Answering Service Competitors Don't Do This

I used to be involved with answering-service trade groups. I’ve served as president of two national associations and was a board member for a couple of others. I became knowledgeable about the politics of my industry and enjoyed communicating with my peers.

Sixteen years ago, just after my systems mindset insight, I gave a presentation to sixty answering-service owners in Las Vegas. The topic was “Procedures and Their Importance.” At the beginning of the one-hour session, I asked the group, “How many of you have written procedures for your operation?” No one raised a hand! I’m still shocked to think of that moment, of the sudden realization that the vast majority of small businesses operate without any written guidelines.

Too many business owners are looking for answers to their chaos problems in the wrong places because they have not gone through the dissection process that thorough documentation demands. They don’t see the internal inefficiencies of their systems, so they seek spur-of-the moment global solutions: some quick fix—a magic pill—that in one fell swoop will make everything better.

Often, the magic pill they seek is a God-like new manager, a mind reader and fortune-teller; an extraordinary human being who will flawlessly oversee the business and, with little guidance, take it to its deserved success. Of course, no such people exist.

Here’s what most small business owners don’t get: terrific employees are out there, but in a non-documented business none can function anywhere near their potential because mind reading and fortune telling are not things humans can do, no matter how advanced their IQ or educational pedigree. (See Appendix G for a trade publication essay I wrote about leadership and employees.)

At the risk of impudence, I ask, is it any wonder that Centratel can advertise itself as the highest-quality telephone answering service in the United States? Our people know exactly what to do and exactly how to do it. Errors seldom occur because we relentlessly tweak internal mechanisms to perfection. And when there is an error, that error spurs us to devise an even better mechanical process for the future.

Again: We don’t spend our time coping with random bad results that are the products of neglected systems. We’re down in the basement, working our systems so random bad results won’t happen upstairs! It’s elementary: if each component of an organization is nearly flawless, the organization as a whole will be nearly flawless, as evidenced by profitability, net worth, customer satisfaction, client longevity, staff longevity, reputation, etc.

Centratel’s nine managers are tenacious in applying the work the system strategy. They assertively search for inefficiencies, revel in devising enhancements, and enthusiastically create or adjust Working Procedures to make those more efficient systems permanently efficient. Their individual rewards include reasonable-length workweeks, personal freedom with lots of room for creativity, and intense pride in what they do and where they work. Also, they are highly paid.

Systems, systems, systems!

Note: Centratel CEO and international business consultant Sam Carpenter has written extensively on the concepts of system improvement and the systems mindset. 24/7,  Centratel assists more than a thousand small to medium sized businesses in the U.S. and Canada such as medical clinics, veterinary clinics, HVAC operations, property management companies, cable companies, home health and hospice services, funeral homes, high tech firms, etc. throughout the United States and is, by a variety of statistics, the highest quality answering service available among the approximately 1,500 services nationwide.

Image credit: Ashleigh Brilliant

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