NAEO Newslinks-August08
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August 2008

Save the Date!

2009 NAEO Conference

March 1-4, 2009
Cancun, Mexico

For more details,
click here.




Betty Bouchie

From the Editor:
One Size Does Not Fit All!
by Betty Bouchie

Have you noticed the new tags on some clothing? "One size fits most.” I heard a female comedian comment on this by saying, "It’s very comforting to know MOST of me will be covered.” But aside from clothing, one size does not really fit all, or sometimes even most. As individuals we think, act and feel differently about things. So do our clients and staff. Each of us wants to be just a little bit special. So when you are creating the account template or staff policy, leave yourself and others a bit of creativity room.

Hope you are having a unique summer!

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Board Announcement
NAEO President John Ratliff Announces a Baby Boy

Braden Chase Ratliff was born on July 28, 2008 at 8 lbs. 2 oz. and 22".



Be Inspired

"The most pathetic person in the world is the person who has sight, but no vision"
~ Helen Keller

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Something to Smile About...

AAADD: Know the Symptoms

Thank goodness there's a name for this disorder. Somehow I feel better, even though I have it!

Recently, I was diagnosed with AAADD - Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden. As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing. As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mail box earlier. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car. I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full. So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first. But then I think, since I'm going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first. I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where I find the cup of coffee I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the coffee aside so that I don't accidentally knock it over. The coffee is getting cold, and I decide to make another cup. As I head toward the kitchen with the cold coffee, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye – they need water. I put the coffee on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I've been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I'm going to water the flowers. I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV, I'll be looking for the remote, But I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I'll water the flowers. I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor. So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill. Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day: The car isn't washed. The bills aren't paid. There is a cold cup of coffee sitting on the counter.
The flowers don't have enough water. There is still only 1 check in my check book. I can't find the remote. I can't find my glasses. And I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all day. And I'm really tired. I realize this is a serious problem, and I'll try to get some help for it, but first I'll check my e-mail....

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IS Tip of the Month
The Use of a SET FIELD Calculation
by Tonie Corbin, Time Communications

You can use a SET FIELD calculation that will populate a field and eliminate the need to set screen modes with multiple fields to convey information to the customer service reps and callers. There is an example listed below:

1. First, create your list.

2. Create a list branch for the SET FIELD calculations and a field for the calculations to populate:

3. The field you create for the calculations is set as "Read Only” and leave the default value blank. This will be populated by the SET FIELD calculation.

4. Set the actions for the list branch:

5. This will be where you pull the SET FIELD calculation in and populate it with the necessary information.

The script will appear as:

In this instance, I created an advanced expression indicating how the call was handled for the client.

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Michael Eastwood

Member Spotlight:
Michael Eastwood, Time Communications

Q: Could you tell us how and when your business began?
A: What is now Time Communications was started in 1972 as a medical answering service for St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN Doctors.

Q: What are your most common accounts?
A: While we have a mixture of traditional TAS accounts, our focus is on providing customer service for the non-traditional user.

Q: When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?
A: Faced with an outdated system that needed replacement, we purchased our Infinity system in 1997.

Q: When did you join NAEO and why?
A: Joining NAEO at the same time was a no-brainer. To be the best, you need to work with the best, and that is the NAEO group.

Q: When did you begin in the business?
A: After 20 years in the restaurant business, I joined my brother Pat at Time Communications in 1993. The dedication of everyone at Time Communications was evident last year when we were named one of INC Magazine's 5,000 fastest growing companies.

Q: Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
A: I’ve been married to my wife Mary for 34 years and have two children. Emily works for Travelers Insurance Company and is married and living in the Twin Cities. My son Mitchell is a senior in college and working as an IS programmer for us. I have a second home on one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes and spend as much time as possible there enjoying the serenity of the area.

Q: What is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?
A: While everyone says that they have great people working with them, I am truly fortunate to have a management staff that is as engaged in the business as I am. Having a team of people that have worked for you for years and care deeply about success is what makes the whole company what it is today.

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March 1 – 4, 2009
Cancun Palace Resort
Cancun, Mexico

Make Plans to Join Us at the 2009 NAEO Conference in Cancun, Mexico!

NAEO's Education Committee is already hard at work planning a top-notch agenda for the NAEO Annual Conference, celebrating 25 years of NAEO! The agenda includes our popular round table discussions, an IS workshop, sessions on emerging technologies, Hospital-focused sessions, Sales & Marketing sessions and much more. This is a conference you absolutely cannot afford to miss!

Hotel Information

You will be joining us at the beautiful, all-inclusive Cancun Palace Resort. As an all-inclusive resort, Cancun Palace has worked closely with NAEO to provide an amazing experience for our 25th anniversary. So what does"all-inclusive" mean for you?Included in your room rate are:

  • Luxurious accommodations
  • Wireless Internet
  • Fine dining
  • Delicious snacks
  • 24-hour room service
  • Top-shelf drinks (domestic & imported)
  • Non-motorized water sports at the Wet 'n Wild Marina
  • Sensational entertainment
  • All taxes and gratuities

Visit www.palaceresorts.com/Resorts/CancunPalace to find out more about this beautiful resort. You can book your room reservation online by clicking HERE.

The room rates shown below are per night (not per person) based on the occupancy and assume at least one room guest is a conference attendee.

Single: $250 per room/night
Double: $350 per room/night
Triple: $550 per room/night

Please note that children under 4 are free. For children ages 4-17, there is an additional $46 that is added to your room rate per night.These rates are available from Saturday, February 28 through Wednesday, March 4, 2009 only.

If you wish to stay at the resort before or after those dates (or if you wish to reserve a room for non-attendees such as family members), the room rates are as follows:

Single: $412 per room/night
Double: $452 per room/night
Triple: $654 per room/night

Conference Registration Fees:

On or before December 1, 2008 After December 1, 2008
1-3 People
Members:$575/person$650/person
Non-members:$775/person$850/person
4-5 People
Members:$550/person$625/person
Non-members:$750/person$825/person
6+ People
Members:$525/person$600/person
Non-members:$725/person$800/person

Social events tickets for non-Conference attendee guests: $65/ticket

Visit www.naeo.org for Conference details. Online registration will be available soon.

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Integration of MS Excel Spreadsheet in Infinity IS
by Aaron Emde, World Class Communications, Inc.

The ability for your operators to view and utilize the information contained in MS Excel spreadsheets can be very beneficial. Rather than accepting a large spreadsheet from a client and manually copying the information into the limited space provided by the info pages or directories, your operators can click a link and open a spreadsheet in a new window. Below are the steps to follow to take advantage of this powerful and helpful feature.

Many thanks to Jim Brennan at Alpha Communications for bringing this idea to my attention.

Requirements for using the MS Excel spreadsheet techniques in this article:

  1. A copy of Microsoft MS Excel installed on the operator station
  2. A spreadsheet!
  3. Internet Explorer set as the default web browser on the operator station

Note: I am not 100% positive that you must have Internet Explorer set as your default browser, but I suspect there may be problems opening files with other browsers such as Firefox.

Step 1: Create the spreadsheet link

Select the text you wish to convert into a link and click "Web Link” to create the spreadsheet link

Step 2: Create the file path to your spreadsheet

Select "Link URL” and enter the file path of the spreadsheet. Be sure to use the syntax as follows: file://DriveLetter:\FolderName\Spreadsheet.xls

Note: I was not successful using a network path (i.e. \\servername\foldername\spreadsheet.xls) as a file location but that may be due to network permissions at my company.

Click OK to save your link!

Step 3: Choose your link options

Re-open the link properties window by right-clicking on your link and select "Link Properties” or click on the "Web Link” button.

You will have to re-select "Link URL” each time you open the link properties window.

You must change your Frame Target to _NewWindow. This instructs your link to open the spreadsheet in a new browser window.

Note: At this time, entering a Frame Target of _self opens the spreadsheet in the Info Pages and causes an error. In future versions, I hope this issue will be resolved.

You may also select the color of the link and description text, etc.

Now your operators will be able to access MS Excel spreadsheets and access the data within them! Please note that this process should also work for MS Word documents.

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Allowing a Funeral Home to Control Their Obit Information
by Judy Austin, Communications Network, Inc.

We recently had a potential funeral home client insist that they control the obit information. Our solution was to allow them to create messages through the Web using the Messaging tab on a subaccount. The IS script on the main account Changes Account to the sub account whenever the Obit Information choice is chosen from the reason list.

We created an obit account on Infinity. This account has an Infinity template that meets the client’s needs and maintains our structure.

The only tabs are Messages, Messaging, and Logout. We created a generic login and password for the client. The client now logs into our website and chooses the Messaging tab.

The client must enter the account number on which they want the message to appear.

The account name appears in red on the right side of the screen so the client knows if they have mis-typed the account number. The message template appears on the left side of the screen.

The director fills in the template and clicks the Save button. He may click the Messages tab to check the message.

When done, he clicks the Logout tab and leaves our website.

Our agents now have real time access to all the pertinent information for each service. The supervisor marks the message delivered when the service date/time is past. Our client has the control of data as requested.

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Voice Logger – One of my Favorite Tools
by Gail Russell, Salina Regional Health Center

"You have stupid staff! Why can’t you just get it right?” As Call Center Managers, many of us have experienced a similar conversation with a client at one time or another. Until you have time to do your research and understand the whole picture, all you can do is apologize and say, "Let me check into this and I will call you back.”

Thank goodness for the great tools that are available to us with our Amtelco software. One of my favorites is Voice Logger. It is the next best thing to being there yourself! Having the .wav files available at my fingertips has proven to be valuable many times in the three years since we purchased the software at Salina Regional Health Center.

In the example above, I was able to trace back to the beginning of the issue and then follow it, call by call. I was able to document where the misstep happened then follow up with the client armed with a complete picture of what had occurred, which by the way, was not our error. Whew! It was so great to be able to confidently help the client understand what had happened. I never received an apology after it was all over, but at least I was able to validate that the call center staff followed proper procedure.

Our call center is in a hospital environment and I understand how difficult it can sometimes be to get funding for any "extra” software. I feel fortunate that we were able to purchase this valuable tool. There have been several instances where the risk manager has asked for my assistance in a case she was working on that involved calls coming through the call center. Helping to resolve just one case in the hospital’s favor could justify the cost of Voice Logger.

Voice Logger can also be used for training purposes. At our facility, the trainer listens to the calls with the trainee and discusses them. As is the case with many call centers this tool is used to evaluate progress of the associates. Call evaluations are noted on an assessment form and are part of the individual’s performance review. I also implemented an idea from a fellow NAEO member and compiled a CD with recordings that illustrate the good, the bad, and the ugly calls of a call center to use as examples in training. To accompany the CD, I created a document that explains why the call is good or bad and what could be done to improve. The trainee can read along as they listen to each call.

Using logger along with the reporting tools available with the Amtelco software is a dynamite combination. We trained the call center staff to drop the call number into the message ticket to help with trouble shooting. That one little thing saves a great deal of research time looking in .wav files and/or reports.

Voice Logger is a great tool and has been extremely helpful to our call center. Using it to trouble shoot, train and verify might help you get more calls like, "Since I switched to your service I have noticed a great improvement. You and your staff are tremendous!" It worked for us and it could work for you.

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Network & Systems Redundancy
Striving for 100% Uptime
by Alexander MacLennan, JCF Communications

A sound disaster recovery plan can help you minimize downtime when your business goes off the air, but it is nothing more than a planned reaction to an unexpected event – an event that can often be avoided. Disaster recovery doesn’t have to be a reaction. With network and systems redundancy, you can get proactive and build a disaster avoidance plan.

With the continued growth of web-based technologies and VOIP in our industry, we rely more and more on our Internet connections. This only becomes more apparent for those of us with multiple locations. Unfortunately, we simply cannot rely on a single Internet connection if we expect to keep our businesses online, all the time. The very best Internet service providers typically average 99% uptime annually. This may sound great on paper, but it guarantees that your Internet connection will be offline for at least three-and-a-half days every year.

So what can you do? Moving your equipment to a data center is the best first step. A typical data center will house your equipment in a secure rack, provide uninterruptable power and offer redundant Internet connectivity to multiple tier one providers. For a surprisingly reasonable monthly cost, you accomplish a task that would otherwise be cost prohibitive to implement in your office. Further, your new data center essentially makes all your agent stations ‘remote workstations’ enabling you to deploy new workstations, quickly and reliably in a uniform manner whether the workstations reside in your office or at an agent’s home. Lastly, moving to a data center simplifies step two in our disaster avoidance plan, adding redundancy to your operations center.

Network redundancy for your operations center begins with a second Internet connection from a different provider using a different "last mile." To set up redundant connectivity, you’ll need a firewall or other network appliance that supports dual WAN (Internet) connections and is capable of performing automatic failover (automatically switch to WAN #2 when WAN #1 fails) or load-balancing (use both connections simultaneously). Many products exist that will handle multiple Internet connections ranging from the modestly priced (Netgear and Linksys), to the moderately priced (SonicWALL and FatPipe) and up to the more robust and costly (Cisco). To improve redundancy even further, many of these products support "High Availability" – a technology designed to circumvent hardware failures by allowing two identical network appliances to work in tandem and continuously monitor each other for failures.

With your equipment safe inside the data center and your office set up for redundancy, your only remaining challenge is connecting your office (and your other remote workstations) to your equipment; a far simpler task than one might expect. This challenge boils down to two essential tasks: connecting the computers to the data center over the Internet and implementing a plan to provide remote operator audio.

The first task, connecting the computers to the data center, can be accomplished using port-forwarding on your firewall at the data center (a simple, but poor solution with security concerns), a VPN connection (a common feature of most firewalls and a secure solution), or Microsoft Windows 2003 Terminal Services. For numerous reasons that fall outside the scope of this article, a terminal server is an ideal solution from the perspective of security, workstation deployment and upgrades, and manageability.

The second and final task, setting up remote operator audio, can be accomplished using standard telephone lines or VOIP. For at-home agents and small offices wishing to avoid the up-front cost of VOIP, telephone lines offer a simple solution as no additional hardware is required (agents call an Infinity DID number to establish their audio connection). For offices with several workstations, a VOIP solution can significantly reduce cost and offers the added benefit of scalability.

As you can imagine, securing your network and implementing redundancy requires careful planning, but it does not have to be complicated. After nearly ten years in this industry, there is one piece of advice that has always stuck with me (however odd it may seem after reading this article): keep it simple – a philosophy rarely heard in the IT world. Network and systems redundancy indeed requires added complexity, but your goal in implementation should be to keep the moving parts – or devices – to a minimum. Fewer moving parts will directly translate into fewer holes in your redundancy plan.

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© 2008 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
NewsLinks is distributed quarterly to NAEO members.

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