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									                                   JAN/FEB 2009


                      DEMING’S CONTRIBUTION
                      TO CALL CENTER QUALITY
                          IVR PROVIDERS
                      INCREASE YOUR WEBSITE
                         CONVERSION RATE
                                                                                        Mergers & Acquisitions

                                                       AS          Marketing Marketin
                                                                                        We offer Telephone Answering Service brokering
AGENT OUTSOURCING                                                      BILLING SOFTWARE and Private Business hosting. We also sell Call

                                                                                                                                                                                                                PROFESSIONAL Directory
                                                                                          Centers & Voice Mail Companies. Current
                                                                                               listings available on our web site.
                                                                                            Steve Michaels - TAS Marketing

                                                 ASAS T
                                                                                           406-827-4131 • Fax: 406-827-4554
AGENT OUTSOURCING                                                      BILLING SOFTWARE
     12 Academy Avenue

   Atkinson, NH 03811, USA

       Charlene Glorieux                                                                Mergers & Acquisitions
                                                                                        We offer Telephone Answering Service brokering
                                                                                        We offer Telephone Answering Service brokering
         866-896-ATSI                                                                   and Private Business hosting. We also sell Call
                                                                                        and Private Business hosting. We also sell Call                                                                     Centers & Voice Mail Companies. Current
                                                                                          Centers & Voice Mail Companies. Current                AFFORDABLE TAS EQUIPMENT

ASSOCIATIONS                                                                                   listings available on our web site.
                                                                                               listings available on our web site.

                                                                                 offer Telephone • 1-888-731-7002
                                                                        Shatz and AssociatesFax: 406-827-4554
                                                                       BROKERSMichaels - TAS Marketing                                              FOR ANY SIZE SERVICE

                                                                                        Mergers & Acquisitions

                                                T T
                                                                                              800-369-6126                                                        LEASING AVAILABLE

                                                                                  answering service hosting. and consulting.
                                                                        Telephoneand Private BusinessbrokeringWe also sell Call
                                                                              We 406-827-4131Answering Service brokering

                                                                              4%-5% commisions to sell your business

                                                                             29 years of telephone answering experience
                                                                                             & Voice Mail Companies.
   12 Academy Avenue                                                                   listings available on our web site.                                          888-527-2224

  Atkinson, NH 03811, USA                                                    BUSINESS BROKERS
                                                                                            Steve Michaels - TAS Marketing                               

        Charlene Glorieux                                                                  406-827-4131 • Fax: 406-827-4554
                                                                                                                                                 PInnacle - Making TAS EQUIPMENT
                                                                                                                                                AFFORDABLE your TAS as easy as PI!

                                                                                                                                                 The PInnacle of Simplicity... SEARCH SPECIALISTS
                                                                                                                                               PREMIER EXECUTIVE The PInnacle of Functionality...
                                                                                                                                                      FOR ANY SIZE SERVICE
      12 Academy Avenue

                                                                               and Associates 1-888-731-7002
                                                                                                                                                      The PInnacle of to most of the top ten service
                                                                                                                                               • Search consultantsSuccess for your Call Center.
  Atkinson, NH 03811,Oak Brook IL
                      Atlantic Meeting - USA
                     Atlantic States Telephone                         CONSULTINGBROKERS
                                                                       Shatz and Associates 1-888-731-7002
                                                                           BUSINESS                                                              agencies in the US and over 50 of the Fortune 500

                        Annual                                                                                                                           800.344.9944
                     Answering Association
                      AnsweringAssociation                                                                                                       companies.LEASING AVAILABLE

                                                                       Telephone answering service brokering and consulting.
        Charlene Glorieux2007October 22-24,                            Telephone Answering Service Brokering and Appraisals
                                                                                                                                                              Small companies, too.
 Great Lakes
 Supervisor Training April 21-22, 2009 Exec Director                                                                                           • All custom searches using a 25,000 resumé file
             866-896-ATSI Philadelphia
        Supervisor Training, Fall 2007
                                                                             4%-5% commisions to sell your business
                         Dan L'Heureux                                     4%-6% commissions to sell your business
            Dan L’Heureux/ExecDir.
          Dan L’Heureux /Exec Dir.                                                                                                               plus extensive proactive calling.

                                                                                29 years of telephone answering experience
                                888-712-9396                             32 years of telephone answering experience
                                                                                                                         • AFFORDABLE TAS EQUIPMENT

           Startel Users Group,Group
  Startel NationalNational Users DVD’sInc.
 Services Association•
        800-718-1712                                                                                                                             Dedicated telesales/customer service searches


                                                                       Shatz and Associates 1-888-731-7002
                                                                       EQUIPMENT 1-888-731-7002
                                                                                                                                                 sinceFOR ANY SIZE SERVICE
                                                                                                                                                        1981—the first and the best!
                 Atlantic StatesTelephone                              CONSULTING                                                               
                                                                                                                                                              Bencin & Associates
Learn how Certification can demonstrate your Value in real $$.
            Southern Telemessaging

                    Dan L’Heureux 800-317-8529
   Dan L’Heureux Exec DirectorExec Director
            EXCELLENCE TRAINING                                                                                                                               LEASING AVAILABLE

                                                                        Telephone answering service brokering and consulting.
                   Association                                         Shatz and Associates                                                              440-526-6726 •

                              All Platforms                                                                                                           
         Supervisor Training, Fall we TRAIN!
    We are MORE than just a cruise,2007
                                                                                4%-5% commisions Financing, Equipment, Personnel
                                                                        Marketing, Operations, Telephone,to sell your business
            DanL'Heureux Exec Director
                   L’Heureux /Exec Dir.                                 Telephone Answering Service Consulting                                EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS
                                                                              29 years of telephone answering the industry
                                                                         Over 32 years experience inexperience
            Dan                                                                                                                               EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS

          NationalAnnualDan Group,Brook IL
                     Annual Meeting - Oak Inc.
                      Users L’Heureux Assoc.
  Startel Western States TelemessagingBrook IL
         800-475-0857 •                                                                                                     HOSTED SYSTEMS
                                                                                                                                              PREMIER EXECUTIVE SEARCH SPECIALISTS
                                                                                                                                              • Search consultants to most of the top ten service
                                                                                                                                AS        Marketing Marketing
                                                                                                                                                         Hosted and over 50 Broker
                                                                                                                                                agencies in the US Systems of the Fortune 500
Learn how Certification can demonstrate your Value in real $$.
                            Meeting - Oak

   Dan L’Heureux                   Palm 800-317-8529
 Telemessaging Exec Director Springs
                            Exec Director
                                   October 22-24, 2007
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                              Dan L'Heureux Exec Director
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                                                                                                                                              EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS
                                                                                                                                               center extensive proactive to identify the right candidate
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                                                                                                                                                               Our goal is
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                                                                                                                                                Dedicated telesales/customer service searches
                 877-754-4103 •                                                                                                       and over first and the as SPECIALISTS
                                                                                                                                              PREMIER EXECUTIVE SEARCHInfinity or the
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                   Association 22-24, 2007
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                                                                                                                                               Our programs, Smalland services are unmatched.
                                                                                                                                                      440-526-6726 •
 Great Spring Conference at Sea May 3-10, 2009
       Lakes                                                                                                                                                    369-6126 a ask
                                                                                                                                              • All custom searches using & 25,000 resumé file
                         Dan L'Heureux Exec Director
    We are MORE than just a cruise, we TRAIN!                               Voice Logging Recorders                                                800-946-2693 •
                                                                                                                                                         Steve proactive calling.
                                                                                                                                                plus extensive Michaels.
 Telemessaging                  888-712-9396                                                                                                      
           Dan L'Heureux Exec Director                                          NOT JUST ONE SOLUTION                                         • Dedicated telesales/customer service searches
 Services Association 
       800-475-0857 •
                                                                              Recording, Monitoring, Bridges
                                                                                                                                              HOSTED SYSTEMS
                                                                                                                                                since 1981—the first and the best!
                                                                800-369-8273                               INSURANCE
                                                                                                                                                  Hosted Systems Broker
                  Southern Telemessaging
 Western States Telemessaging Assoc.                                                                                                                      R.L. Bencin & Associates
            Western States Telemessaging Assoc.
                 PIN Las Vegas
 Supervisor TrainingUSERS GROUP 23-25
                  Association Sept 23-25                                                Voice Logging Recorders                                           Receive the
                                                                                                                                                        440-526-6726 • benefits of the large,
                       Fall Meeting
                       Fall Meeting Sept
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                        Parker – cruise, we TRAIN!
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 Dan L’Heureux Exec Director Exec Exec Director 27&28
                    Dan L'Heureux Director
                     Dan L'Heureux Exec Director                                       574-848-5233                                                         Host or carpool your accounts/service
                                                                                NOT JUST ONE SOLUTION
 877-754-4103 • 877-754-4103 •
         800-475-0857 •
                877-754-4103 •
                                                                     Record/PlayTek, Inc.
                                                                              Recording, Monitoring, Bridges
                                                                                                                                              HOSTED SYSTEMS or
                                                                                                                                                 on equipment such as Infinity
                                                                                                                                                            Hosted our banner on
                                                                                                                                                            CMC. SeeSystems Broker

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                    CEO is the Cadcom Equipment Owners
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                   Association established in 1993. The group is
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                                                                                                                                                            Receive the benefits of or call
                   comprised of OnviSource (formerly Cadcom)
                   comprised of OnviSource (formerly Cadcom)
                                                                                                                                                            expensive systemsask for the costs.
                           Equipment Owners
                      Fall Meeting Sept 23-25                                                                                                               (800) 369-6126 & without
                   Equipment Owners.
                   Equipment Owners. Contact us at:
                  Dan Director Contact us at:
                       Parker – Palm Springs                                                                                                                Steve Michaels.
                   CEO Coordinator’s Office, 703-370-9610 or
                   CEO Coordinator’s Office, 703-370-9610 or
                                                                                                                                                            Host or carpool your accounts/service
              877-754-4103 site
                   at our web
 Dan L’Heureux — Exec. L'Heureux Exec Director •our web site
                               •                                                                                                         on equipment such as Infinity or
                                                                                                                                              INSURANCE banner on
                                                                                                                                                  CMC. See our
                       CEO is the Cadcom Equipment Owners
                      Association established in 1993. The group
                  SupportingPINNACLEandPIUSERS is
                                                                                                                                             or call
                  PIN USERS GROUP
                  PIN USERS GROUP                                                   Voice Logging Recorders                                            To be ATSI Errors and Omissions
                      comprised of OnviSource (formerly Cadcom)
                                                                                                                                                               included in the
                                                                                                                                                      (800) 369-6126 & ask for
                  Supporting PINNACLE and PI USERS                                                                                                                  Insurance Program
                      Equipment Owners. Contact us Pinnacle
                  Release the POWER of your at:
                                                                              Easily records ALL conversations—just click and play
                                                                              Easily records ALL conversations—just click and play
                                                                                                                                                      Steve Michaels. just an insurance policy!
                                                                                                                                                              Its more than
                                                                                                                                                              Its more than just an insurance policy!
                  Dan CEO Coordinator’s Office, 703-370-9610 or
                  TechnicalTrainingManchester–Sept27&28                                            574-848-5233                                   Professional Directory, contact
                                                                                                                                                                              For more information
                      at our web site
                      L’Heureux–Exec Dir-763-473-0210                                                                                                                         For more information
                                                                    Record/PlayTek, Inc.                                   ,
                                                                                                                                                         Valerie at,
                                                                                                               INSURANCE                       or call 888-303-4297.
                                                                                                                                                                              or call 888-303-4297.

Connections Magazine • www.connectionsmagazine.comVoice Logging Recorders
            PIN USERS GROUP                                                                                                                                          ATSI Errors and Omissions
                                                                                                                                                                JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 3
            SupportingPINNACLEandPIUSERS       Easily records ALL conversations—just click and play
                                                                                                                                                                           Insurance Program
                  TechnicalTrainingManchester–Sept27&28                                                                                                               Its more than just an insurance policy!
                                                                                                   574-848-5233                                                                For more information
                                                                    Record/PlayTek, Inc.                                          ,
Cover Story

 The Recession,
 Predictions, and
 Top Ten Tips for 2009 ................14
 By Steve Michaels
 We are confronted with some formidable economic
                                                        Professional Directory....................3
 and financial challenges; the bad news keeps coming.   From the Publisher .........................7
 When will it end? What will be the fallout? With       “Get Ready for Change”
 many questions facing us, one thing is certain:
 change will occur. As such, we need to make            Industry News ................................9
 adjustments in how our call centers operate now –
 if they are to be around tomorrow.                     ATSI Update.................................26
                                                        “Call Center Certification Programs”

                                                        Advertiser Listing ........................27
                                                        Mind Your Business .....................27
                                                        “Q and A with Steve Michaels”

                                                        Classifieds/Marketplace ...............28
                                                        Coming Events.............................30

4 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                               • Connections Magazine
Features                                                                         19
                             Deming’s Contribution to                                         Interactive Voice Response Providers .........25
                             Call Center Quality .......................................17    IVR systems process routine calls so
                             By Cliff Hurst                                                   that agents can address the more critical
                             In part seven of Cliff’s continuing series,                      ones. Today’s IVR systems include more
                             Getting Quality Right, we start by taking                        features that benefit both the caller and
                             at look at Deming’s classic book Out of                          the call center. Whether it’s your first
                             the Crisis and then apply some of his                            system or a replacement technology,
                             work to today’s modern call center.                              consider these IVR vendors for your
                                                                                              call center.
                             Creating Landing Pages that
                             Increase Your Conversion Rate ...................19
                             By Sue McCrossin
                             With growing emphasis on using the
                             Internet as a source of lead generation,
                             there is increased importance on garnering
                             the best possible return. Optimizing your
                             Web site’s landing pages are key to make
                             that happen.

                             2008 Article Index .........................................22

                             2008 Whitepaper Index.................................23

                             Teleservice News Review for 2008 ...............24

 Find more information online:
 • Use the Power of Call Monitoring to               Read more articles online at:
    Improve Customer Service, presented              • Why Strategic Plans Don’t Work…and What to Do About it, by Ron Price
    by HyperQuality                                  • Prove You’re Worth Every Penny: Overcome the Price Objection,
 • Assessing IT's New Role in the                      by Linda Bishop
    Contact Center, provided by Genesys              • Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late! Ten Things You Must Do Now,
    Telecommunications Labs                            by George Hedley
 • Small Call Centers: Challenges and                • Resolve Your Personality Conflicts Once and for All, by Theresa Rose
    Opportunities, by Richard Bucci,                 • Three Business Skills Generation Next Can Teach Us Today,
    The Pelorus Group                                  by Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez
                                                     • Help Employees Navigate through Economic Crisis, by Rita Milios

Connections Magazine •                                                          JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 5
                                                                      in a Series

                    Alston Tascom
                   Lets You Decide
     Pick the Option That’s Right For You

You like making tangible purchases     vs   You want to pay as you go

You have a tech staff                  vs   You are the tech staff
                                            (and don’t like it)

You have room for equipment on site    vs   Space is at a premium

You enjoy working with technology      vs   Technology is a distraction

You have peace of mind owning          vs   You have peace of mind not
your own system                             worrying about your own system

All your agents work on-site           vs   You have many remote agents

You want to interface other products   vs   You don’t want to complicate
to you system                               matters with third party devices

Technology is one of your              vs   Technology is not one of your
core competencies                           core competencies

You have a sound disaster recovery     vs   You need a better, more inclusive
plan in place                               disaster recovery plan

Your accountant likes to               vs   Your accountant prefers to
depreciate assets                           expense items

 Alston Tascom offers the exact same features whether you install
equipment on-site or move into the future with our hosted services.

    Call us today at 866-282-7266 to learn more.

   Connections                                                                                                            from the
                                                            Peter DeHaan
   Phone .................................................866-668-6695
   Fax .....................................................866-668-6693
Display/Classified Advertising ...............Valerie Port
   Phone .................................................866-668-6694
   Fax .....................................................866-668-6698
Designer/Production.......................David Margolis                                                       Get Ready for Change
   Phone .................................................866-668-6696
   E-Mail                        Peter DeHaan, Ph.D.
   Fax .....................................................215-369-0144

             48955 Hickory Lane • Mattawan, MI 49071                               n the most recent U.S. presidential election, both major party candidates
                                              were claiming to be the true agents for change. Whenever I hear a politician
                                                                                   spouting change rhetoric, I am immediately cynical. My initial reaction is
         Upcoming Insertion Deadlines:                                         that they are disingenuously saying what they need to in order for people to
          Article/PR Space                                                     vote for them so that they’ll be elected. In this scenario, there is no intention
Issue     Deadline Deadline           Featuring
                                                                               for change, so we can rightfully expect the status quo.
Mar       Feb 2         Feb 6         Appointment Scheduling Software,              However, if their assertions for change come across as genuine and sincere,
                                      US Teleservice Agency Listing
                                                                               then I am likely to give them the benefit of my doubt. Still, there are obstacles.
April     Mar 9         Mar 13        ATSI Registration Materials,
                                      Voice Logging                            It could be that they truthfully want change to occur and will honestly
May       April 6       April 10      Speech Recognition/Verification,         work for it. Yet, in the throes of political maneuvering and the conflicting
                                      Mulitilingual Call Center Listing        self-seeking agendas of others, they often find that the change they dreamed
Mission: To be the principal clearing house of relevant and
                                                                               of ends up on the trash heap of good ideas.
practical information for the teleservices industry.                                Finally, there are those candidates who truly want change and effectively
                                                                               work to make it happen. They do see results and change does occur, but they
Distribution: Connections Magazine is distributed monthly
(with combined Jan/Feb and Jul/Aug issues) to the TeleServices                 never see all the changes they wanted – or promised. Some of their ideals are
industry, including outsource call centers, telephone answering serv-          watered down in order to win enough support passage, others are sacrificed
ices, and industry professionals who actively buy and sell products            for the expediency of more critically important issues, and for a few, there
and provide service to this industry. The distribution list is continu-
ously monitored and updated via the Connections Website                        simply isn’t enough time – or energy – to address them.
(, reader requests, and the change                      Personally, I believe that President Obama truthfully meant what he said
of address service from the U.S. Postal Service. POSTMASTER:                   about being a candidate of change and that he will earnestly set about
Send address changes to Connections Magazine, 48955 Hickory Ln,
Mattawan, MI 49071.
                                                                               pursuing it. After most elections, we would need to wait to see if change hap-
                                                                               pens. However, given the current U.S. and global conditions, it is safe to say
Subscriptions: Connections Magazine is an advertiser
supported magazine. It is sent free to individuals and companies in
                                                                               that change will occur; it will be a requirement. Facing President Obama is
the outsourcing and teleservices industry. Subscribe at                        the credit issue to stabilize, a capsized economy to right, U.S. automakers to                                             bail out, two wars to figure out, and other “lesser” issues demanding
                                                                               attention. In addition, the healthcare system needs to be fixed, and concerns
                                                                               exist about anticipated changes in employee and union rules and regulations.
                                                                                    Therefore, we will see change. What does this mean for your call center?

Affiliation: Connections Magazine is pleased to serve as the                        Credit: With the tight credit markets, call centers are affected on two
official magazine of ATSI (, the Association of                   fronts. The first is acquiring technology. Today’s call center is an equipment
Teleservices International.
                                                                               intensive enterprise, requiring a growing technological infrastructure. If
Notice: Advertisers and their agents assume all liability for content,         planned computer upgrades and replacements require financing, their
including text, representation, and illustration of any advertisement
included in this magazine as well as for any claims made against the
                                                                               implementation might need to be delayed – or re-evaluated. However, some
publisher arising therefrom. The publisher reserves the right to reject any    vendors may be open to provide – or forced to accept – self-financing.
advertising that is not in keeping with the standards of the magazine and to   Alternately, if you have the funds available, now is a great time to buy.
add the word “advertisement” to any ad herein. The publisher makes no
claims regarding the legality or condition of any goods or services
                                                                                    The other front is your agents. With tight credit, their goals and dreams
advertised in this magazine. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those     will be curtailed or even squashed. If they have a mortgage, their home may
of the authors and not necessarily those of Connections Magazine or any of     be in jeopardy. While it is not feasible to create a “bailout” for every employee
its agents. The information contained herein is for informational purposes     with a financial need, you can look for clever and creative ways to ease the
only and is not intended to provide legal, medical, tax, or any other
professional advice or counsel.                                                burden for as many of your employees possible. Sometimes, the simplest of
                                                                               gestures means the most.                                   (Continued on page 8)

 Connections Magazine •                                                                           JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 7
from the
  (Continued from page 7)

       The Economy: With the economy in the pits, spending            no matter how small, will trump doing nothing.
  will be down. That directly affects call centers that handle
  orders and order processing – and indirectly influences most             Employee-Related Legislation: It has been suggested
  others. This shapes staffing levels and dictates scheduling.        that President Obama is more likely to disappoint people on
  When things turn around – and they will – be ready to ramp          the far left than on the far right. Even so, it is highly probable
  up staffing. It could happen slowly over many months,               that he will be a friend of the working class – and by
  abruptly, or in spurts. Be ready to respond, or your call center    implication, not pro-business; the anticipated “card check”
  will miss unexpected opportunities. Also, a slower time is a        legislation is a case in point. I have heard from some call
  great time to refocus on quality issues, such as first call         centers that are considering drastic steps in response to this
  resolution, call monitoring, and agent coaching – giving these      fear, including using a staffing agency, offshoring their entire
  initiatives the time and attention that they deserve.               operation, or even selling their business.
                                                                           Instead, let’s consider some less severe steps. First, get
       The Wars: Regardless of your thoughts on these                 informed and become active. Let your congressional
  conflicts, keep your opinions to yourself and support the           representative and senators know about your opinion on
  troops. The reality is that your call center staff is affected.     important pending legislation while there is still time to form
  Some of your agents may have a secondary career in the              it. Ignoring what lies ahead will not make it go away, but
  military; they could be called up and deployed. If that             instead will catch you off guard.
  happens, make their departure smooth and celebrate their                 Second, look at what you can do in your call center to
  return. Look for ways to provide support to them – and their        become even more employee-centric and agent-friendly.
  families – while they are serving their country.                    Don’t wait for legislation to force you to change; begin taking
       Additionally, agents’ family members and close friends         proactive steps now. In specific response to the “card check”
  could be in harm’s way. There will be times when this reality       legislation, work to make your call center such a great place
  preoccupies the thoughts of your staff and impinges on their        to work that “card check” effectively becomes a non-issue.
  work. Be patient and tolerant; work with them. Also, be
  prepared to respond to and support employees who receive                 Conclusion: The concerns are many and seemingly
  bad news. Don’t expect to just deal with it if that time comes;     formidable, but they also provide opportunity. Whether we
  have a plan in place and be prepared.                               like it or not, change is upon us. It’s how we react to those
                                                                      changes that will make the difference. Take steps now
       The Auto Industry: The U.S. auto industry is huge, with        to ensure that your call center comes out ahead when the
  widespread ripples in a number of sectors. If you are in any        dust settles.¤
  of these sectors, the workload in your call center hangs in the
  balance. Whatever the outcome, it is reasonable to expect
                                                                           For more commentary from Peter DeHaan, check out
  that what emerges will be less than what exists now. What is
                                                                      his blog, The Musings of Peter DeHaan, at
  unknown is the degree of change that will occur.
                                                             Here are some recent posts:
       Healthcare: The healthcare system in the U.S. is
                                                                      •    Why Work Is Cyclical (Dec 11)
  arguably broken, being described as overcharging and
                                                                      •    Do You Need to Find Time to Slow Down? (Dec 9)
  under-delivering, long in need of an overhaul. (It was sixteen
                                                                      •    Google Tracks Flu Trends (Dec 8)
  years ago that Bill Clinton sought to “change” healthcare,
                                                                      •    Computer Rage (Dec 2)
  assigning his most trusted ally, Hillary, to the task. Good
                                                                      •    Free Stuff from PR Firms (Dec 2)
  intentions and able leadership were not enough to fix the
                                                                      •    Emotiv, the New Computer Interface (Nov 25)
  system at that time.)
                                                                      •    The Season of Giving (Nov 19)
       Some political pundits claim that there are too many other
                                                                      •    Is Blog Readership a Microcosm of Overall Activity?
  more pressing matters to deal with at this time, effectively
                                                                           (Nov 17)
  pushing healthcare reform aside. Others assert that the situation
                                                                      •    Responding to Email (Nov 17)
  is so dire that President Obama will be forced to address the
                                                                      •    Go Green by Stopping Unwanted Mailings (Nov 12)
  healthcare system, along with everything else. Even if the latter
  group is correct, don’t look for anything in the near future,
                                                                          For the latest industry news and information,
  which means that things will likely get worse before they get
                                                                      check out the Connections Magazine newsfeed at
  better. Do what you can do now to help your employees take a
  step closer to affordable healthcare access. Any step you take,

  8 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                            • Connections Magazine
                                                                 Mid-State Communications
   IndustryNEWS                                                  Receives ATSI Gold Call Center
                                                                      ATSI (Association of Teleservices International)
                                                                 announced that Mid-State Communications, LLC (dba
Telescan Adds                                                    Advanced Answering Service) has received the Gold 24/7
CenturiSoft Voicemail                                            Call Center Certification Award.
     Telescan is now offering CenturiSoft voicemail systems           The certification indicates that Mid-State Communications
for new and existing users. CenturiSoft, a California based      has met or exceeded high standards in areas of business
company, is an industry leader known for its feature-rich        practices, life safety, operations (including normal and
voice messaging system.                                          emergency procedures), and personnel hiring, training, and
     The addition of CenturiSoft will give Telescan users an     ongoing evaluations through a peer review program focusing
intelligent sharing of telephony resources between pure          on 99.9 percent annual run time. This certification has been
voicemail and traditional call center functions. For instance,   awarded to less than 1 percent of the industry.
voicemail applications can use Telescan’s Prism switch                Based in Manchester, TN, Mid-State Communications
to access out-dial paths using Prism’s least-cost-routing        provides call center services for medical, commercial, and
tables. These outbound paths, as well as inbound call paths,     professional clients throughout the United States.
can be shared with live-agent applications for significant            For more information, visit and
cost savings.                                          
     “We are always searching for new ideas to help our
users,” said Patty Anderson, Telescan’s director of sales and    TeamSNUG
marketing. “We have added CenturiSoft because we want            Conference Update
them to have the best possible system and one that integrates        Planning is underway for the 22nd Annual TeamSNUG
completely with our Spectrum system.”                            Conference. This year’s event will be held at the Hard Rock
     For more information, contact Patty at 314-616-2445,        Hotel in downtown Chicago. The dates of the conference are
800-770-7662,, or           March 15-18, 2009.
                                                                                                      (Continued on page 10)

Connections Magazine •                                            JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 9
                                                                 of interactive product forums to its Web site. Continuing a

(Continued from page 9)
                                                                 Web site overhaul that began last spring, the product forums
                                                                 allow Professional Teledata’s customers to exchange ideas for
                                                                 efficient use of their products, interact with product developers
                                                                 and tech support specialists, browse FAQs (frequently asked
     Startel will provide free product training on Sunday,       questions), and download documentation.
March 15, from 9 am to 4 pm. The Not Done Yet band will               “This is an important addition to our overall customer
be performing at the opening reception. In addition to the       service environment and demonstrates our commitment to
opening event, the conference will include educational           provide the highest quality service possible,” said Pat Kalik,
sessions, product demonstrations, and other valuable             vice president of customer service.
offerings. Attendees are encouraged to pack their green for           The product forums are open to all licensed owners of
the St. Patrick’s Day celebration party sponsored by Startel     Professional Teledata’s products and are accessible via the
on March 17. Early registration numbers project a record         “Product Forums” button on their Web site,
     In related news, Startel finished 2008 with a near record
month. “The volume of business validates our offerings and       Telescan Offers ATSI Benefits
speaks to the strength of our company in the challenging         to New Users
economic environment that we are all facing,” stated Dan             For a limited time, Telescan will be offering a free
Feis, director of sales. “Next year is also going to be a very   one-year membership to ATSI with the purchase of a
exciting year for us. Look for Startel to announce our next      Spectrum system. In addition, Telescan will also be giving
generation of products in early 2009.”                           new users the ATSI Marketing Toolkit.
     For more information, please contact Dan Feis, director         The ATSI Marketing Toolkit was designed to provide
of sales, at 949-863-8714 or           telemessaging businesses with effective marketing options
                                                                 and strategies designed to help their business grow. The
Professional Teledata Adds                                       toolkit includes templates for direct mail, postcards, print ads,
Product Forums to Its Web Site                                   and presentations folders.
    Professional Teledata announced the addition of a series          “We wanted to give new users something that will boost

10 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                        • Connections Magazine
their business,” said Patty Anderson, director of sales and               Additionally, on March 1st, during the annual National
marketing, “and we think ATSI membership and the                     Amtelco Equipment Owners (NAEO) conference in Cancun,
Marketing Toolkit can do just that. I don’t know that any            Mexico, there will be a special session, revealing “amazing
other company has ever made this offer.”                             tricks and tips that will improve your operation and bottom
     For more information, contact Patty at 314-616-2445,            line.” Registration is not required for this session.
800-770-7662,, or                    For more information on the Amtelco University courses,
                                                                     email, call 800-356-9148 x148, 608-838-
Amtelco University Upcoming                                          4194, or visit
Course Schedule
     Amtelco is offering Amtelco University seminars:                OnviSource Reps to
Telephony 101 and 102 with SMS Messaging. These                      Sit on OEO Board
seminars will benefit personnel that have not gone through                The OnviSource Equipment Owners Association (OEO)
the total progression of analog circuits to digital interfaces.      has voted to forge a new partnership with OnviSource in an
These presentations also serve as a great learning aid to a          unprecedented user/vendor joint effort. “We have worked
better understanding of newer interfaces. Telephony 101 and          hard to develop this unique affiliation,” said Judy Vincent,
102 with SMS Messaging are not platform-specific.                    president of OEO, “and I am confident that having
     Lunch, workbook, and handouts are included. The $90             OnviSource representatives on our board of directors will
registration fee will be waived for first attendee from each         allow us to best serve the needs of our members through an
company. The schedule for Telephony 101 and 102 with                 exceptional communication conduit.”
SMS Messaging is:                                                          “We are excited about what this new partnership will
     • January 21 in Sacramento, CA, at the Hampton Inn              allow us to accomplish,” said John Hird, VP of business
          & Suites Sacramento-Airport-Natomas                        development and product marketing at OnviSource. “Serving
     • January 28 in Vancouver, BC, Canada, at the                   on the OEO board will give us insight into the specific
          Hampton Inn Vancouver Airport                              challenges faced by the industry. Direct two-way communication
     • February 4 in Kansas City, MO, at the Hampton Inn             will allow us to address their needs and tailor our products to
          Kansas City Airport                                        help them grow.”
     • March 25 in Atlanta, GA at that Holiday Inn Express Atlanta                                            (Continued on page 12)

Connections Magazine •                                               JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 11
                                                                       Also, the 45th Annual Convention and Trade Show, with

(Continued from page 11)
                                                                  the theme: “Uncork Your Potential,” will be held September
                                                                  22-25 in Kelowna, BC.
                                                                       For more information, contact CAM-X at 905-309-0224
    “OnviSource is indeed excited and honored to be part of
the OEO Association. We have been working diligently and          ATA Self-Regulatory
tenaciously since 2006 to create such a unique, professional,     Organization Marks Several
and cooperative partnership,” said Ray Naeini, chairman and       Milestones in 2008
CEO of OnviSource.                                                     During 2008, the American Teleservices Association
    OEO, a for-profit professional association serving the        (ATA) deployed its self-regulatory organization’s auditor
membership with the education needs of OnviSource                 certification program, whereby individuals can attain expert
equipment users, delivers workforce optimization and              status as contact center auditors to ensure the highest levels of
customer interaction management software.                         compliance with state and federal regulations. The ATA
                                                                  promotes standards and protocols that not only meet but in
CAM-X Announces 2009 Schedule                                     some cases exceed the regulatory requirements mandated by
    CAM-X announced that their Call Centre Coaching               state and federal governance.
Clinics for 2009 will be held in Calgary, AB, on April 17-18           “This is the year that our association brought the SRO
and repeated in Toronto, ON on May 1-2. The clinics are           [Self-Regulatory Organization] into formal practice. We
geared for call center supervisors, managers, and team leaders.   believe its programs will serve as the model for the industry,”
Each program will include:                                        said Tim Searcy, ATA CEO.
    • Analyzing the different generations in your                      The ATA-SRO also held two compliance auditor
         operations center                                        certification courses, at the University of Akron Taylor
    • Recruiting: Finding staff in a competitive market           Institute for Direct Marketing. Instruction was led by ATA
    • Hiring: Best practices in screening new hires               corporate counsel Mitch Roth, an attorney and partner with
    • Motivating the new workforce: What do we need to change?    Williams Mullen. Upon successful completion of both
    • How do you do it: The mechanics of making a schedule        training and testing, attendees received ATA-SRO Certified
    • Gen Y flexibility: How do you make it work?                 Auditor status and are now available to conduct compliance
                                                                  reviews for companies seeking formal industry accreditation.
                                                                       In addition, the ATA-SRO accredited its first audited
                                                                  contact center company, The Charlton Group, a teleservices
                                                                  firm based in Madison, WI.

                                                                  2009 Buyers Guide Update
                                                                       Startel notes that in addition to the information provided
                                                                  in the 2009 Buyers Guide product/service matrix, they also
                                                                       • Fax-on-demand systems
                                                                       • Fax-to-email systems
                                                                       • ISDN systems
                                                                       • IVR systems
                                                                       • Message-taking systems
                                                                       • VoIP hardware
                                                                       • Certification programs
                                                                       • Site design service
                                                                       • Training programs

                                                                       The revised information is available online at

                                                                                   Want to Sell
                                                                                   Your Business
                                                                                   Call Steve Michaels
                                                                                   TAS Marketing (800) 369-6126
12 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                         • Connections Magazine
Since bringing in PInnacle,
business is way up at
Answerphone of America

With more than 55 years in business, Answerphone has
built a client base ranging from small companies to the
biggest names in the Fortune 500. The key to their
success: the very best customer service representatives
using the very best equipment. In fact, since purchasing
PInnacle in 2005, Answerphone has nearly doubled
in size. President Richard Lever credits much of that
growth to PInnacle’s powerful scripting and order-taking
program. Combining those features with innovative
TAS messaging and dispatch software, PInnacle helps
Answerphone adapt and thrive in today’s highly competitive
environment. Our cutting-edge turnkey solution can do the
same for you. So get growing!


                                                                Answerphone of America
                                                                  Statesville, North Carolina
                                                                                Left to right:
                                                                           Richard Lever
                                                                             Susan Lever
                                                                         VP of Administration
                                                                                Jeff Lever
                                                                          Operations Manager
                                            AT I N G


                                  25 yea


                                   O                   L
                 The Recession, Predictions,
                 and Top Ten Tips for 2009
                             By Steve Michaels

                                      iven the huge challenges facing this country and the
                                      constant barrage of “bad news,” this coming year will
                                      be one of the most perilous in modern history.
                             Anyone hoping for a period of calm after the turbulence of
                             the past year will be disappointed. For the economy and for
                             business, 2009 promises to be a year of bracing adjustments
                             for the telephone answering service industry (TAS).
                                  Where will this end? We’re regularly watching
                             unsustainable companies and industries fall by the wayside.
                             Even if the government tries to bail them out, it won’t be
                             enough to save them. We are watching consequences of our
                             choices, which may last for years. No matter what happens,
                             the Fed cannot save all the banks and all the industries.
                                  Overall, we are in the midst of the most daunting
                             economic and financial challenge since the days of FDR and
                             the Great Depression. Recession is also hitting Europe,
                             Japan, and other advanced countries. China risks a hard
                             landing; so do many emerging economies. A severe global
                             recession and financial crisis is certain.
                                  As more of these economic blows occur, I encourage you
                             to remember that we are “remodeling” the economy. Instead
                             of calling it a recession or depression, let’s just call it an
                             economic adjustment or correction. Just like when remodeling
                             your home, with the walls open for rewiring and replumbing,
                             it takes time for things to look better. A tough economy
                             motivates businesses to find new ways to work more
                             efficiently, so let’s see what is happening to answering
                             services nationwide and what they are doing to combat this
                                  In a survey conducted by TAS Marketing, it seems that
                             California, Texas, and Georgia have been hit the worst, but in
                              general the telephone answering service client base is down
                                 anywhere from 1-10 percent, with call volume dropping
                                   as much as 25 percent within the last ninety days. This
                                  can be found mostly in construction and real estate.
                               Medical seems to be holding its own, although there have
                             been a reported 1.2 million jobs lost affecting the medical
                             coverage of these jobless individuals and causing medical
                               calls to be down. Wilma Schmerer from Pro-Tel in Walla
                                 Walla, WA, reported that even the call volume on “Black
                              Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, was down.
                                  It has been reported that some individual doctor’s offices
                             have dropped their answering service and are using an

14 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009    • Connections Magazine
answering machine with an announcement stating that if it is             6. Email Marketing: This jewel comes to us from
an emergency to call their pager. This could be because the         Maryann Wetmore of Network One Communications in
doctor is always on call anyway. It does not seem to be             Tampa, Florida. She is using the services of a company
affecting offices with two or more doctors.                         called Constant Contact to broadcast emails to her clients.
     Former ATSI president Allan Fromm’s call center                With this service, Maryann is able to provide her clientele
processes a lot of catalog orders. He states that the business      with how to tips, success stories, and even invitations for
for luxury items is off by a third from last year and gourmet       feedback or new client referrals. Maryann stated, “It is more
foods are down by 50 percent.                                       important today with the financial challenges we all face as
     Given this, how do we make things better? What the             business owners to strengthen our relationship with our cur-
astute TAS owner requires is an acknowledgment of the               rent clients. I recognized that the best way to keep business
uncertainty about where the economy is heading, and clear           going and to create new business is to communicate regularly
thinking about how to effectively deal with it. Here are ten        with my clients. We all receive something through Constant
tips to consider:                                                   Contact on a regular basis; the Ask Mark publication from
                                                                    ATSI’s Marketing Committee an example. Constant
     1. Track Your Numbers And Adjust Your Overhead:                Contact is an inexpensive ‘relationship marketing’ tool to
Print your nightly statistics and look at your call volume per      communicate your message to your current and future client
client. If a particular client isn’t getting any calls, have your   base. You may think you have one of the best services out
third shift staff call their business to see if their calls are     there, but that alone won’t guarantee success if you haven’t
forwarded to you. If not, give them a courtesy call in the          built loyal bonds with your clients.”
morning to see if they forgot or are seeking other options.
Sometimes, businesses will not use their answering service,              7. Press Release: Write a snappy press release, suggests
instead forwarding calls to their home to see if they can do        Cori Bartlett of Alliance Communications in Orlando. Unveil
without your services. This is the first step to losing a client.   a new feature or announce a staff promotion…anything to
                                                                    generate interest. Make it sales-oriented, giving a reason for
     2. Contact Target Businesses: One surveyed TAS                 your clients to call you with “referral intent” or for a new
owner said that she had gone back to a proven method of             “service offering.” Use it as an insert to connect with your
adding new clients by honing her target businesses in               clients, giving them a reason to think about you, or better yet,
communities where she has clients for references. She is also       call you.
telling her current medical clients that she is able to take
appointments, which will help reduce the doctors’ staffing.             8. Consider Equipment Options: One industry vendor
                                                                    discontinued support on a particular line on December 31,
    3. Charitable Community Drive: To keep the morale               2008. Those who are researching equipment options may opt
up in your call center, consider starting a charitable drive in     to outsource accounts to another call center or host accounts
your community. You and your company will portray                   on another server, paying only for use. The hosting option
optimism and a positive attitude when others are touting            frees up a cash outlay for new equipment, includes 24/7
“doom and gloom.” Remember, people want to be around                technical support, and offers the latest features.
others who are positive, enthusiastic, and willing to help
when times are tough.                                                   9. Selling Reporting Statistics: Our Canadian friend,
                                                                    Gary Blair from Tele-Page in Montreal, states that he is
     4. Negotiate Fees and Offer Alternatives: One astute           receiving more requests from clients asking for statistical
owner found out that a couple of her clients were shopping          reporting, such as answer time and number of calls on a daily,
for a discount answering service. After she contacted them          weekly, or monthly basis. This could be another source of
and offered them call screening with operator revert, they          revenue for your business.
were happy – they really didn’t want to subscribe to a lower
quality service just because of price. Remember, the discount            10. Join a Group: Whether it is a national group such as
services are not going to be able to survive long if they are       ATSI, a vendor group, or your own regional group, become a
not making a profit.                                                member so that you have support from others in the industry.
                                                                    It helps to hear ideas from cohorts and solicit their support on
    5. Offer New Options: A tip from Mike DeMas is to               common issues.
contact your clients if you have the following options
available through your service:                                         Bonus Thought: One extra idea from Bill Smith of
    • Business-to-business lead generation                          Answerone in Brooklyn, NY, is consistency. “The only
    • Customer service follow-up calls                              problem,” he says, “is that if you strive to be the best, you had
    • Surveys and consumer market research                          better be the best all of the time. I find that we provide
    • Appointment setting and doctor reminder calls                                                         (Continued on page 16)

Connections Magazine •                                              JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 15
The Recession, Predictions, and Top Ten Tips for 2009
(Continued from page 15)                                             I found that owners are resetting their priorities and are eager
                                                                     to meet their own make-or-break challenges. “You have to be
excellent service, but if we falter even a little, the client        resolute and determined all of the time,” says Jim Geary of
perceives a drop in quality. I had a boss that would say he          Complete Answering Service in Jackson, TN. “If your
valued consistent mediocrity over occasional brilliance. The         business is suffering, it is just a matter of looking inward at
client hates change but also hates inconsistency.”                   your business and fixing or changing what doesn’t work,
     Overall, we need to become proactive rather than reactive. If   which ultimately results in one of the upsides of a bad
you know that something is about to happen, then prepare. That’s     economy – a more productive company,” says Jim.
what the prudent businessperson does. By being proactive, you             Sarah Ban Breathnach says in her book Simple
will establish a rapport with your remaining clients as someone      Abundance, “The downturn has affected me and my business
who really cares about their problems and their business.            as well, but what we need to remember is that we are not
                                                                     alone. The recession has affected everyone, and there is a
     A One-Word Summary: Sustainability, the process of              sort of comfort in that. However, we need to keep calm and
staying in business. In doing so, change is essential. To            carry on. You shouldn’t dump misery on others. It’s toxic.
sustain profits, answering services may have to slash costs          We need to watch our words. Don’t say, ‘We’re broke.’ Say,
and cut jobs while being open to merging or sharing their            ‘I choose not to spend my money that way.’ The power of
resources with other call centers using comparable equipment         our words is very important.” She also states that, “All
or hosting capabilities. Large multilocation services already        you need is the awareness and willingness to ask for help.
do that to consolidate labor. In these economic conditions,          What this crisis is asking of us is to be real and to be
individual answering services may opt to share their                 authentic. There is a whole world of people who want to help
resources, labor, and even profitability in order to sustain the     us, but we have to ask. Our current dream may have died, but
long haul. I believe that future trends of our industry will         there will always be another dream. We have never been
entail a co-op or hosting type of relationship between small         tested the way our parents or grandparents were tested…but
groups of answering services. These groups will entrust their        we’re about to.” ¤
client lists to members of their co-op and will form small,
bonding relationships for the benefit of the group. I see this           Steve Michaels is a futurist and business broker with
as an alternative to bankruptcy or closing your doors.               TAS Marketing and can be contacted at 800-369-6126 or
     From my interviews with TAS owners across the country, His Web site is

                                                                                          Breaking News and
                                                                                          Exclusive Call Center
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                                                                                          The Connections Magazine

16 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                            • Connections Magazine
Part Seven in the Continuing Series,
Getting Quality Right

Deming’s Contribution
to Call Center Quality
By Cliff Hurst

   n part one of this ongoing series, we posed four vital               •   What would it mean to eliminate work targets or
   questions to be addressed in any effective quality-                      standards based on such metrics as calls per hour,
   monitoring program:                                                      average talk time, or after call work?
    1) How are we, as an organization, doing at representing            Think about what this means. If you are focusing most
        our call center?                                           of your improvement efforts from your monitoring program
    2) What can we, as an organization, do to get better at        at the point of giving feedback to individual agents, you are
        representing our call center?                              missing the biggest part of your improvement opportunities.
    3) How is this particular agent doing at representing
        our call center?                                           Put First Things First:
    4) What can we, as managers, do to help this agent to                While individual feedback is important to give, it is secondary,
        get better at representing our call center?                not primary. This new model helps keep first things first. It is
                                                                   in answering vital question two that you stand to gain the most
     In the November issue, we began looking at the second         from Getting Quality Right. With a consistent system in place
question, by considering boundaries and starting points. With      for answering question one, you can prioritize your efforts as
this as a foundation, we are ready to consider the contributions   you dig into question two. Without answering question one
of Edward Deming relevant to this discussion. Although first       first, it’s easy become distracted about improvement that really
published in 1986, Deming’s classic book Out of the Crisis         won’t make much difference in overall quality.
has stood the test of time. Deming’s most famous prescriptions
for business are contained in his fourteen points and his seven    Time Series View of Data:
deadly sins of management. (If you haven’t read the book,               Deming considered a time series view of sampled data as
just do a Google search for “Deming 14 Points.” There you’ll       important, as it is to most practitioners of total quality
find several good introductions to his precepts.) Deming said      management. We can learn a lot from studying quality scores
that, in his experience, 94 percent of all improvement             through this lens. This is because quality tends to vary over time.
opportunities come from answering vital question two and                The key measures we have used so far in analyzing
only 6 percent from answering the third one.                       distributed data include the mean, median, range, skewness,
                                                                   and standard deviation. These results are typically represented
Try This:                                                          visually in a histogram. This approach to analysis has many
     Carve out an hour from your busy schedule. Take a copy        benefits; however, it hides variations within that time frame.
of Deming’s fourteen points and his seven deadly management             In viewing a month’s worth of data, you can learn a lot
sins and spend an hour reflecting on what each of those points     about how you did for the month, but not about what went on
might mean to you and your call center. No matter how busy         within shorter periods. Therefore, you’ll benefit from looking
you are, you’ll find this a valuable use of your time. Ponder      at a supplementary point of view that shows the time
these questions:                                                   dimension. That’s what a run chart and its close cousin, a
     • What will it mean if you remove the barriers that rob       control chart, can do.
         your call center reps from their right to pride in
         workmanship?                                              Run Charts:
     • What are the ramifications of Deming’s claim that               Your randomly selected calls are already identified by a
         “the bulk of the causes of low quality and low            date/time stamp. All you need to do is sort them by time and
         productivity belong to the system and thus lie            date and draw a run chart. A run chart gives you a visual
         beyond the power of the workforce?”                                                           (Continued on page 18)

Connections Magazine •                                                JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 17
Deming’s Contribution to Call Center Quality
(Continued from page 17)                                           A Very Brief Overview:
                                                                         Control charts work by overlaying additional information
impression of how variation happens over time. Excel,              upon run charts. The most typical of those are two boundaries
Minitab, SPSS, and other statistical programs make it easy to      known as Upper Control Limits (UCL) and Lower Control
generate run charts.                                               Limits (LCL). These limits are mathematically derived statistical
    If you plot a month’s worth of sampled calls, you’re           boundaries of the variation in your data; they are not
going to have a busy run chart. That’s okay; it’s worth            boundaries that you set by management fiat.
considering. You can also simplify it by looking at shorter              Control limits show you, given the variation in your quality
periods, or by combining data points into subgroups. You           scores as viewed over time, the range within which you can
can gain more meaning when you view the data through a             expect to see those scores vary. If all of your scores fall within
control chart.                                                     the control limits, then your call handling is known to be in
                                                                   statistical control. Your scores may be in control, but you still
Control Charts:                                                    may not like the wide range over which they vary. Alternatively,
     Control charts are more complex than run charts. They         you may be dissatisfied with the low level of your average
allow you to convert your impressions into a quantitatively        scores. If either is the case, it is time to address your training,
verifiable form from which you can draw conclusions.               coaching, or scoring processes.
Control charts are like run charts on steroids.                          This is what answering vital question two is all about.
     Be aware that control charts come in a variety of confusing   Process improvement in quality call monitoring is largely about
types. In addition, different authors tend to use slightly         two things: reduce variation and raise overall performance.
different terms for the various types. Therefore, wading into            Most likely, you’ll find some scores that fall outside of the
this subject is like wandering into a swamp, but it’s worth it     control limits. Those calls are known as outliers. Any call below
because control charts allow you to convert your visual            the LCL is one that was scored low. Any call above the UCL
impressions into a statistically verifiable form.                  was scored high. If a scored call is outside of those limits, you
     For a classic text on this subject, see Kaoru Ishikawa’s      will want to investigate what went on with that call. You may
Guide to Quality Control. At first glance, the many formulas       want to recheck your evaluator’s scores or have someone
are forbidding, but stay with him. His explanations are clear,     independently evaluate your calibration standards.
though technical.                                                        Once you confirm that your evaluator’s scores are valid,
                                                                   you may want to bring that call to that agent’s attention
                                                                   (or supervisor’s) attention. If it is high, this could be a really
                                                                   well handled call, worthy of praise. If low, remedial training
                                                                   or coaching of that rep may be needed.
                                                                         Outliers are just one way to use control charts to identify
                                                                   special causes in variation. You can also use control charts as
                                                                   “early warning indicators” that there is something about the types
                                                                   of calls you are getting, or the way that reps are handling calls, that
                                                                   is changing over time. There are a variety of statistical rules of
                                                                   thumb that you can use when studying data points in a control
                                                                   chart to determine this. Some things to look for are a run of data
                                                                   points heading in the same direction or points alternating about the
                                                                   central tendency line. Also, you’ll want to scrutinize a cluster of
                                                                   scores that are higher or lower than the central line.

                                                                   In Conclusion:
                                                                        At this point, with a time series view of data, run charts,
                                                                   and control charts as analysis tools, we are well on our way to
                                                                   answering vital question two: What can we, as an organization,
                                                                   do to get better at representing our call center?
                                                                        In the next installment of this series, we will elaborate
                                                                   upon the differences in quality as applied to call centers. ¤

                                                                        Cliff Hurst is president of Career Impact, Inc, which he
                                                                   started in 1988. Contact Cliff at 207-499-0141, 800-813-8105,
                                                                   or You can sign up for his free email
                                                                   newsletter or order his book, Your Pivotal Role: Frontline
                                                                   Leadership in the Call Center, at

18 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                           • Connections Magazine
                                                                                     By Sue McCrossin

     t is expensive to buy traffic using pay-per-click. It is expensive   but consumers continue to
     to “optimize” your Web site pages for natural search. In             find this landing page because it
     both cases, the ultimate goal is to convert these clicks to          appears in the natural search results.
conversions so that you see a nice return on your investment (ROI).
One way to increase your ROI is to increase the conversion rate on        What Goes on the Landing Page?
the pages that visitors land on when they click on your ads or                Make sure your landing pages answer these questions:
visit your site because of natural search.                                    • What’s the offer?
      There are really only two kinds of landing pages:                       • Who’s interested?
campaign-specific landing pages and organic-searched pages.                   • Why are they interested, and why should they take
People who know what they want click on ads; they are                              further action?
different from organic searchers doing research. Organic                      • How do they get started?
searchers want what they search for, and they want it fast.                   On your landing pages, start with benefits, not features,
Your landing pages should provide them with facts, take them              and use persuasive wording:
exactly where they want to go without any hassles, and make                   • Be concise: If you use paragraphs, use one idea per
it simple for them to get what they want. So what should you                       paragraph, no more than three lines long. Use bullet
consider when designing your pages to increase conversions?                        points and make headlines bold and prominent.
                                                                              • Match the wording of your ad on your landing page.
What Is the Most Effective Landing Page?                                      • Use a big call-to-action image button placed at the
     Avoid using your home page as your landing page.                              top right of the page.
Create specific landing pages for every ad and paid search                    • Show the price; give the shipping information.
term. If this seems daunting, remember that retailers can use                 • Make sure the page is grammatically correct.
the “product page” as a landing page, and service providers                   • Show credibility: Add testimonials, awards, partners,
can use the “service page.” However, if you have the time                          associations, etc. Show product ratings or reviews.
and resources, the most effective strategy is to create landing                    Include a phone number! You want to establish trust.
pages specifically targeted towards your PPC campaign. This                   • Don’t clutter the page, but do use images: Create a
provides you with more freedom to customize the design of                          landing page that looks professional and appealing.
your landing page.                                                                 Put graphics on the left side. Make sure the page
     If your ad campaign is a temporary offer, you won’t want                      looks good on a mobile phone.
this landing page indexed by search engines, and you can use                  • Show some cross-sells, such as “best sellers” or
the robots.txt file to tell search engine spiders not to index it.                 “best value” services.
It would be embarrassing for you if you remove the ad listing,                                                  (Continued on page 20)

Connections Magazine •                                                      JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 19
Creating Landing Pages that Increase Your Conversion Rate
(Continued from page 19)                                              among other factors. If you increase your quality score, you
                                                                      will lower the minimum bid necessary for your ad to appear.
    •    Use short forms: Do you require more information than             Since this is an automated process for Google, your
         name, email, phone, and product or service interest?         landing page content should be text-based. Because of this,
    •    Say thank you afterwards. You can even give                  take the content out of the flash portion of your landing
         customers an unexpected bonus like a link to a               pages, or duplicate it in text.
         survey or a case study.
                                                                      Testing Your Landing Pages:
The Message from Your Ad Listing:                                          Strategically test your landing pages. Remember that a
     Make sure the content on your landing pages works with           conversion may be different for different marketing
your ad copy and follows through on your ad promise. For example,     campaigns and target groups. For instance, a B2B conversion
if your ad says you are a low cost provider, show them price          just gets people to sign up for your newsletter so you have
comparisons on your landing page. In this way, you begin to           their email addresses, while a B2C conversion means that
establish trust with visitors, because your message is consistent     they buy something from you. Keep in mind that a landing
from the ad to your landing page. Trust increases sales and           page will improve the quality of the visitors to your site,
encourages long-time customers.                                       but this may actually decrease the total number of visitors
                                                                      to your site.
Position Critical Information at the Top of the Page:                      Also, remember that you will be testing metrics, which
     Your landing page does not have to be short, but all the         can become political. You will probably upset both the
important information, like benefits and the order button should      technical and creative people in your organization when you
be visible without scrolling. Web developers refer to this as         conduct landing page testing.
“above the fold.” Since people use different size screens and              On the other hand, testing is preferable to “redesigning
different browsers, make sure you test this information placement.    the site” because it can save you money to test a concept
Your landing page might look great on a 1024x768 screen resolution,   rather than scrap a whole site and start over. There are
but most of your visitors are still using 800 x 600 screen            sophisticated tools you can use to test a landing page, including
resolution, and they won’t see the buy button without scrolling.      a free one: Google Website Optimizer. The idea is to use the
                                                                      tools after you develop your testing plan, so that you don’t
Don’t Give Visitors Too Many Navigational Choices:                    waste time and money on the testing. Google Website
     On targeted landing pages, you should completely                 Optimizer allows for A/B split testing, but remember that the
remove the Web site navigation and instead provide only               most effective way to conduct A/B split testing is only changing
links that will help complete the sale. You don’t want to give        one element at a time.
customers too many choices on your landing pages, because
this might distract them before they buy. Once they complete          Things to Include that Can Help Increase Conversions
their purchase, then you can take them to a “thank you” page              • Give a deadline for ordering; tell them that a price
that offers them links to the rest of your site.                              increase is coming, or that a trial period is expiring.
                                                                          • Give a gift or some accessories.
Use Action Words:                                                         • Tell them they cannot get this offer anywhere else.
     Use words that easily convey what you want the visitor               • Make sure they know there is “no risk”; they can
to do, like “Buy Now,” “Sign Up,” “Download,” and “Add to                     cancel at any time.
Cart.” In addition, make sure you place the words where they
will be noticed. Many people ignore the top sixty pixels of a         What Is a Good Conversion Rate?
screen because that’s where they expect to see a banner ad.                Google says that an average conversion rate for an ad is
Make buttons large, graphical, and brightly colored, in the           2 percent. That means that 98 percent of those landing on
middle of the landing page, above the fold.                           your pages are not converting. Conversion rates will always
                                                                      be higher for “soft” offers than for “hard” offers. Therefore,
Consider the Google Quality Score:                                    an ad that offers a free download will result in a higher
      Since many of the landing pages you will be designing           conversion rate than an ad that sells high-priced products or
will correspond directly to your Google Adwords campaigns,            intangible services. A free offer can result in conversion rates
it is important to understand the Google Quality Score. The           of 20 to 30 percent or higher. For B2C eCommerce sales, it
Google Quality Score system affects everyone who runs                 shouldn’t be difficult to achieve above 5 percent. Moreover,
Adwords, because it determines the position of your ad on the         for softer offers – low-priced products, free trial software
sponsored listings. On August 21, 2008, Google changed the            downloads, etc., a 10 to 20 percent conversion rate is
way the quality score affects ads, based in part on landing           achievable. With careful testing, you should be able to raise
pages. It now matters what content is on your landing pages;          all of your conversion rates.
it has to match your advertising copy. Load time matters too,

20 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                             • Connections Magazine
Optimizing a Landing Page for Natural Search:                       it easy to change pages quickly. Create the content specifically
      Ultimately you want conversions from organic search,          for each of your main areas of interest. For natural search, it
because this can be far more cost-effective in the end. Start       is much better to design many small pages with specific
with an internal audit of all of your pages to determine if they    information than create a few large pages.
are appropriate or in need of an upgrade. If you have a                  Achieving organic rankings takes a long time, but it is
statistical program on your site, check the bounce rates for        worthwhile because it allows you to become an authority on
each page, and determine where you need to place most of            your topic. You should continually add new content on a
your effort. Your Web site should be structured to provide          regular basis, using keywords you wish to rank in the copy
valuable information that is pertinent for the search word.         and titles. Even though this method may take as long as a
Each page should have a keyword-focused theme and offer             year of consistent work, your pages will begin to appear with
incentives toward making a sale. Keep the page simple and           greater frequency and drive more quality traffic to them.
informative, and add a call to action on every page on your
site if yours is a commercial enterprise.                                In conclusion, landing pages should convert Web clicks
                                                                    into clients and create that first all-important impression of
Internal Linking:                                                   your company. The better you test and improve your landing
     On pages with the highest Google page rank, create at          pages, the more conversions you will see. ¤
least five links to your preferred landing page, using the
keywords that you want to track for ranking in the linked text.          Sue McCrossin is a writer for Answer Center America,
This tells search engines that the landing page is important. If    Inc., which offers answer center outsourcing services that can

you follow this guideline, you won’t have to do as much             handle Web chat, conference and Internet bridge services,
external linking (from other sites) to get your content on the      email, faxing, and credit card processing for your business.
first page of Google. How you link to your content, both
internally and externally, determines the organic search ranking.
     Optimize your image alt attributes, and make sure the
                                                                                     Want to Sell
                                                                                     Your Business
                                                                                     Call Steve Michaels
same image principles for ad landing pages apply to natural
                                                                                     TAS Marketing (800) 369-6126
landing pages (i.e., position the image on the left).
     In many cases, a content management system will make
Article Index for 2008
All articles can be viewed at

January/February 2008                       •   Training and Managing Remote                During an Acquisition
• Get Ready: The Future Can Be Yours            Agents                                  •   The Pros and Cons of Hosted
• Is Global Warming a Threat to the         • From the Publisher: Let’s Watch a             Services
    Call Center Industry?                       Movie                                   • All Names Are Not the Same
• From the Publisher: When Shall I          • Mind Your Business: Starting an           • Motivation and Judgment: More
    Check Back With You?                        Answering Service                           than Statistics
• ATSI Update: “Step Up to the Plate”       • The Next Level in Performance             • Canadian Call Center Listing
    at the ATSI Convention!                     Management                              • ATA 2008 Washington Summit
• Mind Your Business: The Power of          • Training Update for 2008                  • Understand What Customers Are
    Thank You!                              • Do You Provide World-Class Service?           Saying Regardless of Language
• The Future Is VoIP                        • Learn to Earn: 10 Tips for Financial      • Writing the Perfect Outbound Script
• Sustaining Exceptional Service                Success                                 ………………………………………
• Save Money and Help Staff with            • Empower Employees Using                   July/August 2008
    Telecommuting and Flextime                  eLearning Technologies                  • Call Scripting the Caller
• What a Breakthrough!                      ………………………………………                                 Experience
• Securing the IP Contact Center            May 2008                                    • From the Publisher: We Can Do
• Weighing Productivity and Quality         • Pitfalls of Political Calling: The            That
    to Assess Agent Performance                 Challenges and the Myths                • Mind Your Business: Planning for
………………………………………                             • From the Publisher: Turning Green             Retirement
March 2008                                  • Mind Your Business: Charging a            • Measurement, Reliability, and
• Universal Service Fund Update                 Holiday Fee                                 Validity
• What We Know About USF                    • The Secrets of St. Louis                  • ATSI Exhibitor Profiles
• Forget Politics – I Just Want to Run      • Enhanced Websites Use Text Chat           • ATSI Convention Review and
    My Business                             • The Next Level in Performance                 Photos
• From the Publisher: Be Careful                Management: Part 2 – Getting            • ATSI Call Center Award of
    What You Bill For                           Quality Done Right                          Distinction
• Mind Your Business: Retaining             • Hosted PBX for Telemessaging              • ATSI Award of Excellence
    Clients                                     Call Centers                            • The Fatal Sales Presentation Trap
• Workforce Optimization for the            • Call Center Listing: Multilingual         ………………………………………
    Small to Midsized Contact Center            Teleservice Call Centers                September 2008
• How to Use Statistics in Your Call        ………………………………………                             • Affordable Workforce
    Center                                  June 2008                                       Management for Call Centers of
• IMS Paves the Way for Virtual Call        • A Disaster Recovery Solution                  Every Size
    Centers                                 • Another Use for SIP Trunking in           • Analytics and the Contact Center:
• Who Are These People?                         the Call Center                             Beyond Workforce Management
• Selling to Today’s Customers              • From the Publisher: The “Do-Not-          • From the Publisher: Call Center
………………………………………                                 Mail” Threat                                Anecdotes
April 2008                                  • ATSI Update: Why You Should               • Mind Your Business: Keeping Your
• The Challenge of Remote Agent                 Serve on a Board                            Business Healthy
    Training                                • Mind Your Business: Retaining Staff       • Is Your Scheduling System Ready

22 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                         • Connections Magazine
    for the Holidays?                             Your Business                                •  Annual Outsource Call Center
•   The Taylor Institute for Direct            •  Comparing Contact Center                        Listing
    Marketing                                     Performance Management and                   • Assessment Tools: What They Do
• External Validation: Part Five in the           Speech Analytics                                and Why You Should Be
    Continuing Series, Getting Quality         ………………………………………                                    Harnessing Their Power
    Right                                      November 2008                                   • CTI Can Help Reduce CSR Churn
• The Essentials of Great Leadership           • Systems, Boundaries, and Starting             ………………………………………
• Offshore Teleservice Agency                     Points in the Call Center                    December 2008
    Directory                                  • From the Publisher: Howdy                     • 2009 Connections Magazine
………………………………………                                   Pardner                                         Buyers Guide
October 2008                                   • ATSI Update: ATSI Planning a                  • From the Publisher: The
• Message Taking System Software                  Productive Year                                 Opportunity to Change
• From the Publisher: A Lament, a              • Mind Your Business: The                       • ATSI Update: Invest in Yourself
    Resolution, and a Great Idea                  Distressed Sale                              • Mind Your Business: Responding
• Mind Your Business: Staffing                 • SIP: “The Right Stuff” for Contact               to Falling Call Volume
    Issues During an Acquisition                  Centers                                      • Element-Based Information
• Can You Go Remote without Losing             • The CAM-X Call Centre Awards of                  System Revitalizes Online Help and
    Control?                                      Distinction for 2008                            Documentation
• Helping Remote Call Center Agents            • The CAM-X Award of Excellence                 • Spreadsheets in Forecasting and
    Succeed                                       Winners for 2008                                Scheduling
• Home-Based Employees: Eight                  • Enhancing Call Center Solutions               • The Employee-Customer
    Secrets for Success                           with Skype                                      Connection
• Considerations for a Distributed             • Teleservices Employees Learn                  • Powering Call Center
    Call Center                                   More with a Blended Approach                    Performance: Use Noncash
• What Is a Distributed Call Center?           • ATA Convention and Expo                          Rewards to Motivate
• Ten Reasons to Hire a Pro to Sell               Coverage

Whitepaper Index for 2008
All whitepapers can be viewed at

•   The Art of Coaching in the Contact     •       Data Reduction Technologies Provide     •       Premises to Keep: CPE as a Critical
    Center                                         an Effective Backup and Recovery                Success Factor for VoIP Service
•   The Art of Engaging the Customer               Strategy                                        Providers
•   The Benefits of Contact Center         •       The Evolved Help Desk                   •       Proactive Telephonic Customer Contact
    Quality and Performance                •       The Executive Disconnect: The           •       Proactively Boost Performance and
    Management Technologies                        Strategic Alignment Customer                    Improve the Customer Experience
•   BPO Industry – The Ride from Cost to   •       Five Best Practices in Communication    •       State of Customer Service Study
    Innovation                                     Center Automation for Hospitals         •       Voice Quality Is King Of The Contact
•   Case Study: Financial Services Giant   •       Increasing Revenue & Customer                   Center
    Cashes in on Call Monitoring                   Base Through Telemarketing              •       VoIP Infrastructure for the Evolving
•   Customer Experience Management         •       The Insider’s Guide to CRM Selection:           Enterprise
    Benchmark Study                                Get Control of Your Business            •       Workforce Optimization for the
•   Consumer Recall Rates of Phone         •       Making your Contact Center a                    Smaller Contact Center
    Numbers in Advertising                         Strategic Weapon

Connections Magazine •                                                   JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 23
Connections Magazine
                                     2008 Teleservice News Review
                                    Here are selected headlines from ConnectionsMagazine in 2008. The complete coverage of these
                                    and other items is available at:

January/February 2008                          May 2008                                           Several Growth Initiatives
•   Professional Teledata Announces            •   Connections Launches Industry-            •    The Association Formerly Known as
    Multisite Licensing for PInnacle               Exclusive News Feed                            CEO
•   Topics Announced for ATSI’s Owner’s        •   Startel Announces v8.0                    •    Amtelco Announces Pat Dye as New
    Forum                                      •   Telescan’s Spectrum SMS Server                 Sales Representative for the Eastern
•   Alston Tascom’s Hosted System                  Software                                       States
    Continues to Make Advances                 •   Amtelco Training Opportunities at ATSI    ………………………………………
•   Amtelco to Provide Advanced Training           Convention                                October 2008
    at Conference                              •   Professional Teledata Releases            •   Startel Announces New President
•   Elaine McMaster Joins Startel as VP            PInnacle v2.1                             •   Professional Teledata Announces
    of R&D                                     •   Amtelco University Opens New                  PI-Fax2
•   ATSI Recertifies Focus Comm Centers            Training Center                           •   Telescan’s Prism Switch Integrates
•   Startel Announces New Eastern Area         •   Professional Teledata Announces               with CenturiSoft Voicemail System
    Sales Manager                                  Record Sales of Their TBS Product         •   Direct Line Grows Through Acquisition
………………………………………                                ………………………………………                               •   ATA to Celebrate Twenty-Five Years at
March 2008                                     June 2008                                         Upcoming Convention
•   Alston Tascom and Homisco Join Forces      •   ATSI Announces Convention Expo            ………………………………………
•   Startel to Sponsor Hole-In-One Contest         Vendors                                   November 2008
    at TeamSNUG Golf Outing                    •   Amtelco Releases Pro Show                 •   ATSI Owner’s Forum to Create a
•   Szeto Releases SMS Service Option              Appointment Reminder                          World-Class Culture
•   Telescan Adds Staff to Support             •   Enjoy Breakfast with Professional         •   Professional Teledata Announces
    Services Department                            Teledata at ATSI Convention                   SMS Text Messaging Integration
•   Contemporary Web Plus Completes            •   Startel Announces Organizational          •   Amtelco Opens New Training and
    Call Center Software Suite                     Changes                                       Data Facilities
•   Professional Teledata Unveils              •   Annual CAM-X Convention to Color          •   Telescan’s Spectrum Messenger’s
    Redesigned Web site                            Outside the Lines                             User Profiles and SMS Text Messaging
•   Startel to Offer Free Training at SNUG     •   Mastar Telemessaging Increases            •   ATA’s Self-Regulatory Organization
    Conference                                     Their Star Family                             Launches Auditor Certification Training
•   Peter DeHaan Launches Blog                 •   Professional Teledata Celebrates          •   Addressing the New Canadian Do Not
………………………………………                                    Twenty-Five Years                             Call List
April 2008                                     •   Amtelco Announces VoIP Board              •   Telescan Adds More Staff to Their
•    Startel Corporation Announces Their       ………………………………………                                   Support Services Department
     Acquisition by Bilrob LLC                 July/August 2008                              •   Metro One Expands Contact Center
•    Amtelco Users Set Attendance Record       •    Connections Magazine Launches            ………………………………………
     at Conference                                  Podcast Site                             December 2008
•    TASbiller Supports CenturiSoft Billing    •    Amtelco Receives U.S. Patent for         •   Professional Teledata Announces
     Data                                           Scripting Method                             Supervisor Coaching Feature
•    Amtelco University Announces              •    Professional Teledata Makes Huge         •   New Startel Messenger Powered by
     Technical Seminars                             Improvement to Conversion Process            CenturiSoft
•    Startel Corporation Teams with            •    OnviSource Unveils AutoAgent:            •   Amtelco Infinity XDS VoIP Board
     XLScheduler to Offer WFM                       Intelligent Agent Transaction                Installation
•    Lori Fentem Contributes to Career              Automation Software                      •   OnviSource Introduces Explora
     Ideas for Kids                            •    CenturiSoft and Professional Teledata        Speech Analytics Software
•    WW-Outsourcing Welcomes Jeff                   Team Up to Enhance Performance           •   WW-Outsourcing International Adds
     Brooks as Project Manager                 •    Professional Teledata Introduces             Outbound
•    Amtelco Announces Greg Strehlow as             Offline Message Reader                   •   Bill Curtin Inducted into the CAM-X
     Sales Rep for Western States              ………………………………………                                   Hall of Fame
………………………………………                                September 2008                                •   Startel Announces Ron Lee as
                                               •   Alston Tascom Releases Two-Way SMS            Information Developer
                                               •   OnviSource Introduces Automated
                                                   Workforce Management Software
                                               •   Amtelco Releases CMI Diamond
                                               •   BrandonWayne Group Announces

24 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                               • Connections Magazine
I n t er a c t i v e
V o i ce R e s p on s e
P r o vi d e r s

    nteractive Voice Response (IVR) is a call center                 increase the number and types of services a call center offers,
    automation technology that off-loads routine calls and           while saving on labor costs, reducing agent workloads, and
    basic communication from live agents, freeing them to            reducing errors in call handling.
focus on more involved or complicated calls. IVR systems                  The Infinity IVR provides custom scripted voice services
have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. As           through prerecorded prompts, text-to-speech prompts, and
more features are added, their true value extends beyond cost        response-sensitive menu branching. Callers hear selections
savings and moves into quality enhancement to the point of           and can navigate through their choices through their
becoming expected technology by consumers. When properly             telephone keypads. Moreover, call transfers and patching can
implemented, IVR is preferred by callers; when poorly                be fully automated with the Infinity IVR.
implemented, it becomes a source of frustration and ire.                  Call scripts can share call data with other Amtelco
      Whether your call center has IVR or not, here are key          applications. An integral Infinity IVR Scheduler component
IVR vendors to the teleservices industry to consider for your        allows automatic generation of outbound calls.
first system – or as a replacement technology:                            Amtelco’s Infinity IVR product provides full-featured
                                                                     text-to-speech capabilities by incorporating Nuance
                                                                     Communication Inc.’s RealSpeak™ TTS engine.
                                                                     Additionally, speech recognition tools are available by
                                                                     co-implementing Amtelco’s “Just Say It” automated speech
                                                                     recognition product.
     Alston Tascom, Inc.                                                  Amtelco applications that utilize the Infinity IVR
     Evolution Communications and Information System                 platform include Pro Show appointment reminders, RED
IVR: As an integral part of the Evolution Digital Switch, the        Alert automated notifications, “Just Say It” automated
Tascom IVR is more flexible than a stand-alone IVR system.           directory assistance, and Ovation Agent automated wake-up
Database lookups, calculation of input data with instant             calls. The Infinity IVR application offerings by Amtelco
results, multiple searches, and port utilization are determined      include appointment reminder calls, alert and event notifications,
by the user based upon need, time of day, or caller ID, not by       directory assistance, wake-up calls, automated paging, and
system restrictions.                                                 paged messaging.
     IVR automates routine queries, leading callers through
prompts that let them access, enter, or modify data using their
telephone’s keypad and is a viable alternative to live agents
(staff). IVR is a true “stay in touch” service that is available
24/7. “It is efficient, accurate, and doesn’t ask for time off,”
said Alston Tascom’s president, Wayne Scaggs.                             CenturiSoft
     Contact Alston Tascom at 909-548-7300,,        The Centuri Messenger from CenturiSoft is a unified
or visit them online at                        communications system that includes IVR with all standard
                                                                     features. The Centuri Messenger also includes integrated
                                                                     email, fax, and voice. Combining non-real-time features
                                                                     (voicemail and messaging) with real-time features (follow-me,
                                                                     call screening, bridging, conferencing, and ACD) in one
                                                                     package achieves the flexibility of one system instead of
    Amtelco                                                          multiple systems trying to work as one seamless application.
    Amtelco’s Infinity IVR automates telephone-based tasks,               For more information about CenturiSoft (,
enabling callers to retrieve and process information without         contact John Pope, president, at 800-866-1929 x1 or
operator assistance. The Infinity IVR makes it possible to 

Connections Magazine •                                                JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 25
Call Center
Certification Program
By Beth Cooper

    n these tough economic times, one might wonder why in
    the world one might consider expending the effort and
    money to certify one’s staff. To that question I would
answer that it’s more important now than ever before.
     The 24/7 Call Center Certification programs, adopted by           agent. Beyond that, their next goal is to learn how to
ATSI in 2002, now encompass four levels: agent, dispatcher,            dispatch and eventually become a certified dispatcher. Then,
supervisor, and site. TAS associations are conducting                  if they want to enter into management ranks and the opportunity
certification clinics; record numbers of personnel are participating   presents itself, they know that to do so they will have to
and becoming certified. These programs have expanded                   become supervisor certified.”
across the borders and have been embraced by most of the                     What is the process? Agents are eligible for CSR
major platform vendors. As the industry recognizes that we             Certification after six months on the job experience. The
never stop learning, continuing education components are               agent certification is a simple two-step process. The first is a
being developed for the program.                                       comprehensive written exam that includes platform specific
     “Okay,” you say, “I see the merit of site certification with      questions. The second is an oral interview that assesses an
a goal of 99.9 percent planned run time. Most certified sites          agent’s grasp of industry standards. A study guide is provided
could rattle off the names of customers they got because of            with the exam materials.
their certification, but who cares about certified staff?”                   If your call center uses dispatchers, the next step is
     Your staff does, and you should. While certification may be       Dispatcher Certification. This validates agent proficiency in
about credentialing to you, it’s about recognition to your agents.     what many consider a critical component of call center work
Call center work has typically been seen as a dead-end job, with       – the proper delivery of the caller’s message. Again, a study
no chance for advancement. Your clients may think that too.            guide is provided with the exam materials.
     Certification begins the process of changing that perception            After your supervisors have six months’ supervisory
both inside and outside of the call center. When you certify           experience in your call center, they are eligible to begin the
your agents, dispatchers, and supervisors, you are letting them        Supervisor Certification process. Comprised of case studies,
know that they are worthy of the effort and able to meet the           analysis of real time system performance reports, and
challenge. Announcements to your clients that recognize                questions about their management style, this process is more
your agents’ achievements elevate your agents to the status of         of a journey than an exam. Once supervisors have achieved
accredited professionals. Why not send the announcements to            this certification, they will possess a significant sense of
your local chamber and business journal? Most have a section           accomplishment. A study guide is not provided with the
for those types of announcements. Take advantage of another            supervisor exam, as there are no “right” answers; instead,
opportunity to promote your business and be associated with            supervisors analyze traffic reports and other performance
professional standards and an accreditation program.                   criteria based upon the policies and procedures you have in
     Visit the offices of any call center who participates in this     place in your call center.
program, and you will see a wall of fame. You can see the                    ATSI has declared 2009 the Year of the Agent and is
progression as your staff develops: agent certification,               currently developing a program by which call centers can
dispatcher certification, and finally, supervisor certification.       nominate certified agents for the ATSI Certified CSR of the
What a sense of accomplishment this visual record reinforces!          Year Award. For more information on this and the certification
At Answer Quick, our wall of fame adorns the hall leading to           programs, go to ¤
the conference room, where we process applicants. What
message do you think we are telegraphing to potential staff?                Beth Cooper is Director of Operations at Answer Quick, a call
Chris Bell of MedCom Professional Services in Levittown,               center located in East Tennessee (
Pennsylvania, sums it up this way. “We use the ATSI                    Beth serves on the ATSI board as the SNUG appointed board
Certification program to identify the career path within our           representative, chairing the Industry Accreditation/Certification
organization. First, the agent is hired. They learn that their         Committee. She is a frequent speaker at industry events on
first goal after training is to qualify to become a certified          agent training, disaster preparedness, and certification.

26 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                              • Connections Magazine
Alston Tascom, Inc.......................6, 32              Startel ................................................31

13512 Vintage Place                                         17661 Cowan Avenue
Chino, CA 91710                                             Irvine, CA 92614
866-282-7266                                                800-782-7835
909-517-3660                                                fax: 949-863-9650
fax: 909-517-3670                                 

                                                            Szeto Technologies ...........................21
Amtelco..........................................2, 16      Call Management Equipment                                                                           Steve Michaels is a business
800-356-9148                                                888-421-3737                                                 By Steve Michaels
                                                                                                                                                                broker with TAS Marketing
or 608-838-4194                                                                                                                          and can be contacted at
fax: 608-838-8367                                                                                           I am in the process of
                                                                                                                                                                800-369-6126 or                                                                                                                  selling my call center.
                                                                                                                                                       for                                  TAS Marketing.....................12, 21, 29                          The buyer would like my
                                                            Business Brokers                                                                                    questions. His website is
                                                                                                                         receivables. What are they, and

ATSI ..................................................12   800-369-6126                                                                              
                                                                                                                         why should I give him something
12 Academy Avenue                                           fax: 406-827-4554                                            that I have worked for?
Atkinson, NH 03811                                
                                                                                                                                 This is a good question. First, receivable are the                                                Telescan, LLC...............................9, 11                    monies owed by the clients of a call center to the
                                                            10679 Midwest Industrial Blvd                                        owner – that is, the monthly invoices that require
CAM-X ..............................................10      St. Louis, MO 63132                                          payment. Hopefully, within thirty days of the last invoices
800-896-1054                                                800-770-7662                                                 being sent, the balance of your receivables will have been                                                 fax: 314-426-1357                                            paid. Well-run companies make an effort to have all
                                                                                               receivables collected within thirty days for a healthy cash
OnviSource ...............................18                                                                             flow. Receivables that lag into sixty or even ninety days
2300 N. 10th                                                WW-Outsourcing                                               become incrementally more difficult to collect with each
Enid, OK 73701                                              International Services Inc................10                 day that passes, so it behooves companies to collect their
800-311-3025                                                24-hour agent outsourcing
                                                                                                                         receivables in a timely basis.                                          800-785-4766
                                                                                                                              There are a few reasons why a buyer would like receivables.
Professional Teledata, Inc................13                                                                             The first is cash flow. The buyer would like a continuation
175 Canal Street                                                                                                         of cash flow without interruption to pay the monthly bills of
Manchester, NH 03101                                                                                                     the acquired company. Second, acquiring all the receivables
800-344-9944                                                                                                             eliminates the confusion of which party is due the receivables                                                                                                    after the business is sold.                                                                                                           There is no hard-and-fast rule regarding receivables; it
                                                                                                                         is negotiable. The seller may state that he or she is owed
                                                                                                                         that money and wants it. In this case, the buyer collects
                                                                                                                         those receivable funds and then distributes them to the seller.
                           FOR MORE INFORMATION                                                                          Other times, the buyer may charge a percentage for collecting
                                                                                                                         the money for the seller.
    about advertisers in Connections Magazine, visit our website:                                                             Another option is for the buyer to buy the current and click on “buyers guide.”                                                             outstanding receivables. An example would be to perhaps
                                                                                                                         pay 100 percent of the current billing cycle, 80 percent of
                                                                                                                         those over thirty days, 70 percent of those over sixty days,
                                                                                                                         and 65 percent of those over ninety days. The actual rates
       Our Advertisers                                                                                                   vary with each situation; they are listed in the “Asset
                                                                                                                         Purchase Agreement” and paid at closing.
 make Connections Magazine                                                                                                    Sometimes the receivables are part of the purchase price.
                                                                                                                         If so, sellers should collect as much of their receivables as
             possible. Please                               thank them                                                   possible prior to the closing date, because those funds will
                     for their continued support                                                                         go to the buyer after closing. Also, plan to close on or
                                                                                                                         before a billing date so that you have the opportunity to
                                   for this magazine.
                                                                                                                         collect as much of the outstanding receivables as possible. ¤

Connections Magazine •                                                                                                  JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 27
             12 Academy Avenue
          Atkinson, NH 03811, USA
    Atkinson, NH 03811,
        Charlene Glorieux
                                                            HCarpoolMarketing on the
                                                                     or call them at (800) 369-6126.

   866-896-ATSI ••
                                                                     or call them at (800) 369-6126.

                                                            HOSTED SERVICES                                          out, ADA compliant, built for Hewlett
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                                                             ELP WANTED cents per
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    Grimsby, ON L3M 2B6, Canada
                                                                latest, state-of-the-art equipment for only
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                                                                                                               Premium purchasing prompt cash and prompt cash
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    Marketplace listings,                                   ing yourTurn-key call centertolocated in           A fair offer price and your payment
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           contact Anderson 800-508-9936
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                                                                                                              established, equipment).Minnesota                Contact
   Boutique contact center providing exceptional 24/7
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                                                                                                                            deserve. Contact
                                                            POSITIONS WANTED answering
                                                            AVAILABLE C 15+ year
                                                            with PRIs, thisALL CENTER
 customer service and sales by phone, live chat & e-mail
36To OCTOBER 2007 live chat & e-mail                                                                           Ron toll-free •• 866-388-0772 or
                                                             AVAILABLEcall center work? at Connections Magazine
                                                                                                                           toll-free at 866-388-0772
                                                                                                              Ronwithout equipment). discuss. or
 customer service and sales by phone,
                                                                                                              or 888-422-7352 email to Contact
                                                                                                              Ron toll-free at Connections Magazine
                                                                                                               or Call John Sophocles or ext
                                                                                                              at without equipment). 1500 or                   Contact
36 • OCTOBER 2007                                            AVAILABLE CALL CENTER SPACE
                                                                              CALL CENTER Stimes
                                                            service is asking $495K or 12.4 PACE    
                                                                                                                              Very Confidential 888-558-2726.
      • be included in the                                                                                  866-388-0772 or
                                                            Looking it with a 33% Available For
                                                            but worthfor Office Spaceprofit margin.
                                                            Call Center                             Start          
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EMPLOYMENT SERVICESthe                                             job search here. Email located in
                                                            Lease. 800-369-6126. center your ad to
                                                            your Center Office Space Available For
                                                                      Turn-key call                           Premium price and prompt cash
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     contact Valerie at
    Marketplace listings,
    Marketplace listings,
                                                            Boise, Turn-key call center located in
                                                                      Idaho. 20,000+ square feet,
                                                             Lease. Turn-key call center located in
                                                                                                                     TAS for qualitytime to reputable
                                                                                                              closing Owners,and prompt Long
                                                                                                              A fair offer by an established, retire
                                                                                                              Premium price and prompt cash
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                                                                                                               closing for quality commercial or
                       THE CALL at                           Boise, Idaho.
                                                            BUSINESSES20,000+ floor through-square
                                                                                                                   providing quality • Connections Magazine
                                                                                         service since 1974. We
       866-668-6694                                          raised data cable FOR Sfloor through-
                                                                                          ALE               , has (with
                                                                                                              medical answering service been
                                                                                                              established, reputable Minnesota
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       866-668-6694 INDUSTRY'S PREMIER             ads
                                                             raised data cable access
                                                                                  access                       established, reputable Minnesota

36 • service and sales by phone, live chat & Free!
customer OCTOBER 2007
36 • OCTOBERResume & Search for Jobse-mail
                        EMPLOYMENT WEBSITE

                                                                                                              Ron toll-free • 866-388-0772 or
                                                                                                                   services on generous terms and Magazine
                                                                                         at Connections for a fair
                                                                                                              or without equipment). Contact
                                                            Olmsted Ohio sells pagers and • Connections Magazine
                                                                                         company in N
                                                            Small communicationENTER SPACE
                                                            AVAILABLE CALL C                                          wish to acquire established answering
 Candidates: Post Your 2007
                                                                                                  has its
      Employers: Post Available Job Opportunities                                                   
                                                                                                                         price. Our goal is to continue your
   Tothroughout the United States &in the
         be included Canada.                                own Center Office Space Available For
                                                            Call voicemail system that rents voicemail
            FOR A LIMITED listings,
   Marketplace TIME…                                        boxes to businessescenterresidential.
                                                            Lease. Turn-key call       and located in                 reputationprice and promptYour
                                                                                                              Premium of quality and service. cash
     Buy One Job Posting, Get One Free.                     Turn key business, owner retiring.                      staff can become our staff. Confidential.
      contact Valerie at                                    Boise, Idaho. 20,000+ square feet,                closing for quality accounts. Long
         Jobs Stay Active for 60 Days.                      Asking price is $75,000.00 includes                            Call Michael at 954-969-2336.
  1-800-946-2693 •            raised data cable access floor through-           established, reputable Minnesota
                                                            hardware, software, and clients. Call 800-     
                                                                                            • Connections Magazine
                                                            729-1032 or cell at 440-343-4193.
36 • OCTOBER 2007
28 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                                                  • Connections Magazine
                                            DID YOU KNOW?
                      All Connections Magazine Classified Ads are on-line:
                              To place your classified ad, go to

                                                                                                                   order-entry, fax with Commserver and
   We PAY CASH For Your TAS.                                               Web and Desktop                         On Call Scheduler. Complete Spares.
     We, ACCC, have been in                                   Caller-ID and Messaging Applications
       business for 21 years.                                                                                      Make Offer. Bob Ward 973-838-2242
                                                              Paper & Paperless Systems                            or
                                                             Introducing   WebStar, KisStar, PollStar, IdStar
    Call Doris 1-800-785-9436.
       References available!                                                                                       2 Tascom 870: 6 position systems and
                                                            USED EQUIPMENT FOR SALE                                a 6 position test bed. Monitors, key-
Top Dollar paid for your answering                                                                                 boards, huge inventory of cards, opera-
service. Qualified cash buyers looking                      FMDS System-4 ports, Infinity Spare                    tor amps, etc. At least 2 good hard
for entire businesses or accounts only.                     parts-Stargate panel and card, Adaptec                 drives. Wayne quoted us $5,000 for 1.
Call us first! 800-369-6126.                                card, 3-Com card, 1 GB Processor card.                 All for $5,000. 530-566-0370 Chico CA.
                                                            All in excellent condition. Call Scott at
Is it time to sell? A successful sale                       253-620-4567.                                          Startel 2050: 2 position, 10 spare
depends on how your customers are                                                                                  cards, PIN Printer, TA 750, T1 Bank,
handled after the transfer. We wrote the                    Startel 5700 full system licensed for 18               with consoles and keyboards. Good
book DVD on customer service. Let                           positions. Includes 20 console boxes                   Condition; asking $2,200. Call Jean at
Focus Telecommunications give you the                       and keyboards, 5.421.32 software, 6                    702-325-9702.
best experience. Call Donna West at                         T-1 cards, voicemail, Web-enabled,
800-371-9146 to explore the options.”

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES                                           When times get tough, the tough
 Forward thinking independent local exchange carrier
                                                               respond with A Plan for the Future!
 with larger than needed tandem switch and redundant
Fiber Optics Rings located in northwest Illinois looking                     If your business is suffering from the economic affects
for potential business partner to relocate inside service                               of the recession, start now with a
 area. Capital contribution possible. Community has
   TIF financing, great school system and located on
 major highway and minutes from larger metropolitan                          NEW PLAN OF ACTION FOR 2009.
  area. Call President & CEO direct at 309-944-8002
          or email inquiry at                               Make a difference in your business TODAY by calling
SERVICES                                                                       TAS Marketing regarding the following options…
                                                                               Buy • Sell • Merge • “Check of the Month” Club •
Do you provide services to call centers? Place                                         or our brand new Hosting Venue.
your ad at
                                                                Call (800) 369-6126 to learn about the various options designed to turn
                                                                             your business around during these trying times.
Are you looking for used equipment? Place
your ad here! Go to www.connections- ads/info.html.


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                                                               233 Whitepine Creek Road • Trout Creek, Montana 59874 • •

Connections Magazine •                                                                        JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009 • 29
coming                                                               All new listings or changes are italicized

Events                                                                           See the most recent updates online:
                                                  To have your group’s events included in Connections Magazine’s
                                                                  “Upcoming Events” calendar and on our Website,
                                               please email your information to:

                                   March 1-4, 2009                                May 3-10, 2009
                           PIN Users Group Annual Meeting                      STA Conference at Sea
                               Quorum Hotel, Tampa, FL                          Departing Tampa, FL
                        Contact Dan L’Heureux at 763-473-0210,         
                      , or               Contact Dan L’Heureux at 763-473-0210,

                                   March 15-18 2009                              May 19-21, 2009
                             TeamSNUG Annual Meeting                    WSTA Spring Supervisors Conference
                            Chicago, IL – Hard Rock Hotel                 Las Vegas, NV – Southpoint Hotel
                                                   Contact Dan L’Heureux at
                        Contact Dan L’Heureux at 763-473-0210           763-473-0210,,
                                or                           or

                                   April 17-18, 2009                             June 17-20, 2009
                         CAM-X – Call Centre Coaching Clinics            ATSI Annual Convention and Expo
                                     Calgary, AB                            Westin Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA
                         For more information, contact CAM-X            For more information: 866-896-2874
                          at 905-309-0224 or                       or

                                   April 21-22, 2009                          September 22-25, 2009
                          ASTAA Spring Supervisor’s Seminar                CAM-X 45th Annual Convention
                         Embassy Suites Philadelphia Airport,                     & Trade Show
                                   Philadelphia, PA                    Grand Okanagan Resort, Kelowna, BC
                        Contact Dan L’Heureux at 763-473-0210,            Contact Linda at 800-896-1054,
                    or visit      , or
                                                                                 October 4-7, 2009
                                   April 26-29, 2009                     American Teleservices Association
                             ATA 2009 Washington Summit                      2009 Convention & Expo
                              Hyatt Regency Crystal City                      Sheraton New Orleans
                               Visit                      Visit
                                 for more information.                         for more information.

                                   April 28-29, 2009                            October 12-14, 2009
                          GLTSA Spring Sales & Supervisor’s                ASTAA Fall Annual Conference
                                        Seminar                         Loews Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA
                                Chicago, IL – Hotel TBA                      Contact Dan L’Heureux at
                        Contact Dan L’Heureux at 763-473-0210,          763-473-0210,
                    or visit                    or visit

                                   May 1-2, 2009
                         CAM-X – Call Centre Coaching Clinics
                                    Toronto, ON
                            For more information, contact
                       CAM-X at 905-309-0224 or

30 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2009                                • Connections Magazine
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