April 2011

Regular Columns

From the Editor
by Betty Bouchie

Be Inspired
by Gary Blair

Something to Smile About...

The Telephone Doctor
by Nancy Friedman

Featured Articles

Conference News
by Joe Adam

President’s Report
by Kelli Harrigan

Say What You Need To Say
by Kevin Procter

Nurse Triage Services
by Jeffrey W. Zindel

From the Editor

by Betty Bouchie

I had someone complain to me one day that I always stop in the mornings and say "Good morning” to everyone. He said, "How are we supposed to know if you are in a good mood or a bad mood, if you always say Good morning?” It actually made me pause. Finally, I said, "Isn’t that the point?” When we come to work, deal with our co-workers, or our customers, it should not matter if we are in a good mood or a bad mood; we should always be professionally friendly. That does not mean we need to be "friends” with everyone. It means we need to make sure that all our interactions are professionally friendly. Good morning! Have a wonderful day! My pleasure!

Please check out this article for a few tips on being professional in the workplace.

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Be Inspired

Submitted by Gary Blair

"If you don't do it excellently, don't do it at all. Because if it's not excellent, it won't be profitable or fun, and if you're not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing there?"
~ Robert Townsend

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Something to Smile About...

Words to Live By

by Dr. Seuss

  1. A person’s a person, no matter how small.

  2. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

  3. Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.

  4. From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.

  5. Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

  6. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.

  7. If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.

  8. I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.

  9. So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.

  10. And will you succeed? Yes indeed, yes indeed! Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.

  11. Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

  12. All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you’ll be quite a lot.

  13. The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

  14. Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.

  15. Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!

  16. Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

  17. I’m afraid sometimes you’ll play lonely games too, games you can’t win because you’ll play against you

  18. I’m sorry to say so but, sadly it’s true that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you

  19. I know up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down at the bottom we, too, should have rights.

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Conference News

by Joe Adam, AMAC, 2011-2012 Past President

I hope those of you who attended the New Orleans conference will agree with me when I say what an amazing conference! The weather was perfect and somehow we managed to escape the NAEO curse of rain throughout the entire week! The property was spectacular, so if you didn’t make the conference and you are planning to visit New Orleans, I highly recommend you stay at The Roosevelt. The staff will go out of their way to ensure you have a great experience there.

I couldn’t begin to say how much I appreciate our conference and education committees for all the hard work they did to ensure the conference was not only productive but filled with great educational topics of interest for everyone. Trisha and Gerald did an outstanding job leading their committees (as usual). I would be very remiss if I didn’t thank Andy and Julie from Ewald Consulting for making sure that everything went off without a hitch and solving all those last minute problems that crop up during a conference.

My special thanks goes to all the presenters, for no conference would be a success without your dedication and the time that you commit to NAEO each and every year. I also wish to thank Amtelco for their commitment to NAEO and for hosting yet another fun filled evening on the riverboat cruise. We share a unique arrangement with them. If it wasn’t for NAEO they may not have the success they have now, and if wasn’t for them, we might also not have the success that we have now. Truly a symbiotic relationship.

For those of you that had a chance to explore New Orleans, I’m sure you were not disappointed! New Orleans has something for everyone and is truly one of the more remarkable and diverse cities in the US. Did I mention the Cajun food?

This conference marks my 6th year as a member of the NAEO board. Next year I will step down from the board with the knowledge that, while I have enjoyed being on the board and in some small part may have helped NAEO to grow and prosper, it was I who truly benefited from the experience. The knowledge that I gained and the friendships I have made will carry me through a lifetime.

I am comforted in the fact that NAEO ‘s future is bright and that Kelli Harrigan will no doubt have an exceptional year as President and Trisha Stenberg will continue that legacy throughout her term next year, when she becomes President. I can think of no finer choices for leading NEAO into the future.

Once again I want to thank you, the NAEO members, for enriching my life with knowledge and friendship, and if I can be of any help in any way, please contact me and I will gladly help in any way possible.

Congratulations to the New Board members:

  • Matt Crocker was re-elected
  • Lina Masri
  • Kurt Vandesheer

The President's Award went to Gerald Brosseau.

The Scholarship winners are:

  • CURTIN SCHOLARSHIP: Christina Dewell, Call Experts
  • COLLINS SCHOLARSHIP: Shellia Silveira, Anwerwest, Inc.

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President’s Report

by Kelli Harrigan, NAEO President

First, I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of our hard-working committee members, board of directors and attendees for making our 2011 Annual Conference in New Orleans a huge success! The conference was a great success with over 200 attendees and as an added bonus, we raised over $11,000 for the NAEO Foundation’s Operator Relief Fund! The feedback that we are receiving so far has been very positive. If you haven’t responded to your evaluation email, please do be sure to do so when you have a moment as the information we gain there truly helps us plan not only our next conference, but also educational content for our webinars and workshops.

I am looking forward to a very exciting year as president of the association. I am so honored to be in this position. As many of you know, I am not only a "second generation” in the business, but am also a "second generation” president to NAEO, following in the footsteps of my mother, Mari Osmon. At our conference in New Orleans, I kept noticing the many second (or third/fourth!) generations that are continuing in our industry and then, of course, you can’t help but think of the many changes we have all seen in our years in the business! And the speed of these changes seems to increase constantly.

At our annual business meeting, Lina Masri and Kurt Vandersheer were elected to the Board of Directors and Matt Crocker was re-elected to the Board. Lina and Kurt have been involved in committee work in the past and it will be great to have them on the Board! A special thanks also goes out to Cori Bartlett, as she has completed her term with the Board as past president. As many of you know, Cori has been instrumental in fundraising since we first started the Operator Relief Fund, and her idea of auctioning off some of our members at our opening reception proved to be quite the fundraiser indeed! Thank you for your years of service on the Board, as Conference Chair, Past President and now ATSI liaison, Cori!

This year the NAEO Board will continue to work at finding ways to help us all manage the ever-changing nature of our business and the challenges being a 24/7/365 enterprise presents. We have gotten our Business Continuity program off to a good start with members already starting to take advantage of going through the process of completing the workbook with the help of our webinars. At our next Board meeting, we will tackle strategic planning to help guide us through the next few years. Our various committees will continue their work on our educational programming, conference planning, building our membership and providing technical support to our association. If you are interested in serving on any committees, please be sure to reach out to anyone on the committees or board (you can see who is involved on the NAEO website) and we will be happy to put you to work!

And if you have any feedback on NAEO or what the association can do for you, please be sure to share your thoughts with us – email me at

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Say What You Need To Say

by Kevin Procter, Extend Communications Inc.

John Mayer has a few tunes that I enjoy. One in particular has a lot of wisdom within its lyrics: "Say." The chorus of the tune includes only the following line repeated a whopping eight times: "Say what you need to say." His point is well taken – it's important to say what you need to say. We in the business of taking and delivering messages know this very well. Yet, sometimes we can try to say what you need to say, and our message runs dry . . . what's an Amtelco user to do?

SQL to the rescue!

Sure, my SQL postuolation presupposes that you do have a database engine attached to your Amtelco system. If you don't, you may want to look into it, as it adds many advantages to your business, as well as adding new value to the services you can provide to your customers. Those advantages go far beyond the scope of this little article, however. So, lest I digress – let us get back to the topic at hand: Say What You Need To Say.

The SQL database saves data. (Duh!) It is not limited to saving data, however. In fact with a talented IT group behind your SQL installation, you can add great power to your database processing through the use of little SQL programs called "Stored Procedures."

Using the DB Lookup element within your script, you can execute a Stored Procedure from within your database. As in the image below, simply state the name of your Stored Procedure and specify a record ID so your procedure knows which record to build a message from. What you do within your stored procedure is totally up to you.

Simply put, once a call is saved, you can use "Stored Procedures" to make a message of virtually endless information which you can then email to your customer. You can say what you need to say! The only limitation in this case is your IT group's imagination, creativity and know-how. Among my colleagues in this office, these virtues are abundant to say the least.

Finally, you may be asking, "But Kevin, how do I go about implementing such a solution?" My response is, "That's up to you." Use your staff talents, challenge your IT people, and make a solution tailored to your needs - something that can be implemented easily throughout any accounts that need it.

Database power can be a great value added service that your customers will appreciate and for which they will probably be willing to pay extra. On top of that, it may also curb your own frustration with Message Summary limitations. In the end, you'll be able to Say What You Need To Say at all times whenever you need to say it.

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Nurse Triage Services

by Jeffrey W. Zindel, Accurate Communication

The demand for outsourced Nurse Triage Services has increased since mid 2010 and has continued into the first quarter of 2011. I believe this is due to the general business concept of outsourcing or "right sizing.” This seems to include everything from administrative office staff and now recently, medical office staff and health professionals.

In March of 2010 we had an opportunity presented by an existing client to provide registered nurses that were licensed in all 50 states. The client needed to move its existing business due to a nurse licensure issue. The client has participants in all 50 states. In order for a Nurse to speak to the participant regarding any health issues, s/he must be licensed in that specific state.

The licensure issue is complex. The US identifies "compact” states and "non-compact” states. If a nurse is licensed in one of the 24 compact states, the license is recognized by each of those 24 states. If a nurse is licensed in any other state or the non-compact states, each state only recognizes its specific license. In order to become licensed in the non-compact states, each state must be contacted and the appropriate documentation submitted. Some require fingerprints, transcripts and approval by the State Nursing Board. Other states merely require a copy of the current license. The process can take up to six months due to the complexities of each state.

That being said, the opportunity far out weighed the logistical, legal, insurance and political hurdles we would encounter.
The client had the protocols written for its specific triage use. However, providing after hours triage required purchasing a protocol written for nurse triage. The costs were shared between both parties.

Finding qualified applicants has never been a problem. Many nurses are looking for a change from working the hospital floor and welcome this opportunity use their nursing skills in a little different fashion. It takes a little training to get the nurses familiar with a call center environment. We use Infinity 5.4. The participant either calls into a toll-free number or the nurse makes the outbound call if required. An agent in the call center "triages” the call to determine if it is a nurse call or other type of call. If it is a nurse call, it is then parked to the nurses on duty. If a nurse is not available, a message is taken in Infinity and 2-3 nurses are working the call backs in Infinity. We typically staff 8-9 nurses M-F, 6am-9pm. After these hours we have nurses available on-call. All nurses are set up as remote agents; this is a big plus for them as they consider this career option. Average call length is 15 minutes; the busiest times are November-April.

This program has been a profitable success and has provided a new solution to offer our existing medical clients.

These are opportunities that the current economic condition is presenting to each of us. As Gary Vandernook states in his book, The Thank You Economy, there is a "fundamental shift in the way businesses are expected to behave.” We must embrace this change and re-evaluate our client relationships or be left in the dust.

Our clients look for us to provide solutions. Solutions increase revenue; sometimes this requires a new look at our business model if it is a new product or service. That model may need to be re-evaluated for current conditions.

Look at your top ten clients; what extras services can you provide?

Oh, by the way, don’t forget to say "Thank you.”

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How to Be Business Friendly

by Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

When you take the "friendly" out of Business Friendly, all you have left is business – business as usual. We all know that's just not good enough.

So our new program deals with the tender subject of how to be Business Friends. It's not just for the phones. Being Business Friendly is for all touch points of customer service. Any way you touch or reach out to your customers on the phone, in person, by email, voice mail, fax or snail mail, we need to be Business Friendly.

First of all, you may be asking yourself, "What the heck is Business Friendly?" Well, it's the middle ground between being too cold, impersonal and uncaring, and the other extreme of being too familiar. We've all experienced both I'm sure.

Here are the five points in delivering Business Friendly customer service.

Every Call is Unique - Don't Become Desensitized:

The transaction you get at the end of the day needs to be as upbeat and helpful as you were with the first one of the day. What happens is often times we get the same questions over and over and it's easy to become desensitized. We need to remember that to the customer, his question is new to him. It's the first time for him; no matter what time of day it is.

Solve the Problem - Don't Argue:

You know the old saying "the customer is always right." Well, at Telephone Doctor we've changed that around to "the customer always thinks they're right" and that's the perception we need to deal with. There are indeed times when the customer is wrong and we as servicespecialists know and realize it. There is no value in saying, "Oh Mr. Jones, you are wrong." Focus on the problem; don't worry about whose fault it is. There is zero value in arguing with a customer. Don't even get in the ring with them. You will lose every single round. Focus on solving the problem.

Show Empathy - Don't Ignore What The Customer Says:

The other day, I called a company and explained that the product they sold me wasn't operating properly. The answer from the company representative? "Oh, OK." AGGGGGG. That drives me crazy. First of all, it's not ok that the product wasn't working right. Secondly, where was a little empathy? Where was some sort of acknowledgement that they indeed heard what I was calling about. None. And you can have empathy in happy and good things too. Empathy isn't only for disasters and bad times. You can join in when someone mentions a birthday, a vacation, a wedding, or anything that is happy. Point is, just do not ignore what they say. Comment on it.


Yup, the customer can hear it. We all know that. Since we all know that, we all need to do it. By the way, smiling is showing your teeth. If your teeth aren't showing, you're only grinning – not smiling. Grins can't be heard! Let those puppies show!

Avoid Emotional Leakage:

What? Ok, what's emotional leakage, Nancy? Well, that's getting mad at Peter and taking it out on Paul. Not right, not fun and not fair. To take a negative thought or emotion out on one person and transfer it to another? Let's show you how to avoid emotional leakage when one transaction goes bad and you need to deal with another one immediately.

  1. Take a deep breath

  2. Regain your professional composure

  3. Smile (Even if it's phony)

  4. Then start the transaction

Being Business Friendly will make a huge difference in customer satisfaction. Don't be cool and aloof and don't get too familiar; be the middle ground and deliver Business Friendly customer service.

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© 2011 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
NewsLinks is distributed quarterly to NAEO members.

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