Categories
Writing and Publishing

So, You Found My Website—Which One?

Many people were amazed and impressed that my web address matches my name: PeterDeHaan.com. I’ve had it for almost twenty years. When I registered it in 2000, it was not hard to procure a domain name matching one’s given name. (At the time, DeHaan.com was also available, and I vacillated on which one to register.)

However, I also have several other websites:

ConnectionsMagazine.com for my magazine, AnswerStat.com and Medical Call Center News are for healthcare/medical call center, and TAS Trader for the telephone answering service industry.

Most of my other sites relate to the call center industry. Three are locator sites: FindACallCenter.com, FindAnAnsweringService.com, and FindAHealthcareCallCenter.com

Two other sites: StartACallCenter.com and StartAnAnsweringService.com, were both started when I was doing consulting and grew weary of answering the same basic questions over and over.

I also have AuthorPeterDeHaan.com (about writing) and Peter DeHaan Publishing (my business website).

Then there is www.ABibleADay.com, a site to encourage regular Bible reading, with basic information for those not familiar with the Bible. Plus there are six more.

Altogether, they represent thousands of pages of information and collectively generate millions of page views a year.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Why Work Is Cyclical

work

In theory, my workload should proceed as a steady flow of predictable effort year round. In reality, it doesn’t happen that way.

It takes five weeks from start to finish to produce one issue of one magazine, and Connections Magazine is published six times a year. Medical Call Center News and Answer Stat releases every other month, while TAS Trader releases every month. This means I’m typically working on two or three issues of one publication or another at any given time.

This results in a steady, expected ebb and flow of activity. In addition, are blogs which are updated weekly, and scheduled monthly duties. It would seem that my work should smoothly move from one day to the next, evenly paced throughout the year.

The reality is that my effective workload is quite cyclical. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, things are slow. Between Christmas and New Year’s, it’s extremely slow. It’s also slow during the summer. After Memorial Day, things drop off. And after the Fourth of July, it’s as if someone turned off a switch; it stays that way until Labor Day.

The times between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day, as well as Labor Day to Thanksgiving Day are my “busy times.”

Ironically, I have the same amount of work to do throughout the year, but it takes twice as long to accomplish it during my “busy times.” The reason is that during my “busy times,” I receive more phone calls and email messages (mostly email). These communications don’t directly relate to my work of publishing magazines or websites, but they are tangential to it.

The flood of these secondary interactions is so much so that during my “slow times” I can generally do all required work in 3 to 6 hours a day, whereas during my “busy times” it takes 6 to 10 hours to accomplish the same amount of essential work. In fact, during my “busy times,” some Mondays are so bad, that all I do is respond to email messages. Some Friday afternoons are like that as well.

My conclusion is that these secondary email messages result in a huge productivity drain—in my case about 50 percent. If I can just curb non-essential email, I could reclaim a great deal of lost productivity.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

That’s a Lot of Blogging

I’ve been officially blogging now for 10 years. During that time, I have made over 500 posts in this blog.

Although I enjoy blogging, finding the ideal time to write has not been easy. Initially, I wrote in the evening, after my workday was done. This kept blogging from encroaching on vocation, but was also the time at which my writing prowess is at its lowest. In addition to that, I found that if I blogged just before bedtime, I had difficulty shutting my mind off and falling asleep.

Next, I tried ending my workday with a blog, but then didn’t work either as I was pushing to finish my workday with a flourish, which bogged down my blogging focus. Most recently, I tried to write right after a shortened lunch, but again work distractions abounded.

Actually, my best time to write is first thing in the morning; I’ve known that all along.  However, if I blog then, I’m not doing the writing for which I actually earn a living, but the kind that is merely fun. So my dilemma of when to blog continues.

I also intended to write about three posts a week, but with so many ideas bouncing around my brain, the desire to write has triumphed, producing five or more entries a week. So, to maintain a sustainable and manageable plan, I’m going to (try to) cut back to three times a week, while attempting to set aside mid afternoons for blogging.

On top of this, I have started other blogs and my main blog about biblical spirituality.

That’s a lot of blogging!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Magazine Goes Green – Sort of

A weekly (or almost weekly) magazine that I receive, recently announced that it was going to have four “green” issues this year, with the goal of being “carbon neutral” in 10 years.

I was curious how they would handle this “green” issue.  o their credit, they emailed me when it was ready and I went online to check it out. (Even though I proof the magazines I publish on a computer and online, I greatly dislike reading magazines on my computer.  To be direct, I don’t have a computer where I do my magazine reading.)

Upon clicking on the link, it took me to a sign in page, where I essentially requalified my subscription, which was a good idea on their part, as it will save extra work and effort for them later. Additionally, I didn’t need to pick a password and login, which is a good thing, too, as I have over 150 logins and passwords for the various sites I need to use and will thankfully be spared one for this site.

The presentation of the magazine was a PDF file (as I do with the electronic versions of my Connections Magazine and AnswerStat), with some hyperlinks in the table of contents to go directly to the articles. There were also links on the top and bottom of each page to speed readers back to the table of contents, to the next page, or to the previous page.

So, all is good — sort of.  The magazine had a green issue, it was relatively painless to access, and I could read it online — unfortunately, I don’t like reading magazines online.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Categories
Call Center Articles

A Lament, a Resolution, and a Great Idea

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In my recent blog entry “Express Mail is Urgent and Should Be Delivered Immediately – Unless Fuel Is Expensive” I complained about a perplexing development from the United States Postal Service (USPS).

A Lament: Each month the USPS sends me two Express Mail deliveries. Each contains a CD of address changes, one for this magazine and the other for its sister publication, AnswerStat. It is a service that I happily subscribe to in order to keep our mailing lists as up-to-date as possible, helping ensure deliverability.

I really like the service, but I dislike Express Mail because I am required to sign for the deliveries. If I’m on the phone or out of the office when the mail arrives, then I have to wait until the next day. Moreover, signing for the packages always interrupts something seemingly more important.

When my deliveries arrived this month, I was out of the office. The carrier left my other mail and a card notifying me about my Express Mail packages. I expected them to be delivered the next day as was always done in the past, but they weren’t – or the day after that, or the rest of the week. I wasn’t concerned. Even though “Express Mail” sounds urgent, in my case it’s usually not. All I need to do is make sure that I have processed the updates prior to submitting the mailing list for the next issue; in this instance I had a three-week cushion.

Eventually, my local post office called to say that if I didn’t pick up my packages, they would be returned to the sender. Before I could ask them to simply deliver them, the postmaster explained that because of high fuel prices, they would only make one delivery attempt.

That’s nonsense – because they deliver mail to me every day. It’s not really going to take extra gas to drop off my Express Mail at the same time. How idiotic – and ironic, given that the package says, “Extremely Urgent – Please Rush to Addressee.” They should be encouraging people to use mail, not discourage it. But not delivering Express Mail in order to save fuel is a great reason for people to seek alternative carriers. Even more puzzling is that my carrier drives her own vehicle, and I understand that she pays for gas; the USPS merely pays mileage, so in this instance their costs don’t change, regardless of the price of gas.

A Resolution: When I picked up my “Extremely Urgent” Express Mail Packages the next week, I tactfully complained. “I can appreciate that it’s a hassle for the carrier to have to get my signature, but it’s also a huge hassle for me. It’s there any way to work around this?”

I was excited when she quickly acknowledged a remedy; I was just as quickly dismayed when she explained it. The solution was simply asking the sender (in this case, another part of her own organization) to not require a signature. I tried not to snicker; I had made that request years ago only to be smugly told that a signature was a mandatory requirement of the address change service.

Nevertheless, out of sheer frustration and slightly encouraged by my postmaster, I tried again. I expected it to be a long, daunting task. The first dilemma was where to begin. I looked at my bill – yes, the USPS charges me for each address change notice that they send me. I called the number on the bill. The person who answered was challenged at comprehending my question and perplexed about where to even transfer my call. To her credit, she did spend time trying to obtain a baseline of comprehension so she could correctly route my call. After we played “Twenty Questions,” she transferred me.

The second person comprehended what I wanted but confirmed that she was not the person to help me. She transferred me to a third person.

This individual was in the correct department. She understood my question – and told me that suppressing the signature requirement wasn’t an option. Her confident solution was for me to simply tell my carrier that it was okay to leave the package in my mailbox without a signature. I countered with the words of my local postmaster. With a somewhat restrained sigh, she halfheartedly promised to check into it and call me back. I was seemingly no closer to a solution, but at least I wouldn’t be transferred again.

To my surprise, she called back that same day with good news. The signature requirement could indeed be suppressed. All I needed to do was send her this request via email. I quickly dispatched the message, and she soon replied with a confirmation that the change had been made. To my delight, she also told me the name of my account manager – in six years, I never knew I had one!

A Great Idea: Despite being transferred twice, receiving wrong information, waiting for a callback, and being required to confirm my request in writing, there were many good things that happened.

First, my problem was resolved – let’s not lose sight of that. Next, I was given useful information (the name of the person managing my account). Thirdly, although the initial person I talked to misrouted my call, she did make an admirable effort to understand what I was calling about and who should handle it. Then, the final person I talked to did what she promised, promptly called me back, and confirmed everything in an email.

What I haven’t yet mentioned was something the second person did. After carefully listening to me and asking clarifying questions to ensure she understood what I wanted to accomplish, she astounded me by saying, “If the person I transfer you to can’t help you, call me back, and I will work with you until we find the right person.” She then confirmed her number and repeated her name.

She took ownership of my problem when she didn’t need to, giving me assurance that she would work with me in navigating her organization’s bureaucracy. This action was so customer-centric and soothingly comforting, but I’ve never had anyone else do it.

I think it’s a great idea that every organization should adopt; how about you?

[From Connection Magazine October 2008]

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