Answering Service Success
The switchboard was one of the first pieces of equipment used by original owner Gayle Roberts and much of our original staff.
We have evolved with technology to include (however are not limited to) live operator answer 24/7, automated customers assistance with operator option, text with reply confirmation and HIPAA compliant secure texting.
Do switchboard operators still exist?
Short answer: yes. The job just looks much different than it used to. Today’s telephone operators are specialty agents, working directly in customer service to manage large volumes of phone calls in facilities that may have their own internal phone systems. Instead of manually placing calls, today’s telephone operator is likely juggling multiple lines, performing triage on incoming calls in a call center or other multi-line phone operation. They’re also employed in emergency dispatch centers and other places where a human voice and expertise is needed to route calls quickly and efficiently to the right place.
Original owners, Donald and Sharon Cortez (along with Gayle Roberts, not pictured) started their first answering service on August 27, 1985 and are now part of the parent company Tel-Com (which they acquired on May, 17, 2000).
Don Cortez is from the Oakland Bay Area. He earned his master’s degree from San Francisco State University in 1973 and went on to coach college football. Don brought his family back to the Bay Area in 1985, became a licensed real estate agent and founded AA Professional Communications in Hayward California. After growing the business with his partner from 4 clients to hundreds, Don began acquire answering services from the Bay Area to Reno, NV.
Don and Sharon continue to find new and innovative ways to serve business owners.
Waking Girl Web Design, a Reno company, came to us twice. The first time, this one-woman show turned us down, wanting a service that would dive a little deeper into the every day operations of her business. She hired an assistant at $2000 a month, and handed off the business phone and some of the responsibilities of the business. The new found freedom from the phone felt great, but after a few months, was not a justified expense. The phone was not answered reliably, as the assistant was just one human--who got sick, had family issues, and couldn't possibly answer 3 clients all calling at the same time. The business owner took the phone back and reviewed Answering Service options again. The low rates of Tel-Com made for an easy decision, especially after footing the bill for 20 times more than her qualified package.
Waking Girl Web Design experienced an immediate and dramatic boost in sales and uninterrupted work time. Don't believe us? Take a look at our client's review:
Thank you, Tel-Com for faithfully answering my business phone for the last 3 months. With 200 incoming calls we gained 20 new clients, 17 new websites, handled more than 120 projects and gained over 2100 hours of uninterrupted design, sleep and family time. If it's possible to love an Answering Service, then... I do. --Waking Girl Web Design
We asked Waking Girl Web Design to tell us a little bit more about how our Answering Service has helped her.
Q. What has surprised you the most about using an Answering Service?
A. I knew that phone calls made me anxious, but I didn't realize why. I don't like being caught off guard. I'm a people-pleaser and I like to have answers and information for people on-demand. Now that I can call people on my terms and my time, I'm able to call back with confidence. Usually there's enough information left in the message for me to find the answer or just solve the problem before returning the message. I'm also able to respond to people by email, which saves me a lot of time.
Q. How has it affected your personal life?
A. I didn't realize how often my family and friends were calling during the work day. Since I work from home, it's easy to blur the lines of business/pleasure time. Now I get really polite text messages from my family asking if I'm available to chat. And the super cool thing about taking a break and chatting with my mom mid-day--our conversation is never interrupted by the beep beep beep of an incoming call! That's a relief! I can truly take breaks now and focus on the person I'm talking to.
Q. How have your clients responded to the change?
A. I'll admit, a few VIP clients were confused and offended at first. They really wanted to feel like they could get a hold of me whenever they wanted. I showed them the benefits--by fixing the problem within minutes of their phone call, and then calling them back and directing them to their website to see the changes. That resolved their view on the Answering Service real fast! New clients absolutely love it, and know from the get-go that my time is valuable and that most of our work will be completed through email.
Waking Girl also commented on her move to a new timezone. Because we are a 24/7 answering service, our clients are free to switch timezones without end-users even noticing!
All Tel-Com clients are invited to share their success stories.
24 Hour Answering Service How would you like to boost your profits and get a little free time starting this week? Tel-Com has been answering phones since 1985. We have the knowledge and experience to be the voice of your company! We take great pride in representing your company over the phone, assisting your customers and helping your business grow.
So how does that boost my profits? 85% of new callers will hang up and move on to your competition if the phone is still ringing after 5 tones or worse, if it goes to voicemail. Caller confidence and trust begins the moment they hear a real person and that translates into doing business with you. Just the crucial business step of having a person answer your callers live, even if only to take a message and reach the intended person with a text message or email, will guarantee you the opportunity to gain a new customer.
I've got doubts. An answering service is not for everyone, and we will be the first to tell you that Tel-Com may not be the right fit for you. Our retention rate is 99% because we hand-pick businesses that we know will succeed in our program. Your success is our success. Neither of us benefit if we are a mismatch and we’ll be the first to help find what does work for your business. We support each client’s business success through our 30 years of experience in Best Practices and superior customer service.
Imagine running a business that takes you around the globe. Sounds fun, right? Now imagine needing to take and make phone calls with spotty cell service, international roaming charges, and differing timezones from your customers.
Kind of takes the fun out of enjoying the beach, doesn't it?
That was the experience that Patty and Kathy from Patty's Tours of Reno, Nevada were facing as they traveled with large group tours to places like the Bahamas, Ireland and Africa. In the middle of the night or the middle of a congratulatory toast, they would receive a phone call from a customer wanting to book their next tour. Torn between providing an amazing experience for their customers on tour with them, and giving excellent service to customers from their next upcoming tour--something had to change.
Patty's Tours had heard about Tel-Com Answering Service from another growing business trying to juggle working for clients with answering the phone.
Patty laughs, "I have such a control issue that I have a really hard time not answering the phone."
Kathy chimes in, "She's nosy! She likes to hear from our guests and know exactly how their experience was!"
Many business owners can relate to this fear of handing over the voice of the business. Business owners want consistency and control in the connection between sales and customers.
Giving up this control has been one of the best business decisions for Patty's Tours. Now, calls don't get missed when they're out on the road.
How do you have your Answering Service set up?
Patty's Tours sets the phone to forward when they're on the road, or if they need some R & R for the evening.
The answering service sends a text message to both Patty and Kathy, which allows both business partners to stay up to date on any emergencies. This is helpful when a customer is running late to meet them at the bus! They can each assist in passing on messages to the driver and the rest of the group.
At the end of the day, Patty and Kathy sit down and review the calls that came in during the day, and divvy up return calls.
All messages also come through to their email, which is extremely helpful when traveling out of town with inconsistent cell service. Email acts as a back-up and a place to retrieve customer information.
What do you love most about using an Answering Service?
"The bill is so cheap! This is such an affordable way to expand a business' presence and ability to serve more customers," Patty comments.
Kathy adds, "I have worked for answering services before, and what I love about Tel-Com, specifically, is that I can talk to an operator and give them changes to the script. So--if we're going to be out of town for a long cruise, I can ask the operator to pass that information onto our customers. This helps with our customers' expectations."
Patty, with that wise glow in her eyes, offers in thanks, "There's a beautiful piece to making a business virtual. We're on a beach in beautiful 90 degree weather and have the ability to jump on the phone for an hour. Tel-Com helps make this lifestyle a reality."
Interested in testing out an Answering Service? Give us a call and mention our Featured Client: Patty's Tours!
Using an answering service can give unexpected perks to a business owner. When Greg of Whole House Fan Company realized he just couldn't handle the calls anymore, and it wasn't in the budget to hire a full-time receptionist, he handed the phones over to Tel-Com. He was in for a surprise.
Greg is a family man, and he was constantly put in the position of choosing to talk to a client or to his wife. And at home, he had to make the choice between talking to customers or spending time with his 3 children. The phone rings, the children give you that pleading look. As a business grows, being pulled in multiple directions takes a toll.
Whole House Fan Company has all of its calls forwarded to Tel-Com, and Greg is breathing easier and enjoying being the family man.
"I have those little moments of the day to breathe and be with my family. Knowing my phone is being answered at 6 or 7 when I'm having dinner or tucking my kids in, it's invaluable."
Whole House Fan Company offers a unique product that draws phone calls in the evenings and weekends. It's a product driven by direct word-of-mouth referrals. Friends at a dinner party will be impressed with the cool temperature of a sunny, California home, and exclaim, "I gotta have one of these fans!" People want to do business when they're excited about it. Greg has observed that potential clients are turned off by the unprofessionalism of voicemail, but "if they reach a live person, it's huge--it shows them that we're working hard to take care of our customers."
What are some other surprising perks about using an Answering Service?
I can focus on driving!
Business owners nationwide can relate to the stress of trying to juggle a Bluetooth device, clipboard, and a steering wheel. Dedicated to customer service, it is hard to ignore an incoming call, or to pull to the side of the road and risk missing the destination appointment!
Batching tasks boosts sales!
Greg has mastered the art of batching his sales calls. Instead of randomly calling people back and struggling to keep track of his notes, he can sit down in an uninterrupted area and time frame, with a pen and notepad and give potential customers his undivided attention.
Any other tips for Tel-Com users?
Tel-Com appreciates the opportunity to work with customer service-oriented business owners like Greg of Whole House Fan Company. We are excited to be your support team! Please contact us for more information about taking advantage of Tel-Com's services!
As a business, Corazon Real Estate is always looking for the most cost-effective way to solve a business problem; for example, how to be ready and available, and sound good, no matter when a phone call is made. "We can’t always be open and still expect to earn a profit (yes, it’s a dirty word, but personal fulfillment doesn’t put the kids through college). As a property management company, we have to be ready to take care of people 24/7/365, because emergencies don’t care what time it is or what I’m doing when you call," remarks Tony Chinnici, Broker/President of Corazon Real Estate.
Most after-hours calls to a property management company have to do with a problem:
Having a professional, consistent answer for that phone call is imperative, helping to set the tone for the conversation with the caller, and it is HARD to find this in the answering service market today.
Tel-Com: What was the breaking point that made you choose Tel-Com?
Chinnici: We worked with another company for years before we worked with Tel-Com. Working with that company began as a good experience, but then over time we started to get more and more negative feedback – like not actually answering the phone! They were less expensive at first, but then their rates jumped and the quality of their work actually diminished. Shopping for a new service began, and I found in my search that Tel-Com has considerable experience, and systems in place, for working with property management companies with a per-company, customized format. The price may not be bargain-basement, but I don’t want bargain-basement service for our tenants and clients. I want a professional presence, and that’s what I have with Tel-Com.
How is your answering service set up?
Corazon Real Estate manually forwards their phones to Tel-Com at 5pm each day, and then manually unforwards their phones at 9:30am each day. Tel-Com operators aim to answer calls by the third ring. As successful real estate agents and property managers Corazon has a high call volume, and the phones really do ring 24/7/365!
"I have never had a complaint about the answering service we use, and in our business, sometimes it almost seems as though people are searching for things to complain about. I appreciate that I can focus on solving problems in our business without having to worry about how our calls are handled while the office is closed." Tony, Corazon Real Estate
It was 9 AM on the first Tuesday of the month. The salon was closed for the monthly team meeting, but that didn't stop the phone from ringing. Every few minutes the phone would sound, insistent on being answered. The hair stylists were brainstorming ways to improve the customer experience, and ways to give customers the feeling that they were VIPs. The phone rang again as if to say, "The answer is here!"
Tres Benzley, owner of Caliber Salon, recognized that while the monthly meeting was integral to improving standards, answering the phone every time it rang was a key part of making customers feel respected and valued. The receptionists could not be tasked with answering the phone, as their input was crucial to the team meeting.
Tel-Com was contacted and less than a week later, a script and system was in place.
Caliber Salon, being service-oriented, wanted the opportunity to answer incoming calls. They set up the system to go to the answering service on the third ring, allowing plenty of time for the in-house receptionists to get the call if possible. Being a busy salon, many times it is just not possible for the stylists and receptionists to handle incoming and outgoing phone calls, plus clients in-person. When a call is missed, messages are sent to the salon email account and to the individual stylists' phones as a text message. This allows for scheduling emergencies to be addressed by the appropriate parties, and for the salon to work together to give optimal service.
"We enjoy having an answering service that takes our calls when we are not available to take them on our off days, on weekends, late hours, holidays, and other times when we just cannot reach the phone. This service allows for us to reach those clients immediately if needed with the use of text and email. It also allows for us to be of better service following up with messages, scheduling and rescheduling, which allows for better client retention and better over all customer service." Tres Benzley
A selling point for Caliber Salon is their 24/7 reception. Clients are reminded that they are truly important when a business answers their calls.
Stylists and staff at Caliber Salon no longer have to make a choice between taking care of the client in front of them, or the client calling in, making for a low-stress work environment and a more fulfilling work day.
Tel-Com appreciates the opportunity to work with customer service-oriented business owners like Tres Benzley. We are excited to be your support team! Please contact us for more information about taking advantage of Tel-Com's services!
“I don’t know what I ever did without Tel-Com,” says Lori Ann Stone, sales manager at A1 RV Sales and Body Shop. A1 provides sales, service, and parts for recreational vehicles.
With a very busy staff, there was no way to meet the demands of answering every phone call or even listening to the answering machine. “Many walk-in clients require our complete attention,” Stone says. “We did not want to ever miss a call.”
Like being open 24/7.
When people take their RVs out on the weekends, A1 needs to be available in case there is an accident. With Tel-Com, the body shop was not only open during business hours but available 24/7. “With Tel-Com answering our phones, we are now able to get with anyone who is in need when they are in need,” says Stone.
How the answering service works.
When a customer calls, and A1 staff are unable to pick up by the fifth ring ( with clients, after hours or holidays) the call is automatically forwarded to the answering service. Tel-Com picks up, takes the message and immediately sends it to the designated A1 team member. “Whether we are meeting with customers, it’s after hours, or on weekends, Tel-Com captures all the business that we might otherwise have missed out on.”
· phones are forwarded 24/7
· Rings 1 – 5 to A1 shop
· 6th ring forwards to Tel-Com
· message taken and immediate dispatch
An answering service you can count on.
Stone says she would not do anything different in regard to using Tel-Com answering services. Not only does she appreciate what Tel-Com does for A1 business, she has a great relationship with their staff. “They are really terrific!”
Tel-Com appreciates the opportunity to work with time-critical businesses like A1 RV Sales and Body Shop. We are honored to be your support team! Please contact us for more information about taking advantage of Tel-Com's services.
Three years ago Mark, owner of Carpet Cops, returned a customer's call only to find that in just ten minutes the competition had already been contracted to handle the $20,000 water damage restoration project. Mark knew it was time for a change. The profit incentive of using an answering service was now painfully obvious.
In the carpet cleaning business it is important to answer the phone right away, but in the water damage business it is mandatory! Carpet Cops handles water damage restoration claims; when these customers call they're in the middle of an emergency and need an immediate solution.
"Using an answering service has added significant sales to my business. In this industry people go through the phone book and just keep calling until they reach someone," comments Mark who was once confident in his ability to return calls right away.
Every business is slightly unique in their reasons for using an answering service. Because carpet cleaning takes Mark and his staff on the road and to residential areas with poor reception, they don't always hear the phone ring or can't have a proper conversation with the customer over the static.
How is your Answering Service set up?
Carpet Cops uses multiple phone numbers to advertise to all the different regions they service; all of these calls are directed to one line. The phone rings four times before the line is directed to Tel-Com, giving Mark the chance to field customer calls personally.
The phone rings four times before the line is directed to Tel-Com, giving Mark the chance to personally field calls from known customers and area codes he recognizes.
If a caller sounds distressed or mentions water damage Tel-Com immediately puts out an APB for Mark: they text him and call his home number until he is reached. This allows the Carpet Cops staff to connect and schedule with customers in crisis.
The addition of Tel-Com has helped Mark manage his time more efficiently. He can easily sort through non-critical messages (sales calls and blind phone solicitations) and return those calls as his schedule allows, while giving him more time to call his actual VIP customers (and his family!) who are calling for service. The other benefit Mark has realized is that most "robo-dial sales calls" never leave a message with Tel-Com!
"I want to thank Tel-Com for helping me grow my business. I receive the critical calls that are so necessary to be responsive to my clients. I want to thank Corrie and the whole group for answering the phone and relaying an exact message which is so important for making my business grow." Mark, Carpet Cops
Tel-Com appreciates the opportunity to work with time-critical businesses like Carpet Cops. We are honored to be your support team! Please contact us for more information about taking advantage of Tel-Com's services.
When a customer calls Barnett Medical Services the matter is urgent. The medical waste disposal industry is highly regulated; waste from medical facilities needs to be disposed of and treated in a limited number of days. Waste removal companies like Barnett Medical Services must answer every phone call and schedule the waste pick-up immediately. Smaller medical facilities are usually up against a deadline by the time they call for waste removal. These clients will face fines if the phone goes unanswered!
Barnett Medical Services met AA Professional Communications (a subsidiary of Tel-Com) over 15 years ago when they were located in the same building. The office staff at Barnett was feeling the stress of customer deadlines as the company grew. Receptionists were tripping over each other answering the phones, and then losing time for the more important tasks of completing the waste disposal job. It was time to try an answering service!
Rich, owner of Barnett Medical Services, noticed the immediate stress reduction in the office. As the phones quieted down the office staff was able to concentrate and complete tasks efficiently. "It would not be cost-effective for me to have someone in-house doing what they do," Rich notes, "Now we use our resources in a more productive manner; they've saved me a lot of money!"
"The answering service is excellent at triaging urgent calls and getting them to me immediately. They keep our communication line accurate, detailed and timely! We are growing at a rate of 30% a year because we communicate with our customers!"
Tel-Com and AA Professional Communications appreciate the opportunity to work with time-critical businesses like Barnett Medical Services. We are honored to be your support team! Please contact us for more information about taking advantage of Tel-Com's services.
Dr. Sasse is a nationally recognized expert in Bariatric surgery, colorectal surgery, minimally invasive hernia and gallbladder surgery, and regenerative wound healing. Dr. Sasse performed the first laparoscopic colon resection procedure and the first laparoscopic gastric bypass procedure in northern Nevada more than 14 years ago. More recently, Dr. Sasse is credited with performing the first daVinci Single Site gallbladder procedure in late 2013.
Anyone spending on advertising is continually wondering if what they are spending is truly driving business. Without some analytics, it’s a perpetual crap-shoot. When Sasse Surgical came to us they were looking for a way to confirm that their advertising dollars were being well spent. We set Sasse Surgical up on our Ad Response Intel System. This program gives a business a variety of local and toll free tracking numbers to put on billboards, digital marketing and print marketing.
Mark Conte, CEO of Sasse Surgical shares his inside tips on how to use the Ad Response Intel System for advertising negotiations and benefiting the bottom line. "We'll give a tracking number to the radio station or advertising company. This way we know exactly where new business is coming from. We can then come back to the advertising agency to lower the cost on the next round of ads, or as justification for not renewing a contract. The other hidden benefit is that the analytics provided give us a monthly report of who called and more importantly what their phone number is and we use this to call every single person back to insure that they’ve received everything from us. It allows us to ensure that we are closing the loop and taking care of commitments.”
The Intel Reports offered by Tel-Com's ARI can shave hundreds or even thousands off a company's advertising costs.
Sasse Surgical has been using ARI for three years. They utilize two to four different phone numbers at any given time. The numbers are easy to reassign for new marketing mediums. Most important, ARI helps Sasse Surgical identify the optimal path for finding the patients who need them most!
Tel Com is a national answering service, offering high-touch customer service to both its users and end-users (your clients!).
Tel Com's client list includes sole proprietors and small to medium businesses in the following cities: