NAEO Newslinks-Jan09
membershelpingmembers
January 2009


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

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Betty Bouchie

From the Editor:
Happy New Year!!!
by Betty Bouchie

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions? Lose weight, go to the gym, stop smoking, stop !?#!@#$! Maybe you can add in one or two more. Think positive! Look for reasons to compliment whenever possible. Think twice, then maybe once more, before criticizing. Keep an open mind. Allow yourself to love and be loved. Give yourself and others a break sometimes…

But if you still want to keep those other resolutions, check out the article by Alison Porter about setting positive resolutions.

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Be Inspired

"When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
~ Mae West (1892-1980)

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Something to Smile About...

There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.

When asked to define "great" he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"

He now writes error messages for Microsoft Corporation.

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Thomas Parrotti

Member Spotlight:
Thomas D. Parrotti

Q: Could you tell us how and when your business began?
A: My tenure in the telecommunications arena started late in life. I was asked by a friend to assist him in developing a business plan to acquire funds to buy out family members that owned part of a two generation family telephone answering service. Additionally, we created a work plan and business goal document to secure capital from a local bank. That was in 1997. We got rid of the "wheel of fortune" message wheel (a four-tiered spinning apparatus that was used to hold open messages for clients). We went live with Amtelco 3.4 (I think) in 1998.

Q: What are your most common accounts?
A: We had mostly medical accounts. There were approximately 50- plus medical accounts, with a sprinkling of trades (plumbers, electricians, contractors) and funeral homes.

Q: When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?
A: Started using Amtelco in 1998. The owner of that business was a very frugal individual and he found it to be the best product for the dollar. It had much more functionality than the existing system; that system had black and white screens and hand-written message tickets (one step above plug-ins).

Q: When did you join NAEO and why?
A: I joined NAEO when I joined Bassett Healthcare after selecting Amtelco as the vendor to handle our multiple site medical network (29 regional sites and four hospitals). Joining it was a hard sell to my administration. But, the benefits have shown to be well worth the annual investment. A tremendous exchange of information is available on a variety of subjects and this has proven to be invaluable.

Q: When did you begin in the business?
A: I started at Bassett Healthcare in 2002 with 12 reps and a supervisory team of two. Today there are 37 reps and a supervisory team of four with a department secretary.

Q: Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
A: Not big on personal details...but here are a few. My life partner, Brett and I recently purchased his family dairy farm (fifth generation) on 80 acres. We are restoring the 125+ year old farm house and barns. I have an interior design background and I try to keep my creative side active by assisting friends with design advice. As for hobbies, I am an AKC confirmation judge and currently judge most of the terrier group. I've traveled to the UK several times for purchasing dogs, attending shows and client interior design trips for furnishings and custom woven carpets. I've been showing and/or breeding purebred dogs since 1975. The main breed is Scottish Terriers. However, I am currently dogless – only a Ragdoll cat named Sammy and a Ring Neck Parrott named Emerald.

Q: What is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?
A: At Bassett we are embarking on a new path in call handling. We are establishing call teams. These teams will share call volume across the network with emphasise on individual clinic specialties. One example: all surgical calls will be handled by a team of communication specialists from across the region. All will share calls regardless of the site; but these calls will be common to the specialty or service. Eventually 200 seats will dot our nine-county network.

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NAEO Annual Conference Helps Improve Your Company's Bottom Line
by Andy Shelp, NAEO Assistant Executive Director

Register today for the NAEO 2009 Annual Conference in gorgeous Cancun, Mexico from March 1-4. Come help us celebrate 25 years of outstanding service to you and the teleservices industry.

This year promises to provide fantastic speakers, education, networking, and fun for you and the whole family. This event is something that members look forward to annually. But, you don't have to take our word for it. Read what other members, and your peers, have said about this outstanding conference:

"The contact and friendships with other NAEO members is by far the most important resource available to my business. Don't EVER miss the spring NAEO meeting — you will lose a whole year's worth of information!"
~ Alan Fromm, President of An-Ser Services.

"We will be sending more than a dozen people. I believe I have been moderately successful in this business and I owe it to NAEO and its conferences which led to many friendships and invaluable education… One idea implanted in my brain at my first conference (1986) paid off 14 years later with a onetime Y2K surcharge in excess of $25,000… [In addition], the concept of SIP / Voip first came to our attention when Clayton Robinson talked of using it for his service at a NAEO conference. I could go on for pages, [but] to skip these meetings is simply penny wise [and] pound foolish.”
~ Tom Gelbach, Managing Director of Act Teleservices

Register today at www.naeo.org for an outstanding educational experience with equipment-specific education, unparalleled networking and ideas and information that will improve your company’s bottom line!

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10-Hour Shift Scheduls
by Tessie Toups, Vision Communications (Formerly Latelco)

Our Call Center is a 24/7 service facility, houses 18 employees, and is owned by a Telephone-Communications company. We have been in the Telephone-Communications business for over 60 years. Over the years, we have learned from trial and error, and from requesting feedback from employees on their preferred schedules. We have found that they enjoy the 10-hour shifts and rotating days off. We have put together a schedule that suits employees’ needs as well as our customers’ needs for adequate coverage.

Below is a chart to follow when implementing the 10-hour shift schedule:

SCHEDULE 1
SCHEDULE 2
SCHEDULE 3
SCHEDULE 4
SCHEDULE 5
SCHEDULE 6
Work
Off
Work
Off
Work
Work
Work
Off
Work
Off
Work
Work
Work
Work
Work
Off
Off
Off
Off
Off
Work
Work
Off
Work
Work
Work
Off
Work
Off
Work
Off
Work
Off
Work
Work
Off
Off
Work
Off
Work
Work
Off

We run our work weeks from Monday through Sunday. Week 1 will begin on Monday and end on Sunday. For Week 1, assign Employee 1 to "Schedule 1,” Employee 2 to "Schedule 2,” Employee 3 to "Schedule 3,” etc. For example, Employee 1 would have a work schedule for Week 1 as follows: Monday-Work, Tuesday-Work, Wednesday-Work, Thursday-Off, Friday-Work, Saturday-Off, and Sunday-Off. Once all employees have been assigned a schedule, then move to Week 2. Employee 1 would now have "Schedule 2” and a work schedule for Week 2 as follows: Monday-Off, Tuesday-Off, Wednesday-Work, Thursday-Off, Friday-Work, Saturday-Work, and Sunday-Work. Employee 6, who had "Schedule 6,” would now follow "Schedule 1” for Week 2. This schedule should be rotated throughout the year. The schedule will eventually give all employees six consecutive days off and approximately every other weekend off.

What hours do we use? We use a "staggering effect,” with 1-hour increments during the morning hours and evening hours. The 10-hour shift schedules we use are 7am-6pm, 8am-7pm, 9am-8pm, 10am-9pm, 11am-10pm, and 1pm-12am.

We also have four Team Leaders; two work on a shift together, and the other two work on the opposite shift. They work a 7 & 7 schedule as follows: They begin their work week on a Thursday, working 12 hours on Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They work eight hours on Saturday and Sunday, and four hours on their last Thursday. Their hours are Monday through Friday 5am-6pm or 6am-7pm, and Saturday and Sunday 5am-1:30pm or 10:30am-7:00pm. In addition, we have two night workers that alternate weeks; working 7pm-5am.

We have found this schedule to work well for us. We occasionally have to alter the schedule due to vacations or holidays, but for the most part, it works for us!

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IS Tip
If Statement Using Status
by Rob Beattie, Answerplus

  1. In I.S. Supervisor, go into Intelligent Messages section of the I.S. account
  2. For Actions performed when script starts:, add If Branch statement

    4
  1. For Check these conditions:, add Advanced, and create expression:

_acdClientStatus = PTO
***PTO is a literal. This is basically whatever word/phrase you’re going to have in the status of that account

5

  1. For If true, do these actions:, select
    Navigation Type: Screen
    Navigate to: AFTERHOURS
    (basically tell I.S. where you want after hours calls to go, whether it be navigate to: screen in that script, change account etc…)
  2. For Otherwise, do these actions: create another If Branch statement

2

  1. For 2nd If statement, for Check these conditions:, add Time Range (say 9am-5pm) and Day of Week (say Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
  2. For True, select
    Navigation Type: Screen
    Navigate To: OFFICEHOURS
    (again, wherever you want the office hours calls to go)
  3. For Otherwise, navigate to AFTERHOURS

1

For Status condition to work, whichever account the If Branch statement is on, a status in Infinity needs to be inputted (also preferable to set an expiry, as if you forget to remove, I.S. will continue to follow AFTERHOURS, even next time the office is actually open). Also make sure the status word/phrase is EXACTLY the same as what you programmed in step 3 (i.e. PTO).

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NAEO-Sponsored Operator Relief Fund

NAEO continues to get requests from operators who have experienced great loss due to natural disasters, and right now our funds have been depleted! Please consider donating to this wonderful fund that directly serves front-line staff who are in need of assistance.

What:
The NAEO Board has revived the Operator Relief Fund in response to recent devastating storms – Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. This fund is set up to benefit frontline Operators, as well as Supervisors who have been personally impacted by these storms. (As we did with Hurricane Katrina).

Who: (Eligibility)Operators & Supervisors
This fund has been established to benefit ANY Operator or ANY Supervisor that has been personally affected by these storms from ANY Telemessaging Company.

It is not a requirement for the Telemessaging company to be a member of any trade association or user’s group and it does not matter the type of equipment they possess to run their business.

When: NOW!
NAEO has agreed to donate $10,000 to the fund. Other industry associations, as well as individuals and companies are contributing to this relief fund. NAEO is not a charitable organization, so your donation will not be tax-deductible – but every dime you give will go directly to those employees who are in dire need. By pledging a donation through this program, your gift will be combined with others to help telephone answering service industry hourly workers.

How: Donate OR Refer someone who needs assistance
Go to www.NAEO.org. There is a section labeled "Operator Relief Fund” on the home page – click either "Donate Now” OR "Make a Referral.”

Our effort to assist all of those in need requires your help! Please spread the word about our cause, refer anyone who is in need and eligible, and make a donation to help those who help others every day.

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How NOT to Answer a Phone Call
by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

Throughout the years, many of our Telephone Doctor® clients have taken the time to jot us a note letting us know about their good and bad experiences, both in person and on the phone. Judging from the amazing number of entries we received for our book Customer Service Nightmares, I suspect this is their way of venting and releasing frustration. We're always happy to receive your notes and emails. Keep 'em coming, please.

The recent email below gave us some good ammunition for an article. While the message, as you can see, concerns the legal profession, believe me, it happens all the time in every industry. Read on:

Around 1:00 p.m. today I returned opposing counsel's telephone call from this morning. The first person that answered the phone took my name and asked me to hold while he checked to see if she was back from lunch. After a short hold he came back on the line and transferred my call. At that point opposing counsel's assistant answered the phone. She took my name for the second time and put me back on hold. After holding a couple of minutes, opposing counsel's assistant came back on the line and asked if I could call back in twenty minutes! I am sure that her assistant is telling opposing counsel that I am a jerk because I answered, "No, I am calling her back now."

Unbelievable. Makes me wonder how they handle calls from their clients.

It's not important to know the who in this story. It's more important to learn the why it happened. And more importantly, how to fix it! That's what this article is about.

It's a well-known fact that the first voice you hear when you call a company sets the tone, makes the first impression and welcomes the caller. It starts the rapport-building factor. Few will argue that point.

While there are several faux pas in the above email note we received, which is the major one? Reread it and see if you don't agree with Telephone Doctor mentality, culture and philosophy. Our answer is at the end of this article.

In the meantime, it sounds as though the opposing counsel's office can use a dose of our Basic Basic Telephone Skills program. Listed below are a few key points from our popular DVD program Basic Basic Telephone Skills. Know anyone else who might benefit from this list?

We're going to give you the Telephone Doctor® Four Step Model for effective coaching in a call center or business environment.

  1. While we didn't get to find out how they answer the phone with their initial greeting, we hope they used the Telephone Doctor 3-part greeting. A buffer, the company name and then their name. Remember; "How can I help you" is not necessary in initial greetings. You are there to help. That is why you answered the phone.
  2. Learn how to put a caller on hold. "Hold on," click is not effective. Neither is "Hang on a second." Several years ago we ran a survey with USA Today to find out what frustrates the caller the most. Yes, being put on hold was the number one frustration of the American public. That was 12 years ago. Today, it's number 3 with, yup - you guessed it - the automated attendant being number one!
  3. Monogram the call. If the caller lets you know his/her name, use it. Immediately.
  4. Leave a good lasting impression. Seems as the opposing counsels office didn't do that. Remember, we'll tell more people about a bad experience than we will a good one. Not sure why. But it's true.

What's the biggest Faux Pas?
Asking a caller to call back! We never ask anyone to call back. That's like kicking a customer out of the door at the store. When someone calls us, it's our job to return the call, or have it returned on our behalf. Asking someone to call back is just rude. (Exception: there are times when the caller will say, "Let her know I called and I'll call back." That's fine if it's the caller's choice. But to ask a caller to please call back – Wow! Big mistake.

That's a real no no!

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© 2009 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
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