Newslinks
October 2011

Regular Columns

From the Editor
by Betty Bouchie

Be Inspired
by Gary Blair

Something to Smile About...

President's Report
by Kelli Harringan

IS Tip: Message Summaries, Hippopotomuses, & Devils
by Kevin Procter

Stepping Up Your Game
by Gary Pudles

The Telephone Doctor: Senior Citizen Customer Service Etiquette
by Nancy Friedman

Featured Articles

Amtelco's Innovation Committee
by Kurt VanderScheer

Creating Customer Focus
by Barbara Bradbury

Amtelco Annex

Infinity Universal DID Automates One-Number Call Forwarding Without ISDN Span Definitions
by David Drenk

The Send Email Response Element
by David Drenk

Infinity 101
by John VanWalsum

From the Editor

by Betty Bouchie

Climbing the Ladder

You know the old saying about assuming. Applying your own personal bias to your observations can allow you to jump ahead, if they are correct, or fall back, when they are not. We all see the world through the tunnel of our own life. Experience teaches us how things work, and for the most part, the more experience in an area, the more often we assume correctly. But experience can also color our vision so we see what we think we see and not what is really there. Knowing this can also allow us to take a clearer view of our environment.

Here is an interesting article on the Ladder of Inference. Take a read, and watch your step:

http://leadershipdiamond.blogspot.com/2009/04/ladder-of-inference.html

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Be Inspired

Submitted by Gary Blair

"Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in."
~ Alan Alda

"Don't make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life."
~ Miguel Angel Ruiz

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Something to Smile About...

Jump to Conclusions Cartoons

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President's Report

by Kelli Harrigan, NAEO President

I don’t know how the summer just flew by and autumn has already arrived! With the fall comes Amtelco’s 1Call seminar in Madison for their hospital-based customers, and Amtelco generously invited me to attend to represent NAEO and sit in on the sessions. I took the opportunity to speak with many of the hospital users of Amtelco products to learn about their world and inform them about NAEO. It was truly fascinating to hear about their side of the business (especially for me, in a largely non-medical environment) and learn about their challenges and the various types of technology that they use and interface with Infinity. Of course many of their challenges are ones we all face – transitioning from legacy Infinity to the Intelligent Series, making the most of the products we use, helping our staff adapt to the changes, compliance issues, etc. NAEO was well-represented with several hospital attendees, but also encouraging was the feedback from several other attendees who are considering joining! We hope to see them all in Las Vegas for another fantastic conference, Raising the Stakes with NAEO, in Las Vegas, February 19-22, 2012. A heartfelt thank you to Amtelco for the invitation and to the attendees for their warm reception and interest in NAEO!

As always, if you are interested in serving on any committees, please be sure to reach out to anyone on the committees or the board (you can see who is involved on the NAEO website) and we will be happy to put you to work!

And if you have any feedback on NAEO or what the association can do for you, please be sure to share your thoughts with us – email me at president@naeo.org.

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IS Tip: Message Summaries, Hippopotomuses, & Devils

by Kevin Procter, Extend Communications Inc.

The cornerstone of this industry is distribution of information. A caller wants specific information to get to a specific person or company. They call, the operator records the information, and that information is then transmitted to the proper person (we hope). But what's going on underneath the hood within this process?

It is the programmer's job to ensure that the information is not only collected properly, but that it is also formatted then distributed efficiently and appropriately. Within IS this involves fashioning a message summary specific to the kind of call, and customized for the final recipient's effective use.

Within IS programming, there is a Message Summary element which of course holds the message summary. As you know, the message summary is infact the information provided to the final recipient. Thus, maintaining message summaries efficiently is a priority.

I've seen scripts which contain several different message summaries where the programmer has entered one for each call type - which is a great idea. Howerver, here's the problem: Each time the customer wants a change, you need to find all the message summary elements and edit each one individually; but you can't see what's inside the summary until you open it.

In order to make message summary maintenance efficient this writer suggests the following: use only ONE message summary in your script.

Within each call type path, include a variable (let's say MsgSummary) and format a custom message inside that variable. Why? For one thing, you can have that variable throughout your script and you can load it from the specific call type being handled. Secondly – and most importantly – you can see what's inside the MsgSummary variable. So, if you're looking for all instances of the word "Hippopotomus", print your script to a PDF file and search. Then make your changes to all the necessary MsgSummary variables – perhaps changing all hippopotomuses to "Tasmanian Devil."

You load your MsgSummary variable into the single Message Summary element and voila! You have a perfect, simplified Message Summary for each call type. Maintenance is far easier and the customized information your customer wants can be perfected to their needs – whatever they may be.

Information is power – as everyone in this industry is aware – and that power potentially increases revenue. This suggestion of message summary maintanance is just one method for a programmer to efficiently provide strong information. We should always be looking for more methods to collect and distribute information, as we constantly work towards reinforcing the cornerstones or our businesses.

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Stepping Up Your game

by Gary Pudles, AnswerNet

The late presidential speechwriter, William Safire, once said, "Never assume the obvious is true.” Yet, every day we make assumptions in our professional lives that can lead to unnecessary stress and avoidable misunderstanding. The key to avoiding these situations is to do your research and ask questions; especially in regard to your marketing initiatives. Here are some tips to avoid assumption blunders for your company:

Define your target audience: Business-to-Consumer companies need to figure out a prospect’s gender, race, age, home ownership, employment status and even location to really grasp their pain points. Business-to-Business firms should understand the goals and other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) clients must reach to be competitive in the marketplace. Use surveys, polls and market research groups to gather facts about the people or organizations you want to target before your next campaign.

Plan your strategy: You may move fast without a marketing plan, but you are probably moving in the wrong direction. Create a strategy that tells a story about addressing your customer’s obstacles, and then define what you can provide to overcome them. This story will help you establish the right goals, tactics and marketing channels.

Test the waters: Then again, things don’t always work out as you plan. Don’t assume your customers will flock to you just because you launched a new campaign. Test your marketing programs and then learn from the results. Not happy with what you are seeing? Then try something else, and compare the two. (Remember, what you like isn’t what matters. What works to motivate your audience is what matters!) When you are satisfied that your messaging will be profitable, pick the one that will help your reach your goals, roll it out and go!

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Senior Citizen Customer Service Etiquette

by Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor

My main thought is why would there even need to be a difference in treatment between age groups? Why do we need to write about the difference in treating seniors? Is there really a difference? Well, yes and no. Most of us believe customer service is customer service. However, I've witnessed some strange behavior in how seniors are treated lately, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. And whether it's senior customer service or not, these helpful tips apply to all. Following are some guidelines to help ease the pain for both the senior and you.

While the following tips are in no order of importance, they all, however, are important. And even if you are thinking to yourself, "This isn't our office, thank goodness," you might think again if you survey your customers. I hear complaints about it all the time. So, my friends, if you serve the senior group, try some of these tips.

  1. Patience - This is the number one frustration of the senior set. They tend to feel as though others younger than them have little patience and sometimes no patience at all with them. Oh, it may not be that obvious to you, but a short answer to them shows lack of patience. A snippy answer without using their name shows lack of patience, and disrespect. Or an answer they didn't hear that you may need to repeat. And that repeated question has a tone of impatience and often a tone or sigh that says, "Gee whiz, why do I need to repeat everything for you all the time?" Have a little more patience with the seniors. Remember, they have family and that family may need your help one day. You don't want them not recommending you! And most of all, in whatever number of years, that will be you in all probability!

  2. Be Sure They Understand - While you don't need to be a senior to be hard of hearing, undoubtedly many seniors are hard of hearing. And in many cases, especially if they don't have a hearing aid, they are embarrassed to let you know they didn't hear or understand you. Take the time to be sure they thoroughly understand what you're explaining to them. Be 100 percent sure the customer (senior or not) has absorbed everything you have said. And remember, just because they said yes they understand your question, that doesn't mean they did. You might ask them, nicely, to repeat what the instructions are or when the next appointment is or whatever the item is. Having a customer repeat back what they thought they heard is a great way to be sure they understand. And please be sure you ask in a very soft, pleasant tone of voice so it's not as though you're in a courtroom grilling them.

  3. Memory Problems - We KNOW this is not confined to the senior set. (Frankly, none of these tips are confined to just the senior set.) All of us have, at one time or another, forgotten instructions, names, or other items. So while writing it down will help, making double, even triple sure they really understand what needs to be done is so important.

  4. Company Jargon - Every industry, company, or organization has jargon they use internally. And that's fine. Using company jargon to each other will speed things along. However, using company jargon on a senior, or really anyone, can and will slow things down and confuse the issue. So if you're telling a senior to do something and use confusing jargon, best you break it down and take the time to use normal language we'll all understand.

  5. Speed is Not Success -OK, let's face it, we're all busy, busy, busy. But being busy does not give us carte blanche to be rude. Slow down. Maybe not as slow as the senior you're working with at the time, but slow down. Remember, rushing threatens people. Acknowledge what they're saying. Look them in the eye. The faster you go, the more confusing it will get for them. Far better you do it right the first time than to have to repeat yourself. (Which, by the way, you may need to do anyway). Either way, remember, speed is not success. It's not a race to get rid of them. It's a chance to be nicer to someone.

  6. Smile - This is something the senior set relishes. They may not have had a smile given to them for days or months. They may not have laughed in quite a while. They may be alone. They may be lonely. You may be the only contact they have to the outside. You may make such a difference to them. So when you talk with them, keep a big, big smile on your face and in your voice. They'll feel it. And appreciate it.

So, what is old? What makes a senior? A 30 year old thinks a 55 year old is old. A 55 year old thinks 70 is old. And 70 year olds think, well, you get the idea. At what age is old? At what age do we start losing patience with people? At what age do we start helping people understand? At what age do we start forgetting things and have a bad memory? At what age should we stop using company slang or jargon? And at what age should we realize that when we rush someone it threatens them?

Good Lord willing, you too will be a senior one day; whatever age that may be. And you too will want to be treated with patience, understanding and, most of all, respect.

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Amtelco's Innovation Committee

by Kurt VanderScheer, Answer United, Inc.

Earlier this year Amtelco introduced the Innovation Machine, an online tool that "provides a forum for entering, viewing, and ranking product improvement ideas.” See the link at the end of this article of you haven’t already taken the opportunity to visit the site. Armed with an idea and just a few clicks later your suggestion will be queued for review by Amtelco. The response from NAEO members has been tremendous. To date, there have been over 220 submissions, 65 of which have already been implemented or closed.

You may been wondering...just who reviews this tidal wave of ideas? That’s exactly what we’ll explore here today. Amtelco formed the Innovation Committee to review and rank your submissions, many of which will ultimately become new features or future products.

The Innovation Committee is made up of key Amtelco employees from several departments including Project Managers, Trainers, Customer Support Engineers, and Amtelco Executives. In an effort to further dialogue with their customers Amtelco invited the NAEO board to participate in weekly committee conference calls. The committee meets regularly to discuss, rank, and provide feedback on new submissions. Discussion is open to all participants, while each submission is thoroughly reviewed and considered.

Amtelco’s own Gloria Fruit, Innovation Committee Leader & Project Management Supervisor says "Amtelco has always welcomed input from their customers on ways to improve their products. The Innovation Machine and Innovation Committee were created for a way to communicate those ideas...We look forward to working together with NAEO and receiving input into the requests received.”

Remember to keep those great ideas coming. Amtelco is listening!

Innovation Machine: https://service.amtelco.com/iswebscriptingim/
(You will need your Amtelco service code/password to access the site.)

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Creating Customer Focus

by Barbara Bradbury, Password Communications

It is important that CSRs understand what is and is not acceptable, and that you are not willing to subject your customer’s callers to anything but the best customer service available.

In our call centre we determined that 3 NON-NEGOTIABLES are:

  • The correct spelling of the caller’s name

  • The correct telephone number

  • A courteous attitude throughout the call

Instead of listening to calls for one client who is at risk, we listen to calls for all clients, for all CSRs, and evaluate them on a variety of criteria loosely based on the CAM-X award of excellence. (A good idea would be to involve the CSRs on the creation of the QA criteria) After listening... the CSR is also invited to listen and evaluate their performance... with coaching goals and methods established as required. As with anything that is measured and regularly monitored ... improvement was inevitable!

Of course, you need to be prepared to make the tough decisions if you have staff who simply don't meet your standards. Each CSR who needs to improve their skills should be given one thing at a time to work on, and agree to a date by which they will master it. Our job is to provide the required coaching and encouragement, and to monitor their progress and provide feedback on a daily basis. If after the agreed upon time, and the agreed upon coaching, the CSR does not show significant improvement... you may need to invite them to find their success elsewhere for the sake of your customers and their callers.

Pretty soon CSRs start asking when they will be evaluated next ... as they anxious to get the positive feedback that we sometimes don't make enough time to give.

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Infinity Universal DID Automates One-Number Call Forwarding Without ISDN Span Definitions

by David Drenk

With the optional Infinity Universal DID feature, one-number call forwarding is no longer defined by ISDN span. Instead, when calls come in on a PRI ISDN trunk or a SIP trunk the server automatically goes through a progression: the server looks at the Redirected Number, then the Original Number, then the Called Number, looking for the ID. Once the ID is found, it is used to route the call to the appropriate client account.

Client source IDs are entered in Infinity Supervisor Client Setup pages, on the Account General Information page. Infinity Supervisor versions 5.51.13 and later allow multiple source IDs to be entered for each client account. This allows one Infinity client account be created for a client that has multiple numbers, instead of having to create a separate account for each number. This results in a smaller database size and makes client accounts easier to maintain because all of a client’s information is contained in one account.

With the optional Infinity Universal DID feature, the client source IDs can include a Redirected Number or an Original Number. Depending on the phone carrier equipment used, the number that the caller dialed is either stored as the Redirected Number or the Original Number. When a call comes in to the server on a PRI ISDN trunk or a SIP trunk, first the Redirected Number is compared to the client source IDs for each Infinity account. If no match is found, the Original Number is compared to the client source IDs. If still no match is found, the Called Number (which is usually the DID number that the client’s calls were forwarded to) is compared to the client source IDs. By following this progression, Infinity Universal DID eliminates the need for purchasing individual DID number for each client. All clients can forward calls to one DID number, because Infinity Universal DID compares the Redirected Number and Original Number to the client source IDs to route the call to the correct client account.

Another benefit of Infinity Universal DID is that One-Number Call Forwarding is no longer defined by span, so One-Number Call Forwarding can be implemented on a span that is also handling calls sent to individual DID numbers. This makes better use of the phone resources and can eliminate the cost of purchasing additional spans. Universal DID may also be used as a backup or as part of a disaster plan. Digital Trunk Overflow is generally directed to one DID number, but if redirection information is sent, Infinity Universal DID can route calls to the correct account numbers even if all traffic is sent to one number.

Requirements:

  • Infinity 5.51.08 and later
  • Infinity Supervisor 5.51.13 and later
  • Universal DID

    Part Number: 232S835

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The Send Email Response Element

by David Drenk

The Send Email response element provides a simple way to send an e-mail message from the IS server when contact-based dispatching is not necessary. The Send Email action sends an e-mail message to the e-mail address specified in the Recipient property. The message subject is specified in the Subject property and the message contents are specified in the Message property.

The Recipient, Subject, and Message properties in the Send Email element all have adjustable field types, so their contents can be pulled from message script fields, ACD fields, client fields, and system fields or simply can be programmed to specific text values.

The Send Email action works independent of the dispatch process, so no dispatch job or follow-up actions are created. For advanced dispatching, the optional Select Contact and Contact Dispatch elements should be used instead.

General Properties
Recipient: Specifies the e-mail address of the recipient.
Subject: Specifies the subject line of the e-mail message.
Message: Specifies the content of the e-mail message.

The Recipient, Subject, and Message properties have variable field types, which can be changed to use data obtained from other parts of the message script. By default, the field type of each of these properties is Text. To change the type of information that can be stored, click the field type, select "Change To” from the drop-down menu, and select a field type from the submenu.

Send Email when running in testdrive: If this check box is selected, an e-mail will be generated by this action in Test Drive mode as well as in live use. If this check box is not selected, no e-mail message will be generated when running the script in Test Drive mode.

Requirements:

  • Infinity Telephone Agent 5.60.3748.27 or later
  • IS Supervisor 5.60.3748.10 or later
  • IS Messaging
  • SQL Server 2000 or later
  • Web Scripting 3.1.3748.17 or later (optional)
    or
  • Soft Agent 3.1.3748.07 or later
  • IS Supervisor 5.60.3748.10 or later
  • IS Messaging
  • SQL Server 2000 or later
  • Web Scripting 3.1.3748.17 or later (optional)

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Infinity 101

by John VanWalsum

Questions

1. All of the following scenarios regarding an Infinity oncall or an IS Oncall are possible EXCEPT:

A. An IS script automatically populates a field with the oncall person’s name.
B. An operator presses the Oncall key on a Kb-163 keyboard or Menu – N on a 101 keyboard
C. When an operator answers a call, the oncall schedule automatically pops.
D. All of the above are possible.

SEE ANSWER

2. An UltraComm dial string with an even filter code can fax only 1 time and never again

TRUE OR FALSE

SEE ANSWER

3. The voice mail checkin passcode applies to all the following EXCEPT:

A. Infinity web users who log on by account number.
B. Infinity web users who log on by operator login.
C. Mailbox owners who call a voice mail checkin line.
D. Two of the above.

SEE ANSWER

4. Which IS scripting actions can move the focus to a different input?

A. Select Input
B. Set Field
C. Set Screen Mode
D. Two of the above
E. All of the above

SEE ANSWER


Answers

1. D
Letter A is an IS script action programmed in IS Supervisor – Client – Intelligent Messages. Letter B is a default within the Telephone Agent CTRL+F12 configuration. Letter C is programmed in Infinity Supervisor – Client - Operator Interface – General.

2. FALSE
Even-numbered filter codes transmit the fax and mark the message delivered. Odd-numbered filter codes transmit the fax only. Filter codes up to 31 allow a resend. Filter codes 32 and higher allow a one-time send only. An internal flag prevents any other one-time send dial string from working for the messages previously faxed.
https://service.amtelco.com/INFINITY/Inf5x/KnowledgeBase/BooksManuals/Dialstrings11.pdf

3. Both A and C apply
The passcode is digits only. This pass code does not apply to IS Web.

4. Both A and C apply
A Set Field can hold a reference value, including a value of nothing, for later script use.
https://service.amtelco.com/doclib/PDF%20files/iSeries_Binder/v5-5/ResponseElementLibrary5_5.pdf

John VanWalsum has been with Amtelco, in the training department, since 2003. He grew up in Muskegon, MI and after spending some time in college, moved to Houston, TX. John went back to Michigan in 2003 and found a job working in the Telephone Answering and Paging services industry. He states, "I have enjoyed my years with Amtelco, and am amazed at the evolution in equipment this industry uses. I have so enjoyed training the many customers of Amtelco, on its uses in everyday applications. As technology continues to change, I know we will all be presented with more challenges, yet I look forward to sharing the knowledge I gain with all our customers in making this industry better."

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