Connections v15.1

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					                              JAN/FEB 2007

VOL. 15/NO. 1

                PROFITING FROM
                AT-HOME AGENTS
                WHAT IF YOUR
                COMPETITORS TAPPED
                INTO YOUR CALL CENTER
ASSOCIATIONS                                                          BROKERS                                                      EQUIPMENT

                              Atlantic States Telephone
                                                                                     Business Mergers &

                              Answering Assoc.
        Supervisor Training, Fall 2007
                                                                                       Brokers the sale of Telephone Answering,
        800-718-1712                                                    Voice Mail, Alarm Monitoring & Call Center
                                                                                    companies. We also sell top-end TAS systems.
                                                                                       Steve Michaels - TAS Marketing

                                                                                      406-827-4131 • Fax: 406-827-4554
 Startel National Users Group, Inc.                                              
Learn how Certification can demonstrate your Value in real $$.                   
   Dan L’Heureux Exec Director 800-317-8529
                                                                                                                    Voice Logging Recorders
                                                                           BUSINESS BROKERS                                              Easily records ALL conversations—just click and play
                    Supervisor Training and MORE!                                                                           Record/Play Tek,Inc.
 Great Lakes
                        Sept 11-13, Chicago
                     Dan L'Heureux Exec Director
 Telemessaging              888-712-9396
 Services Association
                   Southern Telemessaging
                   Association                                        Shatz and Associates 1-888-731-7002
    We are MORE than just a cruise, we TRAIN!                         Telephone answering service brokering and consulting.
           Dan L'Heureux Exec Director                                      4%-5% commisions to sell your business
       800-475-0857 •                                    29 years of telephone answering experience

             Western States Telemessaging Assoc.                      EQUIPMENT
              Opportunities beyond Boundaries- Join US!
                                                                                                                                   AFFORDABLE TAS EQUIPMENT
                    Dan L'Heureux Exec Director
               877-754-4103 •
                                                                                                                                      FOR ANY SIZE SERVICE

                                                                                                                                                   LEASING AVAILABLE

                       CEO is the Cadcom Equipment Owners
                      Association established in 1993. The group is
                      comprised of OnviSource (formerly Cadcom)                                                                                      888-527-2224
                      Equipment Owners. Contact us at:
                      CEO Coordinator’s Office, 703-370-9610 or                                                                           
                      at our web site

BILLING SOFTWARE                                                         Voice Logging Recorders                                   HOSTED SYSTEMS

                                                                             NOT JUST ONE SOLUTION
                                                                                                                                                Steve Michaels is a

                                                                           Recording, Monitoring, Bridges
                                                                                                                                                Hosted Systems Broker
                                                                                                                                                serving the industry with either
                                                                                                                                                vendor or answering service
                                                                                                                                                hosted systems. Check the

                                                                                                                                                banner on their home page at
                                                                                                                                       or call
WEBSITES                                                                                                                                        them at (800) 369-6126.                                                                                                    To be included in the Professional                                                                                                          Directory, contact Valerie at                                                                                                             866-668-6694

Connections Magazine •                                                                                              JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 3
Cover Story
                             The Future of the
                             Call Center .......................14
                             By Alan Tucker
                             With advancing computer technology and
                             Web-enabling, call centers need not wait
                             until tomorrow; the future is here today.
                             From thin client computing to VoIP’s many
                             advantages, today’s Internet-enabled call
                             centers are on the cutting edge, offering
                             advanced and highly customizable services
                             from nimble and flexible infrastructures.
                             Don’t wait for tomorrow – the future is now!

                              Professional Directory....................3
                              From the Publisher .........................7
                              “Be Careful What You Measure”

                              Industry News ................................9
                              Advertiser Listing ........................35
                              Classifieds/Marketplace ...............36
                              Coming Events.............................38

4 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007      • Connections Magazine
 Features                                                                 18
                              Profiting from Disaster: How to                           What If Your Competitors
                              Ethically Make Money During a Crisis .....18              Tapped Into Your Call Center............................26
                              By Maurice Ramirez                                        By Trudy Nyden and George Lemmond
                              Is it possible to ethically profit from a disaster        Call center conversations are an untapped
                              situation and not feel guilty? Yes, it is. In fact,       treasure of client input. They are worth more
                              without a proper profit motive, long-term assistance      than any research and reflect the behavior of
                              will either wane or become a source of irritation.        real clients. The challenge becomes what
                                                                                        to do with all this information.
                              2012 – A Future Scenario for
                              the Telemessaging Industry ........................20     How to Optimize Skills-Based
                              As might be told by Rod Sterling                          Routing Using a Virtual Queue ..........................28
                              From the perspective of the year 2012, how will           By Eric Camulli
                              tomorrow’s call center view today’s developments?         Skill-based routing gets the caller to the
                              What could happen in the next five years?                 right agent, but results in some callers waiting
                              What does that mean to your operation?                    on hold and some agents waiting for callers.
                                                                                        A virtual queue is the best way to serve
                              At-Home Agents:                                           callers and reduce hold times. Plus, most
                              The Promises and Pitfalls............................24   callers appreciate it!
                              By Cary Fulbright
                                                                                        Connections Magazine

                              Did you know that call centers with home-based
                              agents enjoy higher agent retention, lower costs,         Article and Whitepaper Index for 2006 .............30
                              increased productivity, and have a better-educated
                              staff? The benefits are many; however, there are          2006 Year in Review..................................32
                              challenges in hiring, training, and managing a            Scan Connections Magazine’s 2006
                              virtual workforce. This article takes a closer            headlines to see what you might have missed.
                              look at these issues and presents methods to              The complete coverage of 2006’s news is
                              help overcome these challenges                            available at our Web site.

                                                                                        Weak Wimpy Words.................................34
                                                                                        By Nancy Friedman,
                                                                                        The Telephone Doctor
                                                                                        Words to avoid while making

                                                                                        a sales call.
Whitepapers On the Web
Find more information online:
• Case Study: Vodafone Optimizes Agent              Read more articles online at
  Scheduling with Workforce Management              • Why Family Business Succession Plans Fail: Planning Strategies That Work
• Contact Center Case Study: SMT Makes the            by Jeff Harris
  Call with Voice Broadcast Technology              • Talent Shortage? How to Win with What You’ve Got by Vince Thompson
  by Steve Adams                                    • Advertising’s Compound Interest by Jim Gustafson
• Four-Question Surveys: Short and Dangerous        • Stopping the Revolving Door: How to Hire and Retain Top Talent
  by Dr. Jodie Monger                                 by Paul Endress
                                                    • The Five Destructive Behaviors That Can Ruin Your Business by Don Schmincke
                                                    • Turn Yourself into a Star Performer: Tips on Cultivating Confidence
                                                      by Dr. Christopher Knippers

 Connections Magazine •                                                       JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 5
    Connections                                                                                                                from the
 January/February 2007


                                                 Volume 15, Issue 1

                                                             Peter DeHaan
    Phone .................................................866-668-6695
    Fax .....................................................866-668-6693
 Display/Classified Advertising ...............Valerie Port                                                               Be careful What
    Phone .................................................866-668-6694
    EMail                                                                   You Measure
    Fax .....................................................866-668-6698          Peter DeHaan, Ph.D.
 Designer/Production.......................David Margolis
    Phone .................................................866-668-6696
    Fax .....................................................215-369-0144

                                                                                                    y labor percentage is down to 28%,” boasts the owner of a
               48955 Hickory Lane • Mattawan, MI 49071                                              mid-sized call center. “Have you ever heard of anyone
                                                               lower?” he continues, as though seeking affirmation.
         email                                          “Twenty-eight percent!” I exclaim.
                                                                                        “So, it’s good?” he probes, still seeking validation.
                       Upcoming Issues:
             Article/PR     Space
                                                                                        I carefully consider my response. “No, it’s terrible!” I pronounce.
 Issue       Deadline       Deadline Featuring                                          “Terrible?” he asks incredulously.
 March       Jan 19         Jan 26   Work Force Management Software;                    “Yes, terrible,” I confirm. “What are you going to do to fix it?”
                                     Call Center Outsourcing/
                                                                                        “Fix it?” he responds, dumbfounded. “I worked hard to get down to
                                     Teleservice Agency Listing
 April       Feb 23         Mar 2    Voice Logging; Music On Hold;                 28%. I can’t get it any lower.”
                                     ATSI Convention Information                        “You need it to be higher,” I state matter-of-factly. After pausing for
 May         Mar 30         April 6  Speech Recognition/Verification;              dramatic effect, I add, “By stating that your labor is at 28%, you are implying
                                     Voice Mail
                                                                                   that your overhead is at 72%. That is way too high and needs to be much
 Mission:                                                                          lower. I fear that your call center is suffering from an inflated overhead, and
 To be the principal clearing house of relevant and practical information          it needs to immediately be brought under control.”
 for the teleservices industry.
                                                                                        There is a slight glimmer of resigned comprehension in his eye, but
 Distribution:                                                                     wanting to avoid any additional challenges to his entrepreneurial equilibrium,
 Connections Magazine is distributed monthly (with combined
                                                                                   he mumbles a reluctant thanks and makes a hasty retreat.
 Jan/Feb and Jul/Aug issues) to the TeleServices industry, including
 outsource call centers, telephone answering services, in-house call                    I didn’t actually say those things – but I sure have wanted to! The truth
 centers, and industry professionals who actively buy and sell                     of the matter is that when call center managers and owners focus on labor
 products and provide service to this industry. The distribution list is           percentages, they are often looking at the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
 continuously monitored and updated via the Connections Web site
                                                                                        Yes, it is correct that unchecked labor costs can quickly escalate,
 (, industry sources, reader requests,
 and the change of address service from the U.S. Postal Service.                   threatening to run out of control. As such, skyrocketing agent expense is the
 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Connections Magazine,                         most likely cause of the fiscal demise of a call center. On the other hand, the
 44895 Hickory Ln, Mattawan, MI 49071.                                             too aggressive reduction of labor costs is the most likely cause of the quality
 Subscriptions:                                                                    demise of a call center. Therefore, a requisite balance exists between cost and
 Connections Magazine is sent free in the United States to individuals and         quality that is all too often out of balance, sacrificing customer service on the
 companies in the call center and teleservices industry. International             altar of cost-containment.
 subscriptions are distributed via email. Subscription requests can be
 processed on-line: and click on
                                                                                        The Situation: For the sake of illustration, let’s manufacture a fictitious,
 “Subscribe.                                                                       yet nonetheless realistic, situation for a typical call center. To keep the math
                                                                                   easy, we will assume that the call center has annual expenses of $1 million
 Advertisers and their agents assume all liability for content, including text,    and spends 50% of its budget on call center labor. For simplicity’s sake, we
 representation, and illustration of any advertisement included in this            will lump everything else into the broad category of overhead. This assump-
 magazine as well as for any claims made against the publisher arising             tion is not unjustifiable, as it is a call center’s labor that directly provides the
 therefrom. The publisher reserves the right to reject any advertising that is     service, and everything else, albeit important, is ancillary or indirect. In sum-
 not in keeping with the standards of the magazine and to add the word
 “advertisement” to any ad herein. The publisher makes no claims regarding         mary, the call center’s financial picture looks like this:
 the legality or condition of any goods or services advertised in this magazine.
 Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and not                  Expenses:       $1,000,000 100%
 necessarily those of Connections Magazine or any of its agents. The                   Overhead:       $500,000    50%
 information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is
 not intended to provide legal, medical, tax, or any other professional                Labor:          $500,000    50%
 advice or counsel.                                                                                                                           (Continued on page 8)

Connections Magazine •                                                                                JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 7
from the
  (Continued from page 7)

       So, we have a $1 million call center, spending $500,000 (50%)          It is important to note that while agent labor is a highly
  on labor and $500,000 on overhead. To ensure profitability,            monitored and scrutinized effort, overhead, or non-agent labor
  it has been determined that overall costs need to be reduced           areas, receive much less attention and on a considerably less
  by 10%. Now what?                                                      frequent basis. Therefore, these areas are much more likely to be
       Scenario 1: According to conventional wisdom, you                 inflated and merit reduction. That is not to suggest that cutting
  address the biggest cost area, which is agent labor.                   overhead will be easy. It won’t; it will be difficult, especially
  Additionally, labor is also a variable expense, which means that       since these reductions reside much closer to management.
  it can be cut relatively easily (fixed expenses are much harder        Perhaps unneeded perks have crept into the budget; these can be
  to scale back). Plus, the effects of any labor adjustment can be       axed without a detrimental effect on service. Likewise, there are
  recognized quickly, generally within a month (reductions in            probably costs that are no longer necessary, but have continued
  nonlabor related areas take much longer to materialize).               unabated. Other costs, left unchecked, have escalated over time and
       In any schedule, there are some debatable details. These          need to be trimmed back to a more reasonable and appropriate level.
  include the number of agents required at certain times and the              Lastly, there is a labor component in the overhead category
  length of specific shifts. Even by eliminating all of these            as well. This applies to management (at all levels) and support
  disputable items, there is still considerable – and painful –          personnel. It could be that a certain position is no longer needed,
  cutting to do. Eventually, the sagacious scheduler will be             but retained because everyone likes the person filling that
  able to make the required cuts, resulting in the target                position. Other jobs could have become bloated with unnecessary
  reduction of 10%. The annualized results look like this:               effort or busywork that produces no real benefit to the call center.
                                                                         Bureaucracy and self-preservation activities are also prime targets
      Expenses:        $900,000      100%                                for elimination. Finally, there is the possibility that complete
      Overhead:        $500,000       56%                                departments or management levels might no longer be necessary,
      Labor:           $400,000       44%                                or at least warrant major reductions.
                                                                              These types of cost reductions are not easy to make, and
       The targeted 10% cost reduction has been accomplished,            they are often harder to spot. However, they can be made
  profitability has been restored, and things are good, right? Not       with the least impact on the callers – the very reason that the
  necessarily so. The 10% reduction was completely realized by           center exists. In reducing costs by focusing on areas other
  cutting agent labor. With overhead remaining unchanged, agent          than agent labor, the provision of service is not directly
  labor was actually subjected to a 20% reduction. This will             affected. The annualized numbers become:
  unarguably result in a noticeable drop in customer service levels,
  both measurably by the call center and perceptibly by the callers.          Expenses:       $900,000       100%
  This will produce an increase in complaints, adding work for the            Overhead:       $400,000        44%
  supervisory and management staff, while further taxing the agents,          Labor:          $500,000        56%
  who are now working harder than before. It is also likely that some
  client defections will result, causing income to decrease and the           Another Extreme: In the first scenario, we looked at reducing
  newfound profits to evaporate. This scenario could very well           the labor percentage. In cutting labor by $100,000 and then by
  exemplify the old adage of “winning the battle, but losing the war.”   another $205,000, a resultant 28% labor figure was realized.
       To extend this scenario to reach the preceding and overly         There is, however, another way to accomplish this same result.
  ambitious goal of 28% labor cost, agent labor would need to            Quite simply, by holding agent labor constant and increasing
  be reduced an additional $205,556! This would result in:               overhead by $780,000, a 28% labor figure can also be achieved!

      Expenses:        $694,444      100%                                     Expenses:       $1,785,714 100%
      Overhead:        $500,000       72%                                     Overhead:       $1,285,714 72%
      Labor:           $194,444       28%                                     Labor:          $500,000    28%

       Scenario 2: The prudent businessperson, however, will                  In conclusion, we see that there are two ways to reach a 28%
  realize that the call center’s carefully crafted agent schedule is     labor figure: detrimentally slashing labor or obscenely increasing
  essentially correct. The agents (who are provisioned via the           overhead. However, in both cases the wrong target is being measured
  labor expense) are the primary determining factor in the quality       for the wrong reason. Rather, the intent should be to establish an
  of service offered and the resulting client satisfaction. Once it      agent schedule that will produce the proper service level to callers
  has been determined that the agent schedule is on track, the cost      and then shrink overhead to the minimal level. This will effectively
  reduction efforts can focus on overhead – that is, those activities    increase the labor percentage, while decreasing the overhead
  that do not directly affect the provision of quality service.          percentage – a right and worthy goal for any call center to measure. ¤

  8 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                                • Connections Magazine
   IndustryNEWS                                                     Join the Alston Tascom

Steve Michaels Becomes First
VoIP-Hosted Systems Broker
     Steve Michaels, currently a TAS business broker with
TAS Marketing, has taken on another role as a VoIP-Hosted
Systems Broker. Michaels will broker VoIP-hosted systems

                                                                                                             Connecting Callers With Customers
from either a vendor or another call center for both start-ups
and centers with outdated equipment wishing for a cost-effective
way to upgrade.
     By using the vendor’s hosted systems, the partnering
client (PC) will have the capability to host their entire
customer base in another location, thus saving them the costs
of purchasing a system and all that is entailed with such a
purchase. They can also go virtual with home-based operators
should they so desire. This option also allows for an excellent
disaster recovery program
     With a call center acting as the affiliate (hosting agent),
the PC will not only be able to have their customer base on
another system, but will also have the capabilities of over-
flowing their calls, even their midnight traffic, thus saving the
cost of a midnight operator. “This is a win-win situation,”
concluded Michaels.
     For more details call 800- 369-6126, email Steve Michaels
at, or visit

TASbiller Sales Top 100!
     Sales of the TASbiller call center billing program sur-
passed the 100 mark in late 2006 and kept going. By year’s
end, there are well over 110 users of TASbiller. Sales have
been steady since its introduction in June of 2002. Randy
Ripkey, the owner and developer of TASbiller, is pleased
with its continued success. “We have sold TASbiller to users           Single-Point-Solution
large and small, utilizing all major call center switch plat-          • Unified IVR
forms,” said Randy.
     Please visit for more information or
                                                                       • Unlimited ACD
call Randy at 706-860-0868.                                            • Text to Speech
                                                                       • No Proprietary Hardware
Professional Teledata Enhances                                         • Voice Mail
Spell-Checker with Multiple                                            • Voice Logging
Dictionaries                                                           • Voice Recognition
     Professional Teledata has enhanced their PInnacle
Telemessaging System spell-checking capabilities. The                  • Order Entry
PInnacle spell-checker is an internal English version that is
delivered with each system at no additional charge. Spell-
checking is enabled on an account-by-account and field-by-              Alston Tascom
field basis. Different accounts can access foreign language             13512 Vintage Pl., Chino. CA 91710
dictionaries, including Spanish and both Canadian and                   866-2-TASCOM • 866-282-7266
European French. All dictionaries have the ability to append            Fax 909-517-3670
user-defined entries.                                         
     Jim Graham, vice president of software development for   
                                     (Continued on page 10)

Connections Magazine •                                    JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 9
                                                                   System users, all members of the “Customer Support Telescan

(Continued from page 9)
                                                                   Family” benefit from these latest software enhancements that
                                                                   keep their call centers current and competitive.
                                                                         This update includes an enhancement made to the
                                                                   Spectrum Data Manager that allows dispatching by Client
Professional Teledata, also pointed out the availability of both   Class. This feature is especially beneficial in accommodating
medical and legal volumes that can be appended to language-        multiple-office environments. Another highlighted
specific dictionaries. Jim added, “The current medical             improvement is the addition of new format codes supported
dictionary contains over 125,000 entries, and periodic updates     by the E-mail Server. “These new codes provide more
are available at a very reasonable cost.”                          flexibility for our customers in delivering critical information
     Allen Kalik, president of the company, stated, “Spell-        to their clients,” said Bob Vornberg, Telescan’s director of
checking, once considered an exotic luxury, is becoming a          product development.
necessity considering the increased sophistication of the                To find out more about Telescan, call 800-770-7662 or
nature of incoming calls. Medical and legal accounts               visit
especially benefit due to the absolute need for accuracy
within their communications.”                                      Amtelco’s Solutions
     Professional Teledata ( provides          Now Rated Avaya Compliant
systems and software products for the telemessaging and call            Two of Amtelco’s innovative solutions, eCreator and
center industries. Contact Karen Black at 800-344-9944             Red Alert, have received compliance certification with
x112 for more information.                                         Avaya, a leading provider of communications systems.
                                                                        The eCreator Web-based scripting solution helps call
CenturiSoft Completes                                              centers increase agent productivity by creating scripts to simplify
Acquisition of ReparoVOX                                           call processing; it is compliance-approved by Avaya for
Communications                                                     compatibility with their Proactive Contact 3.0. The Red Alert
     CenturiSoft completed its acquisition of ReparoVOX            notification solution helps organizations quickly perform
Communications. ReparoVOX Communications was chosen                crisis communication; it is compliance-approved by Avaya
because it is a well-known ASP (Application Service                for compatibility with their Communications Manager 3.
Providers) within the telecommunications industry. The                  “All of us here at Amtelco are delighted to receive
company will continue to focus on the service provider and         certification from Avaya for our event and notification product,
enterprise market segments, with a strong lineup of products       Red Alert and our Web-based scripting solution, eCreator.
based on the trademarked “CleverContact” portfolio of              These certifications signify the benefits of partnering with
services, now unified under the CenturiSoft name.                  innovative, forward-looking technology companies with the
     “We want to continue to service our combined customer         common goal of providing open platforms and proven
base as well as acquire new customers, meeting traditional         applications to the best companies world wide,” said Amtelco
market needs and those of the emerging wireless and VoIP           president, Tom Curtin.
markets,” commented John Pope, CenturiSoft president and                Avaya Inc. designs, builds, and manages communications
chief technology officer. “Our mission is to become the            networks worldwide, including over 90 percent of the Fortune
number one open systems platform provider for the unified          500® companies. Avaya is a leader in secure and reliable
communications market segment.”                                    Internet protocol (IP) telephony systems and communications
     “Aligning our company with the resources of the               software applications and services.
CenturiSoft’s development team is good for our customers                For more information on eCreator and Red Alert,
and is what was needed to take ReparoVOX to the next phase         contact Amtelco at 800-56-9148 or 608-838-4194, or e-mail
of growth,” commented Barry Porter, ReparoVOX president, 
who will continue with CenturiSoft in an advisory position
to insure fully integrated operations.                             Startel Hires Dan Feis as
     For more information, visit and           New Account Executive                                                      Startel Corporation, a provider of Call Center Solutions
                                                                   welcomed Dan Feis to their sales team as their new account
Telescan Releases Software                                         executive. Dan will provide account management support for
Updates R2-2006                                                    Startel’s existing customer base from their corporate
     In December, Telescan released the second yearly              headquarters in Irvine, California. Customers can contact
software updates for 2006. Twice a year, Telescan provides         Dan Feis at 949-863-8714.
software updates for all of the system owners that subscribe            Dan reports to Barbara Willis, vice president of sales.
to the Customer Support Agreement. Whether it is with their        “We are truly delighted to have Dan as a member of our
senior EarthNet System users or their newest Spectrum              Startel team,” Willis stated. “Dan brings an outstanding sales

10 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                          • Connections Magazine
and support background through his many years of                      Convention was deemed an overwhelming success by
experience, as well as a fresh perspective to our sales team.”        attendees. Keynote speaker, Michael Kerr, opened the
     ”I am extremely excited to be on board and look forward          sessions with anecdotes on how to bring a little levity, while
to being an integral part of the Startel organization,” Dan stated.   still striving for excellence, into the day-to-day operations of
     Visit Startel’s Web site at                 a business.
                                                                            The much-anticipated CAM-X Award of Excellence and
Washington Summit to Address                                          Award of Distinction presentations were also made. The
Political Climate of Teleservices                                     convention concluded with a whirlwind of information
Channel                                                               sessions, culminating in the prestigious Gala Dinner and
      The 2007 ATA (America Teleservices Association)                 Banquet. Michael Leibowitz received a hearty welcome as he
Washington Summit will take place April 22-25, 2007. This             was presented with the CAM-X president’s gavel upon
year’s summit will be host to three influential speakers,             assuming the role of president for the upcoming term.
including Paul Begala, political contributor and Democratic                                                    (Continued on page 12)
strategist on CNN’s The Situation Room; ATA CEO, Tim
Searcy; and Bill Greener of Greener & Hook, who performs
strategic consulting structured around public opinion, public
policy, and political considerations.
      The teleservices channel currently employs nearly 4 percent
of the United States workforce. Contact centers employ over
5.2 million people in almost 57,000 locations. These
statistics are just one piece of evidence that demonstrates the
necessity of this channel to work closely with both
Washington policymakers and consumers to strive toward a
symbiotic balance of interests.
      Attendees will consist of CEOs, vice presidents, compliance
officers, government affairs officers, attorneys, and other
professionals, all seeking guidance on new regulations and
compliance standards, pending legisla-
tion that will affect their business
practice, and, perhaps most importantly,
having the opportunity to meet with
policymakers about issues that affect the
livelihood of their industry.
      For more information, contact Zachary
Rice, director of government affairs, at
317-816-9336,, or

CAM-X Announces
Board; Convention a
     CAM-X (the Canadian Call
Management Association) announced
their board of directors for 2006-2007.
Michael Leibowitz is the new president;
Pat Vos becomes the past-president and
will be the secretary/treasurer; Casey
Smit is the first vice president, while
Mary Anne Chase is the second vice
president. The remaining directors are
Kelly Doran, Lil Lyle, and Pam
Poehlmann. The vendor representative is
Brad Swift; Linda Osip remains the
executive director.
     CAM-X’s Annual Trade Show and

Connections Magazine •                                               JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 11
                                                                 It was evident that the designers of the PInnacle System had

(Continued from page 11)
                                                                 hands-on experience in running a successful call center.”
                                                                      Professional Teledata ( provides
                                                                 systems and software products for the telemessaging and call
                                                                 center industries. Contact Karen Black (800)344-9944 x112
     CAM-X is a Canadian-based trade association for the         for more information.
call management industry. For more information, contact
Linda Osip at 800-896-1054 or visit                 Telescan Launches
                                                                 New Web site
Professional Teledata Sells                                            In December, Telescan launched a new Web site
Milestone 30th System                                            reflecting the marketing themes for 2006: “The Future of
     Professional Teledata announced the 30th order for a        Your Business” and “Take a Closer Look at Telescan.” The
PInnacle System since its introduction in 2003 to The Answer     new site also features Telescan’s new literature with a
2 (formerly ADS Communications). “This represents a              downloadable information page on each of Telescan’s
significant milestone in the growth of the company,” says        products.
Allen Kalik, president of Professional Teledata. He                    One of the key changes in this Web site is the incorporation
continues, “We entered the telemessaging market with             of Axon into the Telescan site. Since Telescan acquired
caution and some concern. Some claimed it was an                 Axon in 2003, they have maintained their own Web site. The
over-saturated market with an abundance of competitors. It       Axon product information is fully integrated into the new
was the users of our PI-2000 Inbound Call Processing System      Telescan Web site. Interested companies can now find all the
that encouraged us, both emotionally and financially, to forge   information on both products in one place.
ahead. We now find ourselves substantially ahead of even               Telescan has also included more user assistance into the
our most optimistic projections.”                                new site with the addition of manual and remote support.
     Dick Huffer, owner of The Answer 2, said, “We are           “We are constantly searching for ways to better serve our
pleased to be part of this eventful occasion. We looked at the   users,” said Nicholas J. Naimo, Telescan’s General Manager.
PInnacle System several years ago and decided it was a ‘not      This new site provides several user tools that will make
if, but when’ decision to become part of the PInnacle family.    service easier.”
                                                                       To find out more about Telescan, call 800-770-7662 or
                                                                 visit their new Web site,

                                                                 GLTSA Announces Spring
                                                                 Supervisor Workshop
                                                                      The Great Lakes Telemessaging Services Association
                                                                 (GLTSA) announced a one-day Supervisor and Lead
                                                                 Agent training workshop in Detroit, Michigan on Thursday,
                                                                 April 12, 2007.
                                                                      “This workshop is being designed by supervisors and
                                                                 managers of telemessaging call centers in the Great Lakes
                                                                 area and is intended to be presented for supervisors and lead
                                                                 Agents,” said GLTSA president Janet Livingston, “in an
                                                                 effort to share practical knowledge gained through on-the-job
                                                                 application. This is ‘real-world’ material that staff can take
                                                                 back and implement.”
                                                                      For more information, contact Dan L’Heureux at
                                                                 888-712-9396 or

                                                                 Study Reveals Performance
                                                                 Management Best Practices
                                                                     During 2006, there was a continued accelerated adoption
                                                                 of customer operations performance management
                                                                 applications, especially within contact centers. Research
                                                                 conducted by Merced Systems over the past year has shown
                                                                 that while performance management practices vary by
                                                                 company, certain approaches and investments are linked with
                                                                 improved results:

12 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                        • Connections Magazine
•    In nearly all organizations, there are hidden inefficiencies   growth under his guidance.”
     and disparities in performance which can be uncovered               ASTAA is a not-for-profit professional regional
     and fixed. Performance management tools and practices          association of telemessaging owners located in the Atlantic
     can expose these inefficiencies and drive improvement.         States area of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware,
• No participants indicating consistent agent coaching and          New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.
     development practices reported revenue performance             ASTAA serves its members by offering education and
     below goal.                                                    support tools that are tailored to the industry.
• Only 15% of respondents believed supervisors spend                     For more information, visit
     enough time on coaching and development.
• Only 25% of participants believed supervisors are                 Virtual-Agent Services Opens
     effective at using data to determine where to prioritize       21st North American Location
     coaching and development activities.                                Virtual-Agent Services (VAS), a customer care service
     For additional information the Merced Systems 2006             provider, has established its 21st North American location.
Performance Management Best Practices Study, the survey             Established in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the center will be
methods used to collect the data, or for a complete copy of the     added to the company’s other sites located in Illinois and
study results, please visit The survey       New Brunswick. In addition to North America, the company
is also available at            also operates a center in Milan, Italy. The new facility,
                                                                    expected to create thirty jobs, has been in operation for nearly
ATA’s Commitment to the                                             a month.
Industry, Reflected in Promotions                                        “Virtual-Agent Services has expanded into the city of
     Two dedicated and respected individuals within the             Toronto to meet the demands of a large hospitality client
American Teleservices Association (ATA) received                    seeking multilingual support,” said Neri Basque, executive
promotions effective November 1, 2006. Zachary Rice was             vice president of IT and strategic development. “As we
promoted to director of government affairs. Rafael Manzón           continue to grow and expand, it is critical that we maintain
was promoted to director of business affairs.                       the high quality of service which characterizes VAS
     Rice will coordinate all legislative and regulatory            employees. The local workforce of Toronto has demonstrated
priorities for the ATA on Capitol Hill and in state houses          this commitment, and we look forward to continued growth
across the country as well as manage the ATA-PAC. He will           and success in this location.”
continue the strides the ATA has taken over the last several             Virtual-Agent Services (, a privately
years to keep contact centers in compliance with federal and        held company headquartered in Schaumburg, IL, is a
state regulations.                                                  provider of contact center solutions for today’s demanding
     As director of business affairs, Manzón will be responsible    customer care industry.
for the comprehensive management of the ATA’s non-dues
revenue activities. Additionally, he will be responsible for        AnswerNet Acquires
maintaining current member services that depend on outside          Proxy and RSVP
partners as well as developing new member services.                      The AnswerNet Network has acquired Plano, Texas-
     These promotions mark a significant turning point for          based Proxy Communications, a contact center outsourcer,
ATA members. According to Tim Searcy, CEO of the ATA,               which provides order entry and customer service to catalog,
“The ATA’s unwavering commitment to the teleservices                e-tailing, and direct response television (DRTV) clients.
channel in both valuable business relationships and                 “AnswerNet’s web capabilities and operational processes will
government affairs will directly benefit our members.”              give our former customers a true competitive advantage,” said
     Both Rafael Manzón and Zachary Rice may be reached             Gail Patterson, Proxy’s president.
at 317-816-9336; ATA’s Web site is                   In another move, AnswerNet Network purchased RSVP
                                                                    Call Center/S’il Vous Plait Message Center, located in New
ASTAA Hires                                                         York City. RSVP provides third-party customer service,
Executive Director                                                  order entry, and telephone answering services.
     The Atlantic States Telephone Answering Association                 “With the additions of RSVP and Proxy to the
(ASTAA) is pleased to announce that Dan L’Heureux has               AnswerNet Network, we are poised to have our busiest holi-
been named executive director, succeeding Nell Norris who           day season ever,” said Gary A, Pudles, president and chief
led the association for eighteen years.                             executive officer of The AnswerNet Network. Proxy, like
     “Dan is a former telemessaging call center owner himself       RSVP, has a strong catalog/e-tail client base. AnswerNet,
and practiced in the industry,” said ASTAA president Gordon         which is privately held, has been building its catalog and
Mott of Main Line Communications and ASTAA’s current                e-tail client portfolio and has become a leading supplier in
president. “We’re very excited about the experience he              this growing market.
brings to the association and look forward to our continuing             For more information, visit

Connections Magazine •                                             JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 13
     The Future of the Cal

14 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • Connections Magazine
all Center                                             “T
                                                                    he future will be better tomorrow,” Vice
                                                                    President Dan Quayle announced during a
                                                                    college commencement speech. Quayle’s well-
                                                       publicized gaff holds much truth for the call center industry.
                                                       In fact, the industry need not wait until tomorrow, as the
                                                       future is here today. The surge of change in the industry that
                                                       started with the move toward Web-enabling call centers
                              By Alan Tucker           intensifies with each advancement in computer technology.
                                                            As the quest to develop faster, smaller, more powerful,
                                                       and more efficient machines drives the computer hardware
                                                       industry, the call center industry stands to benefit. Thin client
                                                       machines – networked minimalist computers that communicate
                                                       with a central server for their processing power to access
                                                       applications and data storage – are finding a firmer foothold
                                                       in call centers. Thin client computers are not new, but they
                                                       are riding a groundswell as more and more businesses are
                                                       taking advantage of their lesser cost without sacrificing
                                                       capability or performance.
                                                            Just as the pace of business increases for the call centers,
                                                       so it does for their clients. This, in turn, has sparked clients
                                                       to expect more and better service from their call center
                                                       suppliers. The demands for more, better, and faster are
                                                       quickly making scripted messaging and customizable
                                                       dispatching the norm rather than the exception. And the
                                                       near-instantaneous communication capabilities inherent in the
                                                       Internet are being maximized by equipment vendors and
                                                       adopted by call centers worldwide.
                                                            Jim Marchbank has owned and operated Available
                                                       Communications in the St. Louis, MO, market since 1981.
                                                       His 35-seat operation offers a variety of call center services,
                                                       mostly handling inbound calls for response marketing, order
                                                       entry, dealer locates, messaging, voicemail, and paging.
                                                            Marchbank has made a commitment to scripted messaging.
                                                       He’s seen its benefits firsthand and expects its acceptance to
                                                       grow. “Within a few years scripted messaging will be the
                                                       norm rather than the exception. It’s going to be mandatory
                                                       that you have intelligent scripting and intelligent messaging
                                                       and intelligent dispatching,” Marchbank said.
                                                            The historical telephone message – basic information
                                                       like who to, who from, and reason for calling – has given way
                                                       to complex communications whose content is decided by the
                                                       caller rather than the agent. Communication content can
                                                       include summaries of previous calls, are adaptable based on
                                                       time of day and day of the week, and can be delivered in
                                                       whichever manner the client requires.
                                                            “In many cases, our customers are surprised that we have
                                                       that capability, and they are pleased,” Marchbank said.
                                                       “We’re in a timed and dated industry. Our customers should
                                                       be demanding that kind of service, and the smarter ones are.”
                                                            Cell phones have become ubiquitous, and customers now
                                                       have many methods of being contacted and for messages to
                                                       be delivered. “It’s all wired and it’s all coming together,”
                                                       Marchbank said. “Everything’s coming down to the Dick
                                                       Tracy wristwatch that we grew up with being a reality.”
                                                                                               (Continued on page 16)

  Connections Magazine •                               JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 15
The Future of the Call Center
(Continued from page 15)                                                               VoIP has been used as a point-to-point solu-
                                                                                       tion in merging call centers together,”
     Marchbank said his call center has                                                Robinson said. “Now it has grown to where,
been making use of VoIP technology for                                                 instead of point-to-point, we’re doing world-
better than two years. “I’m a firm believer                                            to-point business.”
(in VoIP),” Marchbank said. “It’s a new                                                     Robinson uses SIP trunking to
technology, and we want to be on the                                                   accomplish local DID coverage. He
cutting edge, but not on the bleeding edge.                                            characterizes his VoIP implementation as
Like any new technology, until you start                                               allowing A-1 “to have a local footprint in an
using it, it’s difficult to understand its                                             area without actually being in that area.”
advantages.”                                                                           SIP trunking, also known as business-to-
     Marchbank listed several advantages                                               business trunking, removes the local PSTN
VoIP holds for call centers. “It’s a cost                                              gateway from the equation. It broadens a call
saver in terms of long distance dialing and is                                         center’s coverage area while reducing the
cheaper then T1 spans on an outbound stand-                                            cost of the coverage.
point,” Marchbank said. “That alone would enable a lot of call           “Doing business in Las Vegas, I’m answering calls from all
centers to add VoIP. It allows you to at least break even while     across the country,” Robinson said. “I have the ability to access
having the opportunity to figure out how to use it.”                10,000 rate centers (local calling areas) across the nation to get
     Marchbank also sees business expansion considerably            telephone numbers from and local calls to all those areas.”
eased by adopting VoIP technology. “(Implementing VoIP)                  Robinson has been working with CommPartners since
enables you to have local numbers in markets you’re not             2003, alpha- and beta-testing hardware and software. Since
currently serving.” Marchbank said. “It allows you to connect       then, he has taken A-1 to 100 percent VoIP, with all DID
offices in other areas at a less expensive rate. It helps when      numbers coming in over VoIP as the primary call path,
you have remote agents in various areas because they can dial       backed up by T1 spans should a VoIP switch ever go down.
in (to the main office) without a long distance component.          “VoIP technology makes call switching and routing during
     “If you’re going to expand by buying other teleservice         local service outages for backup service and disaster recovery
companies, it’s possible that you can take in all those numbers     an all-in-one proposition,” Robinson said.
easily and cost-effectively,” Marchbank said. “You can simply            “Another advantage is having the ability to grow my
port all the numbers you have for every office to every location    business without actually leaving the area, taking on clients in
in your organization. That’s a tremendous cost savings.”            other cities but still providing the services from Las Vegas,”
     Clayton Robinson is the proprietor of A-1 Answering            Robinson said. “It is an ability to grow my business without
Service in Las Vegas and is the third-generation owner of the       an expansion to secondary offices and locations.”
44-year-old telemessaging call center with 17 seats. A-1                 Another advantage, Robinson explained, is the ability to
doesn’t have a one-specialty client base, but does                  move a call center at the drop of a hat. “Instead of the phone
everything from mom-and-pop messaging to receptionist               company having to physically move all your lines, all you
service for corporate offices. “The essence of taking a             have to do is have an Internet connection set up in the new
message has not changed,” Robinson said. “The caller wants          location,” Robinson said. “Then all you have to do is change
to leave a message and the customer knows what they want to         your Internet address within the system.”
be told.”                                                                Robinson also said he’s experienced a significant cost
     Scripted messaging and intelligent dispatching provide call    savings with his transition to VoIP technology. “A traditional
centers with the flexibility needed to be everything to             ISDN PRI trunk runs anywhere from $800 to $1,200 a month,
everybody. “It depends on the client and on the caller,”            depending on your phone company and the service you offer.
Robinson said. “There needs to be the ability to take the message   Of course, DID charges are separate,” Robinson said. “With
with specific information and then go on into the scripting         VoIP, eight trunks of traffic costs about $180 month, plus
and diverse methods of dispatching.”                                $300 to $400 a month for the Internet connection. You’re
     Robinson said A-1 is ready to make the move to thin            looking at a savings of some $200 a month for the same level
client architecture. “In the next hardware upgrade I most           of service and the abilities you’re providing right now.”
likely will be going to that architecture,” Robinson said. “It           The future of the call center industry 25 years ago was
gives me the ability to have everything in one location, have       the transition to paperless messaging. Today’s wired world is
it accessible, and see how it’s being used.”                        becoming increasingly wireless. Today’s brick-and-mortar
     But it is VoIP that truly excites Robinson. Besides            call center would do well to seriously consider transitioning
operating A-1, he also is a sales agent for CommPartners, a         to the virtual reality of tomorrow. ¤
VoIP service provider offering toll-free and local number
services with clients in 47 of the 50 states through hubs in           Alan Tucker is the software documentation editor at
New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, and Las Vegas. “Typically          Amtelco. Visit Amtelco at

16 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                           • Connections Magazine
                        Profiting from Disaster:
    How to Ethically Make Money During a Crisis

                                                By Maurice Ramirez

                                                                  3 WAYS TO PROFIT:

            hen a disaster strikes—whether it be a hurricane,
            earthquake, flood, terrorist attack, or some other         When it comes to profiting from disaster, most people
            devastating event—many businesses are eager to        think of price gouging or profiteering. Price gouging is not
volunteer and assist those in need. Unfortunately, the            only immoral and unethical, but in every state and every
resources that are brought in on a volunteer and donation basis   territory, it’s also illegal. It’s a criminal act in which you’re
typically run out much sooner than expected. And very often,      taking advantage of people who have no choice but to pay.
those businesses who gladly gave their time and resources to      When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, examples were
those in need feel guilty charging for additional services, so    heard of unscrupulous storeowners selling generators (that
they pack up and leave the area, proud of their good deed, yet    normally retailed for a few hundred dollars) for two and three
leaving those in the disaster area with few recovery options.     thousand dollars. Such people are not seeking to profit from
      A great example of this is what happened in Port            disaster; they’re seeking to profit from misery.
Charlotte, Florida after Hurricane Charley. Initially after the        There are essentially three ethical ways to make money
hurricane, a large number of contractors went to the area,        after a disaster:
donating services, supplies, and other things needed to rebuild
the community. The funny thing is that the residents of Port      VOLUNTEER AND DONATION.
Charlotte didn’t want the contractors to leave and would have          In this scenario, you volunteer your time and donate your
paid the contractors their normal rate to stay and finish the     products or services. You cover all your own costs and
disaster recovery efforts. But the contractors—those who were     accept nothing in return, other than perhaps food and lodging.
there on a volunteer basis—felt guilty taking money from          In return for your time and materials, you get the warm fuzzy
disaster victims. Now, two years later, many Port Charlotte       feeling of doing something good for the community. You
residents are still seeking reputable contractors to help them.   become an everyday hero. If you’re visible during this time,
It’s an unfortunate situation that doesn’t have to happen.        you also get great publicity, which could lead to business
      So does that mean it’s possible to profit from a disaster   down the road from those who remember your good deed.
situation and not feel guilty? Yes! And those businesses that
are able to come into a community after a disaster strikes and    DISCOUNTED SERVICES.
offer a needed product or service can profit handsomely…              This is the most common scenario, and just as the name
and ethically.                                                    implies, it means that you offer your products and/or services

18 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                         • Connections Magazine
to the community at a discounted rate. Realize, though, that          knowing that you’ve done a good deed.
no one in the community asked for the discount (although                   When your community does its disaster relief plans
none will turn the discount down either). Often, the business         (before a disaster hits), put your company on the list of
owner gives the discount because he or she has some level of          businesses available to aid in the recovery efforts. Businesses
altruism and is willing to make the self-sacrifice.                   can work with their local communities to be “first-called” in
                                                                      the event that a disaster strikes. In some cases, a business
FULL PRICE.                                                           (let’s say a hospital, for example) may contract with a service
     In this scenario, you come into the community and bid            provider (such as a roofing contractor) and pay a retainer fee
a fair market price for a product or service, roughly                 so that in the event of a disaster, that contractor will put the
equivalent to what other companies would charge during                hospital at the front of the list. In return, that contractor gets
non-disaster times. And because it’s fair market price, people        the bid for the other work the hospital needs done. The
are more than happy to pay it. This is completely moral and           contractor is happy to give that deal because it guarantees
ethical. Unfortunately, few businesses make the transition to full    them business. This is completely ethical. In fact, it’s a
fare after starting out as a volunteer. But if you really want to     win-win solution. The business gets the repairs they need
grow your business and profit from disaster, this is the way to go.   done and contractor has guaranteed work.
                                                                           The bottom line is that businesses need to understand the
FROM FREE TO FEE:                                                     different ways they can help, and they need to get over the
     So how does a business make the transition from a volunteer      stigma of profiting from disaster. Realize that the people
to a paid consultant or contractor? Here are some suggestions:        receiving your products or services don’t mind paying for
     Be upfront. State how long you can offer your products or        them. So take full advantage of this profitable market
services for free. Explain that your company can only afford to       segment. By doing so, you’ll be helping people in need while
volunteer for two weeks. Very often, at that point, they’ll ask you   helping your own business grow. ¤
to bid the remainder of the work. Then you can offer a fair
market bid. If you get a “yes,” then why would you not stay?              Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez cofounded Disaster Life Support
You’re already there, and now you’re making money. If they say        of North America, Inc., to provide Disaster Preparation,
“no,” then they’re taking responsibility for their own recovery.      Planning, Response and Recovery Education nationally. For
At that point, you can go home and tend to your business,             more information, please visit:

                                                                                Association of TeleServices International
                                                                                12 Academy Avenue, Atkinson, NH 03811
                                                                                Toll Free (866) 896-ATSI

Connections Magazine •                                                JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 19

2012 – A Future Scenario
Telemessaging Industry
As might be told by Rod Sterling

        odd Quinn settles in for the night with the comforting        and never return. Other issues included not having enough
        feeling that even though there is a Category 3                food for his staff and the fact that fuel was nowhere to be
        hurricane bearing down on him, all is well because he has     found. Flooding was everywhere, so emergency vehicles
chosen a new way of doing business. Todd lives in Louisiana,          could not reach his facility. Even getting cash on hand during
and back in 2005 he was hit by Hurricane Katrina and was down         this crisis was challenging because the banks were closed. All
for 18 days, losing most of his call center’s clients.                of those elements combined brought Todd to the realization
     Todd thinks back now on how that disaster had scared             that if he was to ever get out of this situation he would look for
him to the point of looking for another way to keep his business      another option that would make him more disaster proof.
alive, since he had heard that this natural disaster cycle was             In 2007 Todd heard about a new paradigm, a new way of
only going to keep getting worse. No matter how well he had           doing business over the Internet using VoIP that incorporated
prepared for Hurricane Katrina, he did not consider all of the        the use of a hosted system versus a piece of equipment
contingencies that a disaster of that magnitude entailed.             located at his facility. This quickly grabbed his attention for
     Sure, he had a generator, but it was only good as long as        many reasons:
he had fuel. And who would have known that when the                        • With a hosted system, there would be no more
government told everyone to evacuate, his agents would leave                     monthly loan payments, costly equipment upgrades,

20 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                             • Connections Magazine

for the

         licensing fees, service and maintenance contracts,               other call centers. He talked to other operations using his
         and back-up power systems.                                       platform and decided to form an Alliance. The owners were
     • He would have access to all the latest technology                  very protective of their customer base, but with mutual
         and software upgrades.                                           agreements in place, the benefits overcame any potential
     • His account information and database would be on                   problems. (By the way, in 2012, every major vendor offers a
         another system in a different part of the country, but           hosted system using VoIP technology, whether from the
         accessible from anywhere in the world.                           vendor or a call center with hosting capabilities.) This
     • He would no longer need his highly paid technician                 Alliance acts as an outsourcing resource, giving Todd the
     • His agents would work from home and likely be happier.             ability to overflow particular traffic, should the need arise, to
         Todd would no longer have a large office with its                other parts of the country. Although other members of the
         related costs for rent, electricity, furniture, and so forth.    Alliance do not incur hurricanes like Todd, they may experience
     • He would be able to hire agents anywhere in the                    other natural disasters, such as tornadoes, floods, snowstorms,
         world.                                                           or earthquakes, and need the assistance of Todd and his staff.
     This way of operating his call center worked really well,            This is a win-win situation for both parties.
 and Todd came up with the idea to share his workforce with                                                        (Continued on page 22)

 Connections Magazine •                                                   JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 21
2012 – A Future Scenario for the                                     with set up, advertising, pricing, and counseling so the new
Telemessaging Industry (Continued on page 22)                        business gets a good start and doesn’t hinder the industry with
                                                                     novice mistakes.
     Todd had found out with the increasing unpredictability of           The new start-up is pleased because they had an
the weather patterns that after a calamity, his call center was      experienced owner’s guidance to help them like a big brother.
either going to be really quiet or very busy depending on the        They didn’t have to purchase an expensive system, but
severity of the disaster. Todd, as well as his staff, had learned    received the technological benefits to remain competitive.
to move out of the hurricane’s path and bring their PCs with         They also receive back-up support by overflowing the traffic
them. Within minutes of settling into their new surroundings,        to Allan when staffing is limited. When Allan does a mailing,
Todd’s agents could log on and take calls from their new location.   he prints another 1000 copies with the start-up’s name and
Todd also notified his Alliance members to be ready and had          address for their area. All of these things help the new call
set up special pass codes for them should they be needed.            center grow and become profitable while enhancing Allan’s
     Todd’s buddy Allan up in Chicago elected to purchase            business at the same time.
his system from Todd’s vendor. Todd says that some call                   With over 30 other Alliance members now utilizing the
center owners want to have a system in-house, yet have found         same-hosted equipment, it is easy for Todd to purchase
that they are still able to share their disaster recovery            accounts from them because they are all on the same system.
resources, whether it is on a hosted or purchased system.            Todd remembered that his clients dislike change, so when he
This was a big plus when the storm of 08 hit the East Coast.         purchases another member’s accounts, he basically just hands
     Allen, in retrospect, had a great idea when he started          them a check. Todd is able to retain the agents, leave the client
hosting start-up services on his own technologically advanced        information in place, and not change a thing as far as the clients
equipment which allowed him to share his switch with another         were concerned. This keeps his retention rate near 100%.
service located hundreds of miles away. Allan had been looking            Todd’s bottom line couldn’t be better. He no longer has the
for acquisitions through a broker but since he hadn’t found          expense of rent, telco lines, or even equipment, since his agents
any, decided to share or rent out his system. This helped him        provide their own PCs. He now has the flexibility to schedule
to pay for his seats and brought in more revenue with the            his staff to work split shifts since they are working from home.
eventual possibility of purchasing the new services accounts         The agents love it because they don’t have to drive to work, pay
through a first right of refusal that was put into place at the      for the expensive cost of gas – which in 2012 is $8.30 per gallon
beginning of the agreement. Allan also helps the new start-up        – and have more time to spend with their families. Todd has
                                                                     discovered that a happy agent is a productive agent.
                                                                          He has also eliminated his midnight shift by aligning
                                                                     himself with five other trusted Alliance members who take
                                                                     turns answering the third shift calls for all five members –
                                                                     something that he always wanted to do, but was impossible in
                                                                     2005 with everyone on different platforms.
                                                                          The telemessaging industry has always had its challenges
                                                                     when it comes to its members and new technology. Some
                                                                     were afraid that the advent of answering machines and call
                                                                     forwarding would put them out of business. Others thought
                                                                     that voicemail would take away their livelihood. But in the
                                                                     end, these technologies only helped to make the industry
                                                                     stronger, enabling them to offer new features while keeping
                                                                     their costs down through shared resources. “And the Small
                                                                     shall act Big,” as stated in the best selling book, The World is
                                                                     Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman. The telemessaging call center
                                                                     of the future will eventually learn that one way to survive in
                                                                     this industry is through shared resources. ¤
                                                                          “Change is inevitable…those who make the change easily
                                                                     and seamlessly are those who are more apt to survive.”
                                                                     Author Unknown

                                                                         VoIP hosted systems are available now through Steve
                                                                     Michaels of TAS Marketing. Mr. Michaels is the only VoIP
                                                                     Hosted Systems Broker in the market and may be reached at
                                                                     800-369-6126, or check out the banner on his web site at

22 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                            • Connections Magazine
Want to upgrade your equipment
or start an answering service
without the costs?
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                                                                   subscribing to this unique
your customer base and equipment, confidentially and
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• Spending your money on marketing and sales
• Sell yourself as Disaster Prepared
• Offer features that only the large switches can offer
• Receiving expert advice about marketing & pricing
                                                                               233 Whitepine Creek Road
                                                                             Trout Creek, Montana 59874
                                                                        (800) 369-6126 •
     At-Home Agents: The Promises and Pitfalls

                                                    By Cary Fulbright

        he advent of on-demand call center technology has           crossover in terms of core skills, in general, an at-home agent
        changed the way many call centers operate. In addition      needs to be more mature and disciplined in order to thrive in a
        to enabling companies to save money through reduced         relatively unstructured work environment. On the positive
telephony charges and reduced capital investments,                  side, studies have found that once a suitable at-home agent is
on-demand call center services allow companies to migrate           identified and hired, retention rates far surpass those of a
their business operations away from traditional, centralized        traditional call center.
call centers. On-demand call center technology enables                   Call centers that effectively employ at-home agents rely
companies to place agents anywhere there is an Internet             on thorough interviewing and hiring practices and extensive
connection. As a result, a growing number of call centers are       agent monitoring to help ensure that the right agents are hired
employing at-home agents. A recent survey of 350 U.S. and           and that they continue to be productive in an at-home work
Canadian call centers by the Yankee Group found that 24% of         environment. For example, some call centers are experimenting
agents, or 672,000 workers, now work from their homes. The          with programs that enable experienced agents to work at
same study forecasted continued growth, with at-home agents         home. Using careful supervision and monitoring, these
increasing at a rate of 24% each year from 2006 through 2010.       companies are able to compare performance in both
     Driving demand for home-based agents are businesses’           environments, providing valuable statistical information that
desire to streamline costly call center operations, increase        helps develop the policies and procedures needed to ensure a
retention rates, and improve overall customer service. In a         well-run at-home agent operation. On the hiring front, many
recent Five9 study on at-home agents, respondents cited cost        call center operations employ aptitude tests to test for
savings, agent satisfaction and retention, and access to a wider    suitability for working in a home office environment.
talent pool as the driving factors behind their decision to         Because an at-home agent environment requires extensive
employ at-home agents. Call centers are typically challenged        agent monitoring and reporting, it is essential that any call
to find more productive agents, achieve higher employee             center technology provide these capabilities.
retention rates, and discover ways to deal with spikes and
lulls in call traffic. Using agents who work from home              TRAINING:
provides a way to address many of these challenges. Call                 Regardless of where the agent works, training is an
centers employing at-home agents boast much higher retention        important issue for every call center. Call center training
rates, lower costs, higher productivity, and a better educated      programs have developed flexibility to meet the needs of 24/7
staff. On the last point, a Gartner study found that at-home        call center operations. As a result, there are a number of
agents are better educated, with 70% to 80% of at-home              Internet-based call center training technologies that are ideal
agents holding college degrees, compared with 30% to 40%            for training at-home agents. Training courses are often
of workers in traditional call centers.                             self-run so the agent can do the training at a time that is
     While the industry momentum for employing at-home              convenient to them.
agents is growing, and the benefits are compelling, the shift            Comprehensive testing is used to help ensure that agents
presents a number of challenges surrounding the hiring, training,   complete the training and comprehend the material. Most call
and management of a virtual workforce. This article takes a         centers augment self-directed training with one-on-one
closer look at these issues and presents methods to help            phone-based training, giving the agent the opportunity to ask
overcome these challenges.                                          questions and the supervisor the ability to ensure that the
                                                                    agent truly understands the material.
     Finding the right candidates to work as at-home agents         MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT:
presents its own unique set of challenges beyond those of hiring       After the training sessions are completed, supervisors use
a traditional call center agent. While there is a large degree of   mock calls and call monitoring to assess professionalism and

24 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                           • Connections Magazine
how well agents handle real-life call situations – providing     environment, it is important that companies employ a
additional training and feedback on the spot. Call monitoring    combination of communications technologies and create clear
is also an ideal way for call centers to keep on top of work     communications guidelines to ensure that there is effective
environment issues that are unique to a home office, such as     two-way communication between employers and
barking dogs, traffic noise, disruptive family members, and so   at-home agents, and so that at-home agent performance can
forth. Call monitoring and supervisor-to-agent chats also        be monitored. Some examples of communications tools
allow a supervisor to coach a new agent or to escalate or take   include:
over a call if necessary.                                        • Broadcast messaging
     We’ve all heard the line, “This call may be recorded for    • Agent-to-agent instant messaging
quality assurance.” Supervisors should take this seriously by    • A supervisor portal that displays real-time call center
taking advantage of call recording capabilities to sample             stats and agent information
random calls made by all their agents, including those
working at home. On-demand call center solutions make            CONCLUSION:
recording easy and transparent, wherever the agent works.            While operating a virtual call center with at-home agents
Likewise, call center managers should use the same reporting     can present some management and infrastructure challenges,
tools to measure the productivity of their at-home agents,       these challenges can be readily overcome using common-
including key metrics like average call length, number of        sense management processes supplemented with the latest
calls handled, time logged in, and call dispositions.            technology. The reduction in overhead costs, agent turnover,
                                                                 and increased flexibility inherent in an at-home agent
ONGOING COMMUNICATION:                                           workforce can have a significant impact on any company’s
     The most obvious challenge in managing at-home agents       bottom line. ¤
is communication. In the traditional call center environment,
managers have the ability to speak with agents at any time            Cary Fulbright is VP of marketing and products for
and monitor their work. Face-to-face and team meetings can       Five9, Inc. (, a provider of on-demand
be scheduled on a regular basis and held as necessary to deal    telemarketing, customer service, and call center solutions for
with new or urgent situations. Because these forms of            customer interaction management. He can be contacted at
communication are not available in the virtual work     or 925-201-2215.

Connections Magazine •                                          JANUARY/FEBRUARY      2007 • 25
                                              What If Your
                                              Competitors Tapped Into
                                              Your Call Center
                                              By Trudy Nyden and George Lemmond

I  f your competitors tapped into your call center, what would
   happen? If they would listen, learn, and act:
• They would know your weaknesses.
                                                                           2. All managers in every department should be part of a
                                                                      “Customer Relationship Management” (CRM) program.
                                                                      Non-agent staff should be required to log in to the center
• They would gain ideas for product improvements.                     four hours per month. They would take and resolve calls.
• They would understand your clients and their needs.                 They would be trained to do this, and the results
• They would surprise you and beat you to the punch.                  would be humbling and attitude-changing. They would
      It would be like the government monitoring foreign              understand that the client is the boss, the one who pays them.
criminal activities. Beneath the buzz and clutter, they would         And they would understand more about the workings of
find seeds of competitive advantage against you.                      all departments.
      What if your management had the same feedback from your              3. The client input must be managed as vital. For each type
call center? Well, it’s there. But do you throw away this valuable    of center, a triage system must be implemented that would:
information, viewing it as a necessary but useless expense? If you         • Quickly handle and put aside routine calls
really paid attention, you would find a gold mine:                         • Authorize employees to solve problems now
• You would hear firsthand, today, about your problems.                    • Note carefully any product comments and ideas
• You would have more ideas than you could handle.                         • Establish a clearinghouse that forwards those gems
• You would gain insights into your clients’ minds.                             to the appropriate department
• You would know how to talk their language.                               • Have a procedure in place that assures timely response
• You would stay ahead of your competitors.                                4. Each client must be treated as a long-term, valued friend:
      When your client’s customers call, they are engaged and              • Assume that every call is an emergency (a 911 call)
focused on your client’s products and services, as well as                      until proven otherwise
your call center. There’s no better time to pick their brains,             • Reward your clients. After the problem is resolved,
befriend, and influence them. This is the time client and                       don’t just thank them and say good-bye. Ask if you
customer loyalty can be made or broken.                                         can send them something in appreciation for sharing
      There is a lot of waste in call centers’ advertising and                  their concerns, such as coupons or a newsletter.
marketing efforts that try to find new clients. But you are                • Enlist them as panelists in your research panel
interacting with current clients who are calling every day.                5. Assume that the conversation will be for public record
Each one is only the visible part of an iceberg; there are            and Big Brother will be listening – consumer protection
probably nine others that are submerged and don’t bother to           or law enforcement agencies. Worse yet, it could be bloggers
call. And it’s a truism that a current customer is worth a lot        or competitors. It’s scary, but there’s a possibility it could
more than a hoped-for new one.                                        happen now.
      This untapped treasure of client input is worth hundreds of          All this can be done – soon. It would take implementation
thousands of dollars yielded by traditional research means. And       of new technologies and the alignment and convergence of all
this will be about the behavior of real, not hypothetical, clients.   systems. Every phone at every location should be able to
      Certainly every call is different, as are the objectives of     connect into the call center. Every bit of a client’s prior call
every call center. We have heard reports from many diverse            should be instantly available. For example, with the
centers, crying out that they are sources of valuable information     “Integrated Dell Desktop” system:
– yet management doesn’t listen. An aggressive call center                      “When a customer calls, the computer screen
approach can change a company’s image, culture, and bottom                      instantly displays everything the sales agent needs to
line. This means making it a marketing tool. Here are the                       know: what products the customer has placed in an
things that could make it happen:                                               online shopping cart, what was purchased previously,
      1. The cost to operate a call center should cease to be                   even what products offer the customer the best
regarded as an overhead expense. It should be an investment,                    performance while giving Dell the best profit margins.
under the marketing research budget. Some of it might also                      The IDD has made them more productive and their
be considered to be a product development bonus.                                jobs more enjoyable.”

26 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                             • Connections Magazine
     A multitude of available tools can streamline call centers
and make the client’s experience a pleasant one. From speech
recognition menus on the front end of a call to automatic
surveys at the end of the call, technology can simplify clients’
interactions and provide an immediate way to score your
     It’s unlikely that one of your competitors would tap into
your call center. That would be unethical and illegal. But
what if a competitor implemented the steps outlined above?
Would you be worried? Would you scramble to catch up?
     It might sound like this transformation would cost a lot of
money. Would it be worth it? Yes. You would have a
powerful business tool. You would have greater teamwork
throughout the company. You would demonstrate a serious
commitment to CRM – and you would be an industry leader. ¤

    Trudy Nyden is the founder and CEO of Business
Essentials and Associates (, a sales,
marketing, and business management consulting company
located in Roswell, GA; she may be reached at or 770-642-6133.
    George Lemmond of On-Target Marketing
(, located in Roswell, GA is
a consumer marketing professional who builds brands
and solves problems.         He may be reached at or 770-645-8716.

Connections Magazine •                 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 27
   How to Optimize
   Skills-Based Routing
   Using a Virtual Queue
   By Eric Camulli

            hen you implement skills-based routing in your               When a customer is passed around to different specialists
            contact center, you are trying to put your best foot    before ultimately reaching a resolution, not only does it lower
            forward. The idea is to match your customer’s           first call resolution, it wastes precious resources. Training
needs with an agent who has the specialized skills to efficiently   and staffing specialists are expensive endeavors, and each
resolve the issue or handle the inquiry. Many contact centers       time a specialist handles a customer and does not resolve the
use the First Call Resolution (FCR) metric to measure               issue, that time and expense is squandered. Also, training
customer satisfaction and gauge operational efficiency.             agents to become specialists is resource intensive; it may take
     An unfortunate reality for contact centers is that there are   months or years before you have enough specialists to handle
rarely enough specialists to meet incoming caller demand and        caller demand during peak calling times.
as a result, queues form. When this happens, management                  This problem is a common occurrence in contact centers:
usually takes the attitude that it is better to answer calls more   trying to manage queues to maintain performance metrics and
quickly with less skilled agents than to have callers wait for      achieve customer loyalty initiatives, while at the same time
many minutes before being greeted by a specialist. When put         trying to control the costs of hiring and training specialists. Is
in this predicament, it is no wonder that the focus changes         there a solution?
from First Call Resolution (FCR) to the Average Speed of                 The answer is, yes. There is a technology that some
Answer (ASA) and Service Level Attainment (SLA) metrics             contact centers have been using successfully for years, but
to measure overall performance.                                     is just now starting to become well-known; it’s called virtual
     But what about the caller? Think about how you would           queuing. A virtual queuing solution interfaces with the
react to each of these two situations: 1) your call is answered     PBX/ACD and the skills-based routing solutions. When a
quickly, but the agent cannot resolve your issue; or 2) your        new call arrives, virtual queuing evaluates the Estimated
issue is quickly resolved, but only after wasting a long time       Wait Time (EWT) for a specialist. If there is no specialist
on hold. The better of these two situations is debatable, but it    available for a few minutes, the system quotes the EWT
would not be a stretch to say that callers find both situations     and allows the caller to hang up while the system saves
frustrating.                                                        his place in line.

28 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                           • Connections Magazine
     While waiting in the virtual queue, the caller is free to go   Also, it is critical that the system can secure and maintain the
about his business. When it is the caller’s turn, he will           caller’s position in the queue; otherwise, there is the risk of
receive a callback within the time quoted. When his phone           creating a “stall” or “chase” condition within the queue. This
rings, he is connected with a specialist who has the right skills   could lead to a significant loss in agent productivity, stranded
to handle the call. Virtual queuing has been shown to:              calls, and unhappy callers. ¤
     Increase Agent Efficiency and First Call Resolution:
With a virtual queuing solution in place, you achieve a greater          Eric Camulli is director of technology of Virtual Hold
return from your skills-based routing investment. This is true      Technology, a company specializing in virtual queuing
because you send fewer calls to agents who do not have the          solutions. He may be reached at or
skills to handle the request. Agents are, therefore, not wasting    at 800-854-1815.
time on calls they cannot properly handle. With virtual queuing,         [An independent study was conducted by Forrester
you are, in essence, reserving a specialist for your customer       Consulting to measure the ROI of deploying virtual queuing in
and increasing the likelihood of first call resolution.             contact centers. To read this study, visit]
     Reduce Abandons: During periods of peak call volume
in your contact center, virtual queuing immediately educates
your callers with the EWT and with options for managing the
wait time. Callers who reserve their place in queue and
request a callback cannot hang up out of frustration because
they are not actually on the line. Additionally, reducing
abandons increases first call resolution and decreases the
number of repeat calls.
     Increase Customer Satisfaction and Service Level:
By offering callers options, you demonstrate respect for your
customers’ valuable time and elevate the level of service you
offer. In addition, it is truly remarkable how the perception of
time changes with virtual queuing.
     To people waiting on hold, ten minutes can seem like an
eternity. With virtual queuing, however, people are not tied
to a phone listening to hold music. They can continue to be
productive, engage in a conversation with a coworker, get that
second cup of coffee, or attend to their hungry baby – all the
while knowing their place in line is secure. Ten minutes is
gone before they know it. When called them back in the time
promised, you take caller trust and loyalty to an unprecedented
level. It is quite rare that a company calls back in the
time promised, so when you company does, it makes an
outstanding impression.
     Improve Agent Morale: Happy callers mean happy
specialists. When callers utilize virtual queuing rather than
waiting on hold for extended periods of time, they are much
happier when they speak to specialists. This removes the             Steve Michaels
scolding that specialists tend to get by callers who had to wait
on hold, and in turn maintains specialists’ morale.                  A Full-Service Brokerage Firm for the
     Reduce Toll and Labor Expenses: For every call that             Telephone Answering Service Industry
enters the virtual queue, the contact center is saving toll costs
because it is not using telecom resources. In addition,
because virtual queuing is activated when there are spikes in                Mergers & Acquisitions
call volume, it is not always necessary to staff extra agents to

accommodate for traffic peaks. This saves hiring and training
     When choosing your virtual queuing solution, it is
important to make sure that virtual queuing is actually taking
place, not just simple callbacks after a timer has expired.                233 Whitepine Creek Road, Trout Creek, Montana 59874
Virtual queuing is fully integrated into your existing queuing                   (800) 369-6126 •
strategies to ensure that skills-based routing is maintained.                    

Connections Magazine •                                               JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 29
Connections Magazine
Article and Whitepaper Index
for 2006
                                                        All articles can be viewed at
                                                        All whitepapers can be viewed at

January/February 2006 Issue                               May 2006 Issue
•   The Year in Review                                    •   Managing Labor in a Virtual Call Center
•   It’s Your Move                                        •   The Ripple Effect
•   The Power of Speech Recognition                       •   Shifting the Remote Agent Paradigm
•   Self-Service Gets Its Voice                           •   Headset Management in the Dispersed
•   New Metrics for the Contact Center                        World
•   Call Center Developments                              •   Managing Around the Sun: Tips for the
•   Do You Multitask?                                         Virtual Manager
•   ASTAA 2005 Manager/Supervisor Conference              •   Remote Agent Stations: Easing the Pain of Scheduling
•   Don’t Sabotage Your Call Center                       •   SNUG Convention Photos

March 2006 Issue                                          June 2006 Issue
•   Five Guidelines for Selecting and                     •   Is a Hosted System in Your Future?
    Purchasing Workforce Management                       •   Answering the Call
    Tools                                                 •   Let Your Next System Upgrade Be Your
•   Workforce Management Vendors                              Last
•   I’m Busy                                              •   Software as a Service Vendors
•   The Art and Science of Predicting Call                •   Customer Satisfaction Program Garners
    Center Workload                                           Award-Winning Results
•   Using Workforce Management to Power Multichannel      •   Area Code Update
    Management                                            •   The Virtualization of the Call Center
•   Are You Passive, Average, or Proactive?               •   Power Quality Issues Cause Computer Problems
                                                          •   NAEO Convention Coverage

April 2006 Issue
•   First Call Resolution - The Call Center               July/August 2006 Issue
    Measure that Matters Most!                            •   Message Taking Systems and Software
•   Let’s Get Personal                                    •   Growing Your Call Center
•   ATSI Update                                           •   Going Once! Going Twice! The Art of
•   Interview with ATSI Convention Chair,                     Selling Your Business
    Marcy Hewlett                                         •   The Seven Deadly Sins of Management
•   Teleservice Agency Listing                            •   Making a Great Impression on the Phone
•   Designing Speech Applications: A Beginner’s Guide     •   PIN Convention Photo Review
•   Building Rapport with Callers

30 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                 • Connections Magazine
September 2006 Issue                                               November 2006 Issue
•   Appointment Scheduling and Event                               •    Enhancing Your Company Brand…Just
    Registration Opportunities                                          Add ICE
•   Appointment Scheduling Software                                •    It All Depends
    Vendors                                                        •    New ATA Board Members
•   Case Study: Appointment Scheduling                             •    Fourth & Inbound to Go!
    Deployment                                                     •    2006 ATA Convention & Expo Photo
•   Under the Influence                                                 Review
•   Selling Your Business: The Negotiation Process                 •    Teleservice Agency Listing
•   Pseudowire: Relief for Call Center Network Migration           •    Top Telephone Pet Peeve Is Put On Hold
•   ATSI Convention Photo Review
•   Call Center Award of Distinction Winners: ATSI 2006            December 2006 Issue
•   ATSI Award of Excellence Winners for 2006                      • 2007 Connections Magazine Buyers
                                                                   • Standard Operating Procedure
October 2006 Issue                                                 • Call Center Automation
•   IP Telephony: The Platform of Choice                           • Securing Your VoIP Calls
•   How to Churn Employees                                         • CAM-X 2006 Call Centre Award of
•   VoIP in the Call Center                                           Distinction
•   Is Open Source IP PBX Right for Your                           • CAM-X 2006 Award of Excellence Program
    Call Center?                                                   • How Not to Market to Hispanics
•   Hiring on Enthusiasm                                           • ASTAA Conference Report and Photos
•   Strike the Right Balance in Your Contact Center                • Things Your Callers Never Want to Hear
•   How Does VoIP Fit into Your Call Center?
•   The Cardinal Rules of Customer Service

2006 Whitepapers
•   The 2005 Year in Review…and Plan for the Future            •       Managing Customer Emails
•   Acoustic Shock in Headset Wearers: The Medical and         •       Maximize Your ROI on Contact Center Surveying
    Legal View                                                 •       Open Source Telephony
•   Acquiring New Clients by Telling Them About You!           •       Outsourcing the Outsourcing: The Importance of Selecting
•   The Alston Tascom Workforce Management Application                 the Right Vendor
•   Anatomy of a VoIP Attack                                   •       Peer into Your Customer’s World
•   Customer Experience Management Study                       •       Performance Management: Timely Information to Drive
•   Doing More with Less: Next-Generation Strategies and               Results
    Best Practices for Customer Service                        •       Presence-Aware Tools for the Contact Center
•   Effecting Behavioral Change                                •       Real-time Survey Alerts
•   Five Steps to Building a Skill and Knowledge Profile for   •       Seven Critical Design Elements of Effective Contact
    Your Support Center                                                Centers
•   The Guide to Headset Management                            •       SIP: More Features, Fewer Costs
•   Implementing Remote Agents                                 •       Stop Delaying That Vacation
•   IP Predictions for 2006                                    •       Tapping the Web’s Self-Service Potential
•   Knowledge Management for Contact Centers and Help          •       Telescan Workforce Management Tools
    Desks                                                      •       TravelClick Call Center Case Study
•   Leading Technical Professionals                            • Bets on IP Telephony

Connections Magazine •                                               JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 31
Connections Magazine
2006 Teleservice News Review
     Here are the major headlines from Connections           April 2006
Magazine in 2006. The complete coverage of these and other   • Fraudsters Divert Toll-Free Calls
items is available at:          • Professional Teledata Releases Audio Training Tutorial
articles/cat/32.html                                         • Telescan’s Geanta Earns Certification
                                                             • Amtelco Adds New Features to Infinity V5.4
January/February 2006                                        • Quintum New Tenor AF VoIP Gateway
• Katrina Relief Fund Update                                 • Shamess Twardy Joins Startel
• GLTSA Retains Executive Director                           • Amtelco Announces New Dispatching Features
• NAEO Invites Amtelco Users to “Empower Your Call           • WSTA Announces Supervisor Seminar
   Center”                                                   • The CAM-X 42nd Annual Convention and Trade Show
• NAEO Honored by ASAE                                       • ASTAA Announces Dental Plan
• AnswerNet’s Pudles Elected to NMHC Board                   • CAM-X Announces 2006 Coaching Clinics
• Telescan Enhances Time-Based Billing                       • Aamcom Earns Gold Call Center Certification
• Professional Teledata Releases New PI-2000 Version 7.0     • InfoCision CEO and Employee of the Year Announced
• Telescan’s Zip Code Fields Adds Accuracy                   • AnswerNet Network Offers Chinese Languages Capability
• Mercom’s Audiolog Supports Motorola Dimetra TETRA
   Recording                                                 May 2006
• Appletree Acquires All Pro in Orange County, CA            • Connections Adds Vendor Literature Section to Website
• IP Predictions for 2006                                    • Telescan Releases the Next Generation Messenger
• Survey Says Technology Problems Regularly Impact           • Professional Teledata Expands Training Offerings
   Productivity                                              • ATA to Focus on Inbound Legislation
• Study Shows Gaps Between Expectations and Performance      • TAS Marketing Offers Disaster Recovery Plan
• Dr. Jon Anton to Address Call Quality Monitoring and       • Area Code Changes
   Coaching                                                  • Matt Batarse Joins Startel’s Customer Service
• ATIS Releases 2 to 4 Channel Recorder                        Department
                                                             • Professional Teledata Expands Support Staff
March 2006                                                   • Telescan Introduces Spectrum Information Server
• Website Launched                      • Answer 1 Communications Earns Recertification
• Telescan Adds XLScheduler Interface                        • SNUG Elects Mealer to Board
• Szeto Enhances Call Linx with “External Database Edit”     • ASTAA Announces Convention Location
• Drug Free America Thanks Alston Tascom                     • NAEO Announces Officers and Board Members
• Mercom Releases Version 2.0 of Mercom Interaction          • Virtual-Agent Services Opens 15th North American Location
  Quality                                                    • Omega Honors Taction for “World-Class” Service
• Startel Reorganizes Customer Care Department               • InfoCision Names New Vice President
• Red Alert Receives “Product of the Year” Award
• Telescan Introduces Remote Support                         June 2006
• ATA Supports FTC’s Enforcement Efforts                     • Professional Teledata to Début PInnacleNET at ATSI
• CAM-X Support for Breast Cancer Research Continues         • Startel Announces Developments for CMC
  Strong                                                     • Amtelco Announces New Intelligent Messaging Features
• InfoCision Opens New Call Center; 250 Jobs Slated          • SNUG Releases Supervisor Excellence DVD
• ASTAA Update                                               • Professional Teledata Hosts PIN User Group Meeting
• Connections Call Center Wins Ethics Award                  • ATSI Awards Certification to Intercon Messaging
• PDL Mobility and Call Centers Expands to Cornwall,         • AnswerNet Acquires S&D
  Ontario                                                    • Poll Finds Americans Frustrated with Poor English in
• AnswerNet Acquires Unicall, Expands Outbound Market           Contact Center Agents

32 • JANUARY/F2006
     DECEMBER EBRUARY 2007                                   • Connections Magazine
July/August 2006                                                 November 2006
• Startel Introduces Its New Central Processing System           • Telescan Completes Testing for ATSI Certification
• Professional Teledata Releases TBS v3.0                        • ATA Pleased Over FTC Decision on Abandonment Rate
• Telescan Introduces Spectrum Communications Server                Issue
• CAM-X Convention in Cancun                                     • TAS Marketing Reduces Commission Fee to 6%
• Chris Twigg Tapped to Manage                       • SNUG Updates Logo, Launches New Web Site
• Lisa Rooks Joins Telescan                                      • Telescan Wins Award for Connections Ad
• Startel Introduces CMC Training Course                         • Mott Elected as ASTAA President
• TelePartners Wins Consumers Choice Award                       • ATSI Benchmarks Industry Financial Ratios
• CAM-X to Continue Fundraising to Fight Breast Cancer           • WSTA Selects the Parker in Palm Springs for 2007 Meeting
• Cosmopolitan Medical Earns Certification                       • STA Schedules Second Inspired Performance Workshop
• Szeto Releases New Employee Safety Module                      • ATSI Creates Presentation Library
                                                                 • Apex Announces Addition to Executive Team
September 2006                                                   • AnswerNet Network Expands Sales Team, Hires New GMs
• Amtelco Announces Disaster Planning Tools                      • New Metaphor BPM System Unveiled at ATA Convention
• Telescan Welcomes Craig Hegel; Tasked to Develop New           • Aspect Celebrates Birthday; One Year Old,
   Axon Solutions                                                   Thirty Years Wise
• OnviSource Concludes Acquisition of CadCom, Davacord,          • Panasonic Announces Launch of New Call Center ACD
   and Business Solutions                                           Report Server
• Verint Announces Acquisition of Mercom Systems
• Professional Teledata Releases Folio Reports for PI/PInnacle   December 2006
• Telescan Releases New Scripting Feature                        • TAS Marketing Increases Acquisition Opportunities
• Amtelco Releases Online Client Management Intelligence         • Professional Teledata Expands Message Formatting
• ATSI Elects Officers & Directors                               • Amtelco Announces Billing Link Software Version 4.0
• STA-TUNe to Co-Locate in Nashville                             • Telescan Adds Events Manager to Spectrum
• ACT Teleservices Earns Certification Renewal                      Messenger
• TeamSNUG Awards Presidents Scholarships                        • Startel Announces Executive Management Change
• GLTSA and PInnacle/PI Group to Co-Locate in Chicago            • CallCenterTechs Celebrates Fifth Anniversary
• PIN Appoints Executive Director                                • Chuck Boyce Joins Brandywine Technology
• AnswerNet Acquires Airpage, Expands into Montana               • OnviSource Expands Product Line
• ATSI Introduces Marketing Tool Kit                             • Professional Teledata Expands Support Staff
• TMP Direct Launches New Web Site                               • Amtelco Hosts a Free Seminar on Infinity Tips, Tricks, and
• Robertshaw Appoints New Operations Director                       Techniques
                                                                 • ATA Awards for Technology Advancements
October 2006                                                     • TeamSNUG Releases Agenda for 20th Annual Meeting
• Telescan Positions for the Future                              • STA Inspired Performance Workshop Venue Changes
• Professional Teledata Makes 2-Way Emailing Available           • TUNe Rocks Nashville
• Szeto’s Call Linx Gets Facelift; Details at ASTAA              • WRB Communications Receives National Certification
• Amtelco Announces Gary Kerner as National Sales                • Permissive Dialing Extended for 762 Overlay
   Manager                                                          of 706 Area Code
• Telescan Introduces RSS Feed for Messages
• Quintum® Debuts Survivable Versions of Tenor® VoIP Switches    Call center vendors, associations, and teleservice companies
• CAM-X Early Registration Set Record                            are invited to submit news items and press releases to
• ATSI Creates Promotional Media                        See www.connections-
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Connections Magazine •                                             JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 33
 Weak Wimpy Words
 By Nancy Friedman,
 The Telephone Doctor

          t Telephone Doctor, we call the phrase, “Hi, how are

                                                                   I’m interested in doing business with your company.” Who
          you?” the four killer words. They are probably the       would challenge that statement?
          most useless words you can utter when making cold             So, lose the words, “Hi, how are you?” Do use full
sales calls – or even warm ones.                                   disclosure at the beginning of your call, because if you use
     Years ago, while living at our house, my mother               the full disclosure statement at the top of the call, you will
answered our phone. After her gentle, “Hello” came                 minimize the likelihood of being screened. You may get the,
“Hi, Mrs. Friedman” (she wasn’t Mrs. Friedman). “How               “What is this in reference to?” question, but now you know
are you?”                                                          how to handle that!
     My mother, an open, honest person, simply went on to               There are two other weak wimpy words that are
say, “I’m so glad you asked. My back is killing me, my             ineffective and need to be avoided.
pacemaker is a little slow, the sore on my knee looks horrible,         Think: “I think you’ll like the information I have for
I’ve got the worst headache, and feel like I’m getting the flu.    you.” You think? Is there a doubt in your mind? There
How are you?” The man on the phone said, “Compared to              shouldn’t be. This word isn’t even necessary and without it,
you, a whole lot better,” and hung up.                             the sentence becomes much stronger. “You’ll like the
     The phrase, “Hi, how are you?” is useless for making          information I have for you.” It’s a statement of confidence,
sales calls. Don’t use it. Opening a call with, “Hi, how are       of conviction, of someone who believes in what they have
you,” tells the prospect, “I’m out to sell you something.”         to offer.
     Telephone Doctor’s method of making outgoing cold                  Just: “I’m just calling to see if you got the information I
calls is different. Start by introducing yourself, making a full   sent.” Study that line. If that’s all you’re calling about, when
disclosure at the top of the call.                                 they say, “Yes I got it,” you should say “Okay, thanks.
     It’s simple. A cold call should go like this:                 That’s all I wanted to know,” and hang up. But will you?
     Prospect: “Hello.”                                            Probably not, so remove it. Again, the sentence becomes
     You: “My name is Nancy Friedman.” (Please use your            stronger when the word “just” is removed.
own name.) “I’m with First Fancy Mortgage. I need to speak              Lastly, asking, “Do you have any questions?” is weak
with Bob Smith.”                                                   and wimpy too. To strengthen that one, make it a statement.
     You see, with the Telephone Doctor’s full disclosure at       “Mrs. Friedman, most of the individuals I’ve sent that
the top of the call, it’s difficult to get screened. Why?          particular brochure to have asked several questions. Let me
Because we give the name and company first, what’s left?           go over it with you, now.”
Maybe, “May I ask what this is in regard to?” As a former               All these are simple tips, but all are tried and true. ¤
executive assistant, I can tell you, when someone is good
enough to give me two thirds of the pie, I was willing to put           Nancy Friedman is president of Telephone Doctor,
the call through without asking the “reference” question.          an international customer service training company, based in
     What if the person you are speaking to does ask, “What        St. Louis, MO. Nancy is the author of four best selling
is this in reference to?” You address the question frankly,        books. For more information, call 314-291-1012 or go to
using a technique that has never failed me. Simply say, “Yes,

34 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                          • Connections Magazine
Alston Tascom, Inc. ..............9           OnviSource .........................17
13512 Vintage Place                           2300 N. 10th
Chino, CA 91710                               Enid, OK 73701
866-282-7266, 909-517-3660                    800-311-3025
fax: 909-517-3670                   
                                              Professional Teledata, Inc. ..6
Amtelco .........................11, 40       175 Canal Street
800-356-9148                                  Manchester, NH 03101
or 608-838-4194                               800-344-9944
fax: 608-838-8367                                       
                                              Startel ............................12, 39
ATL Enterprises ...........11, 29             17661 Cowan Avenue
198 Lawn Ave                                  Irvine, CA 92614
Stamford, CT 06902                            800-782-7835
Telecom equipment reseller                    fax: 949-863-9650
                                              Szeto Technologies .............37
ATSI ....................................19   Call Management Equipment
12 Academy Avenue                             888-421-3737
Atkinson, NH 03811                  
603-362-9489                                                          TAS Marketing .......20-23, 29
                                              Business Brokers
Brandywine Technologies..22                   800-369-6126
Chuck Boyce                                   fax: 406-827-4554
                                              TASbiller ...............................2
CAM-X ...............................27       800-545-1535

CenturiSoft..........................27       Telescan, LLC.....................25
800-866-1929                                  10679 Midwest Industrial Blvd                         St. Louis, MO 63132                           800-770-7662
                                              fax: 314-426-1357
General Equipment                   
Leasing ................................35
1111 N Westshore Blvd                         VoiceSpring.........................19
Ste 211                                       VoIP service provider
Tampa, Fl 33607                               866-654-1800

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               Please thank them for their
           continued support of this magazine.

Connections Magazine •                                         JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 35
ASSOCIATIONS                            HOSTED                                 AVAILABLE CALL                               Businessman from California
                                        SERVICES                               CENTER SPACE                                 looking to purchase small
           ATSI                                                                                                             answering service billing
 Association of Teleservices                Steve Michaels is a Hosted
     International, Inc.                                                       Call Center Office Space                     10k per month. Please call
                                        Systems Broker serving the industry
    12 Academy Avenue                     with either vendor or answering      Available For Lease. Turn-                   John at 209-456-6343.
 Atkinson, NH 03811, USA
     Charlene Glorieux                    service hosted systems. See the      key call center located in
       603-362-9489                      banner at        Boise, Idaho. 20,000+                        Premium price and prompt                       or call them at (800) 369-6126.                                                   cash closing for quality
                                                                               square feet, raised data
 Canadian Call Management Association
                                          Marketing                            cable access floor through-
                                                                               out, ADA compliant, built for
                                                                                                                            accounts. Long established,
                                                                                                                            reputable      Minnesota
  24 Olive Street, Unit #10                                                                                                 company will purchase your
   Grimsby, ON L3M 2B6,
                                        HEADSETS                               Hewlett Packard in 2000.
                                                                               Excellent location with 6                    accounts with or without
  Linda Osip 800-896-1054                 ALLMODEL                             parking spaces per 1,000                     equipment. Very confiden-
                                                                                                                            tial. Patrick Eastwood

                                          HEADSETS                             square feet, available imme-
                                                                               diately. Call Karen Warner or                218-763-3007 (home).
BILINGUAL                                available and headset repair.         Lew Manglos 208-345-
CALL CENTERS                               Call RLY & Associates               9000.                                        Reputable nationwide call
                                                                                                                            center owner interested in
Contact One Call Center
                                                                               SEEKING                                      purchasing any or all of your
      Dan Rogers                        HELP WANTED                            ACQUISITIONS                                 commercial or medical
     800-278-3347                                                                                                           accounts. Top dollar paid.                   Expand your help wanted search         SERIOUS BUYER                                Contact Nick toll free at 888-
   Spanish / English                    by placing your ad here. Reach out     Well known and reputable nationwide          422-7352 ext 1500 or
                                                                               call center looking to acquire inbound
                                        to qualified, experienced, industry    call centers/answering services for cash.
                                        employees. Email your ad to Connect@   Everything to remain in place and as is:
Total Quality Communications                 location, equipment, agents – the lot!
  Michael C. McMillan                                                                                                       Top Dollar paid for your
                                                                               If what happens to your employees is as
       800-270-7030                                                            important to you as getting a fair price,    answering service. Qualified
                                        POSITIONS                              then you need to call us first. We are a     cash buyers looking for
Spanish & English • 24 Hours
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                                        Seasoned        Cold     Call          cial strength of the company.                800-369-6126.
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CALL CENTERS                            communication (2 way radio,            email             SERVICES
Call Centers that provide services      paging, cell phones) and mes-
to other call centers.                                                         TASCO MESSAGE CENTERS                        Low-cost domain names,
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                                        hourly rate plus phone                     Seeking full service TAS centers or      website hosting, do-it-yourself
       Personalized                     expenses. Contact BertCohen
                                                                                accounts only. Prompt closings on cash      web design, email, SSL certifi-
     Communications                                                             or deferred payment transactions. We will   cates, shopping cart, merchant
                                        in Tucson, AZ, at bmc41782@              coordinate with your tax advisor. Long
                                                                                                                            account, blogs, site, copyright,
       Stan Gardner
       800-232-3321            or 520-818-3785.                    established company since 1938.
                                                                                                                            business registration, fax
                                                                                Call John Sophocles or email to discuss.                                                               Very Confidential 888-558-2726.        through email, and more. Get                     Looking for call center work?                 details and pricing at
                                        Start your job search here.                                               
                                        Email your ad to Connect@
   Sage Advantage, Inc.                      A fair offer by an estab-
         Scott Miles                                                           lished, reputable company                    PMT has been repairing
                                                                               for your commercial or                       Amtelco and Startel key-
        480-941-0094                    BUSINESSES                                                                          boards and monitors for           FOR SALE                               medical answering service                                                         (with or without equipment).                 over 25 years; all models, 6
                                        List your Business Here; go to         Contact Ron toll-free at                     month warranty; you save
                                         866-388-0772 or ron@                         more than 50% with us.
                                        ads/info.html                                        Please call or email Luis

36 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                                          • Connections Magazine
                                                       DID YOU KNOW?
                            All Connections Magazine Classified Ads are on-line:
 To place your classified ad, go to

Garcia at 714-835-4195 or                               USED EQUIPMENT                   Verbatium voice mail;          Startel CMC - 5 months old. Visit                                 FOR SALE                         Teledata Faxing. Some mon-     8 positions, voicemail, voice                                                                         itors & keyboards. $6500       logger, web-enabled. All
                                                        CadCom 3600 (2 cabinets),        OBO plus shipping. Call 602-   available options. $50,000
EQUIPMENT                                               12 positions, DataMaster,        332-3447 or email offer to     or best offer. Call 877-279-
WANTED                                                  Voice Mail II. Exacom Digital          4359.
                                                        Recorder, 16 channels with
Are you looking for used equip-                         custom LineMaster inter-
ment? Place your ad here! Go to
                                                        face. 2 Adtran TSU 600
/ads/info.html.                                         channel banks with smart
                                                        jacks. All items in excellent
                                                                                               What happens when
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 Voice Logging Recorders
Easily records ALL conversations—just click and play

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                                                        CadCom 3600 parts for sale
                                                        - cabinets, cards, power
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                                                                                                       Contact Valerie Port                            Axon 8100 - 5 position, tape                        866-668-6694
                                                        drive, paperless, alpha
                                                        paging, 2 fax modems.

Connections Magazine •                                                                 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007 • 37
coming                                                               All new listings or changes are italicized

Events                                         Get expanded coverage and 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

                                       January 10-11, 2007                                May 4-5, 2007
                               STA Inspired Performance Workshop                CAM-X Call Centre Coaching Clinics
                                     Wingate Inn, Memphis, TN                    Agent & Supervisor Certification
                             Contact Dan L’Heureux at 800-475-0857 or                      Toronto, ON
                           or visit                Contact Linda Osip, 800-896-1054,
                                        , or visit
                                         February 8-9, 2007                             June 20 - 23, 2007
                                        CEO Annual Meeting                        ATSI 63rd Annual Convention
                                  Embassy Suites Hotel, Dallas, TX                             & Expo
                                    For more information, email                        Antlers Hilton Hotel
                                                           Colorado Springs, CO
                                                                                For info call 866-896-2874 or visit
                                         March 18-21, 2007
                                   SNUG 20th Annual Convention
                             Dana Point CA – Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa              September 23-25, 2007
                                 Call Dan L’Heureux 800-317-8529,                    WSTA Annual Meeting
                            or visit             Parker Le Meridian Palm Springs, CA
                                                       Contact Dan at 877-754-4103,
                                                                        , or visit
                                          April 11, 2007
                                   GLTSA Supervisors Workshop
                              Hilton Garden Inn – Airport, Detroit, MI              September 18-19, 2007
                              Contact Dan L’Heureux at 888-712-9396,              ASTAA Supervisors Workshop
                         , or visit                Comfort Inn - BWI, Baltimore, MD
                                                         Contact Dan at 800-718-1712,
                                                                       , or visit
                                         April 14-19, 2007
                                   STA Spring Workshop Cruise
                              Grand Turks & Caicos /Nassau, Bahamas              September 30-October 3, 2007
                             Contact Dan L’Heureux at 800-475-0857 or            2007 ATA Convention and Expo
                                               Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa
                                                                                        at Gainey Ranch
                                          April 20-21, 2007
                                                                                         Scottsdale, AZ
                                  CAM-X Call Centre Coaching Clinics
                                                                              Contact ATA at 317-816-9336 or visit
                                   Agent & Supervisor Certification
                                             Calgary, AB
                                  Contact Linda Osip, 800-896-1054,                    October 16-19, 2007
                      , or visit                    CAM-X 43rd Annual
                                                                                    Convention & Trade Show
                                         April 22-25, 2007
                                                                                    St. John’s, Newfoundland
                                      ATA Washington Summit
                                                                                Contact Linda Osip, 800-896-1054,
                               Hyatt Regency Crystal City at Reagan
                                                                    , or visit
                                          National Airport
                                        Arlington, Virginia                             March 9-12 2008
                              Contact Zachary Rice at 317-816-9336 or         TeamSNUG 21st Annual Convention
                                              Myrtle Beach, SC – Sheraton Myrtle Beach
                                                                             Call Dan L’Heureux at 800-317-8529,
                                          April 22-26, 2007
                                                                          or visit
                              A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange
                                     Customer Contact 2007, East
                                      For more information, visit

38 • JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                            • Connections Magazine
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