NAEO Newslinks-January 2010
January 2010

Betty Bouchie

From the Editor
Resolve to Resolve
by Betty Bouchie

"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other." ~Author Unknown

There was much discussion on the radio the last few days about New Year’s Resolutions. It made me think about the word resolution. The dictionary defines it in a number of ways. The traditional New Year’s definition:
~ a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something

But another that struck a chord with me:
~ a solution, accommodation, or settling of a problem, controversy, etc.

So, let’s think about New Year’s resolutions in a different way. Maybe instead of deciding to quit a bad habit or start a good habit, you can resolve to settle existing controversies or issues. Strive toward solutions to existing dilemmas and resolve to try and prevent new ones. Now there’s a resolution!

Please see the link below for an interesting article for your review.

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Be Inspired

"Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits."

~ Author Unknown

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Something to Smile About...
Animator vs. Animation

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NAEO 2010: Roadmap to Success
by Marci Imes

March 21-25, 2010
Newport Beach Marriott
Newport Beach, CA

It's a NEW Year, a NEW Decade, and it's time to book that trip to NEWport Beach for the 2010 NAEO Annual Conference!

It's January, and now is the time to plan to hit the road on your "Roadmap to Success" at this year's annual NAEO Conference, which will be held from Sunday, March 21 - Thursday, March 25 in beautiful, sunny Newport Beach, California. This conference will certainly be one to remember, as it has something for everyone: Supervisor Training, Tracks designed for Operations, Technical, and Sales & Marketing representatives - and inspiration to work on your business under the guidance of Cameron Herold, of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, this year's keynote speaker. And if that weren't enough, Amtelco is going to help you maneuver the winding road with it's Road Rally Series, offering tips, techniques, and some added horsepower to make it all possible.

Running alongside the Conference will be two workshops - a Supervisor Seminar (all day Sunday and Monday morning) and IS Programming (all day Wednesday and Thursday morning). The Supervisor Training Workshop is an interactive seminar designed to inspire your supervisors and teach them how to efficiently manage staff using the various features available to us in Infinity. The IS Programming workshop has two segments - a 3-hour intensive Basic Scripting class will be held Wednesday morning and will cover flowcharting, script design, response elements, expression builder, checkboxes, list branching, case branching, screen modes, and more. The IS Workshop will continue Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning with intensive Advanced Scripting training and will include information on how to use SQL databases and stored procedures, database connections/DB lookup/picklists, posting IS Script data to a web page, shared fields, formatting properties, and more. Included in your conference registration, you can select one of the workshops (Supervisor or IS) or if you would like to bring staff along for the workshops only, the cost is $199 per person for each workshop.

Deciding who to send is going to be the hardest part! The full schedule of events and online registration is now available at www.NAEO.organd the printed brochure will be on its way to you soon, so now is the time to start planning. There are three airports nearby - Orange County/John Wayne just 5 miles away, Long Beach is just 25 miles away, Los Angeles International is 45 miles away, and Ontario International Airport is 50 miles away. The venue for this great Conference is the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa, a beautiful property with reasonably priced rooms overlooking the Pacific Ocean or the expansive golf course nearby. And as the name proudly whispers, a lovely spa resides on property as well. With average temperatures in the 60's and very little rain, not only will you enjoy the journey but the conditions should be perfect. So start planning your trip, and get ready to take your business on a journey down the "Road to Success" in 2010.

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Using Sub Accounts with Ultracomm for Individual Departments
by Sharon Martyn, Operations Supervisor, Extend Communications

Frequently, our clients will call the service looking for past messages. When their messages are all grouped together, it is time consuming for the clients to go back through several e-mails looking for individual department messages.

To assist our clients, I separate the account as follows:

Sub accounts are set up, in Infinity, based on the department. Then, in Ultracomm, each will have its own account with the department name on the "custom subject line." These messages are then e-mailed to the persons who need them.

If an admin person or a person who oversees two or more departments is on the receiving end of the message transmission, the messages can be easily filed for future reference.

This also eliminates time spent by their staff copying and pasting messages for re-direction to individual departments. (I have actually had clients who use "scissors and glue" to do this process – believe it or not!).

Another advantage for our clients is the ability to track the call traffic by department – which has been greatly appreciated by our municipal clients.

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Using Sub Accounts to script
by Barbara Bradbury, AnswerPlus

We’ve all struggled with how to accommodate the increasingly complex needs of our clients and still keep it manageable for our Customer Service Receptionists (CSRs). It seems like the only rule you can count on is there will be exceptions!

Before the advent of I.S. scripting, AnswerPlus made extensive use of sub accounts to "script” calls for clients and present our CSRs with a single course of action at the end of each call.

I will use a recent scenario posted by Gary Pudles to the NAEO list to demonstrate how we would set this up.

We have a client that requires us to answer a call and ask the following:

  1. Are you an employee?
    • If Yes, determine the division and then patch accordingly.

  2. If not an employee, ask for zip code to determine which division they need to deal with.

  3. Some divisions then get patched and others need operator services.

We need to track the operator services and the patching minutes by division. How should we set this up on Infinity (non-IS)?

The main (ringing) account Info Pages would contain the determining question and might look like this (no message template):

Are you an employee?

§12345 YES
§12346 NO

If the CSR selects YES, they are taken to sub account 12345 where their next determination is the proper division. The Info Pages of that sub account might look like this (still no message template):

What division are you in please?
Use directory to find division and go to appropriate sub account

The directory would contain an alphabetical list of all divisions and the corresponding sub account for that particular division allowing the CSR to quickly access it. Since each division has it’s own sub account, Infinity will automatically track stats including operator services and patch time for each division, while a single invoice can be sent by connecting all the subs with a single billing number.

If the CSR selects NO to the initial question, then they would be taken to sub account 12346 where we would ask a different question in order to determine the division. The Info Pages of that sub account might look like this (no message template):

May I have your zip code please?
Use directory to find zip code and go to appropriate sub account

Zip codes could be imported to a separate directory for this sub account which would include the zip code and the corresponding sub account, or you could choose to reference a zip code file to which you have added a field for sub accounts.

You would have the option of maintaining 2 sets of sub accounts if the client wished to track calls originating from employees separate from those coming from non-employees, or both directories could point to the same set of sub accounts if this was not required.

This process can be as simple or as complex as the situation dictates. We have some accounts that have no definitive opening question and start like this:

Determine type of call

§12345 Lost Cats & Dogs
§12346 Found Cats & Dogs
§12347 Injured Wildlife
§12348 Dead Animal
§12349 Adoptions
§12350 All others

Each of these sub accounts could branch off to additional sub accounts, for example Found Cats & Dogs could branch out to Animal is Confined and Animal Running Loose. Often the instructions vary according to the time of day, and we use these "probe accounts” to separate calls according to dispatch protocol, preventing errors.

Remember to enter sub accounts where the calls finish into Account Pro so you can confirm messages.

It takes a bit of planning, but the use of sub accounts helped us to "script” for various questions that needed to be asked, it dramatically reduced dispatch errors, and it allowed us to track stats however the client needed them. Hopefully it can help someone else, too!

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Susan Fronk

Look Back to Go Forward
by Susan Fronk, President and CEO, MRA, The Management Association

Many of the business leaders I’ve spoken with lately seem to have more hopeful mood. No, the economy hasn’t suddenly moved into high gear and no, revenue hasn’t magically reverted to 2008 levels. I attribute much of the shift to the ability to turn the page on 2009—to create a fresh start, embrace a new vision. And while resolutely focusing on the challenges ahead is important, ensuring you’ve assimilated the lessons learned is just as critical.

It’s easy to feel like a victim when assessing the past year’s economy and its impact. It’s also true that some of the financial fall-out was beyond your control. But, thinking about the last year with the benefit of hindsight, what might you have done differently had you known the magnitude of the downturn?

The point is not to relive a painful experience, but to understand how you can better insulate your company from future ebbs and flows brought by an uncertain economy or even a shift in customer demand or a lack of available raw materials, for example. And, how you can optimize your employer-employee relationship to support the strongest performance possible in the face of uncertainty and change.

As the economy broke apart in chunks and chapters, it wasn’t uncommon for companies to continuously apply band-aids—making cuts here, shifting resources there—rather than overlaying a true internal and external strategy. Taking a more 360 degree approach, how would you have chosen to lay out your plans for 2009? And what does that tell you about how you can better improve the current state of your company?

There are many ways to approach this. One may be to start with the big questions:

  • How are we gathering "environmental intelligence”: trends both within and outside of the organization?
  • How do we understand our customers’ core needs and their needs under different circumstances?
  • Are we using our technology as efficiently and as effectively as possible? How do we know?
  • Is our pool of services diversified enough such that one set of services can support another when demand fluctuates?
  • Are there areas of fixed cost that could be reconfigured into more variable cost formats?

With regard to your employees, it’s been a tough row for many of them as well. Even if your company weathered the storm just fine, nearly every employee was touched by general anxiety or situations encountered by family and friends. Again, using the benefit of hindsight to construct a stronger foundation moving forward, you may wish to ask:

  • Have we optimally cross-trained our workforce to engage the team as well as expand our options?
  • Do we really know the spectrum of talents and interests of our employees?
  • How strong are our managers? What would their teams say?
  • Do we have saleable development plans in place such that if funding decreases, learning and skill development keep moving forward?
  • How engaged are our employees? Do they trust what leaders tell them?
  • Do they feel in-the-know and able to participate in decisions that impact them? Are our communication channels working?

Then of course, it’s important to look at each product line and think about the opportunities that might have been better tapped: bundling, locking in prices and customers, providing value-added services, changing delivery format, creating partnerships and so on. When all is said and done, the purpose is not to lament what was not done, but to better prepare for what could or should be done in a more complete and effective way in the future.

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Herman Trend Alert: 2010 Workforce/Workplace Forecast

Each year at this time, The Herman Group issues its annual forecast. Once more, this year, we offer you our full forecast (longer than our usual alert) for the coming year:

  1. Cutbacks and Re-Engineering Will Continue into 2010
    Expect ongoing reductions in force as some employers continue to optimize their workforces and eliminate "redundancy." We caution these employers to be very careful, because we know that 54 percent of today's employees are ready to jump, as soon as the economy improves. They are currently "Corporate Cocooning."

  2. Shortages of Certain Skill Sets Will Become More Acute
    As the economy begins to recover, certain skill sets will be more critical and difficult to find. These high demand workers will be more demanding about their work schedules, environment, etc. The wisest employers will embrace not only flex-time, but flex-place as well.

  3. Employers Will Embrace Innovative Ideas to Reward Their Valued Workers
    This innovation will include non-financial ways and even non-reward (recognition only) ways to add value for their top talent; these innovative ideas will come from the employees themselves. Employers that do not mine the collective intelligence of their workers will find themselves unable to optimize profits.

  4. Fear and Apprehension Continue to Reduce Productivity
    A significant percentage of employees continue to worry about the future. These negative feelings will persist, unless addressed. Transparency, besides being one of those elements employees seek, will be imperative.

  5. More Employers Will Invest in a Variety of Healthcare Cost-Cutting Strategies
    Besides wellness programs to address expensive unproductive behaviors (like smoking and over-eating), more large employers will embrace ideas like onsite clinics and health coaches. For some candidates, the cost of not complying with the prospective companies' wellness programs will change their employee value propositions so drastically that they will choose to work elsewhere.

  6. Focus on Engagement Will Replace the Focus on Retention
    Recognizing that with engagement comes not only retention, but greater productivity and profitability, too, employers will change their focus. We will see Directors of Retention morph into Directors of Employee Engagement. The next step (coming much later than 2010) will be to recognize the importance of the total "Internal and External Customer Experience."

  7. Increasing Attention to Succession Planning
    Around the globe, we see an increasing attention to succession planning and management. However, the issue of succession preparation continues to take a backseat to succession planning. This big mistake will begin to be felt in 2010, when Baby Boomer retirements combine with the lack of trained people to become a critical problem. Succession management continues to be critical to long-term success.

  8. Employers That Did Not Build Bench Strength Will Pay More to Hire Experience
    Organizations that did not take the opportunity presented by this business slowdown to send their people for more training will have to pay more to hire trained, experienced people.

  9. Some Employers Will Eliminate Reward Programs
    Misunderstanding Dan Pink's new book, "Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us", some employers will abolish their reward programs altogether. This ill-advised shift will cause significant, negative, unintended consequences.

  10. Burned-out Employees Will Begin Leaving Employers
    Over 80 percent of today's employees feel overworked and under-appreciated. Too many organizations have survived and maintained some level of profitability by over-loading their long-term employees. Once we begin to see positive job growth in the second half of 2010, some employees will feel confident enough to leave their companies.

  11. Employers Will Accommodate Older Workers Like Never Before
    The exodus of their long-term employees will challenge some employers to get the work done, without resorting to hiring expensive contract help or paying high fees to recruiters. Enlightened employers will mine the rolls of their retired workers and hire them back on a part-time, temporary, or seasonal basis. These seasoned professionals will be welcomed back, in spite of the fact that they will dictate their own terms.

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We Are Customers to Each Other
by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

At this special time of year, when we're all so busy, stressed out and short of time, it can be so easy to forget some of our most important customers. That would be our co-workers. So in the spirit of the holidays, I dedicate this column to the inside customers. The internal ones, the folks we live and lunch with each day. The ones that can tend to be family and get unconditional support.

Here, from our Telephone Doctor's popular video program on the Essential Elements of Internal Customer Service, are six steps to help you be sure you're paying attention to the "lost customer," the internal one – the person you work with every day. Keep these by your desk and learn them step-by-step. You'll be glad you did.

  1. Know the Mission of Your Organization and YOUR Role. Those of us who are in a small department of a large company oftentimes miss the big picture. If you don't know the mission of your organization – ask for it. Keep it at your desk. It'll help you with that big picture. You'll start to understand the "why" of many things you're asked to do and don't know why. Your role is important no matter what you do. Someone is depending on you and what you're working on for the company. You just may not be aware that you're needed.

  2. Internal Service is Everyone's Responsibility. This is aimed at management. Internal customer service isn't just for the worker bees. It's for everyone. If management isn't doing their part, oftentimes the entire customer service program can go out the window. No double standards. Internal customer service is for EVERYONE. As we say, "it starts at the top."

  3. Respect Employee Differences. Cub Fan? Sox Fan? Republican? Democrat? Rock Music? Classical? Whatever. Just because you don't agree with someone doesn't make you right. Differences are crucial for an organization. Differences are key to understanding people. If everyone thought the same way, most of us wouldn't be needed. Don't argue just because a co-worker isn't doing it the way you do or thinking the way you do. Learn to respect others for what they do. That's why we have chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

  4. Recognize the Personal Space of Others. Simply put, this boils down to the "golden rule." Those who can work with a radio playing music may disturb others around them who aren't able to concentrate. Loud voices around someone who's on the phone with an external customer can be annoying also. If you're in a cubicle or a sharing area, recognize there are others around you. Be sensitive to their wishes, too.

  5. Work to Resolve Conflicts. Who hasn't had "words" with another employee? Perhaps they weren't kind words. Or maybe you and a co-worker strongly disagree on a project or idea. Not trying to make it work can only lead to more stress and frustration. Work it out. Even if you need to call in a mediator or another co-worker or someone not involved who can keep an open mind. I doubt that you'll need a professional negotiator, but someone from HR or another trusted employee can usually be of help with conflict resolution.

  6. Show Appreciation. I saved this for last so you'll remember it. Being appreciated and showing you care with a genuine "Thank You." It can be a note, phone call or just stopping by an office and telling someone they did a great job; that you enjoy working with them. This makes a huge difference in internal relationships. There are surveys upon surveys that show how much a genuine pat on the back of appreciation is thought of as a welcomed non-monetary reward.

Internal customer service is critically important to everyone – including your external customers. So many companies pay big time attention to customer service for their customers and yet, the internal folks get lost in the shuffle sometimes.

Stop today – NOW – and turn to someone in your office and tell them you enjoy working with them. It'll start the year right!

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