NAEO Newslinks-Feb09
February 2009

"Don't EVER miss [it] — you will lose a whole year's worth of information!"
~Alan Fromm, An-Ser Services

Get signed up TODAY!

John Ratliff

From the President
by John Ratliff

I cannot wait to welcome everyone to the 2009 NAEO annual conference in Sunny Cancun! We are thrilled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of our great organization. While it has been a challenging year for some there is never a better time to focus on your personal education than right now. When times are tough it is critical that you do all you can to ensure success, and the conference is a great opportunity to do just that. You will be surrounded by the best and brightest our industry has to offer, with great content and even better networking. Make it part of your 2009 strategic plan to further your education with us. It could be the smartest dollars you invest in your company and your people this year!!

Betty Bouchie

From the Editor:
Conference Time!
by Betty Bouchie

I am always very excited about the NAEO conference. What a learning and sharing opportunity for everyone involved. I have read the posts on the listserv about all of the conference ideas that have impacted so many members. The implications one small piece of information could have on how you do things in your business, can be amazing and long-lasting. What a testimony to the value of member to member education! Go, learn, and enjoy the sun and sand. Work hard, play hard.

Back to Top

Be Inspired

"He that gives good advice builds with one hand;
He that gives good counsel and example builds with both.

- Francis Bacon

Back to Top

Something to Smile About...

Back to Top

Cori Bartlett

Member Spotlight: Cori Bartlett

  1. Could you tell us how and when your business began?

    Our company began in 1987 in Lake County, Florida. At the time, the Executive Recruiting Firm that my husband owned could not find a quality answering service in the area to take their after hours calls. In those times, because of the hard wiring involved in the call forwarding process and cost of long distance phone calls, going outside the LATA was not an option. With a paper-based system, 6 employees and 1 telemarketer, the company began it’s 24/7 operation. Two years later, in 1989, an existing answering service was purchased. Each location maintained its separate offices but both upgraded to the Axon 8000 systems.

  2. What are your most common accounts?

    The types of accounts we service at Alliance Communications fall into 2 categories- 1) the traditional answering service accounts and 2) the call center accounts. 75% of all call volume is generated by our call center accounts. Most typical of these are insurance claims, general customer service and order entry.

  3. When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?

    We purchased our Amtelco Infinity equipment in 1999 after deciding to combine both of our locations into one. Our Axon 8000 system was limited in its call processing abilities as well as it’s operator positions- only 8 per location. Our clients were becoming more sophisticated and the services we provided needed to match that sophistication. The Amtelco Infinity system allowed us to combine both locations, be more efficient and provide enhanced services when used in conjunction with our Doyle Logan system.

  4. When did you join NAEO and why?

    I attended my first NAEO conference in early 1999 a couple of months prior to actually purchasing our equipment. We did not officially join NAEO until about a year or two later after facing many challenges and much urging from our Amtelco sales representative, Kevin Ryan. (Thank you, Kevin!)

  5. When did you begin in the business?

    I began in the business in 1989. The 24-hour operation allowed me to attend college, work part-time and have the ability to be home with my small daughter without the necessity of daycare or preschool-which was a priority for me.

  6. Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.

    I have lived in Central Florida for almost 25 years now after moving from the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York while in High School. I have been married for almost 5 years to my husband, Cameron. I have one daughter who is 18 and beginning college. I also have 2 stepchildren- Chad, who is 24 and an FSU graduate and a stepdaughter- Shelby, who is 17 and in High school. I received a BS degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida. I also enjoy ongoing learning and training in many areas.

    We are lucky enough to live on a beautiful chain of lakes in Windermere, FL which is a suburb of Orlando. We love to travel to tropical locations but also love to spend a lot of time on our boat, on our dock, on an island- anywhere around or on the water. We own a private plane in which my husband pilots and I co-pilot. I am also in the process of obtaining my license. Circumstances over the last year or so have "clipped our wings” a bit but typically we fly often to regional locations such as beaches, seafood festivals, boat shows & such.

  7. One is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?

    I believe that the types of accounts that Alliance Communications services are unique. We have stepped "outside the box” in providing solutions to our clients. I also believe our high standards and rigorous hiring and training process sets us apart from many. Our use of the Intelligent Series also makes the level of service we provide to our clients extremely high. I owe credit to NAEO for so many of ideas and processes that we have developed to try to be leader in our industry.

Back to Top

From the NAEO Membership Committee
by Ron Waine, TigerTel, NAEO Membership Chair

Back by popular demand…based on the great feedback we had received after last year’s conference for our "Buddy System”, we are again using this arrangement for our 2009 conference. Thank you to all those who have volunteered to be a Buddy, so far it appears we will have a generous 1:1 ratio of 1st Timers and buddies. This system provides a great way to have newer members introduced to the unique people and culture that make the annual conference special.

ATTENTION: All those NAEO members that are considering attending the conference for their 1st time - please consider the following inspiring statistics from our post 2008 conference survey of 1st Timers: 100% of respondents stated that they would like to attend another conference and 100% of those First-timers that were able to connect with their Buddy identified that they found that the person "enhanced their experience”. We look forward to meeting and matching all 1st Timers and Buddies at the exclusive reception!

How many NAEO member benefits are you familiar with? If it is less than ten, you need to be attending the NAEO Membership "Benefit Webinar” taking place on Wednesday February 18, 2009, 2:00 PM CST. Learn how your company can save time, money and have access to great and relevant education.

To reserve your spot for the Benefit Webinar, please fill out the required registration information at, you will receive an email confirmation shortly after.

On behalf of the Membership Committee, I would like to welcome all the new companies and contacts that joined NAEO during 2008:

  • Advance Telephone Answering Service, Waterford CT, Neil Knowles
  • Anserfone Inc., Memphis TN, Stan Cooper
  • Answering Solutions for Funeral Service LLC, Rio Rancho NM, Jeff Santillanes
  • Aurora Medical Center, Kenosha WI, Heidi Skokut
  • Caprock Communications, Hobbs NM, Tom Jenkins
  • Children’s Hospital, Omaha NE, Cathie Whitner
  • Cunningham Communications, Grand Rapids MI, Dick Cunningham
  • Decatur Memorial Hospital, Decatur IL, Wayne Jenne
  • Doctors Hospital of Augusta, Augusta GA, Susan Guilfoyle
  • Greenville Hospital, Greenville SC, Rachel Edwards
  • Indiana Paging Network, La Porte IN, Mary Stradinger
  • Nacogdoches Answering Service, Nacogdouches TX, Nancy Steed
  • On Call Answering Service, Bossier City LA, Russell Pinkney
  • PanAm Answering Services, Glendale AZ, K.R. Babu
  • Spectrum Communications Ltd., Woodstock ON, Melanie Hance
  • University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City KS, Melinda Keltner
  • Zutz Insurance, Wilmington DE, Matt Doyle (Associate Membership)

Back to Top

What to Do With All Those Empty Chairs?
by Woody Adamson

In 2007, Mercy Medical Center completed a major renovation, adding space and improving the work stations for the operators. As a result we went from three stations and a supervisor station to a total of nine stations. During the day, at least five of the stations were vacant. They would start filling up after hours as the answering service traffic spun up. We started thinking about the services that could be offered to our clients that would fill those seats during daytime hours.

We came up with two ideas that seemed worthwhile, prescription refill service and remote receptionists. We have implemented both ideas, but the prescription refill service is the more successful of the two ideas. To begin the process, we designed an Intelligent Series script that would take the basic information (Name, phone, birth date, prescriptions needed, and where the office needed to call the prescription). We added a database of drug names and pharmacies to assist the operators.

We used internal clients (departments and hospital employed physicians) to pilot the service and script. This also facilitated operator training. Our Voiceloggersoftware became a heaven sent reference as we were able to quickly refer to a recording to pick off strange drug names. We also quickly learned that older patients would many times call in with an extremely large list of refills that overran our initial script design. It had only been designed to handle a maximum of six prescriptions. We redesigned the script to loop back on itself, taking multiples of three prescriptions. The loop back recognized that it was the same caller and did not require the operator to retake the initial demographics.

The prescription refill service has been active at Mercy Medical Center since late 2007and we are now marketing it to outside clients. We think that this service will fill those seats. If anyone is interested in this script, please contact me at

Back to Top




IS Tip
Multiple Summaries Using IS
by Caissy Roger

There have been a few instances in which the amount of information gathered for a message exceeds the space available in one message ticket. In a couple of these cases, the following solution worked well.

Begin with your basic I.S. message form, in this example I’m just going to double each field and make each set of fields show up on separate summaries:

Next we’ll add the regular message summary with only the first set of fields.

Next we’ll add the "Save Message” action to the end of the script to add the additional message summary.

Finally we edit the "Save Message” properties and created another summary by building an advanced expression in expression builder.

Testing this out, I’ll enter the information into all the fields in the IS script:

The following 2 screen shots show each different summary that we included in the script.

There may be cases in which the amount of information to be gathered makes this not feasible; however, there have been accounts in which this came in rather handy.

Back to Top

Minimum and Maximum Staffing Levels, Using the XLScheduler
by Anna Wannberg Jonsson, XLScheduler

Worrying about minimum staffing?
Up to your maximum capacity, and want to be able to set maximum staffing levels?

In the WFM application XLScheduler this can be programmed, so that when creating an optimized schedule you don’t have to go in and manually count the agents scheduled for each hour of the day.

If we start with the maximum staffing level, this can be set on two levels; for the contact center as a whole, and/or for a work group. A work group can be used to represent an organization level such as site, department or team. It is easy to enter the maximum number of seats that can be scheduled, and XLScheduler will never go outside these boundaries. This can also be useful if you have a group of remote agents, but a limit on the number of remotes that can work at the same time.

When it comes to minimum requirements, there is more than one way to go. The most common though is to set the minimum number of shifts needed at each time of the day. The "shift” includes the clock times and also the tasks to perform, even breaks can be entered. In combination with this, agents can be given the skill to cover one or more shifts from the minimum requirements, and it is possible to guide XLScheduler to schedule certain agents before others.

When the optimization is complete it might still be necessary to verify that all shifts have been covered. Sometimes agents that are skilled for a certain task are on vacation or have their scheduled day off, and the program is not able to fill the shift. Then the user can view a report on this, where all shifts and their individual requirements are listed, together with information on how many shifts are filled, and how many still need filling.

There are a few steps of completing the setup for minimum workforce, and this is why there is also a wizard for this in XLScheduler, helping you with the basic steps.

When working with minimum staffing on multiple sites, it can be important to set this up in conjunction with Infinity programming.

Back to Top

15 Customer Service No-Nos
by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

When it comes to getting customer service, what’s your definition of rude? What unprofessional behavior irritates you the most when, as a consumer, you are interacting with another company?

Sometimes, customer service that is perceived as rude is not intentional and often is the result of absent-mindedness or carelessness on behalf of an employee. Either way, bad customer service can translate into lower sales and lost business.

Based on our surveys, Telephone Doctor has compiled the 15 biggest sins of customer service employees today. They are listed below, along with Telephone Doctor’s guidelines (in parentheses) on a more effective way to handle the situation.

If your company’s customer service managers and front-line employees are guilty of any of these, it’s time for some action. Otherwise, you may have an image problem that could sabotage your effort to produce and market great products.

  1. Your employees are having a bad day, and their foul mood carries over in conversations with customers. (Everyone has bad days, but customer service employees need to keep theirs to themselves.)
  2. Your employees hang up on angry customers. (Ironclad rule: Never hang up on a customer.)
  3. Your company doesn’t return phone calls or voice-mail messages, despite listing your phone number on your website and/or in ads and directories. (Call customers back as soon as you can, or have calls returned on your behalf.)
  4. Your employees put callers on hold without asking them first, as a courtesy. (Ask customers politely if you can put them on hold; very few will complain or say "No way!")
  5. Your employees put callers on a speakerphone without asking them first if it is OK. (Again: Ask first, as a courtesy.)
  6. Your employees eat, drink or chew gum while talking with customers on the phone. (A telephone mouthpiece is like a microphone; noises can easily be picked up. Employees need to eat their meals away from the phone. And save that stick of gum for break time.)
  7. You have call waiting on your business lines, and your employees frequently interrupt existing calls to take new calls. (One interruption in a call might be excusable; beyond that, you are crossing the "rude" threshold. Do your best to be prepared with enough staff for peak calling times.)
  8. Your employees refuse or forget to use the words "please," "thank you" or "you’re welcome." (Please use these words generously. Thank you.)
  9. Your employees hold side conversations with friends or each other while talking to customers on the phone, or they make personal calls on cell phones in your call center. (Don’t do either of these.)
  10. Your employees seem incapable of offering more than one-word answers. (One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.)
  11. Your employees do provide more than one-word answers, but a lot of the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that many customers don’t understand. (If you sell tech products, for example, don’t casually drop in abbreviations such as APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.)
  12. Your employees request that customers call them back when the employees aren’t so busy. (Customers should never be told to call back. Request the customer’s number instead.)
  13. Your employees rush through calls, forcing customers off the phone at the earliest opportunity. (Be a little more discreet. Politely suggest that you’ve got the information you need and you must move on to other calls.)
  14. Your employees obnoxiously bellow, "What’s this in reference to?" effectively humbling customers and belittling their requests. (Screening techniques can be used with a little more warmth and finesse. If a caller has mistakenly come your way, do your best to point him or her in the right direction.)
  15. Your employees freely admit to customers that they hate their jobs. (This simply makes the entire company look bad. And don’t think such a moment of candor or lapse in judgment won’t get back to the boss.)

Enjoy the day!

Back to Top

© 2009 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
NewsLinks is distributed quarterly to NAEO members.

National Amtelco Equipment Owners
1000 Westgate Drive, Ste. 252, St. Paul, MN 55114
800-809-6373 • Fax: 800-809-6374