March 2011

Regular Columns

From the Editor
by Betty Bouchie

Be Inspired
by Gary Blair

Something to Smile About...

The Telephone Doctor
by Nancy Friedman

Featured Articles

Final Conference Reminders

Board of Directors Election Ballot Profiles

Two and Half Men...(or Women)
by Mike Burkinshaw


We regret the misspelling of Kevin Procter, author of SMS Text with E-Confirm Conundrum, in the February issue of Newslinks.


From the Editor

by Betty Bouchie

The art of making friends

Are you headed to New Orleans? Even if you are not, sometimes it is a struggle to be in a situation with new people. Who should I talk to? How should I dress? Who will I sit with at dinner? Sometimes it is just a matter of stepping forward and opening your mouth and someone will take it from there. Sometimes, it requires a bit more effort on your part. The first thing to remember is, it’s not all about you (although sharing parts of yourself can be a good thing). Making friends and having meaningful conversations is about taking the time to exchange thoughts and ideas. More often than not, we find that we have many things in common with everyone we meet. If you are in the same place at the same time, then you already have something in common.

"You can make more friends in two minutes by being interested in them than you can in two weeks by trying to get them interested in you.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Below is a link to an article on making conversation, Enjoy!

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Be Inspired

Submitted by Gary Blair

"Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God's greatest gifts. It involves many things, but above all the power of going out of one's self and appreciating what is noble and loving in another."
~ Thomas Hughes

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Something to Smile About...

Sweet Inspirations:

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Final Conference Reminders

Getting here…

  • Fly into Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY).
  • The Roosevelt New Orleans is a short 20 minute drive from the airport with cab, car, and shuttle service readily available.
  • You can also let the concierge know when you are arriving and the hotel will arrange transportation.

What to pack…

  • Casual business attire is appropriate for all sessions and lunches.
  • Typical March weather brings highs in the 60s and 70s with temperatures cooling off at night.
  • Pack a bathing suit to enjoy the rooftop pool!
  • Wireless internet is available if you wish to bring your laptop.
  • Make sure to bring plenty of business cards to share!

What’s on the Menu?

  • Pre-Conference Workshops
    Intelligent Series, Supervisor, 1Call
  • Keynote Speaker
    "The Telephone Doctor”
  • Conference Tracks
    Operations, Technical, Marketing & Management
  • Amtelco University
  • NAEO Business Meeting
  • Social Events


  1. Intelligent Series Workshop
    By member request, the pre-conference IS Workshop at the 2011 Annual Conference will feature some of NAEO’s most knowledgeable programmers with 100% Intermediate and Advanced programming, including a session on Amtelco’s Contact Based Architecture. Bring your questions and your laptops!

  2. Supervisor Workshop
    By popular demand, supervisors can register for the pre-conference workshop on "Using Infinity to Manage Your Staff” where they’ll learn about maximizing efficiency and improving customer service within your call center. In addition to learning about Amtelco software, attendees can expect an open forum to ask questions on how to best handle employee and client tribulations.

  3. 1Call Workshop
    Don’t miss this exciting agenda with topics such as "What’s New with Infinity in Healthcare?” and "Expanding Infinity’s Capabilities throughout Your Healthcare Organization.”

Main Course

Nancy Friedman, President of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, will present "Your One Bowl Recipe for Success."

"Set aside and cool may work with your cake, but it doesn’t work with customers. They need quick action," says Nancy Friedm

There is a mass of grey average out there. You know it and we know it. You can remain in that mass of grey average and be like all the others or come along with the Telephone Doctor and raise the bar.

A La Carte

The NAEO Education Committee has developed a program for every employee in your organization!

  • Operations Track with sessions on Managing Employee Development, Employee Accountability & Documentation, Creative Scheduling Options and more!

  • Technical Track with popular sessions such as Infinity Best Practices and new sessions such as Server Virtualization, Best Practices on SQL Server and IS Backup, Web Portal and more!

  • Marketing & Management Track includes sessions on Financial Analysis, Creative Marketing Strategies, and "If You Want to Grow, You Have to Let it Go!”

Amtelco University
Spice up your business! Learn innovative techniques to control, organize and manage your daily activities while you upgrade your service offerings, enhance your quality reputation and add revenue to your bottom line.

  • Web Scripting
  • Secure Messaging and Paging
  • On-Call and Appointment Reminder
  • And more!

NAEO Business Meeting

  • Open to ALL NAEO Members, including employees and owners.
  • Meet and vote for Board of Director Candidates
  • Get Election Results

Social Events
If you have never attended an NAEO Conference, know that you are encouraged to attend the "First Timers” reception at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening in the world-famous Blue Room, and there you will be welcomed and befriended by our Board members and others — so don’t let shyness get in the way.

Immediately following the "First Timers” reception, join us for the opening reception poolside on the rooftop!


Wednesday Wrap Up

  • Amtelco Presentation
  • Round Tables with topics including:
    • Building Lasting Relationships with Customers
    • Ways to Attract New Employees
    • Business Continuity Plannin
    • Social Marketing
    • CRM Solutions
  • Lunch with the Presidents of ATSI and CAM-X
  • Best Idea Session
  • Unveiling of the 2012 Conference Location
  • And more!

See you in New Orleans!

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Board of Directors Election Ballot Profiles

Online ballots have been distributed to all organizations' voting members. On-site voting will also be available at the conference in New Orleans for the voting member of each company. Below are the candidate profiles for this year's election:

Mike Burkinshaw, Comm-Link

Why are you interested in serving on the NAEO Board?
I have been a member of NAEO for 13 years since we started trading. We have nothing like NAEO in the UK and I am sure that, without its support, we would not have made it this far. The level of support and assistance that is available through the listserv and also directly from members has been nothing short of outstanding. I am proud to be a member and to help other members in the same way that I have been assisted.

I do not feel that I have given back anything like the amount that I have received. Despite serving on the board from 2007-2010, I still believe that there is more that I can do to give and offer to the organization in return for the assistance and support it has given me.

Please list any specific qualifications, experience, or education that would relate directly to your participation on the NAEO Board.
I have already served on the Board from 2007-2010 with responsibility for TechHelper. I understand the commitment in terms of time as well as the need to travel to the US for board meetings. Due to the time differences, a large amount of time was given over in evenings for conference calls and meetings with Amtelco.

I’ve been in business for 13 years at Comm-Link. It’s been horrendous, scary, downright disastrous, and also lot of fun. Life experiences can be useful and I have learned a huge amount from you, my colleagues and friends within NAEO.

I have a good level of technical knowledge on Infinity and the ancillary systems I have become something of an expert on Billing Link 4 having been involved in beta-testing. We are developing a CRM with links into Infinity and other Amtelco systems, and I am trying to set up failover systems for IS and other key items of equipment.

My cultural heritage (hey, I’m British remember?) allows me to offer an unique perspective to discussions. The simple fact that my polite English can translate into less-than-polite American can bring some much-needed humor at the most inappropriate time: I dread the day when I have to admit that I’ve given up fags.

Please describe one or more issues that you want to address during your time on the NAEO Board.
Given our recent denial of access situation at the office, I would like to work on Disaster Recovery with particular reference to some of Amtelco’s key systems (e.g. IS). From conversations at conference, I appreciate that some members have very limited technical knowledge of their IT systems. Without that, disaster planning could pose even more of a problem than it does to the techies out there who know their PEEKs from their POKEs.

I do understand, however, that any role I’m given on the Board is at the behest of the President and I would be delighted to assist in any way that the President saw fit.

Matthew Crocker, Crocker Communications, Inc.

Why are you interested in serving on the NAEO Board?
I'm currently the technical chair for the NAEO board. I'm ending my initial 3 year obligation and would like to extend through a 2nd 3-year term.

I've been an NAEO member for over 20 years and have extensive technical knowledge in telephony, networking and Amtelco products

Please list any specific qualifications, experience, or education that would relate directly to your participation on the NAEO Board.
I'm currently the technical chair for the NAEO board. I'm ending my initial 3-year obligation and would like to extend into my second 3-year term. I've been an NAEO member for more than 20 years and I'm an all-around tech geek when it comes to telephony.

Please describe one or more issues that you want to address during your time on the NAEO Board.
I would like to continue my work on the Members360 CRM system for NAEO membership information. I would like to leverage M360 to build additional systems to help spread information to the NAEO membership.

Lina Masri, Extend Communications, Inc.

Why are you interested in serving on the NAEO Board?
Serving on the NAEO Board is a great opportunity for me to represent an association that I have grown very fond of over the past 5 years. NAEO has played an instrument role in my personal development and knowledge of the telecommunications industry. My goal is to enhance and build on that experience for other NAEO members. I look forward to participating in the education and development of its members. I am also dedicated to establishing the best practices throughout the association by contributing my ideas and volunteering my time. I will continue to support the mission of NAEO because I believe in the value that it offers. I hope to assist in the continued growth of this association by becoming an integral part of this successful leadership team.

Please list any specific qualifications, experience, or education that would relate directly to your participation on the NAEO Board.

  • NAEO member for 5 years - 11th year of working in the telecommunications industry
  • Attendance at the past 5 conferences
  • 2 years on the membership committee for NAEO
  • 2 years as a "buddy" at the annual conference
  • Currently entering my second year on the Board of Directors for the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant, Ontario
  • Actively in my third year serving on Chamber of Commerce membership committee
  • Third year as Chair of the Chamber Networking/Connections committee
  • Currently completing a 4 year degree in Organization Leadership at Wilfred Laurier University

Please describe one or more issues that you want to address during your time on the NAEO Board.
I feel that one of the most valuable aspects of NAEO is the annual conference. I believe that conference attendance has a direct correlation to membership retention. The members of NAEO are the foundation of association. It is essential that the value of the association be recognized and utilized by its members. Conference attendance for smaller organizations can be costly, while conference attendance for large organizations may require authorizations and approvals. The idea is to get the conference information to the members and its users in advance of the decision-making and yearly budgets. By creating awareness throughout the year I believe that we could encourage more members to attend. The value of this is that we are reaching otu to our less active members with information and knowledge regarding the conference. We can encourage members by giving quarterly conference update. The goal is to capture their interest to join us at the next conference, and ultimately retain their membership.

Dawn Newborn, OmniCall

Why are you interested in serving on the NAEO Board?
I think NAEO is a very vital part of a services day-to-day business. Being a part of the board will allow me to have more input, resulting in helping more members. We all grow together.

Please list any specific qualifications, experience, or education that would relate directly to your participation on the NAEO Board.
I have spent the last several years teaching members about billing, scheduling and performance measures, just to name a few. Billing Statistics and scheduling seem to be the hardest for a new member to understand. My deep understanding and willingness to teach these topics set me apart.

Please describe one or more issues that you want to address during your time on the NAEO Board.
I would like to see more of a development of learning system put into place when a new service joins NAEO or buys a system. That gap must be bridged with written documentation. I would also like to see more new member participation in the list serv. It is a very valuable tool that everyone should use.

Kurt VanderScheer, Answer United

Why are you interested in serving on the NAEO Board?
Having been active in the membership and on the receiving end of so much great advice over the years, it's time to give back. This is an easy decision for me and I would be honored if presented with the opportunity to serve.

Please list any specific qualifications, experience, or education that would relate directly to your participation on the NAEO Board.
I'm a 17 year veteran of the industry and hold the position of VP of Engineering for Answer Unlimited. My areas of expertise include system integration, programming, equipment maintenance, telecommunications, networking, and statistical anaylsis (with an emphasis on traffic engineering). I've considered my ability to discuss complex technical issues in a straightforward and comprehensible manner of my assets.

Please describe one or more issues that you want to address during your time on the NAEO Board.
The group's relationship to Amtelco has been a critical aspect to the success of the organization and has been very strong over the years. I would like to continue to foster an open relationship between NAEO and Amtelco, improve Amtelco to end-user communications and foster candid discussion between the NAEO leadership and members with regards to Amtelco.

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Two and a Half Men...(or Women)

by Mike Burkinshaw, Comm-Link

Ever wanted to wave a magic wand and your ops would suddenly become hyper-efficient and perform consistently high quality work? One op performing the work of two and a half? No errors, no mistakes, no "oh... is THAT how it works?” comments?

Yeah… me too.

Some of you may have noticed the logos below my listserv signature. We secured approval under ISO9001 in November last year and, as part of that approval, we have to constantly look for ways to improve our performance. That’s easy enough at a high level: set your service performance at X calls answered within Y seconds; no more than Z% abandons, etc. Run off the reports and sit back, basking in your self-glorificatiousness.

But…try to do that at the Op level. Then it becomes hard.

Like most of you, we use the Op Stats report to produce data with which to "encourage” our ops to better and brighter performance. However, we began to see that it’s really not specific enough for our needs. After all, how do you compare the performance of an op whose day is spent patching calls, with a second op whose day (evening to be exact) is spent frantically chasing engineers hoping that one of them will actually respond to her calls? Actually, you can compare them easily stat for stat — but it wouldn’t be fair. We needed something fairer.

Rather than comparing op against op, we decided to compare op stats against centre stats. Again, we ran into complaints: "The centre average doesn’t accurately reflect the type of calls I take” was the most common one. We agreed. It still wasn’t enough.

So we reached out and explored brave new worlds — particularly one called MDR. Using the mCallEnd table, we were able to extract stats reflecting the "use of call processing time” from the Op Stats report — excellent news. We pulled this apart a bit further and then broke these stats down by CDT group. This meant we could produce op stats and centre stats by call distribution table.

Now we were talking! We have about 17 CDT groups, ranging from very simple to very complex. I could now run stats for an op by CDT group and compare those with the centre for that same group.

All of a sudden our shouts of "unfair” went away. We could compare an op’s "performance” against the same "performance” of the centre in any CDT group. Our ops doing call outs were being compared against everyone who took those same types of call outs. The same was true of our ops taking patching calls. We had "like-for-like” comparisons finally.

Here’s what it looks like. All the values are given in seconds. The "Difference” column highlights those values that are worse than the centre’s score: red is bad, green is good. For each green, the op scores a point.

At the bottom of the table are the average values for each stat and, below that, the total score, the maximum possible, and the percentage it represents. As each op may take a variety of Account Groups, the table may have a few or many lines. As such, the maximum score will change for each op. We’re thinking about adding a bonus: three greens in a line gains a bonus point, for example.

I’m aware of the limitations of the mCallEnd table. However, as we’re applying those same limitations to both the op and the centre, as a comparative value it’s ok: any errors or inconsistencies will apply to both scores equally. In other words, they might not be exact but they’ll be equally wrong so we can, effectively, ignore the error.

Amtelco tells me that some of the OpStats are generated directly from Infinity and, as such, can’t be "calculated” from MDR stats. That’s frustrating, but we’ll have to live with it for now.

We’ll be expanding this to include voice logger scores which, ideally, will also be broken down by CDT table. Our intention is to end up with a single report for each op showing "efficiency” and "quality” scores that fairly reflect their performance. The overall summary versions of these reports could be used to feedback into the centre’s training plans to boost areas that are weak for everyone.

The nice thing about this is that we’re comparing everyone against the centre average. As ops improve, the centre average will move up. This means they’ve got to work harder to beat the centre average — which, in turn, will lift the average. See where we’re going with this?

At the end of this, we won’t have ops being Two and a Half Men (or women). We’ll have ops who can see where they are not as strong and a training system that will be enhanced to meet those weaknesses and improve them.

Mike "not quite Charlie Harper” Burkinshaw
MD, Comm-Link, UK

P.S. Yes - "Glorificatiousness” IS a made-up word. We Brits have some pride in our language, you know!

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Five Unforgivable Customer Service Mistakes

by Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

We all know we’ve left companies due to poor service. And we know, too, there are more than five unforgivable customer service mistakes. These, however, have been culled together from the many emails and comments we received over the years.

While it's all common sense, we know that common sense is not all that common. So we continue to share this information with you in the hopes we can make some inroads around the world.

Not being friendly enough: Without exception, this is the number one customer service mistake. Customers should be treated as welcomed guests when they call or visit your business. As we’ve all experienced, sometimes we’re treated as an annoyance or an interruption. Remember the Telephone Doctor motto: "Be friendly before you know who it is.”

Poor eye contact: Heads that twirl on a spindle while working with a customer are a big mistake. It’s a sure sign the person you’re talking with isn’t holding your interest when you’re glancing around and they will notice it very quickly.

Talking with co-workers and ignoring or not acknowledging the customer: This customer service mistake unfortunately happens a lot. Drop the internal conversation as soon as you see the customer. While talking with a customer on the phone, it’s a big no-no to continue your conversation with someone in the office.

Being rude: No one thinks they’re being rude; certainly not on purpose. However, the customer can perceive many things you do as rude. And as they say, "perception is reality."

Poor product knowledge: When working with a customer, if you’re not familiar with the products and services your business offers, you’ll be making a big mistake. Take the time to learn about your company. Customers don’t care if you’re new, working on a temporary assignment, or if it’s not your department. All they want is help and information. Ask to be trained. Ask for more information from your company.

Again there are certainly more than these five unforgivable customer service mistakes — we know that. However, these consistently keep rising to the top when I speak at conferences so I feel they are very important.

Based on how much business is lost due to poor service, if we can combat these five mistakes we’ll be on the way to much better service.

Post this list where your folks can see it; have a meeting to discuss the mistakes; talk about how to avoid them. It’s all doable!

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