NAEO Newslinks-June08
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June 2008

 

 




John Ratliff

From the President
by John Ratliff

I am excited we are talking about customer service this month, as it is an area that is often misunderstood and misapplied. Think about the great businesses you know. Most of the time, their products are good but not exceptional or unique. What sets them apart is their level of service. It is sad but true that excellent customer service can be a competitive advantage, but it surely can.

Customers have come to want a tremendous amount of service but expect to be disappointed. This paradox is the key to untold success. Simply deliver beyond their expectations and you will win the lion’s share of new business. Fail to deliver and you can still compete, but it is much more costly and customer loyalty won't exist. What probably looks expensive on the surface, a high level of customer service, is actually perfectly justifiable when you dig deep into the results.

Best of luck and have a great month!

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Betty Bouchie

From the Editor:
Customer Service with an Attitude
by Betty Bouchie

I have had a very busy couple of weeks. I have interacted with just about every level within my working environment. Not all of the interactions have been pleasant. In the middle of a crisis, when I was seeking assistance from a customer service manager, I was informed that their department "would not do that, especially on a Friday at 4 p.m.” In actuality, it was Thursday, and I was able to prove their department had caused the issue. I did receive assistance and was able to get back on track. However, it made me really think about two things: customer service and bullying. How many times had I been greeted with the same attitude from a person in a customer service field? Or more importantly, how many times have I presented the same attitude to a customer? It really can be a form of subtle bullying.

The broadest sense of the word "customer,” can be anyone with whom another must come in contact with. In other words, everyone with whom you interact is your customer. We can all think of the correct way my call should have been handled. Are we sure that is the way we handle all of our interactions?

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Staff Announcement

Shannon Pfarr Thompson, NAEO Executive Director, and her family welcomed Benjamin Richard on March 23. He weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz and was 21 ¾ inches long. The whole family is doing great and enjoyed some time together during her maternity leave, which ended on June 1.

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Be Inspired

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
~ Albert Einstein, Philosopher & Scientist

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Something to Smile About...
Stress Relief

Just in case you’ve had a rough day, here’s a stress management technique recommended in all the latest psychological texts. The funny thing is that it really works.

  • Picture yourself near a stream.
  • Birds are softly chirping in the cool mountain air.
  • No one but you knows your secret place.
  • You are in total seclusion from the hectic place called "the world,”
  • The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air with a cascade of serenity.
  • The water is crystal clear.
  • You can easily make out the face of the person you’re holding underwater.
  • See, you’re smiling already!

From www.successfuloffice.com.

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IS Tip of the Month
Infinity Summary and the Client Web Page – Do it Once Using IS!
by Richard Spencer, information technology and systems manager, Telelink Call Center

Do you have clients requesting that you input data on their web form? Does this cause a problem when you want to save the tickets in your system? Using Intelligent Series, you can copy your data fields to your client's website, and save a ticket for your own records.

Start by creating your message ticket. This is a basic message ticket that captures date/time, the operator’s name and basic data from the caller.

The last input on the screen ("WebButton”) is a button element. To pop a webpage: in the pallet, under "Links,” drag "Web” under the click function of the button. Double click the "Web” element and configure it as below. In order to push the data to the web page, you need the field names of the webpage.

Put the URL in the "Web URL” field. This is the client’s web page where you will be pushing the data. The "Message Field” column should contain the message fields in your script that you want to push to the web. The "Web Field” column contains the names of the fields from the client’s website.

The final step is to create a message summary to store the data on your system. I chose to include all details; however, this can be customized to include whatever information you feel is important to record.

Now that the script is complete, let’s see it in action. Here, the operator takes all the information from the caller and proceeds to push the "Click Here to Submit Data to Web Form” button.

Once the operator presses this button, he or she will be presented with the client’s website with all the data contained in the appropriate web fields.

WebPage.jpg

The operator then confirms the data that is pushed, and presses the submit button to submit the data to the client. Once completed, click the close button to return to the system. From there, the agent would finish the script, generating an "Intelligent Series” message summary.

This process can be manipulated if you would like to customize it, but the process basically stays the same. The keys are to label your fields appropriately and get the field names from the web form. Create a button to launch the client’s website, and have the program fill in the blanks!

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Member Spotlight:
Vic Ratz, Alaska Synergist Group Companies

Q: Could you tell us how and when your business began?
A: In 2002, Arctic Voice Systems, now SwitchBoard Alaska, was born out of necessity. ABA, a long time local service, was sold to an out-of-state concern. The sale caused the bulk of the client base to seek an alternative. Arctic Voice Systems, later to be renamed SwitchBoard Alaska, was set up to answer that market need. My wife Petra and I purchased the company in 2005.

Q: What are your most common accounts?
A: Our client base is highly diversified. Medical accounts form about 30% of our client base; however, we answer for and dispatch for a very diverse group of industries from towing companies, courier companies (even our competitors!) to general business.

Q: When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?
A: AMTELCO was already a part of the business when we purchased the company. If I had to do it all over again and start from scratch I would have chosen AMTELCO over other systems mostly because the support is so incredible.

Q: When did you join NAEO and why?
A: The company was a member of NAEO when we bought the company. We stay members because we learn so darned much from the list serve. Raejean, the executive vice president of operations, found the conference to be enormously educational. She’ll be attending next year as well.

Q: When did you begin in the business?
A: We purchased Arctic Voice Systems in December 2005. AVS had operated for three years prior to that. Anchorage Messenger Service and Alaska Med Stat, our other companies, were in desperate need of after-hours dispatch services for our medical division and none of the services in the state offered the quality control we required, so we set out to either start our own or purchase one. It turned out the service was for sale and the rest is history. We bought it with about 100 clients and now have approximately 350.

Q: Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
A: We are outside people by nature. We never sit still! In winter, we’re working hard on growing our businesses and playing in the snow. In the summer, when the sun rarely sets, we’re traveling throughout our beautiful state with our kids.

Q: What is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?
A: Our employees make us special. Without great people that truly understand how important they are in the chain of client care, we would be nothing but a bunch of wires and promises.

We demand that all operators read two books: Ken Blanchard’s "Raving Fans” and Dale Carnegie’s "How to Win Friends and Influence People.” They are extraordinary tools to helping people understand how their interactions with others around them truly can affect how successful or unsuccessful your business can be. By applying simple principles, operators can truly understand how powerful they can be in the caller’s world.

Ken Blanchard lays out some very simple rules (in parable form, as usual) that help you understand how to create "Raving Fans” out of your customers. It really balances on three basic principles: To decide what you want; discover what your customer wants – and then deliver lots of it! We also use Bob Nichol’s "Remember the Ice” program to help operators remove negative speech patterns and words from their vocabulary. www.remembertheice.com is a very powerful program.

Operators can easily get stuck in a rut. The mechanics of the job take over, while forgetting their real duty to help every single person they talk within a courteous and compassionate manner. Nothing is worse than someone answering a phone who sounds bored, frustrated or indifferent. Only training can help operators control the urges and instincts in all of us as stressful times come upon us. A busy operator is either pleasant or unpleasant; there are rarely any in-betweens because there really is nothing positive south of a 100% pleasant, compassionate and caring attitude when answering phones on behalf of your clients. They turn to us because we are supposed to be the experts in communications and all things telephonic.

Ford has a program for its dealers called Blue Oval. A basic part of this program dictates the customer’s purchasing experience. The sales representative is trained to cover a multitude of aspects of the total sale, so by the time the customer leaves the dealership they are completely educated about the dealership’s options after the sale, the vehicle’s workings and so on. At some point in the next weeks, the customer receives a customer survey. If "Excellent” is not chosen on each point, the sales person fails the entire survey and is severely docked for it.

Consistent practice of the "customer comes first” attitude should be coupled with motivational programs for employees to adhere to these practices. This guarantees the customer always wins. As a result, the company wins every time as well.

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Just How Good Are You at Customer Service?
by Nancy Friedman, Telephone Doctor

Most of us think we’re pretty good at customer service. We get up in the morning; get ready for our jobs; drive to the office; get a parking space (sometimes close in, sometimes far out); walk into the office; grab a cup of coffee; sit down at our desk; and then: RING RING RING. Our phones start. It’s usually a customer. If you’re in the customer service business (and who isn’t these days?), whether it’s for external or internal customer service, your day is spent trying to please someone. Somehow, we’re all customers in one way or another. I’ve been training corporations on customer service for more than 20 years and during that time have found out what the customer likes best. Here are our Telephone Doctor’s Ten Best Customer Service Techniques. By using just one of them, you’re bound to see an increase in satisfied customers.

Ten Best Customer Service Techniques

  1. Be a Double Checker. Learn to use those words. Everyone loves it when you double check something for them. Even if you’re pretty sure the item is out of stock or the appointment is filled or there’s no room available, it sounds so good to hear, "Let me double check that for you.”

  2. Pretend it's You. If you’re working with a customer, either on the phone or in person, and they need something, pretend it’s you. What would you want to have happen? What would make you happy? What would make you satisfied? Here’s a great place to remember the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

  3. Get Involved. Let your customer know you’re on their team. If you’re ringing up a purchase for someone, mention how nice their choice is. If you’re helping someone with a trip of some sort, get excited with them. When customers feel as though you’re part of the package, they love it.

  4. Stay Focused. Eye contact is critical in delivering excellent customer service. Heads that turn on a spindle and look everywhere but at the customer get very few good marks in customer service. Eye contact shows you are listening. If you’re on the phone, eye contact is definitely difficult. We can, however, learn to stay focused on the phone. Don’t type unless it pertains to what you are doing. Don’t read something while you’re on the phone with a customer; stay focused on the caller. We need to stay focused without eye contact.

  5. Do Something Extra. There’s almost always "something" you can do for the customer that’s extra. In most of the cases it won’t even cost very much. Example: Keep a stock of penny lollipops for kids when they come into your store with the moms. Or a balloon. Or coloring books. Spend a few dollars if you have the budget for those "giveaways.” Nail clippers . . . key chains . . . customers love that something extra, oddly enough, even if they can’t use it. The thought of getting something free is very special to the customer.

  6. Show Your Teeth. (In Telephone Doctor language that means to smile.) There are many people who think they’re smiling, but aren’t. So Telephone Doctor’s motto is: show your teeth. Smiling is one of the best customer service techniques there is. It’s so frustrating to walk into a store, or call some place and not see or hear a smile. (And, yes, you can hear a smile!)

  7. Ask Questions. A super way to offer superior customer service is to ASK QUESTIONS. Build on what the customer is talking about. Listen for one or two words that you can ask something about. Even a simple, "Tell me more,” will work. Once the customer is talking, you will be able to help them much better.

  8. Use Complete Sentences. One word answers are semi-useless in customer service. And one word answers are definitely perceived as rude. "Yes,” "no,” and the like, tell the customer "I’m not really interested in you or what you need.”

  9. Care. Most people have what Telephone Doctor calls the care gene. Some of us use it more than others. We just forget we have it. Learn to care what your customer’s needs are. Care what they are referring to. Care about your customers and they will take care of you.

  10. Laughter. Laughter will lighten the load. Everyone likes to laugh. Some even in the darkest moments. Take the time to laugh and enjoy your customers.

Put any one of these Telephone Doctor customer service tips into action and watch what happens. They intertwine with each other and make customer service special. Use all ten and expect more business.

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NAEO Intelligent Series Workshop
by Mary Pat Soderberg, NAEO Communications Specialist

If you thought you were alone with the day-to-day challenges facing answering services and hospital facilities, you are not! The Intelligent Series Workshop is sure to entertain, inform, and enlighten any Amtelco Intelligent Series programmer by providing solutions to real life dilemmas in a high-energy environment.

Fundamental tips and tricks will be taught by experienced industry leaders Gerald R. Brosseau and Jake Phillips as well as the Amtelco training team: implementing IS Directories, Shared Fields, IS Dispatching and many more topics at basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

The day begins at 8:30 a.m. for breakfast and will break out into workshop groups, and will end at 4 p.m. with presentations and group discussions. The day is sure to please in its beautiful venue, the Hyatt Regency Union Station in St. Louis, Missouri. The IS Workshop takes place June 18. See the NAEO website for more information regarding registration, speaker biographies and workshop schedule at www.naeo.org.You can also download the registration form here.

After you complete your training, consider sticking around for the ATSI Annual Convention as well. Registration for the Convention is available at www.ATSI.org

StLouisTraining

June 18, 2008
St. Louis, MO

Register Now!

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Concentrator to Call Forwarding: Next Evolution in Receiving Client Calls
by Chuck Boyce, Brandywine Executive Center

Are you thinking about the next generation of receiving calls from your clients’ callers? As the businesses we serve begin to upgrade their own internal communications systems, I expect we will see more requests to receive calls directly from the client’s VoIP based phone system. Will you be ready to respond?

Some people think all of this VoIP stuff is too new, too cutting edge or too confusing to use in their business. Anyone who thinks that should speak with Joe Miller. Joe was truly at the leading edge of this technology when he demonstrated how he was using these gateways to tie together his offices in North Carolina and Pennsylvania at the NAEO conference in Carefree, Arizona. You don’t have to look it up, that meeting was more than five years ago.

The first step of VoIP enabling your system is to select what type of interface you will use to connect to the Gateway, which is a piece of hardware that converts the call between VoIP and the port on your system. You may choose between digital or analog.

A digital gateway will connect between your data network and a PRI port in your switch. This option allows for the most flexibility when routing calls in and out of the switch. In its most basic form it will work identically to other PRI span and the switch will react based upon the digits sent to it. Depending on the digits sent, you can provide any type of call behavior like an internal PBX, Conference Bridge, operator audio, greetings or present the call to an agent.

An analog connection connects to a loop or station port. Determine which port type you are going to use first and make sure that the analog gateway you select is the right type. The gateway will have FXS (station, provides battery) or FXO (office, expecting battery). In the most basic configuration, a FXO gateway port connects to a station or PBX port on the Infinity, and an FXS gateway port connects to a loop port.

In this scenario, use the port number as the source to indicate the Infinity behavior. This is limited to a single behavior for each port and has no flexibility. While being the least scalable method, it is a good way to start.

To route calls from your switch, establish a new route on your dial plan to direct the calls out of the ports connected to the VoIP gateway. This is done the same way you would configure routes for a new connection to the PSTN.

Once the gateway is installed and configured, you will need a soft switch to manage the traffic. In the case of a client sending calls to you, they can provide this functionality from their switch. Your gateway will become a user on their system. Most gateways can be a user on multiple switches. You will need to work with the client's PBX integrator to get the settings, addresses and credentials to register your gateway to their system.

Another option is to add your own soft switch using something like Asterisk or Trixbox. This server directs all of the traffic between all of the users (softphones, IP Phones, gateways, etc.) and provides features like call waiting, voicemail, call forwarding, etc. By having your own soft switch you can get the most value from your gateway. Some uses might be remote agents, internal PBX and off-premise PBX extensions. By using a soft phone, you can plug in your laptop and a USB headset and make calls while out of the office. Also, you could put an IP phone or analog telephone adapter in your house and provide your own dial tone to your residence from your switch. There are many possibilites.

If you are interested in how VoIP will transform your answering service, subscribe to my newsletter by sending an email to VoIP4TAS@aweber.com. Be sure to watch for the confirmation email, and click the link to confirm your subscription.

Chuck Boyce is the owner of the Brandywine Executive Center in Wilmington, DE. He uses an Infinity v5.4 with Quintum analog and digital gateways and a Trixbox CE server. He also provides consulting services to TAS businesses throughout North America as a principal with TAS Source.

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Benchmarks in a Healthcare Call Center
by John Piper, Riverside Health System Newport News

Riverside Health Systems call center is focused on making the caller experience "World Class,” from that first phone call until their service is complete. We want our customers to say great things about us to family, friends and co-workers. Clearly, we hope to improve our market share by increasing our patient base through quality care. Our CFO has challenged us to provide a "Five-star hotel experience” to each caller and give them a better experience than that of our competitors. We have established key customer-centered benchmarks and quality goals to accomplish this:

  • Our goal for caller abandonment rate is 3% or less.
  • Our caller experience is measured through service level thresholds; These levels vary depending on the account or group. Generally, we want to answer 85% of incoming calls within 25 seconds or less.
  • Our agents and supervisors attend customer service training specifically designed for call center agents.
  • Our agents are given feedback and coaching by the use of quality audits designed specifically for the type of accounts or groups they are assigned.

Our journey took a big step with a major move one year ago. We consolidated many of our disparate call type functions under one roof; leveraging economies of scale, shared expertise and training. These groups include the hospital operators, nurse triage and transfer center, central scheduling, insurance verification, patient billing help and several other groups.

At this same time, everyone in the call center started using Amtelco 1Call products to include: Infinity, Just Say It and Voicelogger. Web On Call will be added this year. The hospital operators were already using Infinity because of its paging and messaging capabilities. The rest of our call groups were previously using a Nortel PBX product and were accustomed to its reporting package. Infinity had reports; however, we missed our valued service level and abandonment rate reports as well as the live display that updated these benchmarks throughout the day.

Out of necessity, it was decided to enhance or extend the Infinity reporting package by building our own application, Infinity Reports Xtender. Microsoft Access was used to create the application and it links to the MDR as the data source. This tool somewhat mimics the reporting we liked in the Nortel system; at the same time, we were able to create simulated real-time data displays divided by each account or group. This display updates every 30 seconds, showing all calls since midnight and various other tallies included in our prized benchmarks. It also enables us to see the "Average Wait Time” or "Average Time to Answer” (ATTA) for each group instead of an average for the entire call center.

Similarly, we can produce historical reports with the same measures for any previous date or date range. Other reports include agent centric reports showing the most recent call for an agent, a daily chronology of an agent’s inbound and outbound calls with total calls and average call length and a login/logout report with reasons for logout.

Most recently, we have purchased three large 32-inch LCD monitors. We use these to visually engage the staff by pushing up-to-the-minute call data to the entire call center. This helps them see the business from a new perspective and, we hope, motivate them to stay in their seats to help attain our benchmarks!

Georgia Todd, the Director of Nurse Triage and Transfer Center says, "Our Infinity Reports Xtender provides a user friendly tool that our staff can view in real time to help keep their focus on serving our customers. As well, we can pull individual agent statistics for performance appraisals.”

Karen Guida, director of central scheduling, insurance verification and patient billing says, "The real time Infinity Reports help the management team to keep a finger on the pulse of what is going on in the call center. At a glance we can see how we are doing at meeting the desired service levels which is one of our main key performance indicators. The tool also provides immediate information to guide the operations in the call center and to easily see who may need some extra help.”

World class service is attainable; doing it better than the others is just fun.

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Managing Remote Staff
by Karl D. Schott, Operations Supervisor, Dexcomm

The challenges of finding and managing remote staff are no different than the ones we face with the customer service representatives we supervise who are sitting on the operations floor in direct view of our desks. We still have to motivate, monitor, and mentor them just like every other staff person; however, distance magnifies these challenges, and they require the innovative solutions that will come with practice, patience, and shared knowledge across our industry.

Anyone we hire to work in our offices should be trusted enough to work from their residence. If you can’t trust someone to work alone, how could you ever trust them to take credit card information, handle sensitive patient information, or treat your customers with the respect and professionalism they’re paying for? Obviously, some special attributes make someone particularly suited to work out of their home, but the basics are no different from the people we dream of hiring for all our customer service positions: they should be courteous, professional, honest, and hard-working. Above that, we look for highly self-motivated individuals who have strong critical-thinking skills since they will likely have to make decisions without the immediate aid of a supervisor. Better-than-average computer skills are also a plus. Your remote agents will frequently need to trouble-shoot their own computer issues, and you don’t want them to be a strain on your IT department.

Have clear policies in place on system requirements and performance expectations and communicate these to each staff member transitioning into a remote capacity. These expectations will vary according to the needs of each call center, but firm and fair enforcement of these policies is critical to the success of your business and to the customer service rep operating out of their home office. They should sign confidentiality statements and agreements that their Infinity Screen will never be in view of anyone but themselves. If you don’t have a television in your operations room, your representative at home shouldn’t have one in theirs. Have your QA department take special care to listen for outside noises when they are scoring calls taken or placed by these agents.

In general, policies concerning remote staff should at least mirror if not surpass those concerning your in-house staff. Consider that the National Department of Transportation estimated the average yearly cost of owning and operating a car in 2006 to be $7,823 (before the sharp spike we’ve all felt recently in gas prices). Cutting down even a quarter of that cost by allowing an agent to work from home is more than enough of a reward than also allowing them "more freedom” to be lax in their work duties, perform poorly, or get away with the types of behavior that would never occur in your office. Be clear about your policies and enforce them vigilantly. We learned by some rather difficult trial and error that continuously allowing certain employees to cast aside our policy manual by giving them "one more chance” usually resulted in half-a-dozen more chances before finally having to terminate their employment. Nip these problems in the bud quickly. Either bring them back in to the office immediately, or if that’s impossible, be done with them.

Communicating with brand new remote staff can be a shock to your system. Suddenly your shift leaders are being bombarded by op chats about whether or not you’ve received a fax from Dr. Smith’s office with their on call. Or perhaps Joe Smith, your busy plumber, checked in irate about a message that held overnight. He has reached a remote agent who chats everyone, "Joe with account 1000 is FURIOUS, he needs to talk to someone in management RIGHT NOW!! Sharon isn’t logged in to take the call!” 14 working agents see this chat and automatically assume that someone is handling this request. Then the operator chats again, "PLEASE EVERYONE, HELP ME, HE IS VERY UPSET.” Now you have a frustrated operator who feels that the in-house staff is ignoring their requests and a customer twice-frustrated because he can’t get someone to address his concern.

Make your lines of communication from remote agent to in-house supervisor or shift leader clear and defined. Give them phone numbers to dial in the event that they need immediate attention for a customer or because they are having technical difficulties. Op chat is an imperfect and incredibly inefficient way to maintain real-time contact with our staff. Don’t rely on it as the only way to manage communication with these agents. Be available to their requests, but wean them off op chat for critical or time-sensitive requests. This will save your staff on both sides of the switch from headaches and will help you maintain the sense of seamless communication we all promise to our customers. You might also consider assigning remote staff a "buddy” who works in the office each day to be in charge of assisting them with the simple requests, questions about accounts, and other basic parts of the job that come about every day. In-house staff can sometimes forget how frequently they simply need to turn their head and ask a neighbor for help.

The most daunting task of remote management is real-time monitoring. One-call environment call centers have addressed this with automation. Voice logger and Infinity work together to force agents to drop their disconnected calls and connect to the next one in line. Of course that doesn’t make up for the strong supervisor who might hear an agent across the room edging towards frustration on a call. They can take steps to calm an agent or assist them with a troublesome account, and the caller may never be the wiser. With remote agents we often don’t know about a problem until the customer complains. We must take steps to monitor these agents in real time. I’m unfamiliar with other connections, but Terminal Server allows you to shadow users on the terminal. Combine this with the op audit feature in Infinity and you can actually hear and view your agents in real time. A well placed op chat or parked message can do a lot to prevent a customer service issue or help a troubled representative. Since op audit plugs in to the operator audio, you’re not limited to voice logger recordings of what is happening in your remote’s workspace. You can hear what they’re up to when they’re not "on the call”, just like you can the operators in your office.

In our call center we still have a lot to learn about managing remote staff, but with more than a quarter of our full-time staff operating from remote environments, we sure know about what doesn’t work and what’s difficult. The advantages of having these staff are enormous and worth the effort. There is a vast pool of labor beyond the 30-mile radii of our offices. A conference phone, terminal server, a good web conferencing application, and an engaged NAEO membership can go a long way to helping our call centers tap into that pool and still feel confident that we can provide excellent service to our customers.

Source: http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_03_14.html

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Physician Appointment Scheduling with eCreator
by Michael Yaitanes, Senior Manager, Access Center, Loma Linda University Health Care

Loma Linda University Health Care’s Access Center has a 14 member Patient Services team who are responsible for scheduling physician office visits. The main scheduling platform is GE’s AdvanceWeb IDX, which is used in collaboration with eCreator scripts to serve callers. All of our groups are specialty practices with some containing multiple subspecialties and differing physician needs. Criteria for scheduling these specialty appointments can vary in complexity from relatively simple to very complicated.

Skills-based call routing triggers the appropriate screen "pop,” serving the agent with the start screen for the associated clinic.

The agent is then guided through the call based on the choices made in eCreator as well as prompting them to enter the IDX scheduling module when appropriate.

eCreator allows us to build customized call flows for each clinic, creating individual pages for each physician and diagnosis.


These script pages are developed and continually refined in conjunction with the delegating clinic.

Using eCreator in this fashion has allowed us to greatly reduce our error rates, currently averaging 1% on all appointment related calls. Call time has also reduced, as the agent is able to readily access the necessary information to serve the caller.


We are currently working with Amtelco on integrating information from IDX into eCreator using their Real Time Interface module. This will enable greater patient tracking and reporting to our clinical partners by importing full demographics and appointment specific information into eCreator.

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Sending CSV Files to Customer
by Mike Burkinshaw, Comm-Link

In Infinity

  1. Set up the message ticket in Infinity and ensure the fields are in the order required in the output file. Note that some fields in the ticket may not be required in the output file.
  2. For each field required in the output file, put a square bracket symbol at the beginning and end of the field. For example, for a 'Name' field, the Infinity ticket would look like this: NAME:[ ]. The operator will use the space between brackets to enter the name.
  3. Set delivery of the account as required. Name the service list item as 'Write to File'.
  4. Note that CSV accounts are sent periodically and not immediately.

In Ultracomm (Create Output File)

  1. Set up the client name and billing number as normal.
  2. Set up a new client folder for this client in the CSVFiles folder. Ensure the folder name is less than 8 characters long.
  3. Under Delivery Method, tick Write to File.
  4. Under Path Location enter C:\CSVFiles\newclientfoldername. This is the folder where Ultracomm will create the CSV file.
  5. Check that no other Delivery Method options are ticked.
  6. Under Modify Message, uncheck all Message History options.
  7. Check the Delimit Data box (lower left) and select the opening square bracket [symbol for Starting Character and the closing square bracket symbol]for ending character. This tells Ultracomm where the data it needs for the file is contained.
  8. Select a comma for the delimiting character.
  9. To test the set up, create a single message in Infinity and manually send this to Ultracomm using the 'Write to File' option on the service list.
  10. Open C:\CSVFiles\newclientfoldername and look for a text file. The name will be something like AccountNumber_DayTime_sequence.txt which is Ultracomm's default format.
  11. Open the text file. Your test message should be inside the file in a single line. Each field should be separated by a comma.
  12. If the data is displayed correctly, we have completed the first stage which is the creation of the data file.

In Ultracomm (Rename & Move File)

  1. Open C:\CSVFiles\BatchFiles and copy Batch1.bat and Batch2.bat to C:\CSVFiles\newclientfoldername.
  2. Rename Batch1.bat and Batch2.bat to ClientName1.bat and ClientName2.bat respectively.
  3. Select ClientName1.bat, right click and edit. It contains a single command: REN AccountNo*.* ClientName.csv. This command simply renames the output file to a user-friendly name. Change AccountNo*.* to the Ultracomm client account number. Ensure that the *.* remains.
  4. Change the 'ClientName' part of ClientName.csv to the client's name.
  5. The final statement should look like this example: REN 6049*.* MIKEB.CSV
  6. Save and close the batch file.
  7. Double click the batch file to run it. The Ultracomm output file's name should change to ClientName.csv. In the example in (5), the file would now be called MIKEB.CSV.
  8. Select ClientName2.bat, right click and edit. It contains two commands, one on each line. The first renames the file with a date/time group and leaves it as a .csv file (NOW REN CLIENTNAME.CSV [mon][yr].csv) and the second line moves the file to the main network client folder (MOVE *.CSV Z:\CLIENTNAME). Note that drive Z is mapped to the Clients folder on the main network server.
  9. Change the 'ClientName' part of ClientName.csv to the client's name.
  10. Change the [mon] or [yr] elements to the required settings depending on the frequency of sending. If it's hourly, use the hour setting, daily use the day setting, or weekly use the week setting.
  11. To check the formats, use Start, Run, and type cmd. At the prompt, type NOW /? which will list the formats.
  12. Change the 'ClientName' part of z:\ClientName to the name of the client folder on the main network server.
  13. Save and close the batch file.
  14. Double click the batch file to run it. The file clientname.csv should disappear.
  15. Open the client folder on the main network drive. Look for a file called MAY08.CSV
  16. If it's there, the file move element has worked. We now need to set up the schedules to send the files to the client.

In Infinity (Scheduling)

  1. For the main client account, set up a standard scheduled action to Write to File at the required time. This sends the data to Ultracomm.
  2. Create a new sub-account for the client. Set up a Service List item to 'Email' using 84S as the code.
  3. For the new sub-account, set up a standard scheduled action to Email. Ensure that this time is 2 mins after the time set in Step 1 of this section.
  4. Repeat steps 1 and 3 as required for timings on sending the files to the client.

In Ultracomm (Scheduling)

  1. Open Task Scheduler in Windows.
  2. Set ClientName1.bat to run 1 min after each scheduled time in Step 1 of Infinity (Scheduling) above.
  3. Set ClientName2.bat to run 5 mins after each scheduled time in Step 3 of Infinity (Scheduling) above.
  4. Note that all the computers and Infinity are synchronised exactly on times on our network. If yours are not, you may need to allow an additional time gap.

In Ultracomm (Delivery)

  1. Set up a new client in Ultracomm using the account number created in Step 2 of Infinity (Scheduling) above.
  2. Set up the client name and billing number as normal.
  3. Under Delivery Method, tick Email.
  4. Enter the client email addresses where the file should be sent.
  5. Under External File enter C:\CSVFiles\newclientfoldername\clientname.csv. The 'clientname.csv' part of this should match exactly to the name entered in Step 4 of In Ultracomm (Rename and Move File) above.
  6. Select Modify Message and ensure that Do Not Send 'No Message' message is unchecked.

NOW.EXE is on the NAEO Website.

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