and programming IS directories with contact based dispatch methods.

Edith Edgar Joins Sound Telecom as Call Center Manager
Sound Telecom, a nationwide provider of telephone answering services, contact center solutions, and cloud-based phone systems, announced the appointment of Edith Edgar as its call center operations manager. Edith “Edie” Edgar brings diverse skills and fifteen years of call center management experience to Sound Telecom’s operations team, having managed the workforce of 750 inbound and outbound customer service agents located across three locations. “Edie has an amazing depth and breadth of experience. I continue to be impressed with what Edie knows and what she knows how to do exceedingly well,” said Brian Gabriel, Sound Telecom’s COO.

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