Hurricane Irma

We were tracking Hurricane Irma for the week leading up to its landfall.  As weather models narrowed down her path, it became apparent our Tampa office was in for a big hit.  An answering service has to be there for its clients regardless of what’s happening outside and that includes category 5 hurricanes.  So here’s what we did:

(1) Safety was priority #1 and our Company President reinforced family first with the Tampa team.  It was their “call” when to wrap it up and get to safety.

(2) Our Tampa office reviewed account details with our Watertown team so we’d be prepared to handle questions and account changes while the office was down.

(3) Answer Watertown lined up to cover extra shifts, including overnights as mandatory evacuation orders required some Tampa staff to leave early.

(4)  Our landlord notified us that the building would beevacuated, Friday at 5:00PM.  We were able to get an extension to Saturday evening so we could remain available to accept calls for as long as conditions would allow.

(5) We kept in contact with the Tampa team over the weekend with phone reception being sketchy at times.  We were grateful to know people were staying safe!

(6) We reopened the Tampa office after a 48 hour closure and were up and running without any technical difficulties.

Our Florida clients kept us busy as Irma approached with updates about closures and revised schedules.  No one in the company complained, but rather handled each request as they came in.  Our managers and supervisors in each office shared responsibilities so our Tampa team could prepare themselves for what would be a long weekend.

Our Managers, Supervisors and Customer Service Representatives are remarkable professionals.  Our Tampa team has stepped upmany times when the Watertown team has been facing record breaking snow storms.  It’s what we do.  Our customers are important but taking time to help each other within the company is just as important.  A big THANKS to all who contributed to making Irma a little more bearable.

2017 ATSI Award of Excellence

Answer Watertown has been honored with the exclusive ATSI 2017 Award of Excellence for the 2nd consecutive year. This achievement is also marked with a significant TOP TEN finish, after only 2 years of competing.  This award is presented annually by the Association of TeleServices International (ATSI), the industry’s Trade Association for providers of telecommunications and call center services including telephone answering and message delivery across North America and the UK.  Answer Watertown was presented with the award at ATSI’s 2017 Annual Convention held at Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, IL.

Answer Watertown President, Gard McLean (right) receiving the 2017 TOP TEN Award from ATSI President Doug Robbins

“Our Watertown team works as a team and it’s why they’ve moved up in the rankings so quickly.  This year’s Top Ten finish is the result of great training, commitment to the company and a willingness to encourage each other to be the best.  They’re a group of people that truly enjoy working together.  I’m very proud of the example they set in our company.”, says Gardner McLean, President of Answer Watertown.

Independent judges are contracted by ATSI to evaluate message services over a six month period.  The scoring criteria include Response Time, Courteousness of Representative, Accuracy of Call, Knowledge of Account, and Overall Impression of Call.

“The ATSI Award of Excellence Program recognizes that excellence requires a level of service that considers the caller first in every aspect of the call.”  Says ATSI President Doug Robbins,  “Companies that earn this award are continuously focusing on delivering excellence in customer call handling.  It is truly an honor!”

The award started 21 years ago as a means to improve the overall quality of the call centre industry by setting expectations and measurements to ensure a successful call handling experience.

Now a two-time winner Answer Watertown earned the Bronze Award for two consecutive years. 

2016 ATSI Award of Excellence

Our Outstanding Service Earns Award of Excellence

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Answer Watertown President, Gardner McLean receiving the 2016 ATSI Award of Excellence from Jeffrey Zindel, ATSI President

Answer Watertown, of Watertown, NY has been honored with the exclusive ATSI  2016 Award of Excellence. This award is presented annually by the Association of TeleServices International (ATSI), the industry’s Trade Association for providers of telecommunications and call center services including telephone answering and message delivery across North America and the UK.  Answer Watertown  was presented with the award at ATSI’s 2016 Annual Convention held at Hilton Downtown, Tampa, FL.

“This was the first year our Watertown office participated in the ATSI competition and to have achieved a score that broke the Top 20 is outstanding.”, said Gardner McLean, President of Answer Watertown.  “It’s one of the best performances we’ve ever had from a new office and I couldn’t be more proud.  The team lead by Emily Poste, worked hard to ensure they delivered on their goal to achieve the award and they didn’t disappoint.”

 Independent judges are contracted by ATSI to evaluate message services over a six month period.  The scoring criteria includes:

–  Response Time

–  Courteousness of Rep

–  Accuracy of Call

–  Knowledge of Account

–  Overall Impression of Call

“The ATSI Award of Excellence Program recognizes that excellence requires a level of service that considers the caller first in every aspect of the call.  The award is earned by a company by judging the handling of calls placed by mystery callers against specific, member-driven criteria.”  Says ATSI President Jeffrey W. Zindel,  “Companies that earn this award are continuously focusing on delivering first class service to their customers.  It is truly an honor!”

The award started 20 years ago as a means to improve the overall quality of the call centre industry by setting expectations and measurements to ensure a successful call handling experience.

“Our Watertown team didn’t hesitate to join the ATSI Award of Excellence program this year.  It was the first time they were eligible to compete and they did so with great enthusiasm.”, shared Ray Schremp, VP of Operations.  “Each incoming call is an opportunity to achieve excellence.  Our participation also encourages all of our employees to work toward a common goal – outstanding customer service. The employees buy into the program as illustrated with the outstanding results they produce.”

ATSI extends its congratulations to the staff of Answer Watertown on their proven quality service to their customers.

Answer Watertown Has Moved To a New Location (February 2016)

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Answer Watertown staff in their new office.

Answer Watertown Has Moved To a New Location (February 2016)

Answer Watertown is pleased to announce that it has relocated its answer service offices to 522-A Bradley Street, Watertown, NY.  The move was necessary to provide additional office space to support an increased number of staff and conference areas.  The space went through a renovation to accommodate the needs of an answering service, including mandatory separation of the Operators’ room from other areas.  The process of moving involved company-wide preparation since the goal was to guarantee continuity of service for all clients.  All the hard work paid off and the team is settling into the new location.

2015 Service Award

We would like to recognize and congratulate Roy, a member of our Watertown team, who received our 2015 Service Anniversary Award for 10 years of service.  He is part of an exceptional group of professionals and his dedication to his career allows our company to provide outstanding customer service.Screenshot952015-12-17-14-58-20-1

We applaud his leadership and mentoring of new Representatives as they come aboard.  It’s his expertise in understanding the sophisticated technology we use, being knowledgeable about thousands of accounts and being able to treat each caller and client with respect and professionalism that allows us to pass on our excellence to all members of the team.

Congratulations Roy and thank you for your years of service!

Finger Lakes Business Services, Inc./AnswerUSA Welcomes Answer Watertown

Finger Lakes Business Services, Inc. (FLBS) has completed the purchase of the Telephone Answering Service operations of S.T.A.T. Communications, Inc. (STAT).  (STAT has been in business serving the Upstate New York region since the 1950’s and continues to provide all its other services.)

This former STAT operation is now part of FLBS’ AnswerUSA Group Division and is known as Answer Watertown.  Its clients are being served from an office on Public Square in downtown Watertown, along with staff in 3 other offices (Auburn, Syracuse and Tampa).  The combination of offices provides additional support to assist with call handling.

“We are pleased to add the former STAT clients to our service area”, says Gardner McLean, President of FLBS.  “Most of the clients are located in the North Country and Utica areas, which fits nicely into our network.  We have gained a nice team of experienced staff to make the transition smooth.  We look forward to serving this new client base.”

Clients have been transitioned to the AnswerUSA system without interruption in service and are now benefiting from the continued investment in new technology and customer focus. The process of transitioning is extensive because of the unique scripting that the AnswerUSA system provides.  This includes a thorough analysis of each account and individualized programming for each client.  In addition to the STAT staff, the division has  hired several new employees  to compliment the new site.

This is the 11th answering service acquired by FLBS.  The company previously purchased operations in Auburn (NY), Ithaca (NY), Syracuse (NY), Oswego (NY), Rome (NY), Tampa (FL), Brandon (FL), Steamboat Springs (CO), Greeley (CO), Hotchkiss (CO), and now Watertown.

Answer Watertown is a full-service call center.   In 2015, the Auburn, Syracuse and Tampa offices were each honored with the exclusive 2015  ATSI Award of Excellence.  The Award of Excellence is a program that provides independent testing of quality in customer service levels.

According to industry sources, AnswerUSA ranks in the top 5% of all 3,000 answering services in the country in terms of size, with over 1,300 clients and 70 employees.  Answer Watertown joins existing call centers: Answer Finger Lakes, Answer Syracuse, Answer Bay Area, under the Answer USA Group umbrella.

How to Make the Most Out of Call Forwarding (Part I)

Most of our customers use Call Forwarding to connect with the answering service.  This feature is available through the local phone carriers and is controlled by you and them.

There are several types of Call Forwarding available through the phone carriers. Here are the most commonly used types of call forwarding and when they may be beneficial:

Call Forwarding Variable This is the basic plan.  This Call Forwarding option allows you to call forward your telephone number manually to any telephone number that you select.

Typical procedure:

  • Activated by dialing *72 and the telephone number that you want to forward your calls to.  You must be dialing from the phone number that you want to have forwarded for this to work.
  • Once you have received confirmation that you have reached the correct number (either a live operator’s greeting or a recorded message) you can hang up.  The call forwarding has been activated.  It is not necessary to actually speak with an operator to tell them that you are forwarding your phones.  In fact, most calls are forwarded at our peak call volume times so you may experience longer than usual wait times if you stay on the line to speak with an operator.

or

  • Dial *72 and the telephone number that you want to forward your calls to, hang up after the first ring and repeat the process until you hear a confirmation tone – this indicates that you have successfully forwarded the line.
  • The Call Forwarding feature is usually cancelled or deactivated by dialing *73 from the telephone line that was forwarded.   There is no need to speak with anyone to do this.

For more information on how you can best utilize Call Forwarding, please contact Chris Gordon at 315-255-9125 ext. 225.

How to Make the Most Out of Call Forwarding (Part II)

Here are some other common types of Call Forwarding:

Call Forwarding When Busy

This feature allows for your incoming calls to be automatically forwarded to another telephone number whenever your line is busy. This is great for an office where there are fewer numbers than there are simultaneous callers.

• This feature must be set up in advance through your local phone carrier.

• Once activated, this feature will forward calls to an answering service when your line is in use so that your customers never reach a busy signal and you never miss a call.

Call Forwarding if there is No Answer

Works similar to Call Forward When Busy, except this feature forwards calls whenever the call is not answered within a designated number of rings. This is great for those times when staff is away from their desk phones.

• This feature must be set up through the phone carrier. You determine how many rings you would like the caller to hear before the call is forwarded to the Call Forward telephone number

For more information on how you can best utilize Call Forwarding, please contact Chris Gordon at 315-255-9125 ext 225.


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