TSR Training Manual


(The manual itself is a separate document)
Sam Carpenter
February 8, 2008


Your first big question is, of course, “What is my job and where do I fit in?” Maybe the best way to understand your position is to know who you will deal with on a day-to-day basis. There are four categories of people with whom you will communicate:

  1. “Client’s Callers.” These are the people you will be talking to most often. You will be handling calls from people who are sick and need a doctor, or their animal is injured and they need a veterinarian, or their refrigeration unit is broken and they need help to get it fixed. The call may even be from someone who has just had a loved one die. These are just a few examples of the kinds of callers who need help. Of course, there are many others with all kinds of situations – both urgent and non-urgent – who also need assistance.
  2. “Clients.” These are the people who employ Centratel to take care of the above mentioned “callers.” These are doctors, veterinarians, heating and air conditioning company owners/managers and a host of other business managers and owners.
  3. Other Answering service “TSRs” and your supervisors. It will be your job to help callers, clients and your Centratel co-workers to be well served. The Centratel TSR is the one who “makes things happen.” It is your performance that determines the success of Centratel, and ultimately, your own success as a TSR.
  4. Potential clients. Those people who call in and are interested in our services.

Frequently ask this question of yourself: “What is my job?” and “What am I trying to accomplish?” On a general level, the answers to these questions are simple. The largest part of your job is to record information accurately and then deliver it properly. Sometimes, your job will be to only give information to callers. But, most often, it will be your task to take information from the caller and deliver it to the client! It is important to remember that in most cases the callers with whom you talk are calling because they need help. It will be your task to see that they get the help they need by delivering a message to the client quickly and accurately. Do not underestimate the importance of the calls you receive. Be sure you know the situation exactly and then relay the information appropriately. To answer the questions What is my job? and, What am I trying to accomplish? as they relate to individual call transactions, note that messages fall into one of two classifications:

  1. “Urgent” or “Emergency.” These messages must be relayed to the client immediately.
  2. “Non-urgent” or “non-emergency.” For most accounts, these are messages that can wait. The client or the client’s on-call personnel will not have to be notified immediately.

So, your largest challenge is to distinguish between the above two types of messages. Failure to relay an urgent message can have grievous consequences for the caller, and the client. In addition, improper relay of an urgent message almost always results in lost business for Centratel, and may even lead to legal action against Centratel. Fortunately, for each account, distinguishing between an urgent situation and a non-urgent situation is explained very simply and carefully. If you are paying attention and being careful, you will have no problems here.

To go a bit deeper, probably the most important details about your job are contained in the article “The TSR’s Purpose.” Understanding your exact purpose will make all the details fall into place logically. So, learn the details…but don’t forget your main purpose.

One last thing to remember is that occasionally you will be talking to a Centratel client. These are the people who pay Centratel to take messages from their callers. Obviously, these conversations are important: the client wants to feel comfortable that his or her calls are being handled professionally and politely. Process these client calls carefully. Elsewhere in this training manual is information about how to communicate with our clients (see “The Personality of Your Voice: Callers and Clients”).

The Personality of Your Voice

Revised 9/18/2005

This is perhaps the most important procedure you will encounter at Centratel -sc

Incoming calls: For TSR’s, there are three classifications of callers with whom you will talk:

  • Clients’ callers
  • Clients
  • Potential clients and Centratel administrative business calls.

This discussion is about the important similarities, and differences, among the three. 99% of the time one is easily distinguished from the other. Callers come to you on regular accounts. Clients come to you on 2616 or 5555 and sometimes on their own accounts. Potential accounts, and most administrative calls, come to you on 2602, our main incoming advertised number 541-383-8383 and its toll-free equivalent, 1-800-639-1818.

The point of this procedure is to outline the subtle yet important differences between callers and clients. Although they have many commonalities, you must learn to handle each in a different way. Your personal road to becoming a senior Telephone Service Representative, with the tangible advantage of a higher income, very much depends on your ability to distinguish and then act on these differences.

First of all, the caller and the client share three not-so-surprising commonalities. They both have a desire to:

  1. communicate with friendly people
  2. to have an information transfer in which they feel confident the messages are accurate and complete
  3. to “make this quick” and get on with their day

Beyond the above commonalities, there are some important psychological differences. Here they are:

The caller, calling in on a regular account

To some degree, the caller is often disappointed at not directly reaching the person or entity they call (of course, many callers know they are going to reach the service before they call: They just realize and sublimate their disappointment in advance). The callers accepts this subtle disappointment of not reaching exactly who he or she wants and as their only alternative, they leave a message with you. As leaving a message is their only alternative, all callers have a powerful desire – and need reassurance from you –that their message will be transmitted completely, accurately and soon. Beyond that, the caller wants to get on with his or her day and the many other issues that no doubt surround them. And, all this must be couched in a comfortable and friendly interaction with you (it’s your job to set the tone of this friendly, professional dialog). When a caller leaves a message, he or she knows they are speaking with an intermediary and all they want is a pleasant, professional, fast and efficient transaction with you, the TSR. That’s really all they want, nothing more and nothing less. If you are pushy, abrupt or appear to be uncaring, the caller will notice and there is a good chance they will relay their dissatisfaction back to the client. The caller is not outright looking for this friendly, helpful and professional dialog but they absolutely will notice the lack thereof. So, if you are controlling the call without being pushy, and are being pleasant, professional and a good listener, your caller will be happy, even if it is on a subtle, subliminal level.

The CLIENT will be calling in for different reasons.

The client, calling in on 2616, 5555 or their own account

They certainly want all the above plus these subtleties:
The client wants you to treat them like the people they are, the people who pay your salary.. Each is very much your boss, paying out good money for your handling of their calls. Compared to a caller, they need a little more TLC, a little more time, a little more of everything. They want and deserve your graciousness. If they get abruptness or feel that you don’t care, they will feel insulted. If they don’t feel at least a bit special, they can feel snubbed. This idea of treating these people as if they were your direct employer is not “feel good” theory out of a book. It’s fact.

The client will assume that the way you handle them is they way you handle their callers. And, rightly so. Remember, their callers are the ones who pay them! If you are abrupt and pushy with a client, that client will of course presume you are abrupt and pushy with their callers. Clients are very sensitive about this! So, when you take a call on 2602, 2616 or 5555, be a bit more pleasant, a bit more gracious and absolutely slow down and take a little more time. Especially, if they share a pleasantry with you, reflect it back with the “Matching and Mirroring” technique…