May 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

New Board Member Spotlight: Lina Masri

New Board Member Spotlight: Kurt VanderScheer

Donate to the NAEO Foundation and Help Those in Need

IS Tip
by Kevin Procter

From the Editor

by Betty Bouchie

Spring Cleaning

This time of the year, I get the urge to shake the mats, move the furniture and clean out the closets. Spring is always a good time to refresh and renew, get out of the winter rut. We should do the same thing in our work environment. Shake up the format, clean up the task list, refresh the training manual and renew the script. What needs to be spring cleaned in your world?

To get you started at home, here is a quick checklist:

Back to top

Be Inspired

Submitted by Gary Blair

One for cleaners and one for not….

"The Rose Bowl is the only bowl I've ever seen that I didn't have to clean."
~ Erma Bombeck

"My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance."
~ Author Unknown

Back to top

Something to Smile About...

First-ever call to tech support:

Back to top

New Board Member Spotlight – Lina Masri

  1. Could you tell us how and when your business began?
    Extend was founded in 1956 by A.F.W. Lyons. Since that time, three generations of the Lyons family have grown the Company into an Award Winning teleservices company. Extend Communications currently operates three Call Centre divisions.

  2. What are your most common accounts?
    Extend services a variety of account types; we are primarily but not limited to inbound call centre services with several clients in industries that vary drastically. We answer real estate, trades, emergency dispatch, full customer service, level one tech support, special projects including lotteries and the list goes on.

  3. When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?
    Our system was installed in 2005. We replaced our old system because of the lack of features and lack of support available.

  4. When did you join NAEO and why?
    We joined NAEO the first year we started using Amtelco. The value of our membership is the education, list serve, service contract discount, conference, etc…

  5. When did you start in the telephony business?
    I personally began in the telephony business approximately 11 years ago.

  6. What is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?
    I think that Extend Communications Inc is unique because of the people that work at company. Extend is a small-town company in the big-town world of telecommunications. We have employees who have dedicated their lives to making this company what it is today. They have lived through many transitions in hardware and software, from cordboards to Amtelco, and still seem to come to work every day dedicated to doing the best job they can. We have a great team!

  7. Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
    Coming from a background of a family owned and operated business I have a genuine appreciation for good customer service and a successful business. I am currently completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership. As for interests I have always loved to travel and I have no kids and no pets, so I do it as often as I can.

  8. What is your goal as a board member?
    My goal is to enhance and assist in building the experience and connections of NAEO members through knowledge and education. I look forward to participating in the development of its members, and volunteering my time and knowledge to create a stronger network of users.

Back to top

New Board Member Spotlight – Kurt VanderScheer

  1. Could you tell us how and when your business began?
    The original business started in the '50s as Kalamazoo Telephone Answering Service. We have operated under the name Custom Communications, Michigan Message Center and currently under Answer United. Current owner Larry Gignac purchased the business from Jerry Horne in 1985.

  2. What are your most common accounts?
    A mix of medical, 1st-level help desk, and traditional answering service.

  3. When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?
    Started using Amtelco equipment in the late 1970s. We used to install Mitey-Mites in 557B switchboards.

  4. When did you join NAEO and why?
    Answer United’s owner, Larry Gignac, was a founding member and first President of NAEO in 1983. Founded NAEO to make Amtelco’s EVE (Electronic Video Exchange) system a better product.

  5. When did you start in the telephony business?
    I started in February 1994 (age 23) as a Telephone Service Representative for Michigan Message Center.

  6. What is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?
    I personally enjoy taking on customers with challenging technical and system integration requirements. As our industry continues to evolve and progress on the technological front, our customers are right there with us expecting this to "Just Work." I take a great deal of pride being the man behind the technological curtain.

  7. Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
    My wife, Jennifer and I have been married just over a decade. We have two highly energetic children, AnnaBelle (age 7) and EanJoseph (age 5). I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family and am an avid photographer.

  8. What is your goal as a board member?
    NAEO has had a long and successfully history in educating and informing its members of technical logical trends and practices. As our industry progresses through the most rapidly changing technologically landscape it’s seen in decades I hope to continue that tradition.

Back to top

Donate to the NAEO Foundation and Help Those in Need

As many of you have heard, the southeastern United States was ravaged by tornadoes during the week of April 25. Many lives, families, and businesses have been affected permanently by this natural disaster. The NAEO Foundation has been created to assist in times of need such as this. Formerly known as the NAEO Operator Relief Fund, the NAEO Foundation is an established 501(c)3 designed to help people who work in the TAS industry and/or community members that a call center serves during times of natural disaster. Assistance is provided through a monetary hardship grant.

We're asking you to donate to the NAEO Foundation. Your contribution is tax deductible and will serve to help those call center employees and communities in need. It may take weeks or years for victims of this natural disaster to recover, but grants from the NAEO Foundation will smooth the healing process, thanks to your generosity.

Donations can be made online or by check:

Thank you for your donation in this time of need for many call center employees and communities!

Back to top

IS Tip

by Kevin Procter, Extend Communications Inc.

Programming is like a non-stop computer game for some people. This writer likes being one of those people, and I'm very happy to be able to practice my craft within the paradigm of a great industry, and within a wonderful company to boot!

Having been a professional programmer since 1995, I've worked in a few different industries, and in several different languages. Essentially, whatever language will solve a problem is the language with which I'll work. Currently, I'm finding myself becoming fluent in a few languages that are quite new to me. The primary langauge of programming for this writer today is Structured Query Language (SQL).

Pros and cons abound for every language, and no language is a panacea. Each language has its place, however. One of the great things about SQL is its support throughout the world. Online, one can find endless solutions for any SQL issue experienced. SQL integrates easily into Amtelco software, making data services available for companies within the communications industry.

Recently, for example, I'd written an SQL report which yielded excellent results. However, once the program was run within the live system (as opposed to the test bed, but accessing the same data) the report's results were completely different! A search on Google, a little investigation, and I found then resolved the issue. By the way, this issue was very strange indeed, and a great learning experience for the future.

In the coming months, I'll present Newslinks articles featuring my and others' experiences as we journey together through SQL; as well as some technical and business advantages of integrating SQL into Amtelco software. Think outside the box of the communications industry and consider this fact: communication service these days goes way beyond the boundaries of answering and dialing telephones.

Back to top

Scattered Intermittent Random Thoughts

by Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

I've always wanted to do an article like this; sharing thoughts that come into my mind. Some are business thoughts and some are personal. Hope you enjoy!

  • I really have a hard time with the person who says, "Oh, OK" when I've just logged a complaint. It's as though they didn't hear me. That's not the right thing to say when I'm not a happy camper.

  • Don't you hate it when you let someone in front of you in traffic and they don't wave a thank you?

  • Forrest Tucker of F Troop, for those who remember, once told me, "Some folks get overcome with the smell of their own perfume." Great statement when you realize what he meant.

  • Why does the nurse say, "The doctor will be right with you" and then they don't show up for 45 minutes?

  • How about the person who takes the last cup of coffee from the pot and doesn't make more?

  • Ever wonder why some folks aren't able to laugh at themselves?

  • Someone once told me, "Grow old with your audience." So I update my press picture every two years. Makes a big difference.

  • I make my grandkids leave their cell phones in the car when we take them out to dinner so we can have a quick 20 minute dinner uninterrupted. This, by the way, makes me the worst grandmother in the world apparently!

  • It really bothers me when a customer service rep sounds as though they are reading their script to me. All it would take to personalize it, and have it sound more natural, is a few rehearsals. It would make a big difference to everyone.

  • Most people aren't aware you are not married to the voice that came with your automated attendant. You can do it yourself or bring in a fun voice. We find that it's not always the AA that is the problem; it's the blah blah voice they object to.

  • And speaking of automated attendants, are you as frustrated as I am with the "voice recognition" machines? OMG! They seldom recognize anything I'm saying.

  • I personally don't think there is a generational issue out there.

  • When I am having trouble on the phone with an accent from another country, what I tell them is a far cry from what I'm actually thinking. (The old "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.")

  • I can't get my teeth cleaned without the gas that puts me out.

  • Why do people put "I'll call you back as soon as possible" on their voice mail message and then don't?

  • If chocolate only came in milk chocolate I'd be so thin.

  • Am I the only one who dislikes it when the person helping me on the phone (or in person) is chomping on gum?

  • I really wanted to meet Johnny Carson and Johnny Cash.

  • When you call to sell me something, why don't you ever ask if it's an OK time to talk?

  • Ladies Only: When my mate/partner/whatever tells me I look "fine," why doesn't that sound good enough?

  • Why don't people know the difference between their, there & they're and you're and your?

  • Why don't some people wash their hands when leaving the restroom? Don't you just want to yell out, "Hey come back; you forgot to wash your hands"?

  • I wonder why owners and managers don't call their own companies to see how their customers are handled.

  • Men Only: What's with the not asking for directions? Who started that one? That's sad. You'd get there twice as fast if you'd ask.

  • Why do they ask, "Can I take a message?" and you say, "Yes" and start talking and they say, "Wait, I gotta get a pencil." Duh!

  • If you haven't seen Jersey Boys yet, add it to your wanna do list. Great show!

  • Do you agree with me? Common sense isn't so common.

  • Why don't people send handwritten thank-you notes anymore?

  • How come no one ever thinks "they" are rude?

  • Why don't you leave your phone number TWICE and SLOWLY on voice mail instead of rattling through it?

  • I miss Simon on American Idol.

  • Are you noticing it's not just the kids who walk and text and don't look where they're going? The big folks are just as guilty.

OK, that's enough for now. What's your random thought? Send it to me at I'd like to hear it.

Back to top

© 2011 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
NewsLinks is distributed quarterly to NAEO members.

National Amtelco Equipment Owners
1000 Westgate Drive, Ste. 252, St. Paul, MN 55114
800-809-6373 • Fax: 800-809-6374