The June 2024 Issue of TAS Trader

Ron Violante can help you buy or sell your telephone answering service

Building Blocks for a Successful Telephone Answering Service Startup

by Lance Brandon

Starting a telephone answering service can be a rewarding endeavor, especially in today’s market where excellent customer service is crucial for business success. If you’re thinking about venturing into this industry, here are some tips to get you on the right path.

Finding Your First Client

Securing that first client can often seem like a huge hurdle, but it’s your opportunity to set the tone for your business. Focus on identifying businesses that can most benefit from your services, such as small enterprises, medical practices, or legal offices. Consider offering a free trial to showcase your company’s impact on their operations. Engaging actively in local business events and leveraging platforms like LinkedIn can also help you connect with potential clients. Remember, delivering exceptional service can encourage these early customers to spread the word about your business.

Deciding on a Pricing Model

When it comes to pricing, clarity and predictability can set your service apart. Adopting a pricing model that offers plans with included minutes—such as 100, 300, and 500 minutes per month—helps provide predictable revenue, aiding in your financial planning and adding stability to your operations. This approach reassures clients about their monthly expenses, eliminating any surprises and allowing them to budget more effectively. Moreover, introducing overage fees for when clients exceed their plan helps cover additional service costs and encourages clients to select or upgrade to plans that better suit their growing needs. Such a strategy not only fosters trust but also aligns your success with the satisfaction and expansion of your clients’ businesses.

Choosing the Right Software

The right software is crucial for managing your operations smoothly, especially if your agents are working remotely. Opt for cloud-based solutions with features like flexible scripts, email and SMS, call routing, call recording, and reporting.  It’s important to select software that’s easy to use and doesn’t come with hefty upfront costs. Avoid costly legacy hardware at all costs – you never know when it may go bad! Many software providers offer scalable subscription models, so you can expand your capabilities as your client base grows, without breaking the bank.

Additional Resources

For a deeper dive into setting up and running your business, “How to Start a Telephone Answering Service” by Peter Dehaan is an excellent resource. This book covers a wide range of topics, from compliance and marketing strategies to detailed operational guidelines.

By focusing on these key areas, you can establish a robust foundation for your telephone answering service startup, paving the way for success in a competitive landscape. Remember, the key is to align your business goals with the needs and success of your clients—creating mutual growth and long-term partnerships.

Lance Brandon is head of sales and product design at Electronic Voice Services, a Dallas-based software company providing cloud calling solutions for the TAS industry. He and his team help answering services transition to all-inclusive web-based software.


Improving Workforce Management is Key for Agent Engagement and Retention

by Donna Fluss

The world and workforce have changed, and it’s time for companies to update their workforce management (WFM) solutions and best practices to better meet the expectations of today’s employees, especially Millennials and the rapidly up-and-coming Gen Z.

The most significant issues confronting the world of WFM today are:

Number 1: Companies need WFM solutions that are a good fit for the current workforce because their needs have changed significantly. The days of creating schedules for fixed and full-time shifts that optimize department performance without taking agent requirements and preferences into consideration are long gone. Similarly, the era of asking agents to change their schedules with little advance notice is past, although this practice was never a good one for employees.

Number 2: Companies need WFM solutions that can accurately forecast and schedule both voice and digital interactions, including conversations that pivot from one channel to another or use two channels at the same time. Workforce management solutions need new algorithms and simulation techniques that properly model synchronous and asynchronous interactions, including traditional back-office work that can take days or even weeks to complete.

Number 3: Schedule flexibility is a critical requirement for today’s employees. Agents want more control over their schedule, including the ability to change their work hours, lunches, and breaks to meet their personal needs. Agents want to manage this themselves via self-service solutions, so they don’t have to ask a supervisor or WFM administrator for permission.

Number 4: Contact centers need real-time, adaptive, intraday management capabilities that fully automate the schedule change process. It is unrealistic and too cumbersome to rely on intraday management modules that identify the changes and then notify supervisors or WFM administrators to make the updates. Instead, companies need a WFM solution that comes with a fully automated intraday management module that determines the necessary changes to address staffing needs and automates the process of applying them. These changes can rely on business rules or artificial intelligence, based on the sophistication of the application.

Number 5: Companies need WFM solutions that address the functional requirements of departments beyond contact centers, including back-office departments, collections, claims processing, credit approval, applications processing, accounts payable/receivable, inside sales, and more. When used properly, WFM solutions enable managers to give their employees scheduling flexibility so they can work the hours (or time increments) that are most convenient for them. This is particularly important for employees who work from home.

Final Thoughts

Workforce management solutions remain one of the most important productivity tools for contact centers; when the right one is used, it should also be instrumental in improving both the customer and employee experience. Companies need WFM solutions that are designed to address the needs of the largest generation of employees today, Millennials, and the Gen Z-ers who are quickly entering the workforce. Both groups prioritize schedule flexibility and the need to manage their work times. There is a new generation of WFM solutions that are entering the market – established systems that have been enhanced and a slew of new entrants – which are being designed to address these requirements. The cloud delivery model positions enterprises to receive an ongoing flow of enhancements as their needs change. Workforce management truly makes a major contribution to the success of a contact center and the satisfaction of its employees. These solutions can also greatly improve the flexibility and productivity of other enterprise operating departments. If you haven’t looked at WFM applications for the past three or more years, it’s worth the time to review them, as these newer solutions can make a significant difference to your customers, employees, and company.

Donna Fluss, Founder and President of DMG Consulting LLC, provides a unique and unparalleled understanding of AI, people, processes, and technology that drive the strategic direction and performance of the dynamic and rapidly transforming contact center and back-office operations and markets. Donna can be reached at donna.fluss@dmgconsult.com.


Featured Sponsor: Startel

Headquartered in Irvine, California, Startel is a leading provider of unified communications,   business process automation and performance management solutions and services for small to mid-size organizations. Since its founding in 1980, Startel has established a loyal customer base from a variety of industries, including contact centers, education, government, healthcare, insurance, telephone answering service and utilities. Customers depend on Startel’s solutions and services to increase business efficiencies, identify performance opportunities and deliver quick, secure and accurate communication 24/7 x 365.

In 2015, Startel Corporation and Professional Teledata merged. In 2017, Alston Tascom also merged with Startel.


Classified Ads:

Seeking Acquisitions: Reputable TAS, in business since 1967 and still owned by the founding family, seeks a small TAS acquisition in the USA. Ideally, you’re billing under $50k per month. Smaller is better. We’ll treat you right, as well as your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or douganswerphone@gmail.com.

Looking to Sell Your TAS? I have personal connections with buyers ready to act. Completely confidential to ensure trustworthy, private transactions. Competitive fees put more money in your pocket. And professional services provide the best results. Contact Ron Violante to learn more: ronaldviolante1@gmail.com or 330-565–8364.

Selling Your Business? If you are considering selling your business, you owe it to yourself and your employees to consider selling to MAP Communications’ Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Dozens of past sellers to MAP include Stericycle Communications Solutions, Answer Center VA Beach, and A-Courteous Communications in Orlando. Call Grant Sibley 800-955-9888 or email gsibley@mapcommunications.com for a confidential conversation.

Professional Liability Insurance: The member-exclusive, ATSI-endorsed professional liability insurance program protects you against claims-related errors and omissions arising from your professional services. This comprehensive solution, commonly known as errors and omissions liability insurance (E&O), covers defense costs and settlements and provides a valuable layer of additional coverage. Contact: ATSI-questions@alliant.com or 855-393–ATSI.


Industry News

Peter Lyle DeHaan Releases His Latest Book
Call Center Connections Offers Key Insights for Answering Service Industry

Running an answering service is challenging, but it can also be rewarding. In his latest book, Call Center Connections, Peter Lyle DeHaan, publisher of TAS Trader, provides practical insights and tips to help answering service professionals excel in their roles and improve customer service outcomes.

Addressing staffing, customer experience, and leadership skills, Call Center Connections is a must-read for answering service leaders and managers.

Other topics include finding the right call center manager, tapping home-based agents, and the impact of artificial intelligence.

Readers will also learn about the importance of channel consistency, combatting survey fatigue, and ways to optimize call center operations for better results.

Call Center Connections is available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook

Send us your TAS articles and news for consideration in the next issue.


Quote for Consideration

“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat” –F. Scott Fitzgerald