NAEO Newslinks-Sept08
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September 2008

Save the Date!

2009 NAEO Conference

March 1-4, 2009
Cancun, Mexico

For more details,
click here.




Betty Bouchie

From the Editor:
Learn Something New
by Betty Bouchie

Living in a city that has a number of universities and colleges, September brings its own challenges. "Where am I going to park?” "How can I turn when there is a steady stream of students haphazardly making their way across the street, with and without the light?” "Why is the store out of Kraft Dinner?” Along with the space and supply challenges, there is also a constant visual reminder that there is something new, different and interesting to learn each day. These students come from all over the world to challenge their minds and professors with tried and true, fresh and sometimes powerful ideas. Don’t we all owe it to ourselves and our staff to start September with the same vigor? The human mind is the most amazing and versatile tool we have.

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Be Inspired

"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944)

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Something to Smile About...
Oh, Those End-Of-Summer Blues
From CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Why does it seem that at the end of the summer, so many people suffer from a case of the blues? Clinical psychologist and contributor Robin Goodman talks about it and suggests ways to help feel better on The Saturday Early Show. Read more at CSBNEWS.COM.

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On-Call Change Behavior
by Betty Bouchie, QEII Health Sciences Centre

Allow Infinity to Do the Work
Setting up OnCall change behavior time takes a little longer, but you end up with no operator time for continued use. What we wanted was for three people, covering nine sites, using their own cell phones, to be reached using one number.

The Set Up
We created a DID "Duty Administrator line” for the main account.



Set the Standard to "Bye”, allowed a "0” to Operator and then set a digit to correspond to each on-call "site group” account.

Record a greeting identifying the correct digit selection.



Set the Standard for each On-Call "Site group” account to "On-Call Change.”



Set up an On-Call directory for each "Site group” with the account number as an "Account #” roster field type.



Then set up an account for the cell phone of each person in each "site group” directory, with the Standard of "Follow me.”



Set the dial string for Service list one, on each cell phone account, to place the caller on hold, and then dial the cell phone.

Assign the On-Call account in On-Call Supervisor and provide Web On-Call access to allow the Administrators to enter and view their own schedules.

How it works
When an Administrator is needed, the caller dials the main number, chooses the digit corresponding to their site and is connected to the cell phone for Administrator OnCall.

What Infinity Does: Duty Administrator for QEII
The caller dials the "Duty Administrator line” [7100] and selects the correct digit for the "Site Group,” Infinity changes client to the selected OnCall account, checks to "see” who is OnCall, then changes to that account, places the caller on hold and dials the cell phone number as entered in the service list.

What are the Benefits?
One common number is used for all Administrators for nine sites. All Administrators use their own cell phones. All OnCall management is done by the Administrator group. Administrator calls or call schedules are not handled by an operator. It is clean, fast and accurate.

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Associate Member Spotlight: XLScheduler
Scheduling Call Center Business from Sweden
by Annika Heaver, President XLScheduler

Just outside Gothenburg, on the west coast of Sweden in a suburb called Partille, you will find an old railway station. The beautiful buildings are surrounded by a lovely garden and go back to the early 1920s and look almost exactly as they did way back then. One of the buildings is now a restaurant run by a well-known Swedish chef but on the remaining three buildings you will find signs saying XLScheduler AB and ExcelSpecialisten XLS AB.

The company, ExcelSpecialisten, was started in 1993 by Hans Wilhelmsson, who up until then had been working as a mechanical engineer for well-known companies such as Volvo, Saab and Ericsson. His fascination with Excel led him to start his own business using Microsoft Excel and VBA to create tailor-made applications in areas such as financial reporting, logistics and other types of information systems. In 1996, he met Allan Fromm via an Excel list serve. During his travels in Europe, Allan decided to visit Hans in Sweden and this was the beginning of a long friendship. Together they came up with the idea of creating an application that would forecast a target for call volumes to help in the scheduling process. This is what would later become a part of the first version of XLScheduler.
Hans Wilhelmsson

XLScheduler, together with its sister company ExcelSpecialisten, moved to Partille in late October 2007. The buildings had by then been carefully renovated by Hans Wilhelmsson, the owner of both companies. Hans, who apart from being a successful businessman is also very handy with a hammer, both organized and took part in the renovating work himself. Even though the buildings are now offices, Hans made sure to keep all of the old features, such as wooden beams and old, hand-blown windows, and insisted that each room was decorated to enhance those same features. So it is in these beautiful surroundings that the workforce management system XLScheduler is developed.

ExcelSpecialistenXLS AB
XLScheduler AB

Working with a product is very different from developing custom-made applications, so in order to focus on the product and how to best move forward, it was decided that the company was to be split into two sister companies. In May 2007, XLScheduler became a company of its own, with Annika Heaver as president. The company today has 10 employees. The group that handles support and testing is led by Anna Wannberg, Manager of Operations, while the team of developers is headed by Johan Ohrn, Development Manager.

Annika Heaver
Johan Öhrn
Anna Wannberg

The product has come a long way since 1996 and now covers much more than just scheduling. XLScheduler is now a workforce management system that offers support for various parts of a call center organization. XLScheduler calculates targets for future call volumes using historic data from the switch for accuracy and creates fully automated, optimized schedules, taking skills, availabilities, multi-tasking and other vital parameters into consideration. A web-based module allows agents to see their schedules via the Internet and to make requests for time off. There are reports to show agent efficiency and late arrivals. Other reports display call statistics in great detail. All reports are presented both graphically and in a numeric format for a better user experience. Later this year, the release of the new time registration product will also be available. This product consists of a web-based time clock for agents to register work times, which will then be processed into a format that can be exported to various payroll systems.

A workforce management system will help make the best use of a contact center’s resources, making sure to maintain service levels by having the right person, in the right place, at the right time. It will also free up time for those who currently spend too much time manually creating schedules. Using a time clock, making sure that the agents follow their schedules, paying for time actually worked and, at the same time, creating reports for your payroll system will save both time and money. Today, companies look to find ways to optimize their everyday work, and a workforce management system will help in doing that.

At XLScheduler, our customers are always our No. 1 priority. We currently have customers in the U.S., Canada, Holland, Norway and, of course, Sweden. Today the Internet has made the world a much smaller place and installations and support can now be easily accomplished from a distance. However, we believe that it is very important to meet as many customers as possible in person so, even though we are situated in Sweden, we make sure to attend several meetings and conferences in the U.S. and Canada every year. Naturally, as NAEO Associate Members, we attend the NAEO annual meetings, but also meetings such as CAM-X, ATSI and SNUG.

Working with the TAS business is both exciting and challenging and we hope to continue doing so for a very long time.

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

Plan Now for the 2009 NAEO Conference in Cancun!
by Kelli Harrigan

So you want to celebrate NAEO's 25th Anniversary and join us at the Annual Conference in Cancun but are afraid you can't afford it?

Well, the first question should be – can you afford NOT to go? NAEO is known throughout the industry as having members that share more with each other than any other industry association. There are few investments in the world today where an investment could reap an ROI of within a month or two, and the ideas shared at the conference can easily do that for you. Find out about a new service you can sell and/or a few hundred dollars you can shave off of your expenses, and the conference will pay for itself in no time! Our education committee has put together an outstanding line-up of topics so that every attendee will be able to walk away with valuable information. Keep an eye on the NAEO website for further details. Our brochures will be in the mail soon!

The next question is, what are the real costs for the conference? You may assume that because it is out of the country, in Cancun, Mexico, that the costs will be out of line. But in reality, if you look at past conferences, such as Savannah, you will find that this conference is just as cost effective. NAEO works hard to keep our costs down to allow as many members and non-members to attend as possible every year, and this year is no exception. By selecting an all-inclusive resort, we have eliminated a lot of the expenses that you would usually pay. Here is just one example from last year's conference in Savannah...

Robin Bailey sent her staff member, Deborah, to the Savannah Conference where she had a single room:

  • Room Rate: $184.00
  • Resort fee: $17.12
  • State Tax : $12.88
  • Local Tax: $11.04
  • City Fee: $1.75

So before you have even paid for a meal, the cost was $226.79 per night. Once you add on a meal each day or any kind of bar tab, you are quickly into the $250/day range.

Compare that to Cancun where a single rate is $250 per night and that includes all food and beverages, Internet access, 24-hour room service, and all taxes and gratuities! Cancun could actually be less expensive for you to attend!

Here are some cost savings ideas if you are still concerned:

  1. Make sure to register for the conference early to take advantage of Early Bird rates.
  2. Register as soon as possible for your hotel room to ensure availability, particularly if you are planning on adding days before/after the conference.
  3. Find a friend to share a room with you if you are travelling alone. There are rates for singles, doubles and triples (there may be a limited number of quads available as well - check with the hotel if it is of interest). The best cost savings would be to find a roommate to share a double with.
  4. Go online to check for airline rates and set fare alerts. Planning on flights that are not non-stop can save you some money, but be sure to plan enough time between flights to ensure you don't miss your connection! When looking at airline rates, be careful to take into account their fees and taxes when calculating the cost of your tickets as each airline is handling this differently.

Make your plans now!See you in Cancun March 1-4!

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NAEO Scholarship Deadline Approaching

One of the many great member benefits that you should be taking advantage of are the two scholarships available to our members. These scholarships help offset educational costs and recognize employees for their great work in the industry. The deadline is fast approaching on October 1, 2008, so please consider applying, or encourage a colleague to apply today!

William & Eleanor Curtin Scholarship
The Curtin Scholarship is a nonprofit educational scholarship sponsored by the National Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO). The fund recognizes the immense contributions the Curtins have made to the messaging industry, and their lifelong mission to educate and inspire their valued customers.

Mr. and Mrs. Curtin, the founders of AMTELCO, consistently provided the products, the vision and the techniques to greatly advance our industry. As entrepreneurs, they were present at the beginning of the Telecommunications revolution, arguably one of the most significant events of the second half of the 20th Century.

NAEO offers this scholarship to individuals who demonstrate similar entrepreneurial traits. The applicant should be a motivated, curious individual who has chosen Telecommunications as a career.

The recipient will receive:
A $500.00 cash award to be used to attend a conference or educational course or for the development of an innovative approach to call center management in his or her office. (Examples: call center seminar, college management course or to purchase software to develop a quality assurance program).

In exchange the recipient will:
Write an article for Newslinks within a year of receipt of the award detailing his or her experience and discoveries. Winners are also encouraged to share their results with the NAEO membership through webinars, the NAEO website and participation in the annual conference.

Download the application form here.

The Christina Collins Educational Scholarship Fund
The Christina Collins Educational Scholarship Fund was established in loving memory of Christina Collins by the Board of Directors of the National Amtelco Equipment Owners. Christina owned and operated a telemessaging bureau prior to joining AMTELCO as a TAS consultant. She assisted several EVE owners with the schematics and design of their offices. Her commitment to this industry was demonstrated by freely sharing her expertise. Christina was a highly respected individual with great integrity and a strong sense of loyalty to the NAEO membership. As she was also a great advocate of education, the NAEO Board has established this annual scholarship award in her honor. The scholarship will be bestowed on a worthy employee from a NAEO member's office for the sole purpose of attending the annual NAEO or ATSI conference or any other seminar or training sponsored by NAEO (registration fee, room and board) within 16 months from the date awarded.

Download the application form here.

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Summer in Philadelphia
by Cori Bartlett,NAEO President-Elect 2008-2009

2008-09 NAEO Board: (left to right)

Kelli Harrigan, Trisha Stenberg, Cori Bartlett, John Ratliff, Jim Wagner, Matt Crocker, Joe Adam, Andy Shelp, Ron Waine, Robin Bailey, Mike Burkinshaw

The NAEO Board of Directors held a meeting on July 15-17, 2008 in Philadelphia, PA. NAEO President John Ratliff and his wife were expecting their child any day. While the baby was not born during our Board meeting, many exciting developments were… Some highlights include:

Financial Report as of June 2008
NAEO’s total assets as of this report equal $225,965.54. Our Treasurer, Robin Bailey, made the recommendation and the Board made a motion to invest $50,000 of cash from Checking/Savings into a CD for 9 months to diversify NAEO’s investments.

Management of NAEO
After careful consideration, much discussion and some negotiations, the Board decided to continue our relationship with Ewald Consulting for another term of 2 years. The many resources Ewald Consulting offers NAEO, from Executive Directorship to Event Planning and Marketing, make them a great fit for our organization.

Membership
Ron Waine and his committee work diligently to gain new members and retain existing members. In addition to a Member Benefit webinar on September 9, 2008, Ron is investigating options for developing an NAEO pre-employment screening program. A motion was also made by the Board to offer a 15% discount to members who make a three-year payment for membership dues.

Technical
Joe Adam is investigating a document management system for NAEO’s materials. He and others have worked with and continue to work with Amtelco on terms and conditions for an API release.

Conference
December 1 is the early-bird registration deadline for NAEO 2009 in Cancun, Mexico: A Silver Past… A Golden Future. Do not miss the opportunity for an education-packed conference including separate session tracks for hospital, operations and sales & marketing. Get your passports now! Visit www.NAEO.org for details and to register.

We are also already in discussions and making plans for NAEO 2010! The location of that Conference will be revealed in Cancun!

Education
Trisha Stenberg and her committee are working to provide education to our members in many forms. The Intelligent Series training provided in conjunction with ATSI in St. Louis, was very successful. NAEO’s Supervisor Training seminar in conjunction with GLTSA will be held on October 22-23, 2008 in Lisle, IL. Visit www.NAEO.org for details and to register. You will also find a calendar of upcoming Webinars on this site.

Tech Helper
Mike Burkinshaw, along with Amtelco, in an ongoing joint collaboration are developing and restructuring the Amtelco Tech Helper website. These exciting updates to the site are making it much more user-friendly and resourceful for all of your Amtelco equipment questions.

Disaster Recovery
Our President, John Ratliff, is working with a business continuity expert in a commitment to provide the NAEO membership with a disaster recovery protocol specific to our needs. He will be working with them throughout the year in an effort to deliver this.

I look forward to reporting on more developments and NAEO’s progress throughout the year.

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Pay for Performance
by Randy J. Ripkey, Accurate Messages, Inc.

What a Concept, Right?
Being paid if you do your job, and being paid less if you if you’re not doing your job… It’s almost like being a business owner. If we do our job right, we make money. And if we don’t, we lose money.

Like many, if not most of you, I am in my office almost every day for several hours. I do my job. I make sure the bills get paid, I make sure there’s more than enough money in the bank to cover payroll, I approve adding payroll hours and the hiring of more employees as we add new accounts, I try to control costs, I handle the occasional technical, customer service, or personnel issue, I manage our infrastructure to make sure we have adequate systems in place to handle our call volume, I manage the sales team, etc. And yes, I make good money.

The Way it Used to Be
While I’m in the office, the employees are all smiling professionals, doing their jobs just like I’m doing mine. But then I leave, and the party begins. There was little motivation for any employee to be careful about following procedures (repeating names, phone numbers, etc.). You had to be pretty unlucky to be "caught” making a mistake, and it usually didn’t cost you anything more than a few days of unpaid vacation.

Meanwhile, losing a customer can cost several thousand dollars in lost revenue, and the price of bringing in new accounts (salespeople commissions, marketing costs, etc.) is significant. We simply cannot afford to lose customers due to mistakes made by our operators that could have been avoided.

Oh No, Not MY Employees…
I have a very good team of employees. Not too many mistakes on customer accounts, no real attendance problems, no significant personality issues, one big happy family. But then my sales team, who are paid on commission, and who are subject to commission reversals if a new account cancels too soon, began telling a different story about problems. Problems my managers were "handling,” but keeping to themselves. No sense upsetting the boss…

Pay for Performance is Nothing New
It’s been around for a long time, and I had brushed it off. After all, I don’t have any employee problems, right? But now I’m hearing things I don’t like hearing from my salespeople. Then, while on the STA Cruise with my good friend Jonathon Pierce, the topic came up, and he shared with me how successful his pay for performance plan was.

Still in disbelief, on the ride back from Fort Lauderdale I decided to have my managers do some rather in-depth reviews of calls from Logger, and report the results. We have always done random reviews of calls, but I wanted something really comprehensive. The results were disappointing to say the least.

An Independent Third Party
I was referred to a former answering service employee who has since retired to take care of her children, but enjoyed making extra money reviewing calls based on the ATSI standards. She is completely unbiased. She’s never met any of my staff, not even me, and she lives far, far away. She is, however, very familiar with proper call handling procedures, and is qualified to review calls. I asked my manager to send her a sampling of calls from all of our operators. The results were eye-opening.

Operators, and even some lead operators and managers who I recognized as being among our best, failed miserably. Nobody was rude, there was nothing malicious going on, but there were few phone numbers repeated, questionable names rarely spelled back to verify, few "please” or "thank you’s.”

The Obligatory Call to My Attorney
I was hoping to keep this simple. Merely reduce someone’s pay if they’re not performing. But apparently that’s against the law, at least in Georgia. However, I could reduce everyone’s pay, and then pay a bonus, which can be any amount I like.

The Pay Cut
First, I hired some extra staff. I had no idea how this was going to go over. On May 20 of this year I gave notice of a $2.00 per hour across the board pay cut for all operators, and a $3.00 across the board pay cut for managers effective with the June 22 payroll period. I wanted to give plenty of notice, and plenty of time for everyone to get used to the new standards.

Modeled after Jonathon Pierce’s bonus plan, I simultaneously outlined the new "All Agents R E Q L Bonus” program, where the operators and managers can earn up to $2.00 per hour ($3.00 for managers) IF they met the criteria. Here is the plan:

All Agents R E Q L Bonus Point System
The bonus program is called the "All Agents R E Q L" Bonus as in all agents are equal to earn more money according to their performance. The formula for the bonus is as follows:

Reliable15% ($.30 per hour)
E fficiency 25% ($.50 per hour)
Q uality 50% ($1.00 per hour)
Leadership10% ($.20 per hour)
Total 100% $2.00 per hour

Reliability – To receive this bonus, the employee will need to show up for their shift on time, stay the whole shift, not call out, and not request to switch shifts after the schedule has been posted.

Efficiency – This portion of the bonus will be based on the employee’s performance statistics that are collected by the Infinity. To receive this portion of the bonus, the employee will need to score 80% or better based on analysis of Average Time to Answer, Average Talk Time, Average Hold Times, Average Disconnect Times, Calls with No Message, Reassign Rate and Abandon Rate.

Quality – This is the most important portion of the bonus program, and is weighted accordingly. The results will be based on an outside associate’s grading of 5 recorded phone calls from each agent every two weeks. The scores will be based on an agent assessment tool in our Voice Logger, and the questions will be based on the ATSI Award of Excellence program, a national standard for grading operator quality. Each agent’s scores will need to average 80% or better to be eligible for this portion of the bonus.

Leadership – This portion of the bonus program is the only subjective portion of this program. Points will be gained by your managers proposing to me in our weekly meetings why or for what an agent should be given points. Points will be earned by going above and beyond for the better of the company, and projecting a positive image and attitude.

For example, if an employee needs to leave early, or calls out sick during a scheduled week, and another employee who is aware of the situation calls or approaches a manager and offers to assist in covering the missing hours, this could earn Leadership Points. For another example, if a manager is calling employees to try to cover a shift, employees who do not answer their phone or do not return a phone call from the office are likely to lose Leadership Points.

Leadership Points may also be lost due to any acts not becoming of a leader. For example: putting your head down at your station; reclining with your feet up on another chair; negative conversations about callers, schedules, clients, and/or co-workers; verbal, written warnings; suspensions, etc. Again, anything that is not becoming of a leader is reason to lose points. The concept here is that everyone needs to be a leader for us to succeed. A successful team is made up of individual leaders with positive attitudes, and anything less is not acceptable.

Manager Bonus Pay
Managers will be included in the All Agents R E Q L program as described above. In addition, manager hourly rates will be adjusted downward effective with the June 22 payroll period by an additional $1.00 per hour, for a total of $3.00 per hour. Managers may earn up to $2.00 per hour bonus pay based on the same criteria as operator employees.

The additional $1.00 per hour may be earned based on the cumulative scores of operators assigned to them for development. Each manager will be assigned an equal number of operators. It is each manager’s responsibility to monitor, train and develop the operators assigned to them. To receive this portion of the bonus, 80% of your assigned employees must score at least 80% of their bonus points.

Nobody Quit!
And I was hoping a select couple of employees would, but… After the next pay cycle, the employees were able to see a "test run” of how they did without their pay being affected. They were as surprised as I was. Nobody really realized that every call counted. They couldn’t just do a good job some of the time, they would need to do their best all of the time.

Then suddenly I even noticed it. Sitting in my office I can hear my operators through my office door, and the pleasant sounds of "please" and "thank you” filled the air. Names were being spelled. Phone numbers were being repeated. It was magic!

The WOW Bonus
The second "test” payroll period was much improved, to say the least. One of our new operators even managed to get a 100% review of one of her random calls based on the ATSI standards. I noticed that she had also met all of her other REQL Bonus criteria, and the "WOW Bonus” was born.

I wanted to do something to recognize those who were really performing, so using the criteria of: (1) at least one 100% call review and (2) meeting all other REQL Bonus criteria, all employees are able to earn an additional $.50 per hour bonus. I usually have 2 or 3 employees receive WOW Bonus every pay period, and it’s become a popular challenge among the operators.

The Results
At the time of this writing, we have experienced three complete payroll periods under the All Agents REQL Bonus system, and everyone is still here. Some are happier than others, but I can say with confidence that my operators are doing an exceptional job. My salespeople are also impressed with the results, and I imagine my customers appreciate it as well. There is nothing like a good swift kick in the pocketbook to get some people’s attention.

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The 7 Touch Points of Communication
by Nancy Friedman, the Telephone Doctor

Oddly enough, there are 7 touch points of communications that can have you fouling up or enhancing a business (or personal) relationship. Do you know what they are?

Let’s go over each one; because throughout the day, both in business and our personal life, we all have the ability to "touch” people in 7 varied methods of communication. And as with most things, there are pros and cons. Here we go.

Touch Point #1– The telephone. And not just your business or home phone. Your cell phone too. Telephone Doctor surveys show that more than 80% of all business transactions involve a phone call at some point. The telephone is what’s known as a synchronous method of communication. And what that means is – you’re in "sync” with the person you’re talking with. At the same time. You can have a simultaneous two-way exchange of information. Immediately. No waiting.

The best part of the telephone touch point is the ability to hear the tone of voice. That brings in the listener’s imagination. Almost like the radio. We have no sight. Just sound. And how we perceive those sounds makes a whole lot of difference. So tone of voice is critical with the first touch point. Two people can say the same thing to one person; and yet the listener can hear it differently from each. All that being said, the telephone is a very effective and popular method of communication (providing you’ve reached your called party). It gets answers quickly. Responds rapidly. As you might imagine, this ‘touch point’ is one of the Telephone Doctor’s personal favorites.

Touch Point #2 – Email. Ah yes, the beloved email. Email is asynchronous. Meaning you communicate one at a time and you may not get immediate communication back. You will normally WAIT for an answer. And with email you have relinquished interpretation of the tone of voice to the other person. What you write can be ‘heard’ whatever way the reader wants to hear it. This can be dangerous. Email etiquette, while fairly new, will be around for a long time. However, suffice to say when we email something, it needs to be short, sweet and to the point. Plus it needs to be obviously friendly. It’s a delivery method that has the ability to sit for hours, sometimes days, without an answer. A client of ours told us once, "When there are more than 2 emails on the same subject back and forth, it’s time for a face-to-face meeting.” That’s easy to say for those of us who work in the same area; however, if your emails are international or even regional, a face-to-face meeting becomes another touch point.

Be careful in your emails. Many hurt feelings have come about due to insensitive writing. That’s a good place to practice all your "please and thank you’s." Short, terse, one-word answers are perceived as rude. (In any touch point.) And as they say: "Don’t put anything in an email you wouldn’t want in the daily newspaper.”

Touch Point #3– Voice mail. Again, asynchronous. You can leave a voice mail for someone and when you get an answer, if ever, it is up to him or her – not you. And it’s not instantaneous, as is speaking with someone on the telephone. So here again, your voice mail needs to be special. As we’ve said many times, there are 3 types of voice mails. Poor – average – and great. When you leave a voice mail, make it a great one. Remember, you get to use your tone of voice. That’s a real plus. The caller can hear the laughter, the smile and the tone. Use it to your advantage. Remember, too, voice mail was not made to hold conversations. Ask a question; get an answer. Smooth. In and out.

Touch Point #4– Good old U.S. mail. That’s probably one of the very first methods of communication. And we’ve used it and continue using it as a great method of communication. It goes with emails though, because the written word can be miscommunicated very easily. So email, voice mail and the U.S. Postal Service, are very similar when communicating. All are asynchronous. You will wait for an answer.

Touch Point #5
– The fax machine. Remember when that method of communicating came on the scene? Seems we didn’t know how we operated without it. And today, it trails sadly behind the other touch points. Yet, it’s still there and being used. Just not as much or as often. And a reminder, again, it is asynchronous. One-way information; waiting for an answer. And again, a reminder to watch what you put on paper! It could come back to haunt you.

Touch Point #6– Face-to-face communication. This obviously needs very little explanation. When we communicate face-to-face we have it all. Sight, sound, tone of voice, facial expressions, body language – the entire package. It is the ultimate synchronous touch point. And yet, still, with all those helpful items, we still continue to miscommunicate.

Touch Point #7– Instant Messaging (IM). While this method of communication isn’t quite yet in the mainstream, it is being used. However, 90% of all IM’s end up in a phone call. Instant messages may not be read right away. The person may be away from their computer or phone. Again, we can’t remind you enough. Be careful what you put into text messages. They can turn into an embarrassment for some.

So in this wonderful world of communications, you can see how it’s so easy to miscommunicate. In our workplace, we probably use all 7 touch points many times a day.

A few simple guidelines can help us focus on which touch point to use when:

• Telephone – If you reach your called party, GREAT. That’s immediate. It’s also good for leaving messages, if they don’t need an immediate answer. If you need immediate action, try to reach another person. The telephone is only synchronous when you have reached the called party.

• Voice Mail – That would be asynchronous. Leaving messages that will be returned when the called party decides to return them (if ever).

• Email – Again, one-way communication. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Use your manners. Remember, one word answers are perceived as rude.

• U.S. Mail – Still a great way to communicate. But be careful with the written word. Keep in mind how possible miscommunication might occur. Sometimes letters have come back to haunt us.

• Fax – For those who still use this method of communication, one pagers are appreciated. And again, the written word needs to be checked and double-checked to be sure it won’t be miscommunicated.

• Face-to-Face – The ultimate method of communication. Immediate reaction, tone, sight, sound, body language. Total SYNCHRONOUS communication. And that hug or handshake makes it all worthwhile!

• Instant Messaging (IM) – A fairly new form of communication; while not quite in the mainstream yet, it bears watching.

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© 2008 National Amtelco Equipment Owners. All Rights Reserved.
NewsLinks is distributed quarterly to NAEO members.

National Amtelco Equipment Owners
www.naeo.orginfo@naeo.org
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