Messaging Systems

By Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of Connections MagazineIt may not be exciting, glamorous, or invigorating, yet for the vast majority of companies in the teleservices industry, messaging services constitute the bulk of the work they perform and are the cornerstone of their business. Messaging — answering calls, providing or obtaining information from the caller, and reporting it to the client – is the consistent revenue stream teleservices companies need to remain viable. New service options may beckon and sophisticated decision-making and order-taking software may open the door to new markets and potentially profitable new accounts. But for most teleservice companies, the consistent presence of messaging clients pays the bills and offers consistent opportunities for profit.

In the early days of the telephone answering service industry, messaging was a manual process. Phone answering was accomplished by various implementations of electro-mechanical devises, message taking was done by hand, and storage and retrieval systems were comprised of message slots and file cabinets. In the 1970s, fueled by the Carterfone decision allowing devices to be connected to the telephone network, equipment emerged that facilitated a more effective system for answering calls. In the early 1980s, the idea of storing client instructions in a computer system, as opposed to on index cards, began to surface. This was followed by the innovation of entering messages into a computer for storage, processing, retrieval, and record keeping. Hence, the age of computerized messaging. Today, second generation platforms dominate the market, offering labor saving automation options, client convenience features, and agent-assisting software to provide leading edge messaging systems.

Allan Fromm, owner of AnSer Services in Green Bay, Wis., operates an Amtelco Infinity system. He is able to confirm the importance of these developments. “Our Infinity platform is the foundation of our business,” Fromm said. “We have a huge array of services that enable us to compete with practically any blended call center in the world.”

Dick Huffer, owner of ADS Communications, likes to focus on the cost savings provided by his Startel system. “We’re doing three times the business with one-third of the phone charges,” Huffer said. “We’re able to use those savings for business expansion and help with our bottom line, which ultimately results in more profits.” Huffer has followed through on his plans for expansion. “We do business nationwide and [in] Canada,” he added. “With T1s taking the calls [on] a single 800 number, we have eliminated the phone company charges, taxes, access fees, and everything else they hang on the bill!”

The enthusiasm that Fromm and Huffer have for their respective messaging platforms is not exclusive to owners of Amtelco and Startel systems, but is also shared by users of products from other industry vendors. These include Alston Tascom, Americom, Axon, CadCom, Morgan Comtec, Szeto, Telescan, and Taseco. Although there are scores of other messaging system manufacturers, the deciding factor separating the preceding list from other aspirants is their ability to excel in a multi-client environment, offer comprehensive feature customization for each implementation, and provide an array of information dissemination methods, all with a steadfast focus on agent efficiency and effectiveness. This article will briefly address the main messaging systems offered by these companies.

See our current listing of vendors that provide Message Taking Systems and Software.

Peter DeHaan PhD is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine and a passionate wordsmith. Connect with him on his personal blogs, social media sites, and newsletter, all accessible from peterdehaan.com.

[From Connection MagazineDecember 2002]