AnswerPlus - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
"They say if you love your job you will never work a day in your life. That is the feeling I have while working here at the Hamilton Call Center."
It all started 5 months ago when I walked in on a chilly Tuesday morning in February. I was starting my final semester of grade 12 and opted to have a co-op placement. My mother Diana is an account manager for the Hamilton Call Center and asked the Director of Operations if I could do my placement here. That Tuesday morning was a little nerve racking because I had no clue what to expect coming in for my first day. I walked in and was greeted with a smile from the receptionist and continued into Jen's office. I was given a headset and went to sit with a virtual receptionist in the call center.
The atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever felt before. Most of the cubicles were filled and people were on the phone all around me. I sat down and plugged in my headset allowing me to listen to the calls the remote receptionist I was sitting with took. It was amazing how fast she typed everything the caller was saying, remembering to repeat back everything ensuring it was correct. As a child I had come into the Hamilton office many times, but had never gone into the Inbound Call Center. I was in awe of all the people around me working on the same system and helping the clients with a variety of different services.
As my time continued, I learned about the specific accounts and after being trained, I had the opportunity to sit at my own station and work. It was big day for me as I had only been observing other Virtual Receptionists working and now I got to be one for a few hours.
After about a month of working on the accounts I started to learn some of the different reports that needed to be completed daily and my time in the call center became less. I learned how to work on the call stats report and the call traffic minutes. These reports gave me a different perspective of the company, being able to see the call volume and how many calls were answered each day.
I had the opportunity to see things from almost every department during my placement and it was an amazing thing, because each department focused on different aspects of the company. Running around and working with the different people in different areas made each day like an exciting adventure. I never knew what exactly I would be doing that day and that made it fun. Each day was different, one day I worked in operations, and helped the account managers and the next I was working with the director of operations and completing a report for the Toronto call center.
They say if you love your job you will never work a day in your life. That is the feeling I have while working here at AnswerPlus. I have been having such a good time here, I will be continuing my internship into the summer months, as my second semester placement has come to a quick close after 5 months. AnswerPlus has been a great placement and I could not have asked for a better place to spend my mornings.
All I can say is that this is just the tip of the iceberg for me, because I'm here to stay (for the summer at least)!
Publish Date: June 23, 2016 5:00 AM
Finding a Reliable Holiday Answering Service Can Be Simple!
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking of the cottage, the Putting Green and/or time with family and friends. What you're probably not thinking about is which Answering Service you should use while you're on your well deserved holiday. Luckily, if you follow these simple steps, finding the Answering Service for you should be quick and painless.
1. Don't wait to begin your search.
Most inbound call centers can get new accounts up and going pretty quickly. But you really don't want to push your luck. Waiting until the last moment can be the difference between going with the service you really want, and the service you don't really trust.
Rule of Thumb: Call around at two weeks before you're supposed to leave.
2. What are their service levels?
One of the best questions you can ask an Answering Service is what their service levels are. Most services will give you a percentage of calls answered on the first ring, or in a specific time. If for some reason a company is unwilling or unable to give you this number, that is a red flag and I would recommend you move on. Any reputable answering service should know their numbers and be more than happy to brag discuss their service levels.
3. Do they have experience in your industry?
A lot of Canadian call centers have been around for many, many years. For example, AnswerPlus has been in business since 1961. So chances are pretty good that whoever you call will have experience in your industry. It's always good to ask. In some cases, you may discover that they specialize in exactly what you do, which is always a benefit.
At the end of the day, choosing an Answering Service is all about your own comfort levels. If you're having trouble deciding which service to go with, go with your gut. The last thing you need is to be worrying about your business while you're supposed to be enjoying yourself.
Publish Date: May 26, 2016 5:00 AM
For 14 years our Toronto Call Centerhas been celebrating the people who make AnswerPlus the award-winning Answering Service that we are today.
Named after Dolly Lloyd, the woman who founded AnswerPlus back in 1961, the Dolly's are when we present AnswerPlus employees with their years of service awards. In addition we also celebrate the team members who most embody the core values of AnswerPlus, Think Like the Caller, Kaizen (Continuous and Never Ending Improvement), Respect and Admire the People We Work With, Set the Bar High, and Always Go Above and Beyond.
This is also the time when we present one employee with the Dolly Award. The Dolly award is given to the employee who scores the most perfect evaluations in a year. This year our Dolly Award was presented to Sallux.
Each employee gets evaluated once a month on a random call and must score at least a 90% to pass, Sallux scored 120 out of 100 on eleven of his twelve evaluations! We were so pleased to be able to present him with the Dolly award this year. Congratulations and well deserved Sallux!!
Last year AnswerPlus added a new award to our roster, the Rock Star Award. The Rock Star Award goes to the a specific team member who we feel deserves to be recognized for how hard they work and give back to their fellow team members.
This year we presented the Rock Star Award to Patty Ault. Patty has been with AnswerPlus for 24 years. She began her career as a virtual receptionist and quickly moved into programming. She is an invaluable member of our production team. It's safe to say that without her knowledge and expertise our ship wouldn't have such smooth sailing! Thank you Patty!
This year was also especially special because we were able to celebrate not only our core value award winners and tenure awards, we were also able to recognize two wonderful women who are retiring from our Toronto Office. Brenda Bowen was our Operations Manager and with our company for eighteen wonderful years and Carol Leslie was a virtual receptionist with us for sixteen years.
This year has come and gone. Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us!
Publish Date: May 19, 2016 5:00 AM
Celebrating our Montreal Virtual Receptionists with An Appreciation Day!
2008 was an important year for AnswerPlus. After years of planning, we finally opened our Bilingual Call Center in Beautiful Montreal.
As many would know, opening a new location is not an easy task. There are going to be more than a few bumps in the road, it's simply the nature of the task.
Our Montreal office embraced the challenge and now, 8 years later, they are a multi-award winning team-award winning team. So to celebrate their multiple successes, Montreal Operations Manager Nora, and Account Manager Sandra planned an Employee Appreciation Day for their team.
Multiple times I've mentioned the importance of demonstrating to your team how much you value their hard work and effort. Having an employee appreciation day not only clearly communicates that you value your employees, but it allows your staff time to relax and enjoy each other's company away from the phones. And in this case, see their managers away from their desk and either in front of a grill or manning the camera for selfie time.
These events don't take too much planning. What they require is a sincere desire to do something for your team, and taking the time to enjoy it with them. Let your staff get to know you, and in turn, learn more about your team.
When is the last time you took the time to say thank you to the wonderful men and woman who make your company a success? When was the last team get together, maybe the Easter potluck, or even Christmas? While holidays are an excellent reason to get the team together, I challenge you to randomly celebrate your employees. Have a BBQ this summer, or host your own employee appreciation day. The opportunities are endless, and I guarantee you they are always worth the effort you put into them.
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Publish Date: May 13, 2016 5:00 AM
Serving as the Answering Service of choice for the Refrigeration & Air Conditioning industry since 1961.
Beware, the Phantom of the ORAC Masquerade Ball!
It's almost time. Soon members of ORAC will take over Niagara Falls for the 49th Annual AGM. As a proud silver level sponsor of this year's AGM, Heather Hillen and Kelsey Johnson from AnswerPlus will be there, ready to answer any and all questions that you may have about the services that AnswerPlus offers the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry.
Already one of our many ORAC customers? Come on over and say hi! Now is a perfect time to ask any questions that you have been meaning to mention about your account.
You can find us at the associates table top reception on Friday at 5:45-6:45 pm, happening at Great Room B in the Sheraton Hotel.
If you are really up for a challenge you can try and find the ladies at the Phantom of the Opera masquerade ball on Friday night. Hint - Kelsey is 5"3 with dark brown hair and will be wearing a blue, knee length victorian style gown.
We aren't going to give you any hints on what Heather Hillen is going to be wearing. It seems that everyone already knows her very well. So we expect that you will find her easily, even with her mask on. ( Hint - Kelsey and Heather will be together all weekend, so if you find one chances are pretty good that the other isn't too far away.)
Think you've spotted either Heather or Kelsey wandering around the AGM but you're not one hundred percent sure? Simply look for the signature AnswerPlus red business shirt that they sport at every trade show. They will have them on all weekend! (Except at the masquerade ball, of course)
See you all soon!
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Publish Date: May 3, 2016 5:00 AM
Sometimes it isn't how you say it, it's what you say.
We've all been there. We've said something the wrong way and now we sound condescending, impatient and in some cases, downright rude.
With 55 plus years in the Answering Service industry, our Virtual Receptionists have heard it all.
Our Virtual Receptionsts know what you are trying to say and they don't take offence. (No judgement, promise.)
Unfortunately, your customers may not be as understanding.
If you're struggling with your customer service skills, don't worry about it. Sometimes it can be a struggle to find the correct words to say in a situation, especially when you have to say no to a customer. I mean, exactly how do you tell a customer that you don't have the answers they are looking for?
A quick tip if you find yourself in this situation. Follow the rule of thumb that we teach to all new AnswerPlus Virtual Receptionists.
You may not have all the answers right now, but that doesn't mean you won't do everything you can to help. So make sure that you convey that to your caller.
For example, if you don't have the exact pricing your customer is looking for instead of saying, "I don't know." Try saying, " I'll find that out for you, is it convenient for you if I call back in/at X time with the answer?"
In this case, you are admitting that while you don't have the answer right now, you are going to find out and intend to follow up at a time which is convenient to them.
For some more solutions to the common customer service mistakes we hear on a daily basis check out the infographic below.
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Publish Date: April 15, 2016 5:00 AM
Being Canadian isn't all apologies and maple syrup.
I love being a Canadian. I love the beauty of the first snow fall of the year, and I love how everyone takes advantage of every sunny day in during the summer. I love the changing of the leaves and when the Canadian Geese come back in the spring. Yes, I'm a proud Cannuck. And as it turns out, our Hamilton, Call Center team is too! So much in fact, that we just had to create a guide video.
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Publish Date: April 8, 2016 5:00 AM
AnswerPlus is a Canadian Answering Service built on the reputation of our employees.
It is the voice of our Virtual Receptionists that our customers' callers hear, so it is very important that our team is functioning like a well-oiled machine.
So how does this 24/7 call center create a tear oriented culture in an already negative industry?
1. We put our Virtual Receptionists First and our Customers Third.
Most call centers will focus on making sure that whatever their customers want is what they get. "You want faster? We'll speed our employees up!" etc.
Now, I'd never suggest that you ignore the requests of your customers. But I will stress the importance of considering how a customers request will impact your team before you answer.
2. Seriously, holidays don't stop just because your employees walk into the office.
It's well documented that AnswerPlus celebrates all holidays and the milestone events that happen in the lives of our team members. But I'm going to repeat myself because I can't stress enough just how important this is if you want your team to get to know each other.
Celebrating holidays and milestones will demonstrate to employees that you respect their time and the personal accomplishments in their lives.
Think of it this way. Would you be happy if your friends and family didn't to celebrate your retirement with you? At AnswerPlus we consider all of our employees family members, so we are going to put 100% into celebrating their accomplishments with them.
3. Geography is a challenge but not an excuse.
AnswerPlus has call centers in Toronto, Hamilton and a bilingual call center in Montreal. Our Toronto and Montreal call centers work very closely with each other. Our staff recognize each other by voice alone and they know each others particular habits. But that simply isn't enough because there isn't any in person connection.
To overcome this geographical barrier we decided that we would start sending employees to each others award night. (You can read more about the Dolly's here). By doing this we quickly saw barriers come down and friendships grow.
Ask yourself. Are you really putting a sincere effort into your team?
Fostering a team environment is all about what you put into it. It requires an honest effort made with the humble intent of creating something new. You don't expect a garden to grow overnight and team building is like growing a garden. It requires planning, hard work and follow through. It may not seem like much is happening at first but give it some time. Before you know it you will have a thriving culture and most importantly, a team.
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Publish Date: April 1, 2016 5:00 AM