Categories
Telephone Answering Service

Streamline Technology in Your Answering Service

Don’t Overlook the Technical Support Component of Optimizing Your TAS

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

In our final article on streamlining your telephone answering service, we’ll look at the technical side of things. For many services, the technology that runs it remains the least favorite aspect of the business. It’s necessary, but it’s not enjoyed.

By streamlining the technical aspects, answering services can remove some of the pain and uncertainty of maintaining a platform and its supporting components.

Hosted Solutions

The easiest way to streamline the technical aspects of running your answering service is to outsource it. Tap a hosted services provider to supply your technology needs from a distance. Not only does this give you added flexibility for remote agent stations, it also moves the tech-support aspect from your purview to theirs.

Backup Power

Making provisions to power your equipment during a power loss is essential for premise-based systems, but it’s also important for cloud-based solutions since some gear remains on site. Most backup power solutions will automatically switch over if utility power becomes unreliable. Resist the temptation to save a little bit of money with a manual transfer switch.

Automated Backups

You backup your database and hope you will never need it, but when you do, it better be current. Manually backing up information is not only time-consuming, but it’s also prone to human error and oversight. Of course, for hosted solutions, your vendor will manage all your backups for you.

Shared Responsibility

Too often the technical aspects of running an answering service fall to one person. This becomes a week area should that lone individual be unavailable. Therefore, have multiple people oversee this important responsibility. Don’t leave it on the shoulders of one person.

Clear Procedures

Document all technical processes in clear step-by-step instructions so that anyone on your staff can follow them. Be sure to post this information where your staff will need it, not filed away where it’s hard to find.

Service Agreements

Foregoing vendor service agreements and managing your technology in-house is one potential way to save money. But allowing your vendor to do this for you will likely save time and minimize service interruptions. Make sure your staff knows how to contact vendors and when to do so. Again, for cloud-based solutions tech-support is part of the package.

Action Plan

Take steps to streamline the technology that runs your answering service and the tech-support behind it. Doing so will minimize any anxiety you may feel over keeping your service up and running. 

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his book How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.

Categories
Call Center Articles

Should We Strive To Return To What Was Or Move Toward A New Normal?

Decisions We Make Today Can Better Prepare Us for Tomorrow

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As writers pitched their article ideas for this issue of Connections Magazine, everyone, it seemed, wanted to talk about coronavirus and Covid-19. While I want the content of this magazine to address relevant, real-world situations, I also didn’t want to let the topic take over every page. I’ve had a similar quandary about what to address in this column, wanting to share content of value for both today and tomorrow.

We’re now moving away from the severity of the coronavirus impact, even though it is still a factor in our everyday existence. Each person must decide for themselves the best way to move forward. Each call center faces the same dilemma.

Many people long for a return to normal. I get that. Many more, however, wonder if we ever will. Instead they see us moving toward a new normal. Though we may lament this as a loss, we can also celebrate it as an opportunity for our call center operations. Here are some examples we can embrace as our new normal.

Distributed Staff

Though by definition a call center is centralized, requirements for social distancing or the need to self-isolate have pushed our centers of operation to become decentralized. Some call centers have already embraced this concept, while others have fully implemented it. However, in our new normal, we’ll see a decentralized workforce occur at an accelerated rate. 

Now is the time to fine-tune our remote staff practices and management. Some call centers do this in preparation for a possible second wave of the pandemic, while others see it as a way to enhance their operation for better outcomes.

Flexible Technology

In the past decade, we’ve seen a gradual shift from premise-based technology to on-demand, internet-delivered solutions. This technology goes by different names, with its proponents debating the various distinctive differences. But the inescapable fact is that this move away from premise-based call processing platforms supplies increased flexibility for call centers.

With this flexible solution, no longer does a call center agent need to remain tethered to a station at one location. And the complexities of turning up a new station at a different site have disappeared to become a nonissue. 

With these various online solutions, anyone with an adequate computing device and an internet connection can log into their call center to process calls. Anytime, anywhere accessibility affords call centers maximum flexibility in deploying their staff as needed. 

Work-At-Home Reality

This crisis has shown what I’ve known for twenty years: there is value in working from home. Aside from the obvious benefits of no commute time, zero travel costs, and minimal dress code considerations, there’s the benefit of being able to continue working in a safe, socially distanced environment. 

Though working in a home office at times has its challenges, the benefits are huge, especially during a pandemic. As many people faced layoffs, reduced hours, or health risks by continuing to go to work, home-based workers continued business as normal. This takes us to another significant point.

An Ideal Industry

As nonessential manufacturing closed and most service businesses ground to a halt, the ability of call centers to tap home-based workers allowed them to continue serving their callers. And for those that had already embraced this operational model or had the flexibility to move to it quickly, their callers didn’t know the difference.

Parting Thought 

Though I hope not, we may again experience a repeat of government-mandated self-isolation to stave off the impact of a pandemic. Isn’t it great to know that the call center industry is perfectly poised to embrace such a reality, if or when it occurs? 

As coronavirus restrictions ease in most parts of the world, don’t strive to return to normal. Instead look forward to the amazing benefits of embracing a new normal.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine, covering the call center teleservices industry.

Categories
Healthcare Call Centers

4 Reasons to Implement New Technology

Now Is the Time to Invest in Your Call Center’s Future

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, Ph.D.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Long gone are the days when all you needed was a telephone and a message pad to process calls. For decades call centers have relied on technology to increase efficiency and optimize results. And never has that been truer than right now.

Consider these four reasons to invest in technology for your medical call center.

1. Save Time and Increase Efficiency

Advanced technology can offer time-saving processes that will increase the efficiency of your staff. This means they can do more work in the same time or the same work in less time. If this is the case, you can perform an analysis to calculate your payback period. This is a great approach to cost justify a technology investment.

2. Provide Additional Services

Older equipment can limit the scope of services you provide, but an upgrade may allow you to increase the scope of what you offer to your patients or callers. Again, you can calculate the payback period of your investment.

3. Go Online

Many older systems are premise based, making it difficult to have a distributed workforce or to establish remote work sessions. The present need for people to work at home may never go away, and this development has accelerated the trend toward work-at-home scenarios. Your future may depend on having this flexibility, so make the move today to prepare for tomorrow.

4. Avoid Obsolescence

A final consideration is platform age. Sometimes you take a system as far as it will let you, and then it limits the service you provide to callers. If you’re trying to operate using out-of-date technology, you may not be able to cost justify the investment by calculating the payback period or present it as a strategic move to prepare for the future. But that doesn’t remove the fact that replacing an obsolete system is an essential move if you want to be a viable resource for your organization and callers.

Conclusion

Your call center may already have the best technology available. But remember that systems are always changing, and what’s best today won’t be the best tomorrow. Most call centers, however, have a platform with at least a few areas that need improving. Now is the time to plan to make that happen.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News, covering the healthcare call center industry.