Tag Archives: TAS Trader news

The March 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

Does Your TAS Have a Great Website?

Regardless of How You Market Your Answering Service, a Killer Website is Key

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

There are many ways to market your answering service, limited only by your creativity and budget. Regardless of which strategy you use, you need a website. Even if you claim you’re not accepting any new clients—and I never met an answering service that meant that—you still need a website for existing clients.

And this isn’t just any website but a great one. Your website stands as your make-or-break element to close sales. Regardless of your marketing tactics, prospects expect to find a website. In most cases your website will be part of your marketing campaign. But even if it isn’t, buyers may still look for one. What they see will determine whether they say “yes” or “no.”

Impress them and they’re likely to sign up. Disappoint them and they’ll go to your competitor. And if you don’t have a website, or they can’t find it, you’ve lost their business.

What about Social Media?

Some businesses, including those in the answering service industry, insist a website isn’t necessary, that they get along just fine using social media—thank you very much. However, using social media as your online home base is foolish. You don’t own it or have any control over what happens to it.

On social media, you’re at the whim of corporate overlords. At any moment, your online social media presence could go away or your audiences’ ability to see your content could face severe limitations. All social media platforms are moving to a pay-to-play scenario, some faster than others. At the most basic level, they want to charge you to reach your audience.

Instead, use social media to point people to your website, your home base, the only online real estate that you can own and control.

What about Print?

In the old days, back before the internet, businesses did just fine without a website. They relied on various forms of print media to promote their business and gain new clients. This included the Yellow Pages, newspaper ads, and direct mail. When is the last time you’ve seen the Yellow Pages? When’s the last time you read a newspaper? And what do you do when you receive direct mail? You throw it away without opening it. Even for specific print niches that still work, today’s consumers expect you to have a website. To not have one means you’re not viable. You’re invisible.

What about Online Advertising?

Many people love online advertising. It’s easy to track and determine your ROI. You can measure your success, or the lack thereof, fast. Though the call to action for online marketing can be to call a phone number, most involve a website. And even if the goal is to have the prospect pick up the phone, having a website adds essential credibility to your offer.

Rethink Your Website

You should view your website as your online home base. Use social media to point to it. Social media is ancillary to marketing, not central. And if you prefer print media, the results will be stronger if you have a killer website riding shotgun. The same is true for online advertising. Without a website, you might get a lot of ad clicks but few conversions.

So, scrutinize your website. Is it as good as it can be? Or does it look tired and dated. I’ve looked at a lot of TAS websites. Most could be better. And too many are embarrassing. For the sake of the industry, and the sake of your business, that needs to change.

Hopefully you’re convinced of the importance of a website, a good website. Next month I’ll share tips on how to make yours stand out.

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


Classified Ads:

Operations Manager: 32-year-old TAS in sunny Central Florida looking for an operations manager. Experience is a must! Send resume to: jeanpearson49@gmail.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.


5 Philosophies that Lead to a Destructive Company Culture

By Magi Graziano

Most leaders say they want a constructive corporate culture, but many are uncertain of what it really takes to shape it. Consequently, these executives and managers unintentionally lead their people toward the fatal, destructive side of the culture coin. They do this by buying into five positive-sounding philosophies:

1. Winning Above All Else: Winning is a powerful motivator. The desire to win can make things happen and bring in profits. However, a once healthy desire to “beat the competition” gone unchecked often creates opportunities for unproductive behavior and perpetuating ways of thinking that result in an organization eating itself alive.

These show up with people arguing for win/lose scenarios, as well as in-fighting for power, control, rewards, promotions, and resources. A workplace culture that values winning more than anything else can be fertile ground for destructive behavior and employment brand erosion.

2. Commanding and Controlling: In power-driven organizations, hierarchy reigns and members of the management team must take charge, control subordinates, and yield to the demands of superiors. Historically, this has been the “right” way to lead, and for many decades it worked.

This model is flawed, however, and those managed by people who pursue this approach atrophy and stagnate. In workplace cultures that rewards this type of behavior, the powerful take over and the powerless surrender.

3. Opposing Others:In oppositional workplace cultures there is often a root of overcoming obstacles that afforded the organization sustainability and success over the years. But what often got us here will not get us there. Opposition is one of those elements of culture, much like winning at all costs, that turns the organization against itself. In work cultures where members are expected to be critical, oppose ideas of others, and make “safe” decisions, people drop into fear and suppress their ideas and creativity.

4. Pursuing Perfection:In other cases, leaders’ of quality-driven organizations pride themselves with a commitment to excellence. While this intention may have been initially pure, too often the unconscious underlying behavior fostered with this value is perfection. In a culture of perfection, people do not take risks, they do not try new things, and they certainly do not put themselves or their reputation on the line.

5. Keeping the Peace and Getting Along:Everyone who is anyone in business understands the need to cooperate with others in the workplace and the need for teamwork and collaboration. However, creating a work culture where everyone must get along with little to no emphasis on performance or results, most often leads to over-the-top consensus building, perceived favoritism, a loss of focus and ambition, inconsistent accountability, and a destructive fear of conflict.

Conclusion

These seemingly-good philosophies can undermine your company’s overall mission and get you off track. Shaping constructive culture is about intentionally causing the corporate culture that exemplifies your brand promise. Intentional culture is all about monitoring what you are creating and making necessary shifts along the way to ensure you are accomplishing what you set out to do by creating the intentional culture in the first place.

Magi Graziano is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert, and author of The Wealth of Talent. Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. She empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information visit www.keenalignment.com.

Read Magi’s full article at Article Weekly.


Telephone Answering Service News

2019 TAS Events: Though some events have already occurred, and others haven’t yet been announced, we now know most of this year’s industry calendar. Here’s a current list:

Check out our TAS Events Calendar for the latest updates and new postings.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“A house is no home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.” -Margaret Fuller

“That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” -Abraham Lincoln

“A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.” -unknown

The February 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

How to Start a Telephone Answering Service

Key Information Provided as a Service to the Industry

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

When I consulted for the answering service and call center industries, people kept contacting me who wanted to start a telephone answering service. I didn’t feel right taking their money and tried to talk them out of it. After all, who wants to go into a business that is labor-intensive, capital-intensive, and never closes? (Though running an answering service is no longer as capital-intensive, it certainly was back then.) And the few people who insisted on hiring me, soon gave up.

Yet the inquiry calls continued to roll in, taking up too much of my time and providing no business in return. In desperation, I set up a website, StartAnAnsweringService.com and referred people to it. That little site gave all the essential information and appeased most people.

When I stopped consulting to focus on publishing, I left the website up as a service to the industry. I even added occasional updates. With no promotion, it continued to get traffic, month after month, year after year. Though it had always been my intention to turn that website into a book, I never got around to it.

Until now.

How to Start a Telephone Answering Service book

On January 29, 2019, I released my first call center book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service. And I turned StartAnAnsweringService.com into its sales page. It even has a book trailer. On that day, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, became the number one new book on Amazon in the outsourcing category.

For those of you in the answering service industry, you already know everything that’s in this book. But if you’re new to the industry or thinking about getting into it, this book contains valuable information. I think it’s the best information you’ll ever find on the subject, but then I’m a bit biased.

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


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details

Industry Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, LocateACallCenter.com, and Outsourcezine.com. Make an offer. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.


One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know

By Kate Zabriskie

Without trying too hard, it’s easy for many managers to compile a list of reasons not to meet with the people they supervise. Guess what? These excuses don’t outweigh the value and importance of a regularly scheduled meeting with a direct report.

Benefits of Regular One-on-One Meetings

If used correctly, over time managers and employees can enjoy many benefits by meeting one on one.

  • Visible Appreciation: Time is currency. If managers carve out time for their people and are prepared when they meet, they show they value their direct reports.
  • Better Thinking: Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals, and development opportunities.
  • Stronger Results: Accountability tends to improve when people have an opportunity or a requirement to report on their progress.
The Perfect One-on-One

Once a manager has bought into the value of one-on-one meetings, the next step is to execute them in a way that works for the manager and the employee. Good one-on-one meetings are not one-size-fits-all activities. That said, here are a few guidelines to make a one-on-one meeting successful.

  • Schedule: Pick a schedule and stick to it. One-on-ones shouldn’t regularly disappear from the calendar simply because something else suddenly comes up.
  • Frequency: Choose a frequency that makes sense. For some people meeting once a month may be enough. For others, meeting weekly may be more appropriate. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, circumstances evolve. Depending on what’s happening inside and outside the organization, an employee’s needs could change drastically. Evaluate meeting frequency from time to time. If the rate of meetings is correct, managers and employees should not routinely find themselves with no reason to meet.
  • Plan: Follow a written agenda. Well-run one-on-one meetings are not free-for-all conversations. They follow an agenda just as any other good meeting does. A one-on-one meeting agenda might include such topics as current projects, progress on yearly development goals, current challenges, and so forth.
Dealing with Obstacles

One-on-one meetings rarely go from nonexistent or dysfunctional to perfect overnight. For that reason, managers should prepare to overcome a variety of obstacles. Read the full article to learn how to deal with four common obstacles.

Reevaluate from Time-to-Time

Like anything, one-on-one meetings can get stale. It’s important to look at the format and frequency from time to time and to solicit feedback regarding what’s working and what isn’t.

If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look. After all, can you really afford not to?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.


Telephone Answering Service News

Peter DeHaan Releases TAS Book: Longtime industry veteran Peter Lyle DeHaan released his insider’s guide to starting an answering service on January 29, 2019. Titled How to Start a Telephone Answering Service, the book concisely shares the essential information needed for an entrepreneur to start an answering service. Based on decades of industry experience and years of consulting, Peter DeHaan, PhD, released this book as a service to the industry.

“Though I open the book trying to talk people out of starting an answering service, if they decide to proceed, I want them to do it right and not damage the industry by making naïve mistakes,” said DeHaan. “It’s a must read for anyone thinking about getting into the answering service industry.”

Learn more at StartAnAnsweringService.com.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

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

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” -Samuel Johnson

“A calendar’s days are numbered.” -unknown

The January 2019 Issue of TAS Trader

A New Year Means New Possibilities

Embrace Today as an Opportunity to Form a Better Tomorrow

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

As we step into the new year, we embrace the potential that it brings. Now is the time to move toward our best year yet. It starts with embracing the opportunities we have in front of us at this moment.

What might this be? It might involve personnel, such as a new hire, a restructuring, or fixing a broken team. Could it be technology? To implement or fully master what’s already installed, to acquire something new, or to replace something that’s inadequate. What about operations? Streamline an outdated process, establish a procedure, or simplify the complicated. Then there’s sales and marketing. Master online ads, overhaul sales collateral, or update an ineffective website.

There’s plenty to do and each one of these things will help pave the way for a better tomorrow.

Today Is the Day

We’re a couple days into the new year, and if you’re like me, you’re still trying to wrap up last year and put a nice bow on it. Yet it’s hard to look forward when we’re absorbed with the past. It’s true that we shouldn’t leave last year undone, yet we shouldn’t use this as an excuse to not move forward. Today is the day to step into our future. Don’t delay.

Don’t Wait for Tomorrow

We shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that next week will be a better time to embark on a special project. Promising ourselves that we’ll make a fresh go of it tomorrow, merely serves to delay forward progress. Putting things off till tomorrow can easily become next week and then next month. Before we know it, it’s spring and then summer, and the year is half over. Don’t wait for a better time to launch important initiatives. Start today.

Focus on One Thing

I have more great ideas then I’ll ever have time to do. If I try to do them all, I’ll end up accomplishing nothing. Therefore, join me today in picking one thing that will make tomorrow better. Then go do it. We aren’t likely to wrap up our project in one day, but the work we do now brings us one day closer to completing it.

Then Move to the Next Task

Once we complete one item, it’s time to start the next. Though taking a day off to catch our breath is enticing, it also threatens to negate the habit we just formed of using today to produce a better tomorrow.

May today be the day that we start to take hold of our future, for our business and for our life.

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


Classified Ads:

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

 TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

 Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

 Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.


Why an Answering Service Is an Essential Part of a Disaster Management Plan

By Benjamin Pure

While the economics of hiring an answering service appears to be driving a rapid growth in the industry, answering services are in the spotlight for yet another reason—their role in ensuring seamless continuity for critical services in times of unforeseen mishaps.

It’s important to collaborate as a business community to lay the groundwork for comprehensive disaster preparedness plans in times of crisis. Not only is it an essential community service, it encourages growth of our businesses and industry. Experienced answering services can go the extra mile by establishing multiple call centers with streamlined processes and protocols that can offset a substantial part of the affected center’s workload when needed. This ensures the best possible outcome in any given situation.

While all businesses prepare for breakdowns in service, it’s especially important for medical, government, and emergency related institutions given the importance of the services they provide. It’s imperative for such groups to plan for disasters that can disrupt or even further burden their infrastructure due to the increased call volume that can occur during a crisis.

Disasters—natural or man-made—amplify the need for community services, and relevant care or action is possible only if communication lines remain connected. Doctors need to be reached, patients need to be transported, members of the general population may need information or assistance, and family and caregivers need to stay connected to manage and mitigate the effects of any calamity. Hospitals, businesses, and relevant establishments cannot afford not to have backup communication in place given the central role they play in helping survivors. While always an advantage, an answering service can become indispensable at a time like this.

Benjamin Pure started his call center career from the ground up, answering calls while studying at university. After graduating, he transitioned into the management side of the business and is currently the business development manager for  The Doctors Answer. What Ben enjoys most about his work day is delivering real life solutions for real life problems.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Announces Retirement of Wayne Scaggs: Wayne Scaggs retired as the company’s director of corporate strategy effective January 1, 2019. Scaggs joined Alston Tascom (previously known as Conrac Alston) in 1979. He began as a field service engineer and progressed through the organization in a variety of roles until he had the opportunity to purchase the company in 1994. He served as the president of Alston Tascom until September 2017, when Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom merged.

“I have given this decision a great deal of thought and concluded that the time is right for me to take this step,” said Scaggs. “I’m confident that Startel has the right strategy and team to drive our business forward.”

Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series Receives Unify Certification: Amtelco received interoperability certification for the Genesis Intelligent Series call center console solution with the version 8.x Unify OpenScape 4000 PBX (private branch exchange) by the Unify Technology Partner Program, based in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2018.

Testing of the interoperability between Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series solution and Unify’s open SIP interface for the OpenScape 4000 PBX was conducted remotely in October by Amtelco’s PBX Integration Lab staff in McFarland, Wisconsin, and the Unify Communications Development Lab in Beersel, Belgium. Amtelco received interoperability certification from Unify in 2016 for the Infinity Intelligent Series call center console solution with the version 7.x Unify OpenScape 4000 PBX.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.” -Samuel Johnson

“The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.” -Thomas Moore

“He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.” -unknown

The December 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

How Much Do You Pay Your Entry-Level Staff?

It’s Time to Take a Counterintuitive Look at Hourly Pay

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

The biggest expense for telephone answering service is payroll. You know that. You strive to hold down payroll costs to control expenses and stay in business, hopefully to turn a profit. Scheduling too many people to answer phone calls drives payroll costs up. Paying too much per hour also drives payroll costs up. This is bad. Left unchecked, runaway payroll costs is the quickest way for an answering service to fail.

Or is it? What if we challenge conventional wisdom and dare to consider paying new hires a higher hourly rate?

Will Higher Pay Increase Retention?

I’ve never met anyone at an answering service who felt they earned too much. Most employees, especially entry-level operators, complain they’re not being paid enough. I get this—from both the employee and the employer standpoint.

Employees leave an answering service for various reasons. Sometimes they quit and exit the workforce, but usually they leave for a new position—often one with better pay. And often it’s the best employees—the most employable ones—who leave first. Will paying a bit more encourage them to stay a bit longer?

Will Higher Pay Reduce Other Costs?

Assuming that by paying telephone operators a bit more will increase your retention rates, consider the ramifications of this. If employees stay longer, that means you need to hire fewer replacements. This means hiring costs will go down. Even more significantly, training costs will decrease. You won’t have to pay as many new hires for their training; you’ll also save on the cost of the trainer.

Will Higher Pay Improve Customer Service?

When you pay an entry-level rate, you get entry-level work. This reflects the level of service your staff provides to your clients. New employees are also the ones who make the most errors. If you pay new employees more, will you get a higher level of work from them? Maybe. Keep reading.

Will Higher Pay Reduce Management Hassles?

Is there a correlation between level of pay and job commitment? People who arrive late, quit without notice, cause conflicts with coworkers, and trigger a myriad of other issues take up management bandwidth to deal with. If paying staff a bit more will reduce a bit of these headaches, is it worth it?

Will Higher Pay Result in a Higher Caliber Employee?

The fundamental question is, will a higher pay rate result in higher caliber employees? That’s largely up to you. Seriously. If you offer to pay more but don’t change your hiring process or expect more from new hires, you won’t realize much benefit by paying a higher hourly rate.

However, if you tighten your screening procedures, raise your hiring requirements, and increase your employee standards along with the hourly rate, you can expect to get a higher caliber employee. When you do this, you’ll be able to shift money from your hiring and training budget into your operations payroll budget. This could even have a net positive effect on your bottom line.

Increasing your starting pay to realize these benefits is a high-risk, high-reward proposition and shouldn’t be entered into without careful thought and preparation. However, when done wisely, the result could positively impact every aspect of your answering service.

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


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

 TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

 Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

 Seeking Acquisition: We’ll pay cash for your TAS! Completely confidential. A Courteous Communication has been in business for 32 years. Contact Doris at 800-785-6161 or Doris@courteouscom.com; visit www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.


The Overlooked Management Tool: Staff Meetings Matter More Than You Might Think

 By Kate Zabriskie

 How do you turn a halted or ho-hum approach to staff meetings into a high-functioning management tool? Here are six tips to rejuvenate your staff meetings.

1. Connect Daily Work with Your Organization’s Purpose: In addition to distributing information, staff meetings present an opportunity to connect your team’s daily work to your organization’s purpose. If you’re thinking, “My people know how their work fits into our overall goal,” you would be wrong. In fact, if you ask your group what your organization’s purpose or your department’s purpose is, don’t be surprised when you get as many answers as there are people in the room.

And you thought you had nothing to talk about in a staff meeting! A discussion about purpose is a good one to have. Purpose is why you do what you do. You connect the work to it by explaining how what people did aligns with the greater goal.

No matter what they do, employees usually enjoy their jobs more when their organization’s leaders talk about the importance of their work. They also tend to make better choices if they receive frequent reminders about purpose and what types of activities support it.

2. Highlight Relevant Metrics: Connecting work to purpose usually happens best when a team focuses on both anecdotal and analytical information. If you don’t currently track statistics, start. Whatever you decide should clearly connect to the larger goal. With regular attention placed on the right metrics, the team is far more likely to make good choices as to where it should focus its efforts.

3. Follow a Formula and Rotate Responsibility: Successful staff meetings usually follow a pattern, such as looking at weekly metrics, sharing information from the top, highlighting success, a team-building activity, and so forth. By creating and sticking with an agenda, managers help their employees know what to expect. Once employees know the pattern of the meeting, many are capable of running it because they’ve learned by watching. Managers then have a natural opportunity to rotate the responsibility of the meeting to different people. By delegating, the manager is able to free up his or her time and provide employees with a chance to develop their skills.

4. Celebrate Successes: In many organizations, there is a huge appreciation shortage. Staff meetings provide managers and employees with regular intervals to practice gratitude. A steady drip of sincere gratitude can drive engagement. Note the word sincere. Most people have an amazing capacity to identify a false compliment. Real praise is specific. Well-delivered praise also ties the action to the outcome. A praise segment in your staff meetings ensures you routinely take the time to recognize efforts.

5. Focus on Lessons Learned and Continuous Improvement: Staff meetings that include an opportunity to share lessons learned help drive continuous improvement. At first, people may be reluctant to share shortcomings. However, if you follow step four, you should begin to develop better communication and a sense of trust with your team. Modeling the process is a good place to start. The more you practice this exercise, the greater the gains you should experience.

6. Develop a Schedule and Stick with It: To get the most out of staff meetings hold them consistently. Publish a meeting schedule, and stick with it. Make it a priority.

Conclusion: Good staff meetings aren’t perfunctory activities that add little value. When used to their full capacity, they are a dynamic management tool. Now what are you going to do about yours?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.


Telephone Answering Service News

Contact Center Software Market to Surpass USD 40 Billion By 2024: The global contact center software market is set to grow from its current market value of more than 14 billion dollars to over 40 billion dollars by 2024, according to a new research report by Global Market Insights, Inc. The contact center software market growth is attributed to the increasing adoption of social media platform by customers, with active social media users in 2018 being approximately 3.1 billion. The incorporation of social media with contact center software allows businesses to communicate in an improved way with their current and prospective customers, providing improved sales opportunity, increased customer awareness, and high-quality customer service.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

The past is to be respected and acknowledged, but not to be worshipped. It is our future in which we will find our greatness. -Pierre Trudeau

“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” -Alexandre Dumas

“Local Area Network in Australia: The LAN down under.” -unknown

The November 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

How Often Do You Thank Your Answering Service Staff?

This Thanksgiving Seek Effective Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Front-Line Employees

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Thanksgiving will soon be here. For many people that means a four-day weekend. There may be a grand feast with family, watching a parade or football game, and perhaps a nap. Then there’s Christmas shopping on Friday—or Thursday afternoon for those who can’t wait. Later in the weekend, some will put up Christmas decorations and others will go to a movie. Traditions vary, but for most people Thanksgiving is a break from work.

Not so for those in the answering service industry. Quite possibly Thanksgiving weekend means four days of work. Given the theme of the holiday, being thankful, let’s look for ways to thank staff who will spend time working when most other people aren’t. Some bosses do a great job at this, others not so well, and a few don’t even think about it. Here are some ideas to say “thank you” to your staff.

Use Words: Sometimes the simplest of ways is the best way. Just look each employee in the eye, and say “thank you for all you do.” It can mean a lot. I once had a boss who personally handed out paychecks each payday. Though not the most personable guy, he made a point to say “thank you” as he gave each of us our check. That was thirty years ago. I still remember it.

Give a Card: Cards are nice too, but to have maximum impact, don’t use the premade kind with flowery sentiment and your printed signature. Instead handwrite a short note of sincere appreciation, say thank you, and sign it. For increased impact, include a gift card or cash.

Do Something Special: As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” What action can you do to show your appreciation to your answering service staff working on Thanksgiving? Maybe you could drop off a treat for them to enjoy during break. How about a small gift awaiting each one when they come into work? Come up with something creative you can do for your staff, and it will have a huge impact.

Avoid the Cliché or the Routine: Some companies give frozen turkeys to their staff on Thanksgiving, and others have practices that have become expected but carry little meaning. Phase out the old, tired convention and replace it with something fresh and new that will have employees buzzing.

Continue Year-Round: Though we think of being thankful this time of year, don’t restrict your appreciation of your staff to one weekend. Continue to thank them and show your appreciation for the hard work they do throughout the year.

Yes, this takes effort and is time-consuming, but so is hiring and training new staff when your existing employees quit because they don’t feel appreciated.

May you and your staff have a happy Thanksgiving.

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


Classified Ads:

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS online, now only $199 a year. Overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Email Valerie for details.

Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161, Doris@courteouscom.com, www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


Hastings Humans Celebrates Seventieth Anniversary

Virtual Receptionist Company Continues to Provide the Human Touch

In 1948 Ann Hastings answered her first call for a business from an extension telephone sitting on her kitchen table. This was the start of her telephone answering service business. Over the years the business continued to grow and is now a highly respected nationwide provider of live telecommunication services for businesses of any size and type.

After serving as a captain in the Army in World War II, Clint Hastings and his wife, Ann, moved to Austin on East 17th Street so he could go to the University of Texas on the GI Bill. Ann wanted to start a family and was looking for a way to work from home to raise some income. She heard of something called telephone answering service. So she started with one phone and one customer. After six months she had three customers and a monthly revenue of 30 dollars.

Ann’s business grew as word spread about her kind, warm, and efficient service. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the company resided at multiple locations in the Austin area. By the mid-80s, the company moved to their present location, 11th and Shoal Creek. About that time Ann and Clint passed the business on to their sons, Mark and Scott. Originally known as Austin Answering Service and then as Hastings Telephone Answering Service, in 2014 the company changed its name to Hastings Humans to better reflect the true benefit of its services—the human touch.

And while Hastings Humans still operates as an answering service, they now utilize the latest technology to meet the expectations of their customers more efficiently. Among the services they now offer include virtual receptionists, dispatching service calls, capturing sales leads, and tier 1 tech support.

All the services Hastings offers build upon the strengths developed over seventy years, such as their expertise in customer service and their ability to respond to the needs of businesses of all types. Hastings continues to invest in technology and expand its commitment to customer service.

Over thirty-five women and men are employed at Hastings Humans. They handle more than five-thousand calls each day, with an accuracy rate exceeding 99.99 percent. Hasting Humans has earned the Association of Teleservices International’s Award of Excellence for twenty-one consecutive years.

As president and co-owner, Mark Hastings says, “We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. And we continue to see that it is necessary to involve people in business transactions. We will continue to keep our eyes on the needs of our customers, now and in the future.”

Is your answering service celebrating a milestone anniversary? Fifty years, sixty, or seventy? How about seventy-five, eighty, eighty-five, ninety, or more? Email us your news so we can celebrate your longevity with the rest of the industry.


Telephone Answering Service News

Ron Violante to Focus Attention on Pulsar360: Ron Violante announced that he will rep exclusively for Pulsar360. Last year, Violante began representing Szeto Technologies in addition to Pulsar360. Though this was not a conflict of interest, and Violante was able to fully represent both companies for maximum results, it did cause confusion among some members of the industry. To remove any possible concerns that some people may have, Violante decided that going forward he will rep exclusively for Pulsar360. In addition, Violante will continue with answering service acquisitions, where he assists buyers and sellers to put together mutually beneficial transactions.

Amtelco Enhances IS Transformer for Easier Upgrades: Amtelco adds the Dial String Import Wizard to the Intelligent Series (IS) Transformer Client/Agent, a set of tools that transforms information from external sources to the IS database. The Dial String Import Wizard helps with mass transformations of Infinity dial strings to IS client fields, info pages, and contact methods. Dial strings can be imported from the Infinity system list and individual accounts or all accounts. The dial string values can be modified in the dial string import wizard before being transformed into IS without changing the dial strings in Infinity.

Amtelco Introduces Intelligent Series Version 5.3: Amtelco Intelligent Series (IS) v5.3 adds new features, many of which were developed in collaboration with Amtelco customers. Version 5.3 moves voicemail from Infinity to IS for use with the Genesis system. Other key features allow for reassigned parked calls to go to another ACD skill, auto answer greetings play to callers while waiting for an agent, and the conference join and patch call states now include call recording capability. In addition, the IS supervisor application dashboard includes controls to allow users to configure multiple dashboard layouts, filled with a choice of widgets.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“The happiest is the person who suffers the least pain; the most miserable who enjoys the least pleasure.” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“It’s a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn’t want to hear.” -Dick Cavett

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

The October 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Why Do Some Answering Services Grow While Others Struggle?

5 Key Contributors to Answering Service Success

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Over the years I’ve seen some answering services get larger, while others didn’t. Before we attribute the difference to bad timing, being in the wrong place, or poor luck, let’s consider some characteristics that can contribute to answering service success. This isn’t a scientific analysis or a guaranteed checklist. Instead it’s a list of key characteristics that will help tip the balance in favor of growth, profits, and quality.

1. Strong Leadership and Management: Does an answering service need a leader or a manager? It requires both. A leader plans for tomorrow, while a manager handles today. Having one without the other leads to an imbalance in the operation and promotes frustration among staff and clients.

2. A Capable Management Team: When an answering service starts from nothing, the owner needs to wear many hats. However, for existing answering services, having one person attempt to handle everything is a bad idea. They’ll end up neglecting something critical.

That’s why it takes a team to run a telephone answering service. As the answering service grows, the number of people on the team grows with it. Two common mistakes answering services make are growing the team too slowly and growing it too fast.

3. No Weak Links: It takes several departments for a successful answering service. Operations is the biggest. Also needed is sales and marketing, accounting, and technical. A strong leadership administrative team holds them all together. Each of these units must pursue excellence in all they do. There can be no weak links, or the answering service will struggle.

For example, if operations produces high-quality work but sales doesn’t add enough new accounts, it doesn’t matter how good the quality is because there won’t be enough accounts to serve. Conversely, if sales and marketing adds new clients fast, but poor quality and customer service drive them away faster, it’s a losing situation.

4. Attention to Details: Details matter. It matters whether you’re taking a message, programming equipment, setting up a client, sending an invoice, or leading a team. Doing 90 percent of the job isn’t good enough. It requires 100 percent to achieve success.

5. Industry Involvement and Networking: Too many answering services try to function in isolation. They don’t attend industry events, network with other answering services, or work to make the industry better. They toil in isolation, hoping they can figure everything out on their own. And even if this does work, it won’t work as well as if they had regular input from others in the industry to encourage them with new ideas and provide motivation. Though some answering service owners and managers may claim they don’t have the time or the money to get involved, the truth is they can’t afford not to.

Conclusion

Following these five tips may not guarantee answering service growth and success, but they will certainly place the answering service in a better position than had you not pursued them. Look at your answering service operation through the lens of these suggestions. Then determine what area needs attention and seek to improve it. If you do, you could very well end up realizing the growth and success that you seek.

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


Classified Ads:

Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. Or make an offer. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161, Doris@courteouscom.com, or www.courteouscom.com.

TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS for less than a dollar a day. Newly overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.


Getting Chat Service Right

By Kate Zabriskie

Providing exceptional service via chat involves more than simply choosing a technology platform. Chat is a distinct communication channel with its own set of rules. Organizations that implement a chat system need to prepare their service representatives to use it effectively.

Follow these seven steps for successful chatting.

Step One: Determine who on your team is well suited to serve customers online. Chat service providers should type fast and accurately and have a good grasp of spelling and grammar.

Step Two: Identify some rules to guide chats. You should know the answers before your reps start typing.

  • How many chats should an agent handle at once? (In the beginning, nobody should attempt more than one, and even experienced agents shouldn’t divide their attention among more than three.)
  • What topics can and can’t be addressed via chat? Depending on the industry, regulations may limit what reps can and can’t say.
  • When will you move customers to a different mode of communication if chat isn’t appropriate?

Step Three: It’s important to think about what messaging looks like before rolling out the chat platform.

  • How should a chat start if a customer has already shared information?
  • What words and phrases align with your brand?
  • What words and phrases should providers avoid?
  • How should representatives address angry or frustrated customers? In what way should greetings differ?

To gain insight, visits sites that use chat. Think about each experience: what you liked, what you didn’t, how you felt, and so forth.

Step Four: Be prepared for the obvious. Reps should know how to handle the top twenty or thirty customer requests without having to reference a lot of documentation. Consistency is essential. This is especially true when it comes to the basics. Use roleplaying that addresses common inquiries.

Step Five: Determine the extent to which you wish to use canned responses. Pre-written text has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, it’s quick and has been proofread. Yet canned text can sound canned. Furthermore, representatives sometimes choose pre-written responses that don’t address a customer’s situation.

Canned text should sound conversational. It’s supposed to be a dialogue. One way to help maintain a conversational tone is to keep your text short. Long sentences usually produce an unnatural feel.

A good place to source potential pre-written responses is from your reps’ actual chats. Some people have a natural gift for chat. Why not tap their strengths and skills?

Step Six: Learn from your failures and successes. As with any service interaction, chat can go well, or it can go poorly. The key is monitoring, course correcting, and standardizing success.

Regularly review chats. The more methodically you evaluate your chats, the quicker you will capitalize on what works and eliminate what doesn’t.

Step Seven: Chat training is not a one-and-done activity. Needs change, technology evolves, and staff turns over. Ideally, focus on one or two best practices a week, evaluate pre-written text twice a year, and spot check transcripts daily.

Chat is no longer a novelty, and more customers expect their service providers to offer it. No matter where you are in the chat-implementation process, there’s always room to improve the way you connect through a keyboard.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.


Telephone Answering Service News

Sorry, we have no new news to share with you this month.

 Email us with your TAS news and articles for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.” -Henry David Thoreau

“Knowledge is love and light and vision.” -Helen Keller

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

The September 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

How a Mystery Caller Program Can Benefit Your Answering Service

Receiving Independent, Third-Party Feedback Is the Most Valuable Information You Can Get

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

As a writer, I’m a big fan of constructive feedback. Sometimes it’s affirming and other times it’s discouraging, but when it comes from a credible source it’s always beneficial. The same applies to the answering service industry. Receiving independent, third-party feedback about service quality is always beneficial.

Regardless if it’s praiseworthy or agonizing to hear, it provides the means to celebrate what’s good and improve what falls short. Just as smart writers are always open to receive credible feedback, so too should smart answering services.

Although client testimonials are gratifying, they certainly don’t give a balanced view. Online reviews have the potential to address both the good and the not so good, but these are seldom balanced either. They often provide extreme views that are neither helpful nor useful.

That’s where a mystery shopper comes in. A mystery shopper for your answering service provides valuable insight from an outside source. Though you could hire someone to be a mystery shopper, the results may be skewed because you’re picking up the tab. A better solution is to contract with an organization that provides the service and where the evaluation is done blind, without knowledge of which answering service they’re analyzing.

Enter the Independent Mystery Caller

The ATSI Award of Excellence program and the CAM-X Award of Excellence program both function the same way. They place mystery calls to your answering service, evaluate the results, and present a composite score that reflects overall quality. It’s the most valuable input your answering service could ever receive.

Though you may think that one program is enough, they cover different times of the year. This means that by tapping both the ATSI and the CAM-X offerings you can enjoy year-round evaluations, as well as detailed feedback twice a year, instead of just once.

(And for those providers that have moved beyond the traditional answering service clientele, there are two advanced options to consider. One is the CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction and the other is the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction. Both are worth pursuing.)

The Winner Is…

Answering services that meet the quality benchmark standard in the Award of Excellence programs are honored as an Award of Excellence winner for that year. This is the most reliable mark of answering service quality available in the industry. Those who have one these awards operate at a different level than those who don’t.

However, just by participating in these programs, makes answering services a winner, even if they fall a bit short of the expected results. This is because the feedback from the program is invaluable. Applying the evaluators’ analysis of the mystery callers lets answering services know what to work on to increase their level of quality. This allows them to pursue and achieve year-over-year improvement. Both the answering service and their clients benefit.

Last, though this may offend some, I truly hope it serves as motivation: the only ones who lose in the Award of Excellence programs are those that don’t participate.

May this year be the year your answering service’s quality becomes the best it’s ever been. Participating in an Award of Excellence program can help you get there.

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


Classified Ads:

Great Domain Names for Sale: LocateAnAnsweringService.com, a bargain at $247. LocateACallCenter.com, just $897. Outsourcezine.com, only $697. More info or email Peter DeHaan for details.

 Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161, Doris@courteouscom.com, www.courteouscom.com.

 TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS for less than a dollar a day. Newly overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.


Stop Falling Behind Your Competitors

7 Steps to Gain a Competitive Advantage

 By Brad Wolff

If you find your business falling behind, follow these seven steps.

  1. Employee Alignment: When a significant percentage of duties performed by employees don’t fit their innate characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well. Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”
  2. Create a Culture of Personal Growth and Development: Personal growth results in professional growth. It increases the capacity to handle life challenges, accomplish long-term goals, and work well with others. Personal growth and development include an increased awareness of self and others, the ability to manage one’s ego, the ability to manage emotions, and the development of innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness. These are fundamental character traits of success.
  3. Align Employees with Mission and Vision: Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose. This means they care about how their efforts affect the world outside themselves. Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.
  4. Align Employees with Culture and Values: People need to feel that they fit in. Employees who are significantly out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never make their highest contribution. Having perfect alignment is not the goal, but significant misalignments are damaging.
  5. Align Roles and Responsibilities with Strategies and Goals: Organizational goals and strategies change. Frequently, roles and supporting job duties don’t adequately change to align with these shifts. When this occurs, some or much of employee efforts are out of alignment and can impair the ability to achieve the desired outcomes.
  6. Assess Personal and Professional Weaknesses: We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. It hinders our true potential from being realized, which is a loss to the organization and ourselves. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledge their “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others.
  7. Commit to Work on Personal and Professional Challenges: Self-awareness of the need to change is the first step. Commit to act (starting with baby steps) and take them to develop of positive habits that create lasting positive change.

Conclusion: Leaders make choices that define the present and future of themselves and their organizations. There’s nothing magical about the most effective leaders. They’re just making more effective choices. As a leader, what choices are you making?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. For more information on visit: www.peoplemaximizers.com.

[Read the full article at Article Weekly.]


Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Summer Interns: Amtelco says “thank you” and “good bye” to the fifteen students who completed internships this summer. They are Adam LaLuzerne, Marcus Seaton, DJ Hogan, Kyle Anderson, Brevin Becker, Hannah Anderson, Luke Anderson, Emmanuel Barber-Thomas, Jessica Mohns, Sean Scanlan, Dillon Clark, Tyler LaLuzerne, Angela Riederer, Ashley Werner, and Bennett Olson.

AnswerNet Acquires Synergy Solutions: AnswerNet acquired Synergy Solutions in an asset transaction. Synergy Solutions specializes in high-touch consultative customer service and sales support programs for many of the nation’s leading brands. Established in 1999, Synergy Solutions focuses on innovative customer interaction solutions. This allows Synergy Solutions to provide superior results for its clients in fast-growth retail and e-commerce, as well as traditional verticals such as healthcare, insurance, and financial services. Gary Pudles, president and CEO of AnswerNet stated, “Synergy Solutions furthers AnswerNet’s continued growth in high-touch customer engagement space for well-known companies and brands.” Synergy’s president and co-founder Lori Fentem is staying with AnswerNet and will work closely with Pudles on building and executing AnswerNet’s growth strategy.

 Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” -Thurgood Marshall

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” -Samuel Johnson

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

The August 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

The Power of No

Learning to Say No Opens the Door to Yes

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

By nature I like to help people. I enjoy diving into exciting projects. And I relish variety. As a result, I tend to say “yes” to opportunities that come my way. And the more I say “yes,” the busier I get. Eventually my commitments overwhelm me and keep me from what’s most important.

Because of this, I’m learning to say “no.” This opens the time to focus on what matters most. I encourage you to do the same.

In the answering service industry, we’re beset with continuous interruptions that demand our attention. We want to keep staff happy and retain clients. We handle the day-to-day fires but neglect the year-over-year needs of our business.

We need to say “no” more often. Then we’ll have room to say “yes.” Here are some ideas of what we might need to say “yes” to.

Maximize Profit: Regardless of why you’re in the answering service industry, you need to earn a profit to stay in business. There are two ways to increase profit. One is to reduce costs, and the other is to increase revenue. Though you can increase revenue by selling more, the faster way is to make sure each client is profitable. That means selective rate increases. Do it every month.

Improve Quality: As a service business, quality is essential. If quality is poor—or even average—it’s harder to retain clients and to land new ones. This makes it difficult to turn a profit, as well as develop staff and grow the business. It’s hard to say if you should pursue quality first and then profit or profit and then quality. They’re interdependent.

Develop Staff: Having a reliable team to run your business and optimize it is key. Too often we hope a great team will just come about, but that seldom happens. Most of the time we need to groom staff, preparing them for the roles we envision. Therefore, be proactive in employee development.

Grow Your Business: A benefit of the telephone answering service industry is monthly reoccurring revenue. However, no client stays on service forever. Clients eventually cancel. This happens every month. That means replacing departing clients with new ones, which means sales and marketing. At a minimum, you need to keep even. Ideally you should grow. A shrinking client base is a symptom of a much greater problem, one that should have been addressed earlier.

Saying “no” to things that aren’t critical provides the space and time to say “yes” to those things that are. Pick the essential items your answering service needs most to survive, and say “yes” to them before agreeing to any other opportunities.

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


Classified Ads:

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS for less than a dollar a day. Newly overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.

 TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


3 Keys to Successful Strategic Planning

By Andy Slipher

Strategic planning exists to solve problems. Often, pursuing strategic planning means your problem is big: significant, complex, and with higher-than-average stakes. Strategy is the means to simplify and unify activity to get from point A to point B with greater clarity, effectiveness, confidence, and efficiency.

Planning without strategy is like feeling around in the dark. You may eventually find what you’re looking for, but it will most certainly be unpredictable and take longer than anticipated. You’ll run a greater risk of falling on your face along the way.

Here are three things you need to know about strategic planning, no matter what the challenge.

1. Strategy is about choice: Strategy is a word and concept that’s abused today. People love to use it because it sounds, well, strategic. Unfortunately, calling something a strategy doesn’t make it one. Strategy, to function as it’s intended, means making significant choices throughout the planning process. In any complex or challenging situation, such choices are hard. Something must be sacrificed to move in a true and distinct direction. If you’re not making hard choices in your planning, you need to ask how distinct, clear, and achievable your approach is.

2. Strategy fits between goals and plans: Strategy is not the most important thing. But good strategy is necessary and often critical to success. Once you’ve defined your goals, strategy comes next. To delineate between goals, strategy, and plans:

  • Goals answer, “What is the end for the effort?”
  • Plans, which follow strategy, answer, “What are the blueprints for success?”
  • Strategy is the point in between that answers, “In what way are we going to coordinate our efforts to get there?”

3. Strategy marries strength with opportunity: The beauty of strategy is that it coordinates and integrates activities around a common goal. What’s more, good strategy finds the sweet spot where strengths meet opportunity. If you identify an opportunity, yet have no strengths to take advantage, how effective will you be? Likewise, if your strengths abound in a certain area, yet no opportunities exist, your strategy could come up short. Know that to improve the odds of achieving your goals, your strategy will need to amplify your strengths, while playing to the opportunities at hand.

Whatever your challenge, follow these three fundamental principles for better strategic planning. Your strategy will be clear and coherent. What’s more, you’ll realize more successful outcomes sooner.

Andy Slipher is founder of Slipher Marketing, a consultancy where strategy comes first, followed by tangible marketing results. Andy is the author of The Big How: Where Strategy Meets Success. For more information visit thebighow.com.

 Email us with your articles for consideration in our next issue.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel & Professional Teledata Complete HIPAA Assessment: Startel and Professional Teledata successfully completed their Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) assessment. This marks Startel’s fourth and Professional Teledata’s first assessment for HIPAA compliance and reinforces the companies’ commitment to protecting consumer data and privacy. The full HIPAA report is available to customers upon request. The companies will also sign Business Associate agreements with clients who require HIPAA compliance. Next year’s audit will include an assessment of Alston Tascom’s operating environment, data center, and solutions.

Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series 5.1 Now Avaya Compliant: Amtelco’s Genesis Intelligent Series release 5.1 is compliant with key solutions from Avaya. Genesis users can keep metrics with customizable reporting, enhance accountability with call logging and video screen capture, connect remote agents, and manage automated dispatch and on-call scheduling. Genesis can operate in a virtual server environment or in the cloud, enabling growth without additional hardware—saving time and money. The application is compliance-tested by Avaya for compatibility with Avaya Aura® Session Manager 7.1 and Avaya Aura Communication Manager 7.1. Amtelco is a Technology Partner in the Avaya DevConnect program.

Startel Announces Unified Product Advisory Board: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom announced the members of the company’s unified product advisory board, representing each of the company’s three user groups: TeamSNUG, PINetwork, and TUG. Their primary responsibility is to provide input related to the company’s strategic product planning. Board members are Ryan Ambs, Kevin Bachelder, Luis Bedoya, Matt Bogan, Kristal Fye, Ken Goldenberg, Jodi Gregory, Peter Gross, April Kasza, Ray Shaw, John Vaughn, and Jeffrey Wood. Overseeing the board is Wayne Scaggs, director of corporate strategy. The board will meet three times during the next twelve months.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“I like to say that arms are not for killing. They are for hugging.” -Betty Williams

“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” -Eddie Rickenbacker

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

The July 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Scheduling Answering Service Staff for Holidays

When Historical Data Can’t Predict Call Traffic, We Need to Guess

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Last week we celebrated Independence Day in the United States. With it happening on a Wednesday, it threw a lot of people off. Me included. When July Fourth occurs on a weekend, there’s little impact on normal business activity. And when it falls on a Monday or Friday, it gives us a three-day weekend. Last year it was on Tuesday, which caused many companies to declare Monday as a day off, giving people a four-day weekend. I suppose the same could apply if it fell on a Thursday.

But what to do when it’s on a Wednesday? Some people viewed the whole week as a holiday week, while others viewed it as business as normal except for Wednesday, when they took the day off. And I talked to many people who saw this as an opportunity for a five-day weekend.

These various interpretations trickled down to expectations placed on answering services and affected their call traffic. Many schedulers wondered what to do. Normally historical information can project future trends, but with the holiday falling on a Wednesday, there wasn’t a historical model to follow, since I believe the last time July 4 occurred on a Wednesday was in 2012. And even if you have historical data from 2012, how relevant is it six years later in 2018?

Though we like to use data to determine our scheduling needs, sometimes it’s not possible. The best we can do is guess. When this occurs we realize that scheduling staff for an answering service is sometimes more art than science.

This also reminds us to appreciate our staff, for when our traffic projections fail us, and we make our staff busier than we want, it falls on them to bail us out. And they almost always do.

If your staff worked harder than usual last week, remember to thank them, and recognize their efforts. And if your schedule was right on target and caused no surprises, thank them anyway. They deserve it.

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


Classified Ads:

Need Blog Posts? Need content for your TAS website or answering service newsletter? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Nonexclusive content starts at $25 per article. Email Peter for more info.

 TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS for less than a dollar a day. Newly overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.


3 Simple Training Tips to Boost Performance

By Cordell Riley

Training offers you the potential to dramatically increase profits and performance. Here are three tips to get that to happen for you.

1. Start with the End in Mind: Chances are you know where you would like to see improved performance or profits in your organization. But specifically what would those improvements look like? Would it be better online reviews or a 15 percent increase in sales? What?

Specific goals emerge when you define the business challenges you need to address. And once you have defined those issues and goals, you can determine if there is training that will assist in reaching them.

2. Develop an Appropriate Curriculum: Your curriculum should be designed to teach people the skills they need to learn or improve in their specific role. But developing an effective curriculum is more complex than simply defining skills. It should be right for the people in the roles who are performing the tasks and jobs that your training addresses. And it should be designed to have a focused, specific impact on the business items where you are trying to “move the needle” and bring about change.

An appropriate curriculum should consider how those lessons will be delivered: by a live trainer, on phones or tablets, enlivened with games and exercises, in short chunks, or longer lessons. Creating an effective curriculum depends on considering who your learners are, where they are, and how they would prefer to learn.

3. Measure Results, then Tweak and Adjust Your Training Accordingly: At this point, loop back to the decisions you made in the first step, when you started. Develop ways to measure the change you have brought about through training.

Once you are measuring, you can tweak, modify your training, and find ways to improve results. But one thing for certain? If you don’t measure and adjust, your training will never deliver the results it is capable of.

Cordell Riley is a sought-after keynote speaker and the owner and president of Tortal Training, a training development company that uses strategic engagement methodologies and specializes in developing mobile training platforms for organizations with distributed workforces.

 Email us with your articles for consideration in our next issue.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Announces Renita Dorty As New Chief Customer Officer: Effective immediately, Renita Dorty will begin the new role of Chief Customer Officer (CCO) for Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom. This new position will be responsible for all aspects of the companies’ customer service strategies and will provide a comprehensive view of the user experience to create initiatives focused on maximizing customer retention, developing more efficient processes, and facilitating client communications. Dorty has thirteen years of experience in the contact center and telephone answering service (TAS) industry, most recently, as the executive vice president of Nationwide Inbound Inc.

Brad Swift Rejoins Amtelco: Amtelco has brought on Brad Swift as their contract service sales manager. Amtelco created this position in response to the growing need for call centers to quickly have access to the newest Amtelco software features. Brad will offer Amtelco contract services to help call centers get up-to-date with current technologies, assist with projects such as upgrading system software, and help with growth and future development. “Brad had a successful eighteen-year sales career with us in the past, serving our clients in Canada,” said Tom Curtin, Amtelco president.

AnswerNet to Help Deaf Community: AnswerNet and Connect Direct have partnered to bring the deaf community to the forefront of today’s customer service solutions. With one million deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States, little progress has been made in customer service communications. Companies can now allow customer service representatives to connect immediately with their deaf or hard of hearing consumers through video. The agents use American Sign Language (ASL), often the first language of deaf and hard of hearing people, to communicate with the consumer regarding their issue in a quick and efficient manner.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.” -Thomas Pynchon

“Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.” -John Lithgow

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

The June 2018 Issue of TAS Trader

Welcome to Summer

Be Intentional to Make the Most Out of the Summer Season

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Even though summer hasn’t officially begun, for most of us in the United States it effectively started after Memorial Day. It feels like summer, and I, for one, act like it’s summer. Though it’s been a while, here’s what I recall summer meaning in the answering service business.

More Traffic: With summer comes an increase in call traffic. As clients scale back their hours of operations to embrace a summer schedule and send more calls our way because of staff vacations, call traffic picks up. That means we need to schedule more agents, which we’ve already hired and trained. And for answering services with usage-based rates, this means a nice increase in revenue.

Increased Vacation Requests: Our staff, of course, also thinks about vacation during the summer more so than other times of the year. Often they wish to coordinate their vacation with their spouse’s and their kids’ summer vacation from school. And for those without constraints dictating a vacation schedule, summer seems to be the normal time to take one anyway. Ironically, this increased demand for vacation comes when we’re busier and need our staff in the office taking calls.

Fewer Sales: During the summer, sales can drop. Leads decrease and many that do come in are planning for the fall. Many businesses limit changes during the summer, putting off decisions until after Labor Day (in the United States) when a normal schedule reemerges.

Delayed Decisions: For me, I viewed summer is the time to catch up on projects but not to start new initiatives. I held those for the fall. I also strived to work less. Though I never succeeded in getting down to a forty-hour work week, for some reason I could get a little bit closer in the summer. I guess there were too many other things begging for my time.

Your experiences at your answering service may differ from mine. Or they may hold true for you today as much as they did for me then. Regardless be intentional about the summer season. What opportunities does it provide, either personally or for your answering service? Decide which opportunities to pursue and move toward them. Whatever they are, and however much progress you make, it should leave you better prepared to slide into fall in three months.

Have a great summer!

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


Classified Ads:

TAS Directory: Promote your TAS for less than a dollar a day. Newly overhauled and redesigned, make FindAnAnsweringService.com part of your online marketing plan. Should you list your answering service on FindAnAnsweringService.com? The answer is, “Yes!” Email Valerie to find out more.

 Need Blog Posts? Need content for your TAS website or answering service newsletter? Let Peter DeHaan provide it. Get professional work from an industry veteran. Nonexclusive content starts at $25 per article. Email Peter for more info.

 TAS Sales Rep: 40-year-old, multiple-location, answering service seeks outgoing, highly professional, hard-working, and self-motivated sales representatives. Previous sales experience is preferred. Strong written and verbal communications skills are required. Must be comfortable with phone sales, computer-literate, and capable of creating written sales proposals. Email resume to Janet Livingston at janet@callcenter-salespro.com.

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.


5 Tips to Make Your Family Business Last

 By Mitzi Perdue

Seventy percent of family businesses don’t make it to the second generation. The big question is: how can you beat these odds? The biggest reason business families fall apart is that the family hasn’t developed the kind of culture that supports keeping the family business in the family. Families that leave this to chance rarely make it to the next generation.

So, how do you create this kind of culture?

  1. Know Your Family Stories: We are the stories we tell ourselves, and high-functioning families have heard their family stories over and over. Be intentional about telling these stories. The more stories, legends, myths, and parables, the stronger your family’s culture and the more likely your family business is to endure.
  2. Have Family Vacations: Whether your family vacation is a large group or a small one, having everyone spend time together greatly increases the chances of building a family business that lasts. A vacation means time set aside to share experiences, get to know and appreciate each other, and embed the family’s values.
  3. Subsidize a Family Vacation After You’re Gone: All too often when the patriarch or matriarch passes on, family members stop seeing each other. Soon, there’s nothing left, and family members have superficial relationships—or no relationship at all. A highly effective antidote to this is, leave money in your will to pay for a yearly get-together. Some families subsidize an annual dinner, while others pay for a nice vacation. ­­Endowed family get-togethers can be a highly-effective tool for helping the family business continue across the generations.
  4. Write a Family Newsletter: A newsletter can play a huge role in helping the family maintain a strong and vibrant culture. Include interviews with older family members or employees about the early days and some of the company’s struggles. Make it short, ideally no longer than one or two pages. You want people to read it.
  5. Get Help If You Need It: Fortunately, there’s a whole new ecosystem of family advisors who can help. There’s no such thing as a family business that doesn’t have conflict, and when there’s a serious family conflict, the pain from it can permeate every hour of every day.

Family harmony is so important, that anything you can do to nurture it is a wise investment. Many families don’t stay intact over the generations. The good news is, planning is something you can do, and even better, the implementation can be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Mitzi Perdue is a speaker, businesswoman, and author of How to Make Your Family Business Last. A cum laude graduate from Harvard University and holder of an MPA from George Washington University, Mitzi draws from her direct experiences in two long-lasting family enterprises to assist businesses in preparing for lifelong success.

Email us with your articles for consideration in our next issue.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel, Professional Teledata, & Alston Tascom Unveil Updates: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom revealed their new unified brand to users of all three of the companies’ software platforms at their first combined user group conference in Denver, Colorado. In conjunction with the new visual branding, content previously found on the three separate company websites is now located on a revamped and unified site, startel.com. The company also launched their new marketing resources center, making custom-branded promotional materials available to their customers. Last, they launched The Customer Spot (TCS), a new self-service customer portal.

New All-in-One Spectrum / Prism II Server: Amtelco hardware and software engineers designed the new Prism II server to run Spectrum, Prism II, and other applications from one server. In other Amtelco news, the Genesis Just Say It feature enhances the IS Navigation Menu feature by enabling callers to speak responses in addition to pressing telephone keypad digits. The Just Say It Navigation Menu features give callers the ability to access information and conduct transactions using either speech recognition or live operator involvement.

 Dan L’Heureux and Renita Dorty Receive Awards: Startel, Professional Teledata, and Alston Tascom recognized Dan L’Heureux and Renita Dorty during the companies’ first combined user group conference in Denver, Colorado. Dan L’Heureux is the recipient of the 2018 Allen Kalik Award, and Renita Dorty is the recipient of the 2018 Don Berry Award of Excellence.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Telephone Answering Service News

Startel Updates Secure Messaging: Startel Corporation released Startel Secure Messaging Plus (SM+). Many new features and enhancements were part of this release, including the ability to respond to group messages and allow the forwarding of messages. SM+ is a two-way direct messaging solution that allows users to securely send and receive messages, including those containing sensitive information. All message content and attachments sent and received on devices using SM+ are encrypted. SM+ is available as a stand-alone, web-based solution or integrated with the Startel CMC. The SM+ app is compatible with the latest versions of Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone, iTouch).

 Amtelco Introduces Genesis Just Say It Speech Recognition: The Genesis Just Say It feature enhances the IS Navigation Menu feature by enabling callers to speak responses in addition to pressing telephone keypad digits. It gives callers the ability to access information and conduct transactions using either speech recognition or live operator involvement. The application simplifies and speeds telephone calls, such as listening to what a caller says to interact with them and understand their meaning based on pre-defined parameters. This makes it possible to increase call handling capabilities and call traffic volumes while decreasing labor costs and other operating expenses.

Email us with your TAS news for consideration in our next issue.


Quotes for the Month

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

“He that will not sail until all dangers are over, will never put to sea.” -Thomas Fuller

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