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Telephone Answering Service

Hopper and Campbell Contribute to Tom Hopkins’ Book

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Jamey Hopper and Darlene Campbell both contributed to the recently released book, In It to Win It: The World’s Leading Experts Reveal Their Top Strategies for Winning in Business & Life. In addition to Campbell and Hopper, the book features Tom Hopkins and other experts sharing their insights. Hopkins opens the book by reminding us that “everyone is in sales” and then sharing his pointers to be successful when selling.

Darlene Campbell’s contribution is “The Difference Between Marketing and Sales: Clinching the Deal.” In it she recounts lessons learned from her days at toy maker Mattel. She would later apply these insights when she founded her own company, which is now known as Information Communications Group. She desired to create a “culture of success” in her business, fully implementing it when she rebranded her company in 2002. Her chapter concludes with several rules for rebranding, reminding us that “customer service isn’t a department” and to always include the wow factor in our sales efforts.

Jamey Hopper’s contribution for In It to Win It is entitled “Eight Steps to Building an Outstanding Team Which Provides World-Class Customer Service.” Jamey opens with something we all love to read about, an inspiring telephone answering service story, this one an example of superlative service. Building on the books Good to Great by Jim Collins and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, Jamey shares the eight steps he took to change his company, Dexcomm, from good to great and provide superlative service. These steps, he asserts, can be used by any organization “to provide world-class customer service.” Always striving to improve, he ends with this astute advice: “Once you discover the state of mind of your employees and customers, it is time to begin anew the process of building your company.”

In addition to Tom, Darlene, and Jamey, twenty-two other successful people share their stories, covering everything from sales to leadership to success, both in business and life.

In It to Win It was released earlier this year and is published by Celebrity Press; it can be purchased through their website and on Amazon. It is available in hardcover and Kindle.

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.

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Telephone Answering Service

TAS Trader Readers Speak Out

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Last month, we surveyed TAS Trader subscribers. We were pleased and encouraged by the high response rate, as well as the positive and insightful feedback. The bottom line is that TAS Trader is well-received, well-read, and enjoys much support.

Here are some of the details of what we learned:

  • 90 percent read every issue or a majority of the issues
  • 90 percent read it on their computer; 10 percent print it out and then read it. Plus, 13 percent save an electronic copy for future reference; 8 percent save a printed copy
  • 95 percent read the articles; 76 percent read the news; 48 percent read the classified ads
  • 100 percent preferred or had no opinion about it being formatted in landscape mode; no one disliked it in landscape mode.
  • 66 percent visit TAStrader.com; 50 percent go there to read articles
  • 60 percent felt that the current length was ideal; 17 percent would like to see more content

This is some phenomenal support and wonderful affirmation!

When asked about different ways of providing TAS Trader (such as in portrait mode, using a magazine reader, an email text message, or on a mobile device), none of the options suggested received more than 15 percent interest.

Lastly, when asked what type of content readers would like to see added to TAS Trader, the top five responses were:

1)   Guest columnists

2)   Articles from the greater call center industry

3)   News, such as acquisitions, moves, promotions, and new employees

4)   Profiles of answering services

5)   TAS association news and information

This is where you come in:

  • If you would like to submit a guest column or share your company news, please email it to peter@tastrader.com.
  • If you would like to have your answering service profiled in TAS Trader, please let me know. (If you require someone to write your profile, we can recommend a freelance writer who can interview you and write one for a nominal cost.)

TAS Trader is “by the TAS Industry…for the TAS Industry.” Your ideas and submissions make TAS Trader possible.

Thank you for your loyal support and for making us a success.

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.

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Telephone Answering Service

Scam Alert: Buyer Beware

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

The telephone answering service industry is a wonderful and close-knit community. Tales abound of one service going the extra mile to help another – even direct competitors providing aid in times of crisis. With that as the general tenor of the industry, it is surprising and hurtful when a scam is perpetrated on our members by a fringe player. Such is the case with this fraud alert. The gist is that the same accounts were sold – or partially sold – to several different buyers. Here is what was reported:

It was a small answering service in a remote area. The sellers reached out to TAS owners, offering to sell their client list. The asking price was a reasonable amount, neither too high nor too low. Things appeared to be in order, with proper documentation and attention to detail. Negotiations progressed as expected, with specifics being worked out and stipulations agreed to. As things drew towards a conclusion, a few red flags began to emerge. However, the risk was relatively low, and everything else was proceeding as expected. For the trusting buyers, with time and emotion invested in the purchase, it was easy to overlook these minor warning signs.

Then the sellers asked for money in advance. They were even accommodating in agreeing to receive a percentage in advance and the balance once the transfer was complete. Several TAS owners acquiesced, dispatching the agreed-upon advance payment. As it turned out, the buyer who acted quickest did end up with the accounts, but the others did not fare so well. The first indication of malfeasance surfaced when the new owner begins receiving calls from the other “buyers,” effectively demanding, “Why are you answering my accounts that I just bought?”

As far as the buyer who actually ended up with the accounts, the saga has not been pleasant for him either. Though he has the accounts, he can’t bill most of them for six months, because unbeknownst to him, they had paid for their service six months in advance.

How could this have been avoided? First, great care must be taken if any monies are to be paid in advance. Had each buyer made an on-site visit to hand the money over, he or she would have been able to see that there were no accounts to purchase. Another simple step would be to ask around. The TAS community is small, and no one operates in a vacuum. Surely, someone would have known about the seller’s reputation and business ethics.

Unfortunately, this scam alert doesn’t apply just to buying accounts. Similar swindles have also occurred regarding used equipment sales.

Though the TAS industry is a great one and friendships abound, it behooves everyone to remember, “Buyer beware!”

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.

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Telephone Answering Service

Become an “EAS” – an Email Answering Service

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

In my December column in Connections Magazine, I said, “Everything you currently do with phone calls, you need to apply to email. Answer email, screen email, route email, add value to email, prioritize email, and escalate email.” I’d like to delve into that a bit more, specifically as it relates to telephone answering services.

First, consider that, for most of your clients, you answer their main lines. Extending that to email, you can answer their main email addresses, such as those beginning with info@, sales@, and so forth. Because these are not specific individuals’ email addresses, companies usually assign someone to check these generic email accounts. However, doing so tends to take a low priority. Sometimes several days or even weeks go by without these being checked. I am aware of a situation where a company’s main email went almost a year without it being checked.

As a solution, you can offer an “email answering service.” Clients can forward or redirect these generic email addresses to your TAS. Your agents receive the messages and delete the spam, forward the routine email to the appropriate person or department, and reply to basic questions. If something qualifies as an “emergency,” you escalate it as appropriate, just as you would with a phone call. If it is an order, you enter it into their order entry system; if they want literature, you fulfill it, etc. Since everyone with email is overrun with it, and since most everyone has email, the overall possibilities for your client base are vast. Properly executed and marketed, it could be a completely new business line for you – EAS (email answering service)!

Also, specific email addresses, such as a customer service email, could be (and should be) redirected to you when your clients forward their lines in the evening. It seems like common sense, but I imagine that those who actually make provisions for their customer service email after hours are rare.

As far as individual employee email addresses, just like with employees’ direct lines, there is not as much call for your involvement. However, there is still opportunity, such as for a busy CEO. You can screen email, delete the spam, reply to basic questions, forward routine email to an assistant, and prioritize the rest.

As an example, on the TAS Trader website, my posted email is dehaan@tastrader.com, while the one I personally give out is different. Presently, they end up in the same place, but the potential is there for someone to screen all dehaan@tastrader.com emails, deleting the spam, forwarding sales inquiries directly to Valerie, our media rep, and forwarding the rest to me for my personal attention.

While any organization could do these things themselves, they might be better served to hire you to do it, just as they do for their phone lines. This means that your TAS could become an EAS, too!

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.

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Telephone Answering Service

See Your Name in TAS Trader

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

The tag line for TAS Trader is “By the TAS Industry…For the TAS Industry.” This means that we want our content to come from people who are part of the telephone answering service industry. Usually, we are able to meet that goal, but not always. To fully reach this objective, we need your help; let us share your TAS news and articles with the industry. Here’s how to make that happen:

The Basics

First, there are two options: news and articles. News items are up to 110 words in length and are ideal to announce mergers and acquisitions, significant business milestones (such as twenty-five, forty, fifty, sixty, and seventy-five years in business), new hires and promotions, expansions, new locations, and so forth. Articles are 300 to 700 words long and are a great way to share your ideas, opinions, successes, or “learning opportunities” you’ve encountered along the way. Sometimes, a news item will become an article. Such is the case with this month’s lead article, LaVergne’s TeleMessaging Celebrates Fifty Years; it was just too interesting for a short news item.

The Key

Write about what you know. The result will be an interesting and informative piece that will resonate with readers. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer. We can tweak your work; our goal is to make you look good! Although we prefer organized submissions, with complete sentences and proper punctuation, we can work with whatever you provide. The key is that you need to submit it.

Avoid Hyperbole

The more spectacular the language in your writing, the less believable it becomes. Words such as “leveraged,” “solutions,” “unique,” “revolutionary,” “leading,” “cutting-edge,” and “world-class” are overused – avoid them. Exaggerated copy, unsubstantiated claims, and self-promotion push readers away instead of drawing them in. When hyperbole obscures the message, communication doesn’t take place.

Use the Third Person

Writing objectively in the third person gives your piece increased integrity and greater trustworthiness; it is more credible. First-person content is never acceptable in news items – it comes across as self-serving, bragging, or unnecessarily introspective. Writing in the third person generally works best for articles too. The exceptions are firsthand commentaries, how-to pieces, and experiential accounts, which are best written in the first person.

Proof Your Work

Spell-check and proofread your writing. It is nearly impossible to catch your own mistakes; you know what you intended to write, so that is how you read it. Ask someone else to prove it. We will go over it too, which leads to…

Expect to Be Edited

Even the most experienced writers have their work edited. This can be for many reasons. A common one is a length, another is style, and a third is content suitability. Sometimes a piece is given a different slant to increase interest.

Timing

If you desire your news to be in a specific issue, get it in on time; sooner is always better. The lead-time for TAS Trader is longer than you might imagine, so follow the due dates and read our submission guidelines.

Submit It

Once it’s ready, just email a Word file of your news or article. Then look for it in an upcoming issue!

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.