By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Technology is exciting—at least to me. I love technology and its application. We talk a lot about the technology we use to help our telephone answering services function more effectively and provide a greater array of services to clients. It’s hard to imagine processing calls without technology.
Yet without staff, the best technology means nothing. Though the technology in our TASs is critical, the staff who use it is even more critical.
When we analyze our operation, it’s not our technology that makes us unique, it’s our staff. Other answering services can match our technology: computer for computer, application for application, and feature for feature. But no one can match our staff.
Yet the emphasis at too many answering services is the technology. These operations carefully investigate the options and pick the best one. They implement the technology, train their staff how to use it, and form marketing campaigns to reach a quick payoff for their investment and then generate a profit.
All the while, the staff at too many answering services gets whatever attention is left over, which, by the way, isn’t much. Too often staff seems expendable. Hire and train and then fire those who don’t work out.
Too many answering services have an embarrassingly high level of employee churn. Hire ten to find five good ones, one of which may actually work out for the long term. And frankly, some operations would view those numbers as good, but they’re not.
Working at an answering service is hard. Not everyone can do it. And some who could, don’t care to. The key is to discover this before hiring them, not after training them.
Just as we would never buy ten TAS applications and hope one would work out for the long term, we shouldn’t accept this when it comes to hiring staff.
Let’s stop accepting high employee churn as normal. Our employees are our strategic advantage. Let’s reimagine our staffing practices to reflect this reality.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.