Newslinks June 2013

July 2013

Regular Columns

From the Editor
by Betty Bouchie

Be Inspired
by Gary Blair

Something to Smile About...

IS Tip
by Kevin Procter

Widgets
by Michael Goumas

Are Negotiation Skills a Lost Art?
by Nancy Friedman

Featured Articles

When to Work
by Deborah Wohlt

Upcoming Webinars

 

Amtelco Annex

Amtelco Spotlight: Andy Bingham

Dashboard Sound Setting
by David Drenk

Option to Flash the IS Messenger Tab when a New Chat Arrives
by David Drenk

From the Editor

by Betty Bouchie

Creativity – mind or muse?

I have been trying to find a way to do something differently. It is not a big thing, just something simple, that needs to be done a different way. I have puzzled and stewed and pondered and mulled. I just could not think of a solution, so I forgot about it and worked on something else. Then BAM, the solution, popped into my head, and it was so easy, I just could not understand how I could have missed it all this time! Was I touched by the creativity muse, or just had enough time to gather all the information and logically format a solution? Who knows for certain? Maybe we need some logic and some pixie dust to be creative.

The article below is fairly lengthy, but if you have the time, there are some interesting ideas.

www.psychologytoday.com/articles/199203/the-art-creativity

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Be Inspired

Submitted by Gary Blair

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.
~ Charles Mingus

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Something to Smile About...

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IS Tip

Boot Camp Anyone?

by Kevin Procter, Extend Communications Inc.

Recently, this programmer was invited to a boot-camp, which was then described with punishing detail. I asked those inviting me why I would want to crawl through mud with electrified wires grazing my posterior. Their response was "You get a rush!” I replied, "I get a rush when I write very cool code.”

Programming can result in a thrill when you do something new; or you solve a problem in a way that others – or just you – haven't thought of before.

Like anything, however, there is always the possibility of finding yourself in a rut: doing the same thing over and over again, and risking the mental equivalent of carpal-tunnel syndrome. Though some people love repetitive work – and make very good money at it – yours truly couldn't do a repetitive job and keep insanity at bay. I need a constant flow of new challenges, new successes, and new learning opportunities. I would venture to say this goes for all programmers.

How does one keep out of the proverbial rut? Take time to be creative. Take time to play.

It is said that a well-educated child will read a book; a child who has been allowed time to play and use his imagination might write a book, or paint beautiful paintings, or even make breakthroughs in technology or medicine that haven’t been thought of yet. Play is very important for children – it stimulates creativity and growth. Adults also need time to play, though we call it "research and development”.

Programmers often keep algorithms in mind, and process data in those algorithms repeatedly. Sometimes that code never sees the light of day because the programmer is never given a chance to play. Other times, after having the chance to experiment with his or her ideas, a programmer may take the results of their "play” and solve a major problem. The results of time to play can be a major boon for the company – and for the programmer: a major rush! Who needs boot-camp?

Taking time to play and be creative is essential. Just as children benefit from play, so adults benefit when we take a little time to allow our brains a chance to play outside of any rut into which our lives may be wandering. If you don't have time for creativity, I strongly suggest you make that time. Lest you find yourself in mud, with 1,200 volts of electrified wire stinging your back side.

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Widgets

What would be an easy way to accomplish a rotating On-call list?

by Michael Goumas, ProComm

If you are using IS On-call, you could have a rotating on-call or you can have roles 1-5 (On-call 1, On-call 2 … On-call 5). I prefer the roles 1-5, as I have more control of it. I would then have a shared field that has the value 1 through 5 in it. When you contact someone, increment the counter by 1 and save it back to the client shared field. If pulling by the role, just select by [On-call ]Script.ClientField.

If, however, you don’t have IS On-call and you still want to do something like this, I could suggest a shared field that is holding the 5 names as a known quantity. It would look something like this:
1:Michael Goumas.2:George Chandler.3:Michael G1.4:Michael G2.5:Michael G3.
Then you can parse out the field into the 5 individual components.
Contact1=Michael Goumas
Contact2=George Chandler
Contact3=Michael G1
Contact4=Michael G2
Contact5=Michael G3

Two calls come in together:
First call looks at Script.ClientField and it is 1 (figures out position 1 from the table above) and it increments it for the next script run.
Second call looks at the field and sees it is 2 (figures out position 2 from the table above) and increments for the next contact.
First call gets to dispatch. You try to contact that person and your instructions are to go to the next person in line. It sees 3 (figures out position 3 from the table above) in the client field and increments it.

Here is the code typed out:
Action Group: GetSpot
Actions
StartingPosition = InStr(1,Script.ClientField,Parameter + Len(Parameter))
CopyPosition = InStr(StartingPosition, Script.ClientField, . )
OncallName = Mid(Script.ClientField, StartingPosition, CopyPosition-StartingPosition)

Then in your script you would do:

Do Actions(Script.GetSpot)

If I sent Parameter = 1 OncallName would return Michael Goumas

In your Do Actions command in Properties you would set Paramater = 1 or Parameter = 2 and so forth

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Are Negotiation Skills a Lost Art?

9 Effective Negotiating Skills that Are Still Around

by Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

If you ever trained a puppy, you learned how to negotiate. "SIT!" "Good boy." "Here's a treat." That's negotiation.

We negotiate with our kids every day. "If /when you finish your veggies, you can have the ice cream." That's negotiation.

And what about our spouses? "Honey, if I go out to the paint store and pick up the paint, will you paint the kitchen?" That's negotiation.

Point being: while negotiation is thought of as a sales skill, it really is an everyday life skill we use a lot more than we realize.

Some areas are non-negotiable. For example, try getting a discount at a department store. Unless it's on sale, the price is the price. In some industries, negotiation is the norm – real estate for example.

What about a car? It's a known fact that there's a window sticker price and the price that you pay; a negotiated price. That's an "up front" negotiation. It's expected. And sometimes it doesn't go well. One side won't budge or won't negotiate to your satisfaction, so someone loses. Usually both parties.

For negotiation to be successful, both parties need to feel good at the conclusion. But if you're in sales, price cutting is normally a daily negotiation.

Tips to make you better at negotiating:

  1. Never, ever discount the price right off the bat. Often a price cut will get the salesperson more excited than the prospect. You may think going in with a lower price will make the prospect grateful and give you an easy "go" right away. It usually won't. If they take your offer of the lower price, that indicates they might have taken it at the rate card price which is where you should be quoting from to start with.
  2. When you talk price, be strong and confident. A weak or hesitant delivery makes the salesperson sound soft. Then the price sounds soft and thereby invites a lower offer.
  3. Delay giving concessions until the end of the conversation. A concession given too early is just a "giveaway." Save it for closing the sale by saying, "That's an interesting idea. Let's come back to that a bit later."
  4. When there is a request for a price concession, find a nice way to reject it. Just because they have dealt with other weak salespeople doesn't mean you need to be that way. We can use a very effective, "I wish we could; however, that's not an option we have" technique. Or you can say, "Since you only have $4,000 and the project is $5,500, we can work to remove a few parts of the package."
  5. Never underestimate your strength in a negotiating situation. Some prospects assume a salesperson is in the position of weakness. If you fall for that, it will weaken your resolve and soften your backbone. Understand this: If the prospect is bargaining with you or even discussing the proposal with you, that's an indicator of interest – a buying sign. Their actions are telling you without saying it outright you have something they need or want.
  6. When do negotiations begin? When you say hello. Negotiations, in general, are ongoing all day long at work and at home. And it's often a subtle thing. Recognizing you're constantly involved in negotiation gives you an advantage. Be aware that life itself is a series of negotiating situations. You often are negotiating without realizing it.
  7. Avoid goodwill conceding. (Thanks to Gavin Kennedy, author of Everything is Negotiable, for this concept.) The principle of "goodwill conceding" is this: The salesperson thinks that if they are nice and give a price concession to the other side, the other side will reciprocate with a concession back. In other words, they'll buy. Nice idea. Only it backfires with a professional buyer. What they do is take what you offer and try to get more. (After all, you're giving things away.)
  8. When you give, get. When you do give a price concession, use the "if/then" technique so that you get something in return. "Mr. Jones, if I can get you the widgets at that price, are you able to give me the go-ahead today (or can we do business today)?" or "Mr. Jones, if I can give you that price, can I get a referral from you?"
    There are dozens of other "gets" when you give. Salespeople don't mind giving when they are getting something in return. But perhaps the most important reason to take something back when you give a concession is this: It puts a price on your concession. No longer are concession requests free. By asking for something in return, you avoid getting additional requests for concessions.
  9. Why is it important to be a good negotiator? Because a bad negotiator leaks dollars and reduces the all-important profit to the company. Profit is needed to run a company. No profit, no company.

Now, one closing suggestion: Whenever you can, substitute the word "investment" for the word price. In most cases, the prospect is making an investment, and a good one at that.

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When to Work

By Deborah Wohlt, Monroe Telephone Answering Service, Inc.

WhenToWork.com has a great employee scheduling program that is both economical and easy to use. If you are looking for a program that will allow you to easy create schedules, keep your staff updated on changes, allow staff to make requests and see already approved upcoming requests to avoid conflicts, then I highly recommend taking advantage of the free trial.

It is very easy to create your account, enter your employees, and begin creating a schedule.

From the Home page, select "Employees” from either the top menu bar or the menu in the middle of the screen.

Select "Add New Employee” to enter just a name to get started quickly, or take the time to indicate the positions they can work, and the maximum number of: 1) hours they can work per week; 2) days per week; 3) hours per day; and, 4) shifts per day. Doing so now will prevent you from scheduling that employee more than they desire. If you want to track seniority, add hire dates. You can even schedule by group and control which group they are in here.

If you enter employee email address, all published schedules, changes and any messages will be sent to them automatically. When you set them up, sign-in instructions can be sent from the "View Employee” page. The employee can enter more than one email address, add text message addresses, and choose what and when they receive notifications.

Enter their pay rate if you want to display it and/or use it to determine approximate payroll costs. There is a place for a phone number, alternate phone number and a cell phone number. Add an employee number if you wish; you can use this for their social security number. And of course you can include their address and any comments you wish.

Another feature is the ability for the employee to schedule their work time preferences by day of the week or a specific date. They may indicate one of three options in addition to the default of available: prefers, dislikes, and cannot work. These may be repeated weekly. This is separate from Time Off requests.

Whether you have an employee entered or not, you can set up a schedule template by creating shifts. Choose a name for your position, give it a starting and end time, and choose the days for that shift. You can assign categories and choose from 17 colors to distinguish the shifts. There are options for noting how many workers are needed for that shift, whether it repeats for a set number of weeks, add a description and assign employees to the shift.

If you have set shifts that you wish to create into a template to reuse, set up those shifts and create a template. I have seasonal and holiday shifts that I import based on need. Once you import the template, you can drag and drop to the appropriate employee.

 

Time-Off requests are an important and popular feature in our office. The request can be for a full or partial day off, or even a range of days. Once the employee makes a request, management can easily approve or deny the request; later, the request can be edited if need be.

Once you approve the request, it appears on the schedule so that others can see what’s already been asked for, reducing conflicts. All requests an employee has made, even expired requests, will show up in a log for your review if you need to track how many requests have been made, or other patterns.

WhenToWork also comes with a variety of reports that can be printed or exported, including exports to various Time Clock Solutions such as Quickbooks, PayChex, and ADP; you can even export to Google Calendar.

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Upcoming Webinars

MiSecure
July 24, 2013 | 2:00 pm ET

Presenters: Jason Miller and Collen Curtin
Host: Evelyn Portinari


Best Idea Session - IS Training Series
August 21, 2013 | 2:00 pm ET

Presenter: Theran Mossholder
Host: Evelyn Portinari

Please join us for a time to discuss the Best Idea you learned from the IS Training in Atlanta. This will also be a time where you can ask questions to clarify the new skills you have obtained from the workshop.

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Amtelco Spotlight

Andy Bingham, Amtelco

1. Could you tell us how and when you started working with Amtelco?
I started with Amtelco in 1989. I worked briefly in production before moving over to service as an installer. I travelled for about a year and a half and then started working in-house in customer support. I was a project manager for a while (then known as CEs or customer engineers) but have since returned to being a team leader and working in customer support.

2. What does your job entail?
My primary responsibilities are to provide customer support to Amtelco customers and support my team members and Amtelco installers by making sure they have the resources they need to perform their job. I also help maintain Amtelco’s network and telephony infrastructure.

3. What is your most favorite thing about your job?
Working for a great family-owned organization like Amtelco and helping Amtelco customers resolve their technical issues is very rewarding.

4. When did you become involved with NAEO and why?
My first direct contact with NAEO was as a service representative for a customer focus group at the annual NAEO conference in Florida (I think it was in 2001?). Participating in various discussions was a great opportunity that allowed me to better understand the needs of Amtelco’s customers.

5. When did you start in the telephony industry and what did you do before?
I started in this industry after beginning to work at Amtelco in 1989. Before working at Amtelco I was a student.

6. What is one thing about you or your work that is different or unique?
I am unique, just like everyone else.

7. Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
My wonderful wife Heidi and I have been married for almost 25 years. I have two daughters. One is a freshman in college and one is a sophomore in high school (and learning to drive!). We will soon have a son, as we are in the process of adopting a two-and-a-half-year-old. I enjoy being outdoors about 8 months of the year (the rest of the time not so much…I live in Wisconsin!).

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david drenk

Add Programming Comments to IS Message Scripts with the Comment Response Element

by David Drenk

The Comment response element enables script writers to add programming comments to a message script. The comments are displayed in the Easy Script Editor but not in the live script. The Comment response element can be used to document information about how a script works, or why it is designed in a particular way, to guide the writer the next time the script needs to be updated or changed.

 

General Properties

The property for this element is a text field that can be used to make programming notes.

The first line of text entered into the field is displayed in the Tree View. If the Comment is located in the script actions or the screen actions, the first line of text also is displayed in the Script Actions pane or the Screen Actions pane.

To display any additional lines of text, point to the comment in Tree View. The full Comment text is displayed in a tooltip box.

None of the Comment text is displayed when the script is run.

Requirements:

  • IS Supervisor 5.60.3748.9 or later
  • IS Messaging
  • SQL Server 2000 or later

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Kelli Harrigan

 

Infinity Supports Multiple VoIP Boards

by David Drenk

Infinity version 5.60 supports multiple Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) boards. The configuration settings for VoIP boards are located in the Infinity Supervisor application in the Boards and Ports setup pages.

Multiple VoIP boards provide more ports for calls and provide redundancy in case one of the boards ceases to function.

Requirements:

  • Infinity Supervisor 5.60.02 or later
  • XDS VoIP boards

Amtelco Part Numbers: 232A473, 232A474, or 232A487

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© 2013 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
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