Stuck Like Glue, Part Two
By Donna West
Donna offers more ideas on how to keep clients “stuck like glue.”
Ask to interview the owner of a business using your service – this is an effective way to cement a relationship. Write an article explaining their business in greater detail for your in-house newsletter or blog. Invite them to your office for the interview.
Clients usually have no idea of the extent of their answering services and equipment. We are impressive! Plus, agents work harder for people they know. Take your client’s picture and add the article and photos to your company bulletin board.
This can be done after an error is discovered or just as a way to help a client feel important. It is also a great way to introduce a new client to your employees.
Videotape a short interview of the client, and make sure everyone in your company sees it. Let the client explain their business in their own words; your employees will not forget them or their need for great service.
Next, take time to create a client database – this is a gift you give yourself. Make sure one of the search fields is the client’s start date. That makes it easy to send them an anniversary message, right in your messaging platform. If they have been with you a long time, send a card.
You can outsource this to another company, but how much better it would be to put your overnight person in charge of that project – and fill their slow time productively. Handwritten envelopes do get more attention!
Use the database to note your last visit or phone call to each client, and use it to plan your next “touch.” It is important to regularly review account profiles to be sure that your contact list is clean and the procedures you follow are still preferred by your clients.
A review is the time to introduce new and better methods of message delivery and other cost-saving options, as well as any new billing options. We all have clients who have been with us for years, and they have probably been through many platform upgrades during that time.
To increase your stickiness, make new offerings available before another company does it for you and entices them away.
Set up webinars for clients who have several employees (such as on-call people) who are in contact with your answering service. Show them their account information, go over it with them, and make any necessary changes.
Provide an example of a new product or service you think fits their company’s needs. Have it programed with their organization’s name and demonstrate how you could help them with another aspect of their business.
Offer a “How did we do?” after-service survey for an electrician, a reminder service for a dentist, an “It’s time for your blades to be sharpened” call for a lawnmower repair shop, or a database of calls for more sophisticated clients. The ideas are as extensive as your client list.
If you don’t know how to start, ask a client if you can put on a webinar for them as a test, seeking their critique before you offer it to others.
Use those databases and platform and billing reports to determine which of your clients you can interview by phone and which you should visit in person.
If you have a client that has experienced a management change, recently experienced several errors, or is in the top 20 percent of your billing – visit them. These are the most vulnerable and valuable clients; be sure that you give them special attention.
Donna West is the president of Business Calls (www.businesscalls.biz), a company that produces client newsletters for the telephone answering service industry. She is also the president of Focus Telecommunications and has served on several industry boards.
Donna West: From Industry Startup to Industry Leader
In 1987 Donna West entered the telephone answering service industry after several years as a successful consultant to the medical community. Donna started Focus Telecommunications from scratch, growing exclusively through marketing for the first several years – and without any Yellow Pages ads for the first year and a half.
The phenomenal growth of Focus during its early years made her a sought-after advisor to other telephone answering service owners. She has become a popular speaker and award-winning author in this industry.
Under Donna’s guidance, Focus pioneered some of the more advanced telephone answering service concepts, such as single call handling (callers are not put on hold), on-call coordinators to assure dispatching accuracy, and innovative training programs. She has made Focus a multiple award-winning call center.
Donna has received the President’s Award and the Sharing Award given by ATSI in recognition of her efforts to help other call centers reach their full potential. She is the author of three popular, industry-specific training DVDs, and she has been a major contributor to the ATSI interactive HIPAA training for agents and staff.
She is a past president of SNUG and a past member of the board of directors of ATSI, SNUG, and NAEO, as well as the immediate past chair of the ATSI Education Foundation. “Few if any members of ATSI have given as much to this organization or industry as this year’s recipient of the President’s Award, Donna West,” said Allan Fromm, president of ATSI, in July of 2008.
Donna is also active in her local business community and is a doting grandmother to thirteen active grandchildren who, she says, keep her young.
Tom Reandeau Receives the Don Berry Award of Excellence
Tom Reandeau received the Don Berry Award of Excellence at the recent SNUG (Startel National Users’ Group) meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This award is specifically bestowed to individuals who exemplify excellence in the advancement of SNUG and its members, and TeamSNUG selected Reandeau because of his exceptional dedication and involvement in the business.
Don Berry was the founder of Startel Corporation, and the award was started in 1994 to honor his legacy. Reandeau has demonstrated service to others through SNUG, and he and his company are leaders in the industry.
“We are fortunate to have a person like Mr. Reandeau who is willing to donate his valuable time to our organization,” said Dan L’Heureux, executive director of TeamSNUG, “and by doing so he is working to improve the quality of the Telephone Answering Service Industry as well.” Mr. Reandeau will serve as president of SNUG this coming year.
Reandeau is vice president of operations for Focus Telecommunications Inc., a telephone answering and inbound telemarketing call center based in Eldersburg, Maryland, with offices in York, Pennsylvania. He has been an active member of SNUG since 1994.
TeamSNUG, www.teamsnug.org, is a for-profit professional association serving the membership of education needs of Startel equipment users. The Startel Corporation, which is based in Irvine, California, manufactures, sells, and supports specific software and hardware used in the telephone answering service and messaging industry.
The plaque reads: “The Startel National User Group bestows the Don Berry Award to individuals who exemplify excellence in the advancement of SNUG and its members. We honor the enormous contributions Mr. Don Berry made to our industry.”
Past Don Berry Winners
• 1994 Larry Goldenberg – Direct Line Tele Response
• 1995 Herb Chinoski – Rochester Telemessaging
• 1996 Susan Krems – Tel-Us Call Center
• 1997 Dan L’Heureux – A-Alpha, Inc.
• 1998 Peter Orvis- Central Communications
• 1999 Gwen Corbett-Answer All
• 2000 Randy Singh – Startel Corporation
• 2001 Dan L’Heureux- TeamSNUG
• 2002 Barbara Willis- Startel Corporation
• 2003 Chris Bell- MedCom Professional Services
• 2004 Donna West- Focus Comm Centers
• 2005 Mary Jones- Answer 1 Communications
• 2006 Larry Kinder- Combined Communications
• 2007 Beth Cooper – Answer Quick
• 2008 Aaron Boatin – Ambs Call Center
• 2009 – Special Award – Charlie Wich – Startel In Memoriam
• 2009 Dirk Moeller – Business Connections, Inc.
• 2010 Sheryl Denny – Startel Corporation
• 2011 Tom Reandeau – Focus Call Centers
Focus Telecommunications Celebrates Twenty-Five Years: On April 6, 2012, Focus Telecommunications, Inc., will celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary. Focus has grown over the past twenty-five years into one of the leading telephone answering services in North America, with offices in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Focus has earned over forty awards for excellence during its twenty-five years and has helped to educate the industry by creating several training videos that have been sold throughout the world. President Donna West stated, “Our commitment to 100 percent customer satisfaction is the reason why we are here, and we have dedicated our company to extraordinary customer service for the next twenty-five years.”
Amtelco Announces New VPs: Tom Curtin, president of Amtelco, announced the promotion of Pam Hinz, Mike Friedel, Greg Beale, and Kevin Beale to officers of the corporation, carrying the title of vice president for their respective areas. The new officer titles are: Pamela Hinz, VP Finance and Human Resources; Greg Beale, VP Customer Operations; Kevin Beale, VP Research and Development, Software; and Michael Friedel, VP Sales, 1Call Division. Tom Curtin said, “This is great news for all of us and the future of Amtelco as we strive to grow and continue our tradition of innovation and industry leadership for decades to come.”
1-800 We Answer Receives DiversityBusiness Award: 1-800 We Answer has been recognized by DiversityBusiness as an outstanding provider of telephone answering services in the United States and included in the organization’s annual Top Business List. DiversityBusiness.com provides research and data collection services to determine the top businesses and the most successful entrepreneurs across the US based on annual gross revenue and other significant elements. 1-800 We Answer has achieved record growth represented by a 127 percent growth in revenue since 2007. During 2010, the company earned $13.2 million through the combined sales of telephone answering services, call center support, market research, virtual office services, and telephone system sales and support.