Startel Interviews Peter DeHaan

Earlier this year Vince Vitale, marketing director at Startel, interviewed Peter Lyle DeHaan about the future of the call center industry and learned about his best content marketing tips.

The result is a two-part series.

The first piece, titled “Peter Lyle DeHaan: Contact Center Futurist,” appeared online in March this year. In it, DeHaan looked at the industry’s past to get a feeling for where it’s headed. “I see a bright future for the industry, limited only by our imagination and creativity,” said DeHaan.

His advice to get there is to “Invest in people, for frontline staff is our essential difference and our future distinction. Then support them with the best technology tools possible.”

The second piece, titled “9 Contact Center Writing Tips for Content Writers from the Guy Who Literally Wrote the Book on the Call Center Industry” addresses promotion opportunities for call centers and telephone answering services. DeHaan’s mission is to “change the world one word at a time.”

He warns against posting content on social media which limits what your audience sees and can summarily shut you down at any moment, for any reason. Therefore, post on your website, which you own and control.

“Once you have a professional looking and visitor-friendly website, consider content marketing for engaging prospects and for search engine optimization (SEO),” added DeHaan. Yet he noted that “Writing is easy. Writing well is hard. It requires practice.”

Call centers can produce content internally. Their staff knows the industry but may struggle with writing. Or they can outsource the writing part, but those experts may struggle with understanding the industry. It’s a difficult balance to achieve.

Regardless, “Start by producing quality content with a visitor-first perspective. Don’t write for search engines because they can’t make a buying decision. Only after you’ve written it should you factor into the piece good SEO practices.”

With a lifetime of relevant experience, Peter Lyle DeHaan has written extensively about the call center industry. He owns and publishes Connections Magazine, along with launching and publishing AnswerStat, TAS Trader, and Medical Call Center News.

Healthcare Call Center Essentials: Optimize Your Medical Contact Center to Improve Patient Outcomes and Drive Organizational Success

His industry related books include Healthcare Call Center Essentials, Sticky Customer Service, and How To Start a Telephone Answering Service.

His next book, Sticky Sales and Marketing, is due out later this year.

News Writing and Publishing

Sticky Customer Service

Do you lose customers about as fast as you gain them?

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Sticky Customer Service book will show you how.

Sticky Customer Service, by Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Customer service isn’t a once-and-done effort. It takes ongoing work to truly meet your customers’ expectations. In Sticky Customer Service, unearth practical, action-oriented insights to help you turn customer service from an embarrassing weakness into a business strength.

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan's book Sticky Customer Service

With over three decades of business and entrepreneurial experience, Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, offers his prescriptions to serve customers better and stop driving them away.

You’ll discover:

  • The three key areas where customer service occurs and why they must work together.
  • How to avoid common errors that too many business’s make.
  • Why delighting customers is not the best approach and sets up future failure.

Based on a lifetime of real-world examples, the Sticky Customer Service book reveals customer service gone wrong and customer service done well.

Customer service is not a set-it-and-forget-it initiative. Never lose sight of this. Sticky Customer Service will keep you moving forward and on track.

Uncover helpful customer service tips through this compelling read, encouraging you to do better and celebrating what you do best. Learn how to meet your customers’ expectations every chance you get.

Get Sticky Customer Service and turn customer retention into a strength.

Writing and Publishing

How to Outline a Book Series

Just as you would outline a book, you can also outline a series. 

Consider your series outline as listing the main objective you want to accomplish for each book. Just as each book will have an arc, your series will also have one. Your series outline should reflect the series arc. 

Your series outline can be as simple as a bullet point for each book. That’s what I start with. Or you can add more substance to it, but I suggest you save additional details for the book outline, which you will need for each book in the series. 

Outlining a series is fun, and I recommend it. Knowing a series arc, through its outline, can inform your writing of each book in the series. 

For example, if you know your primary character for book three, make a subtle introduction in book one. This restrained reveal will delight your readers when they re-encounter that person two books later. Or if book eight has a plot development you worry may seem a bit contrived, with shrewd finesse lay the groundwork for it in books two, five, and seven. This unexpected development in book eight will still surprise your readers, but they won’t feel you forced it because you prepared them for it in earlier books.

Keep in mind that if you’re a discovery writer you can’t insert any delicious titbits into earlier books—unless they’re not yet published. But with a series outline to guide your writing, you can foreshadow what is to come in future books. 

In addition, having a series outline will keep you from wasting time writing passages you will later cut. And your plan will help make your books richer because readers can connect with your writing and characters more fully.


The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and the Business of Publishing

Do you have questions about writing? Publishing?

Peter Lyle DeHaan has answers, which he shares in The Successful Author. With over three decades of experience as an author, blogger, freelancer, and publisher, Peter will help you on your writing journey.

The Successful Author, by Peter Lyle DeHaan

On this grand adventure:

  • Learn why you shouldn’t call yourself an aspiring writer.
  • Uncover tips to deal with rejection.
  • Expose writing advice that may not be true.
  • Discover how to self-edit, get feedback, and find an editor.
  • Determine if being a writer is worth the effort. (Hint: it is.)

But there’s more. In fourteen chapters, with over one hundred entries, Peter will address:

  • Finding time to write
  • The traditional vs indie publishing debate
  • Whether or not to blog—and what to do if you do blog
  • Copyrights, registration, and legal issues
  • Publishing options and insights

Plus there are loads of writing tips, submission pointers, and a publishing checklist.

Don’t delay your writing journey any longer. Take the next step, and get your copy of The Successful Author.

Be inspired. Be informed. Be motivated to become the writer you’ve always dreamed of.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Writing and Publishing

Should Writers Focus On One Niche?

The easiest way to build your author brand is to consistently publish the same type of content

I remember when I started taking writing seriously. I moved from simply writing to being a writer. The shift was huge.

I had so much to learn about the industry (and I still do). Of the many surprises, I encountered as I learned about writing was the importance of focusing on one niche. I didn’t like that. Don’t tie me down to writing one thing; I need variety. Yet the advice I received said to pick nonfiction or fiction or memoir. Just one. Then narrow the focus even more. If fiction, which genre? If nonfiction, what slice?

The thought that I had to pick one, and only one area, parallelized me. First, it sounded boring. Second, what if I picked wrong? Yikes! Though once I established myself in that one area, I might have an opportunity to branch out. But the idea still sounded too restrictive for too long.

Another person suggested I try all three options and whichever one sold first, that would be my niche. Though that made sense, it seemed I’d waste a lot of time and effort.

I went back to agonizing between nonfiction, fiction, and memoir. (Yes, memoir is technically nonfiction, but it contains elements of fiction writing, so it’s really a both-and pursuit.)

A third person opined that memoirs were selling, so I pursued that. I later learned this person was in error, or I had heard wrong. Writers can only sell their memoirs if they are famous, infamous, or suffered through the mother of all tragedies. As a regular guy with a normal life, I had none of these. Though I’ve written a few memoirs, none have sold.

I next moved to nonfiction and wrote a couple more books in this category. I also pitched several other nonfiction book ideas, but nada.

Between waiting for publishers to decide on my nonfiction books and book ideas, I dabbled in fiction, the remaining area not yet explored. First I wrote short stories and then wrote a couple of novels, too. Interestingly, I receive better feedback on my short stories and novels than on my nonfiction and memoirs.

In this way, I ended up writing in all three areas, and I’m waiting to see which one pops first. When it does, the wise career move will be focusing on that as my niche. But my interests are too eclectic to do that. I’ll probably end up pursuing multiple paths simultaneously. I’ll have to, or I will surely get bored. 

By the way, besides memoir, nonfiction, and fiction books, I also write for publications and am a commercial freelance writer, in addition to blogging. I like the variety; I need the variety. It keeps me from getting bored.

Yes, the best advice is to specialize in one area and build our author brand around that. But that’s not me. Don’t force me into a corner.

Writing and Publishing

How I’ll Write My Next Book

NaNoWriMo inspired me on a new way to approach writing a book

I’ve written several books, most of which didn’t have a deadline. Though I would regularly sit down to write and methodically plod through from start to finish, I wasn’t as intentional as I could have been. I would take several months to complete my first draft of these books—and it was arduous.

Last November I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, where the goal is to write the first draft of a novel in one month. I effectively did this, but it didn’t happen as expected. (Check out the post of my first NaNoWriMo experience).

Going forward I plan to write all my books NaNoWriMo style. I’ll hunker down and crank through the first draft in one month. Here are the benefits of taking this approach.

Increased Focus: Writing a book in one month requires making it a priority. It’s not one of many things to dilute focus; it’s the one thing. This gives a hyper-intensive focus. In fact, I was so into my novel, which took place in May, that I actually thought it was spring in real life; I had to keep reminding myself that summer was not about to happen, but eight months out. That’s intense (or crazy). Regardless I had focus and finished writing that book.

Better Continuity: When writing large chunks of a book every day, it’s much easier to keep everything straight. One chapter easily moves into the next. But had time interrupted my writing it would have also caused me to lose my comprehension of the story arc. This would necessitate re-reading large sections, a too-frequent referring to my notes, and missed opportunities to produce a better read. But because I was able to stay in the writing zone, the words flowed forth with greater ease.

Faster Results: For me, the difficulty in writing a book isn’t the number of words I need to write, it’s the number of days it takes. When I write a book in one month, there’s no time to bog down in the middle, yet a book that takes several months to complete will always produce a discouraging sag of motivation midway through. Taking fewer days to write a book gets me to the end faster and avoids a mid-book slump.

Sense of Accomplishment: It’s a great feeling to finish the first draft of a book. Writing with NaNoWriMo’s intention rewards me with that feeling of satisfaction faster. Having that great sense of accomplishment encourages me as a writer and motivates me to produce even more.

Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, I plan to write the first draft of my next book in a month. And I won’t even wait until November to start.

Writing and Publishing

Is Writing Fun?

With some creativity and planning, authors can hang onto their joy of writing

Some writers hate to write, but their love of completing a book spurs them on. I understand the ecstasy of a job that’s done. I love finishing a writing project, be it a book, a ghostwriting assignment, an article, or a post. But I also enjoy the actual writing. I can even say I love to write. This is a good thing because I spend a lot of time doing it.

What’s your attitude towards writing?

Do you enjoy it? Think writing is fun? Look forward to it? Love to write? I hope you’re able to say “yes” to at least one of these questions.

Or do you find writing hard? Need to force yourself to write? Would rather do anything but write? Is the allure of finishing a project no longer enough to motivate you? Though I occasionally find myself in this place, it is infrequent and short-lived.

The key for me is variety. I’m never working on just one thing. I’m always going in different directions, with multiple projects. And occasionally when I really don’t want to write what I’m supposed to at that moment, I just switch to something else.

Here are some of the projects that give me variety:

  • A monthly column: Currently I have two magazines and a couple of newsletters. Each includes a column from the publisher, me.
  • Weekly blog posts: I have too many blogs and write too many posts, but I do enjoy it. Soon I may cut back, but I can’t envision ever stopping completely. (Every post is eligible to be repurposed or become part of a book.)
  • A book: I am always writing a book as my primary focus, but I also give thought to the book that comes next, along with follow-up work on the one just finished. This makes three books at once, sometimes more.
  • Freelance work: I write for clients: content marketing, website content, marketing copy, presentations, interviews, and so on. Each project excites me.
  • A short story: Though I write nonfiction and memoir, I also write one short story a month for fun and experience. Maybe I’ll one day find a novelist inside me.

Weekday mornings are for writing my book. Weekend mornings are for my blogs. Weekday afternoons are for my columns and freelance work. However, I must squeeze in the short story somewhere.

The benefit of this variety is the diversity it provides. While this scope of writing may be overwhelming or not feasible for you at this time, the key is to break up your writing by working on more than one thing and having more than one interest.

For me, this helps make writing fun.

Writing and Publishing

Ramping Up Our Writing

I just began writing a book, an 85,000-word book. It needs to be finished by the end of November. That’s a lot of words in a short amount of time.

I made a schedule. I will write Monday through Friday and edit on Saturday. With a few exceptions, I need to write 1,750 words a day to make this work. So far, so good.

If I had been faced with this project five years ago, I would have laughed at how unrealistic that would have been for me to do. I would have turned it down without hesitating. But now this seems feasible; it is realistic that I can write that many words a day. The only question is: How well will I fair at keeping this pace up every day until after Thanksgiving? Again, so far so good.

What has changed between five years ago and now? Quite simply, I have ramped up my writing.

I went from haphazard blogging to blogging regularly. I then moved from blogging regularly to writing every day, if only for a few minutes. Next, I upped the goal to write for one hour each weekday. Then I added Saturdays and later Sundays, too. Writing for an hour every day, eventually became two.

More recently I changed the goal to write at least a thousand words each weekday, and then I began adding additional time to write more. I wondered if I could devote my entire morning to writing and handle my job in the afternoons. It looks like I can.

Along the way, I have found my writing voice, learned so much about the art and craft, and have improved. Yes, I have written other books, but this is my first with such an aggressive deadline.

Fortunately, I have been in training for five years. I am ready for the challenge.

Each writer has a different path, a different situation, and a different schedule. You are likely at a different point in your writing. Don’t compare yourself to me. Whether you are ahead of me or behind, comparison accomplishes nothing good. Only compare yourself to you. Strive to write, to learn, and to improve. Then you will be ready when the opportunity comes to you.

Writing and Publishing

Stay Within Your Genre: The Importance of Consistency

Although I resisted it for months, I recently immersed myself in a Young Adult book, a romance, no less: Ditched: A Love Story, by Robin Mellom. I poured over it with can’t-put-it-down abandon. I read it in two days.

When I finished reading it, the next thing I did was read it again. I enjoyed it that much.

After the second time, I went to Amazon to buy her next book. Alas, she has none – at least not any YA books. She does have a couple of middle-grade/junior books, but as much as I like her writing style and voice, I couldn’t force myself to buy a book written for a nine-year-old.

She found a fan in me—and then had nothing more to offer.

Then I finally understood why people in the know, tell writers to “stay within your genre.” If you write period romance, then write only period romance—that’s what your audience expects. If you write crime novels, write only crime novels. Would you buy a romance with John Grisham? No. Or sci-fi by Dick Francis? No, even if it had a horse in it, it wouldn’t work.

I never understood why I couldn’t make a career by writing non-fiction and speculative fiction and devotionals and children’s books and memoirs and even poetry. It might be fun for me but would leave my audience confused and my career would fail to gain traction.

Now I understand why I can’t do that. I still don’t like it, but I do comprehend it.

Writing and Publishing

Don’t Just Think About Writing

River Jordan’s book The Messenger on Magnolia Street (which I highly recommend) is not a book about writing, but one of the secondary characters does flirt with the idea.

Regarding this person, River writes, “She had once thought about writing a book and naming it … To the Pacific and Back Again. But she didn’t. She couldn’t think of another line beside the title and that slowed her down some” (pg 158).

We all know people like this character, those who intend to write a book but never do. They may talk about it, dream about it, or even plan to do it. They may have the title, know the opening line, or even have the plot mapped out in their head. Perhaps they don’t even get that far.

Regardless they never move forward. Maybe their book is no more than an obscure thought or a romantic notion. They talk about writing, but they never do it.

A book that stays in your head is a book that never reaches its potential. Don’t be one of those people.

Just write. That’s the first step to becoming an author.