Technology Tools Can Be Our Friend
By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD
Most all telephone answering services (TAS) use a lot of technology to supplement the work of their agents. Yet technological advances aren’t always readily embraced.
Yes, a few visionaries will grasp the application and move forward right away. The other extreme is those who are the last to implement it.
Most people fall in the middle ground of being neither the first nor the last. They are the cautious middle.
Waiting for others to go before them, they only feel comfortable moving forward once they have studied and understand the answering service technology. This takes time.
Regardless of where you are on the implementation curve, here are some tips to consider as you evaluate implementing a new technology in your TAS.
Be Aware that Technology Changes
More than once, I’ve looked at an emerging technology and dismissed it for its lack of utility. My perspective became frozen at that point, and I missed the exciting developments as it evolved.
If you’ve studied promising answering service technology and written it off, it may warrant a repeat look.
Ask for a Succinct Explanation
Many people want to fully understand how an answering service technology works before they’ll introduce it into their operation. Though understandable, this is not necessary.
When talking with a company about their new product offering, ask for a succinct explanation of what it’ll accomplish. Though it may take some effort on their part, its essence should be able to be summarized in one or two cogent sentences.
Few people understand how a computer works, yet we all use them. The same should apply to our answering service technologies (keeping in mind the next two items on our list).
Know Its Function
Often, marketing people use grand proclamations in promoting their newest product. As we wade through their exuberance, we’re challenged to understand the essence of their offering.
In this case, the goal is to distill into ordinary language what it will do—and what it won’t do. Don’t accept generalities. Insist on specifics.
Understand the Downside
Along with knowing the product’s function is to understand its downside. What risk do you open yourself to through this technology? This is often difficult to ascertain, and vendors are slow to acknowledge it.
As you consider the negatives, don’t give in to unwarranted fear over the unknown. Instead, ask others what they think. This includes those who have already implemented the answering service technology, as well as knowledgeable industry technologists.
The reason for this isn’t to persuade yourself from moving forward with the technology but merely to be fully informed before proceeding.
Implement and Use
Armed with this information, weigh the anticipated benefits and expected outcomes against the acquisition cost and operational downsides to make an informed decision.
If you give yourself the green light, go forth and install the answering service technology in your operation. Don’t delay, for this will only minimize its positive impact on your answering service.
Learn more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s book, How to Start a Telephone Answering Service.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of TAS Trader, covering the telephone answering service industry. Check out his books How to Start a Telephone Answering Service and Sticky Customer Service.