The September 2018 Issue of TAS Trader


How a Mystery Caller Program Can Benefit Your Answering Service

Receiving Independent, Third-Party Feedback Is the Most Valuable Information You Can Get

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

As a writer, I’m a big fan of constructive feedback. Sometimes it’s affirming and other times it’s discouraging, but when it comes from a credible source it’s always beneficial. The same applies to the answering service industry. Receiving independent, third-party feedback about service quality is always beneficial.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

Regardless if it’s praiseworthy or agonizing to hear, it provides the means to celebrate what’s good and improve what falls short. Just as smart writers are always open to receive credible feedback, so too should smart answering services.

Although client testimonials are gratifying, they certainly don’t give a balanced view. Online reviews have the potential to address both the good and the not so good, but these are seldom balanced either. They often provide extreme views that are neither helpful nor useful.

That’s where a mystery shopper comes in. A mystery shopper for your answering service provides valuable insight from an outside source. Though you could hire someone to be a mystery shopper, the results may be skewed because you’re picking up the tab. A better solution is to contract with an organization that provides the service and where the evaluation is done blind, without knowledge of which answering service they’re analyzing.

Enter the Independent Mystery Caller

The ATSI Award of Excellence program and the CAM-X Award of Excellence program both function the same way. They place mystery calls to your answering service, evaluate the results, and present a composite score that reflects overall quality. It’s the most valuable input your answering service could ever receive.

Though you may think that one program is enough, they cover different times of the year. This means that by tapping both the ATSI and the CAM-X offerings you can enjoy year-round evaluations, as well as detailed feedback twice a year, instead of just once.

(And for those providers that have moved beyond the traditional answering service clientele, there are two advanced options to consider. One is the CAM-X Call Centre Award of Distinction and the other is the ATSI Call Center Award of Distinction. Both are worth pursuing.)

The Winner Is…

Answering services that meet the quality benchmark standard in the Award of Excellence programs are honored as an Award of Excellence winner for that year. This is the most reliable mark of answering service quality available in the industry. Those who have one these awards operate at a different level than those who don’t.

However, just by participating in these programs, makes answering services a winner, even if they fall a bit short of the expected results. This is because the feedback from the program is invaluable. Applying the evaluators’ analysis of the mystery callers lets answering services know what to work on to increase their level of quality. This allows them to pursue and achieve year-over-year improvement. Both the answering service and their clients benefit.

Last, though this may offend some, I truly hope it serves as motivation: the only ones who lose in the Award of Excellence programs are those that don’t participate.

May this year be the year your answering service’s quality becomes the best it’s ever been. Participating in an Award of Excellence program can help you get there.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader. Check out his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

Classified Ads:

 Answering Service for All Businesses: A Courteous Communications Orlando, Florida. We specialize in 24-hour answering service for medical, order taking/processing, and most all types of businesses. ATSI Award of Excellence recipient 5 years. Contact: 800-785-6161,,

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, and your employees and customers. Let’s talk. Contact Doug at 888-693-7935 or

Stop Falling Behind Your Competitors

7 Steps to Gain a Competitive Advantage

 By Brad Wolff

If you find your business falling behind, follow these seven steps.

  1. Employee Alignment: When a significant percentage of duties performed by employees don’t fit their innate characteristics or core nature, they won’t perform well. Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”
  2. Create a Culture of Personal Growth and Development: Personal growth results in professional growth. It increases the capacity to handle life challenges, accomplish long-term goals, and work well with others. Personal growth and development include an increased awareness of self and others, the ability to manage one’s ego, the ability to manage emotions, and the development of innate talents to maximize productivity and effectiveness. These are fundamental character traits of success.
  3. Align Employees with Mission and Vision: Human beings have an innate need for meaning and purpose. This means they care about how their efforts affect the world outside themselves. Engagement and performance are directly affected by people’s connection to the outcomes of their work.
  4. Align Employees with Culture and Values: People need to feel that they fit in. Employees who are significantly out of sync with an organization’s culture and values will never make their highest contribution. Having perfect alignment is not the goal, but significant misalignments are damaging.
  5. Align Roles and Responsibilities with Strategies and Goals: Organizational goals and strategies change. Frequently, roles and supporting job duties don’t adequately change to align with these shifts. When this occurs, some or much of employee efforts are out of alignment and can impair the ability to achieve the desired outcomes.
  6. Assess Personal and Professional Weaknesses: We’ve been taught to hide or deny our weaknesses. Our ego’s impulse to protect our self-image is normal but counterproductive. It hinders our true potential from being realized, which is a loss to the organization and ourselves. When leaders openly and honestly acknowledge their “challenge areas,” this sets the example for others.
  7. Commit to Work on Personal and Professional Challenges: Self-awareness of the need to change is the first step. Commit to act (starting with baby steps) and take them to develop of positive habits that create lasting positive change.

Conclusion: Leaders make choices that define the present and future of themselves and their organizations. There’s nothing magical about the most effective leaders. They’re just making more effective choices. As a leader, what choices are you making?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage.

Telephone Answering Service News

Amtelco Summer Interns: Amtelco says “thank you” and “good bye” to the fifteen students who completed internships this summer. They are Adam LaLuzerne, Marcus Seaton, DJ Hogan, Kyle Anderson, Brevin Becker, Hannah Anderson, Luke Anderson, Emmanuel Barber-Thomas, Jessica Mohns, Sean Scanlan, Dillon Clark, Tyler LaLuzerne, Angela Riederer, Ashley Werner, and Bennett Olson.

AnswerNet Acquires Synergy Solutions: AnswerNet acquired Synergy Solutions in an asset transaction. Synergy Solutions specializes in high-touch consultative customer service and sales support programs for many of the nation’s leading brands. Established in 1999, Synergy Solutions focuses on innovative customer interaction solutions. This allows Synergy Solutions to provide superior results for its clients in fast-growth retail and e-commerce, as well as traditional verticals such as healthcare, insurance, and financial services. Gary Pudles, president and CEO of AnswerNet stated, “Synergy Solutions furthers AnswerNet’s continued growth in high-touch customer engagement space for well-known companies and brands.” Synergy’s president and co-founder Lori Fentem is staying with AnswerNet and will work closely with Pudles on building and executing AnswerNet’s growth strategy.

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

Quotes for the Month

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” -Thurgood Marshall

“People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” -Samuel Johnson

“The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.” –unknown