NAEO Newslinks-Nov08
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November 2008

 

¡Vamos a Cancún!
by Kelli Harrigan

NAEO – Cancún Conference 2009
by Mari M. Osmon as presented by Jennifer Terragni

Using the OnCall Scheduler
by Judi Lathan

Inserting the Time Into Info Pages
by Tonie Corbin

Simplified Dealer Locator Using IS
by Judy Austin

Essential Telephone Skills
by Nancy Friedman




Betty Bouchie

From the Editor:
Voting…
by Betty Bouchie

Here in Canada, we have just had two elections in two weeks, federal and municipal. The results are pretty much the same as before the elections. The surprise is the small number of voters who turned out. It made me think about the whole election process and voting, in general. One would think that since leadership shapes the course of the future, that people would be very interested in who was in a leadership role and what "platform” that person stood on. This made me think about all leadership, not just political. What about the coach on the hockey, baseball, football, ringette teams? What about the Guide and Scout leaders? What about your company manager, president, CEO? We "vote” for each of these people by considering their "platform” and then supporting it by our "participation.” It may be by allowing our children to attend, or it may be by working where we do. Consider your votes carefully. Shape your future.

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Be Inspired

"I dream my painting and then paint my dream"

~ Vincent van Gogh

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Something to Smile About...

A man entered a pet shop, wanting to buy a parrot. The shop owner pointed out three identical parrots on a perch and said, "The parrot to the left costs 500 dollars."

"Why does that parrot cost so much?" the man wondered.

The owner replied, "Well, it knows how to use a computer."

The man asked about the next parrot on the perch.

"That one costs 1,000 dollars because it can do everything the other parrot can do, plus it knows how to use the UNIX operating system." Naturally, the startled customer asked about the third parrot.

"That one costs 2,000 dollars."

"And what does that one do?" the man asked.

The owner replied, "To be honest, I've never seen him do a thing, but the other two call him boss!"

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Robin L. Bailey


Member Spotlight:
Robin L. Bailey, DCAS

Q: Could you tell us how and when your business began?
A: My husband’s aunt, Hazel Brown Upchurch, started the business in 1955. She was a Registered Nurse and her eyesight went bad so she started doing the Nurses’ Registry out of her home. Then the doctors asked her to take their calls after hours, then service companies, then other companies.

Q: What are your most common accounts?
A: I’m not sure we have any common accounts, each one has its own quirks.

Q: When did you start using Amtelco equipment and why?
A: I purchased Amtelco in January 2003 and we cut over on September 30, 2003. I attended ATSI conferences to look at all the equipment and got to know Gary Kerner through STA. I was impressed with all the system could do.

Q: When did you join NAEO and why?
A: I attended the Carefree, Arizona conference right after I had signed the purchase agreement. It totally assured me that I had made the right decision. I have never been in another organization where the members are so willing to share and help one another.

Q: When did you begin in the business?
A: I started in the business in 1998. At the time, I was Controller for Southern Progress Corporation in Birmingham and commuting 140 miles each day. Our daughter owned the answering service but had moved 60 miles away and wanted to stay home with her first child. So it seemed a good time for everyone for me to buy the business.

Q: Tell us a little personal information about you, your family and your hobbies or interests.
A: Tom and I have 8 children between us and 17 grandchildren. Of course, we think they are the most beautiful, smartest grandchildren ever. I like to read and get lost in a book. We like to travel and spent 10 days in Alaska in August. Most of our travel has been tied in with Tom running a marathon in every state. Only two to go – Yeah!!!!

Q: What is one thing about you or your business that is different or unique?
A:
This is a hard question. I would say that our company focuses on customer service. Being a member of NAEO, that is not different or unique from the other members. We constantly work on being fair – fair to the customers, fair to the callers, fair to the employees and fair to the company.

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March 1 – 4, 2009
Cancun Palace Resort
Cancún, Mexico

¡Vamos a Cancún!
(Translation: Let’s go to Cancun!)
by Kelli Harrigan, NAEO Conference Chair

The countdown to the NAEO Annual Conference has begun! Can you feel it? The excitement is in the air and our registration brochures are in the mail.

In case you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, our agenda is once again jam-packed with informative sessions. Just a couple of highlights for you, including a few hot topics from industry listservs lately…

  • Building a Great Company through Great People – John Ratliff will share a discovery which has made this the most transformational year of both his business and personal life.
  • Co-Location – Who should consider co-locating? What all is involved? Where should you put your equipment? How do you make sure all of your Amtelco equipment is integrated into the plan?
  • Web & E-mail Marketing – Marketing on the web is different from the old days of Yellow Page ads. Come and find out how fellow members are driving in new business by integrating Pay-Per-Click, Search Engine Optimization and e-mail blasts into their Marketing Plans.
  • HL7 Messaging & Red Alert in a Hospital Environment – How does it work and what are the possible uses?
  • Disaster Recovery – a DR expert will be with us to discuss how to get started on the path toward building a successful plan for your organization.

And that’s just the sessions. As we all know, it is often the impromptu discussions outside of the session schedule that really pay for your trip. As Gary Pudles of AnswerNet recently said on the NAEO listserv, "At one point at the last NAEO conference I found myself standing with Doug Swift (Tigertel), John Ratliff (Appletree) and Jack Rhian (AMAC) talking about growth and the challenges of running multi-site businesses. Not only was it an honor to share with these esteemed leaders in our industry, but I also learned a great deal very quickly. It is those quick and unplanned moments that often mean the most to me.” Jim Wagner of Wagner Communications, also shared this story…

"Just after lunch one day during the Conference in Carefree, AZ, I stopped to say hello to Mike Blumenschein. He was sitting with someone I didn't know and they were talking really techie stuff. During a lapse in the conversation, I mentioned that we were having ongoing problems with Operators being knocked offline. They could not log back on without unplugging the network cable and plugging it back in. This was a frequent problem that nagged us for quite some time.

Casey Smit was the man with Mike. He asked if I was using a Hub or Switch. At the time I only knew what a Hub was and told him that is what we had. He told me to get a Switch. He then gave me some techie stuff to support his reasoning. Little of it mattered to me, but it did make sense.

A week or two later, after more frustration with the problem, I bought and installed the network switch. And it worked. Problem solved.

That one visit with a then-stranger was worth the cost of my trip that year. I could have stayed in my own little world (yea right) and not talked to them. But by having the opportunity to chat I gained valuable information and a new friend.”

And all of this will be held at the beautiful Cancun Palace resort. You can find more details and register now online at www.naeo.org. And as an added incentive to not procrastinate, register and reserve your room by November 15 and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a Palace Spa gift certificate (and believe me, their spa is so worth it!)

See you in Cancún!

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NAEO – Cancún Conference 2009
Travel Information and Helpful Tips
by Mari M. Osmon as presented by Jennifer Terragni

With the sun shining on average between 240 and 253 days per year, Cancún is a year-round holiday destination, although certain times of year may be more favorable than others. High season for travel falls between December and April. During these months the weather tends to be sunny, with temperatures hovering around 85ºF (30ºC) during the day and rarely dipping far below 65ºF (18ºC) at night. While this time of year offers the most pleasant weather, it is also most popular with tourists.

  1. Average temperature in March is 80 – 85 degrees. Ocean temperature is always about 80 degrees. Temperatures normally drop to high sixties to low seventies in the evening.
  2. There are many wonderful opportunities for shopping and sight-seeing in the area.
  3. The Cancun Palace property is all-inclusive and offers you some of the best food, beaches and entertainment in the area.
  4. You have three options for buying Mexican money – use your local bank, use money exchange booths at the airport or at the hotel. None of them will exchange coins; however, it is always a good idea to have a small amount of coins on hand.
  5. ATM machine and receipts for merchandise will usually be issued in Pesos.
  6. Always pack your prescription drugs in the original containers and bring along pharmacy telephone number as well as Doctor contact information.
  7. Don’t be fooled by the cool ocean breezes; it is always recommended to wear a sun block of at least 15 SPF, even for a short time out in the sun.
  8. Most U.S. insurance policies will not cover you for driving in Mexico. You will need to either purchase a separate policy or add insurance coverage if you plan to rent a car during your stay.
  9. Elite Tour desk is available to assist you in arranging for transfers to the airport, a variety of exciting tours, golf outings, snorkeling and scuba driving.
  10. There are normally signs or flags that will advise you of the safety of swimming in the ocean. The water is warm and beautiful; however, there are sometimes strong undercurrents. Make sure that all children are well supervised when on the beach area.
  11. All food and beverages at the hotel are safe to eat and drink – the hotel uses a state-of-the-art water filtration process.
  12. Money:Most shops and restaurants will accept your credit cards, travelers checks and U.S. dollars, although you might receive your change in pesos. However, it is always recommended that you have some Mexican pesos for tips or buying from smaller street vendors. You will be able to exchange money at the airport and at your hotel. No one takes U.S. coins, bills which are ripped, written on or taped together. Seeing as the exchange rate is constantly changing, check with your local bank. Always have 5, 10, 20 pesos because many stores do not carry coins. DO NOT BE ALARMED if you use an ATM machine – it will show your transaction in pesos not dollars.
  13. Bartering:Smaller shops or street vendors will often barter with you on price of goods; however, many stores no longer wish to barter. It never hurts to ask if this is the best price they can offer you.
  14. As of 1/23/2008 all U.S., Canadian, Mexican and Bermudan citizens must carry a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States – this includes all children traveling with you.
  15. To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go to a Passport Acceptance Facility (usually a main post office). You will need two photographs of yourself (most Walgreens with a photo department can take your photo – there are very specific requirements for the photo), proof of citizenship (notarized birth certificate) and one valid form of photo ID – Driver’s license.
  16. It normally takes 8-12 weeks to process a new or renewed passport – you can pay extra for a rush application and you should receive it in 4 weeks.
  17. You will need to apply for a passport if your current passport has expired, if last passport was issued to you when you were under the age of 16, or if passport was lost or stolen, if name changed or if photo does not match your current appearance.
  18. For renewal of passport, you must bring your existing passport to the office. They will return it to you with the new one.
  19. You can obtain a passport application by going to http://travel.state.gov/passport.
  20. Taxis in Cancún are easy to obtain no matter where you are. They are lined up anywhere a tourist may be. Taxi prices are standard - no bartering is necessary, nor is it welcomed. The best thing to do is to ask the concierge or front desk in the hotel what the standard taxi rates are. Many times hotels even post the rates. For example, when we stay at the Cancun Palace, there is a standard rate to anywhere in the hotel zone - it doesn’t matter if you are going somewhere south in the zone or at the top of the zone, or how long it takes to get there - the rate is the same.
  21. Taxis take both types of currency, but it is best to pay in local currency so you don’t have to worry whether you are getting correct change. Often if you pay in American dollars, your change will be in pesos. If you are good at math, you could figure it out – but we don’t care to, so we always pay in pesos.
  22. Both Taxi and Shuttle Van services are available at the airport. Normal fee is about $40.00 per person.
  23. Due to the constant and rapid change in airline flights and prices, I strongly recommend that you book your airline tickets as soon as possible. There are many connecting flight options which leave from Atlanta and Miami. You can expect to pay at least $500.00 for a round trip per person. If booking on an Internet site, please be aware that the "fees" under "Taxes and Fees" can in some cases be more than the ticket price.

Book your airline tickets as soon as possible – do not wait for "a deal.”

  1. Example: United was advertising a round trip fare of $284.00 from Chicago to Cancún; however the taxes & fees charges were $293.00 per ticket bringing the total to $577.00.
  2. Whenever possible book directly with airlines – if there is a cancellation or problem, the airline can refuse to assist you if the ticket was not purchased through them directly.
  3. It is highly recommended that you only book tours through the hotel. They spend a lot of time in researching reputable tour companies and have a vested interest in keeping you safe while giving you a wonderful vacation experience. Elite Tour desk is in the main lobby to assist in planning some great adventures as well as airport transfers and other optional activities. There are additional per person charges for all below-mentioned activities.

Some tours available are:
Ultimate Dolphin Swim
Deep Sea Fishing
The Jungle Tour
Bull Fights
Lobster Dinner Cruise
Horseback Riding
Caribbean Carnival
Chichén-Itzá (Mayan Ruins)
Golf Outings
The Galleon of Captain Hook
Coba (ruins of oldest Mayan city)
Isla Mujeres
Wet 'n Wild Water Park
Tulum (Mayan Ruins)
Paradise Snorkeling

Take time to see and experience the beauty that surrounds this interesting area.

Other Info:

  1. Pharmacies and Prescription Drugs: Although thousands travel to Mexico for pharmaceuticals at a fraction of the U.S. costs, there are always questions regarding the authenticity of the medications. Keep in mind that if a drug is illegal in the U.S., it is probably illegal in Mexico. There are severe penalties of both fines and possible detention.
  2. Traveling with Disabilities: Mexico is not moving at the same rate as the U.S. in guaranteeing handicap access to all locations. The Cancún airport is under major renovation and currently installing larger bathrooms, elevators and ramps to the planes. There should be attendants to assist you. There are a few taxis which are now equipped with lifts.
  3. Cancún Airport Arrival/Hucksters:Avoid them like the plague when they offer timeshares, car rentals, free transportation and tours. If you have not arranged transportation, DO NOT GO with them. Go outside and get a taxi from a reputable firm.
  4. Water: Don't drink it outside hotel zone – and even there, be careful. Drink bottled water (check to ensure seal is not broken). Use a straw when drinking from bottles or cans. These items are sanitized with Mexican water. It is always best to be safe rather than sick for your conference. Even the locals use straws...follow their lead.
  5. Cancún is a wonderful destination and a great place for an NAEO Conference.
  6. The hotel is beautiful; the beaches and water are warm and inviting.
  7. Spend a little time exploring this interesting area which is filled with ancient treasures and unmatched beauty.
  8. Book your flight and reserve your room early – come early and/or stay later.
  9. Information happily provided to you by:
    Mari M. Osmon
    Member of NAEO, Co-Owner of Spectrum Communication Services
    Owner of Cruises Inc., New Berlin, WI
    262-821-7100
    www.cruisesinc.com
    E-mail: cruisesinc@wi.rr.com
    GO TO NAEO.ORG FOR ROOM RATES AND CONFERENCE INFORMATION

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Using the OnCall Scheduler
by Judi Lathan, Manager, University Health Care System – Physician Locator Service & Call Center

The OnCall Scheduler is a constant reminder of who is on-call. It helps to reduce errors and eliminate the guess work of who is on-call. It is customizable to fit your Call Center needs. You decide which resources, such as Cardiologist, Neurologist, Intensivist, Hospitalist, Echo Tech, Cath Lab Techs, etc., best fit your Answering Service. It is user-friendly. You have the option of scheduling special events, meetings, how to instructions, etc. The list of what you can do with the OnCall Scheduler is endless!

The Oncall Scheduler is programmed to "popup” in all our medical accounts and in a majority of our department accounts. With the OnCall Scheduler, your facility has the capability of entering schedules up to one year in advance. You also have the option to retrieve those reports. The entered schedules can be viewed for the current hour or the entire day.

We rely heavily on the Info Cards. By programming pertinent information such as account numbers, pager numbers, call-handling instructions, step-by-step instructions on how to perform tasks for standardization, etc., it is efficient, convenient and a big time saver.

Info cards can be used to readily have access to:

  • Office information
  • Clinic locations and hours
  • Descriptions of services provided
  • Directions (to offices, clinics, etc.)
  • Additional reach numbers / contact information – complete with dial strings
  • Dial strings

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Inserting the Time Into Info Pages
by Tonie Corbin, Account Manager, Time Communications

To insert the time into an info page, you need to work with the source rather than the design. At the bottom of the info page setup screen on a new info page, select SOURCE, which is in the middle of DESIGN and PREVIEW:

I believe putting the clock in a new info page first is best, as you can find the information easily and put it where it belongs by building an info page around it. (The easiest way to do this is to simply create a template, so that you are able to copy and paste this information where it is needed.) If you type the word "TIME:" into your info page, it will be easy to find where you want to put your time clock as well.

In its entirety, the formula you want to copy or type into your page (after the word TIME:) would be:

You can preview this to verify it is working by reviewing the info page in the PREVIEW mode. (If viewing in the DESIGN mode, you will not be able to see this field, but it’s there! That’s why it’s important to know where it is, simply by using the word TIME: or something similar to track its location.)

The time operates off of your computer clock, so in our instance, we are in CST, and for EST we use the +1, where for MST it is -1 and PST it's -2 in the formula:

document.write(dateadd("h”,-1,Time)) for EST;
document.write(Time()) for CST;
document.write(dateadd("h”,+1,Time)) for MST; and
document.write(dateadd("h”,+2.Time)) for EST

The changes would be made in the formula directly in the source view:

(This example is for 1 hour ahead of the computer clock.)

You can then build your info page around your clock, or cut and paste the information where you require it:

Note: You can cut and paste the time to include it in a table or to move it into another place as well:

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Simplified Dealer Locator Using IS
by Judy Austin, Account Programmer, Communications Network, Inc.

We were approached by a company that was planning a large radio marketing campaign. Seven offices were going together on this campaign to gather sales leads in a large metropolitan area. Service inquires should be called out to the sales manager for the appropriate office. Employment inquiries should be taken and e-mailed to the sales manager. Each call would need a beginning timestamp, time of dispatch and dispatch resolution. Another requirement was that each message should include the information given by the caller that was used to determine the appropriate office (i.e. zip code, county, city, etc.) They had tried this with another answering service but the calls were often mis-directed; therefore, they were skeptical that we would handle the calls appropriately for each office.

Our solution was to ask the client to provide an Excel spreadsheet with sales manager contact information and office address for each zip code that would be covered in the marketing campaign. The client also provided city and county information. We moved the Excel information into SQL.

Agents have a zip code, county and city search available. The fields of agent-entered information (different from database-supplied information) are saved to the reporting database. The search of the information database then pulls in the local office information.

The agent gathers the caller’s name, phone number, and chooses from the client-supplied "reason” list. If the mail choice is selected, the agent then gathers address information.

All messages contain the office information below the phone message. This is used for dispatching Prompt calls by phone.

We use SaveMessage to generate a message on the appropriate office sub-account for e-mailing to the client. The message is auto-delivered when saved.

The data is saved to the reporting table and reported per client instructions. The beginning timestamp is from a script start set field.

For messages that e-mail, the dispatch resolution information and timestamp are supplied by set fields. For messages requiring phone dispatch, the dispatch resolution information is gathered by Menu – Message – Edit which opens the script at the update screen.

The UCN and sales manager name is presented from the script. The script also generates the timestamp. The agent types to whom the call was dispatched.

The script updates the database by UCN.

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Essential Telephone Skills
by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

Many years ago, one of our Telephone Doctor clients told me, "Nancy, congratulations! Some people take a simple idea and complicate it. You have taken a simple idea and kept it simple."

Yes, we have. We at Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training don’t believe you should scratch your head and wonder when you’re shown an idea or technique. So we have purposely kept all of our programs in a very simple, yet very effective mode.

Others tell us, "What you do is just plain old common sense." And we sure agree. But you and I know that common sense just isn’t that common. If it were, everyone would be doing it. And we know they’re not.

So the newest DVD program in our library, entitled Essential Telephone Skills, is a simple yet effective program. Ideas, tips, skills and techniques that everyone should use, but they’re not. We offer a few tips from this new program, and hope that it will whet your appetite to preview it, and then, yes, want to own it and add it to your own training library.

Here we go!

1. Answering a Business Call
Well, what’s so difficult about that? Huh? Right, it’s not difficult. But if I called 100 people within your own organization, I’m betting I’d get a number of ways that folks answer the call. And at Telephone Doctor, we believe there should be one, uniform method of greeting by every one, every time. A buffer – words that welcome the caller, such as "Thanks for calling." Then your company name, and then give your name as in: "This is Sue." Then stop. Anything after our name erases our name. "How can I help you" is simply not necessary on that initial greeting. You are there to help. That’s why you answered the phone. "Thanks for calling the Telephone Doctor’s office. This is Nancy."

2. Thanking a Caller for Holding
I’m amazed at the number of times I’m put on hold and when the person comes back, they just start in on the conversation. No, "Thank you for holding, Mrs. Friedman." And normally they’re gone longer than they should be. So that "thank you for holding" sure would sound nice and appreciated. I always wonder why they don’t thank me for taking the time to stay with them. Don’t you?

3. Monogramming the Call
Some of the items on my desk have my name engraved on them. Some, my initials. I treasure those items. And frankly, probably won’t ever throw them away. I have things I’ve saved from years ago with my name on them. Most people save things with their names on them. Same thing should happen on a phone call. When you have the caller’s name, use it! Don’t abuse it, but do include it throughout the conversation. We all like to hear our name. We want to hear it pronounced right and spelled right. Don’t be afraid to ask the caller on pronunciation if you’re not sure. They’ll appreciate it a heck of a lot more than you trying to butcher their name. Same thing goes for spelling it properly. Ask. Don’t assume. Are you aware there are 19 ways to spell the last name of "Nichols" in the NY phone directory? Not everyone spells their name the same. Tom. Thom. Tomm. Christy. Kristy. Charlie. Charley. The list goes on. Get it right!

4. Avoiding Mouth Noises on the Phone
I cannot tell you the number of times I talk with people on the phone and it sounds as though they have a mouthful of mush. Gum, or candy, or they’re finishing their lunch. The only thing that should be in your mouth when you’re on the phone is your tongue. Remember, please, the phone is a microphone and anything that is in your mouth will sound ten times louder to the caller than you think. Empty your mouth before you pick up the phone!

5. Leaving a Positive Last Impression
Most of us have been taught about making that "great first impression." And yes, that’s so important. We don’t get a second chance to make that first great impression. Well, consider making a great last impression as well. Don’t screw it up at the end of the call. Letting the caller know, "It was so nice to meet you by phone." Or "I’m glad I had the opportunity to help you." Or "Thank you for calling." Or "We appreciate your call." Something that will make that lasting positive impression. Because when we hang up, they turn around or think to themselves and say either "Wow, that was a super call." Or "Man, I’ll never call there again." How do you want your callers to think of you?

Well, if you’re familiar with Telephone Doctor, you pretty well know there are five more techniques that are covered in our new program Essential Telephone Skills. I’ve given you five to test the waters. I hope you enjoyed them and will want to preview the program, and eventually own it to share and train your employees with on this very, very important, simple, yet effective topic.

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