Web Out-Dial Now Available:

You're about to start a conference call and "Forgetful Frank" still hasn't arrive. Usually you call to remind him but this time it's different.

You look at the live call screen and notice an inconspicuous box located on the left hand side. It's the web out-dial box and you intuitively know what it's for. You type in Frank's phone number and click "GO" to see what happens.

You continue talking as if nothing has happened. Seconds later, Frank's bellowing voice greets everyone on the call. Amazingly your meeting starts on time.

Allow me to explain this time-saving feature.

The AccuConference Web Out-Dial is an automated calling application that is controlled by your computer that invites participants to join a conference call.  The system can dial your entire contact list separately or all at once.

When your participants pick up their phone they receive three options:

Press 1 > to join the conference
Press 2 > to be called back in 5 minutes
Press 3 > to decline this invitation
The Web Out-Dial is like conference call cruise control… simply hit the button and then sit back to relax. No longer will your participants need to remember the exact time or codes for your call.

Bo ost your conference call attendance and save time. Visit our conference call features page to find out more about Web Out-Dial.

More ways to make (and save) money with conference calling

1. Sell your consulting services – meet with multiple people at the same time to maximize your time. Provide exclusive access by creating customized passcodes that expire after every use.

2. Host a special event – find a guest speaker that your customers would pay to hear. It could be a sales guro or motivational speaker, an author, politician, or industry spokesperson. Use online registration pages to track attendance and to distribute codes.

3. Record your calls – download your high-profile conference call recordings and make them available on CD for a price. The CD could contain sales and marketing strategies, industry-specific consulting, or be a recording of a popular guest speaker.

4. Blast-dial an important announcement –coming soon, this feature will automatically dial a list of phone numbers. This will let you pre-record important announcement and mass distribute them to current or prospective clients. This in turn will boost your inbound call volume and generate traffic to your website.

5. "Cold-Conference" prospective clients – Invite a list of prospective clients to an exclusive conference call. Provide them valuable information and then top it off with a lucrative sales pitch.

6. Reduce unnecessary business travel – Avoid paying for accommodations, transportation and eating out.

7. Use 800 forwarding – toll free forwarding ensures you never miss an important sales call.  Having a toll free number will also increase your call volume and give your company a larger geographic reach.

8. Increase sales – connect with your sales force, regardless of location. Use conference calling to follow-up on prospective leads. Record your sales pitches for training and customer quality.

Back Operations

Never underestimate the impact of back operations, especially as it pertains to your bottom-line. The decisions you make with your back operations will slim down your overhead expenses and streamline your business. Your front-line customer service is important, but they rely on your back operations to look good.

There is increased pressure for companies to go green. It can be a challenge to stream-line operations and save your company money while maintaining high environmental standards. A little does a lot, so here are a couple suggestions that we have worked for us. These are similar to the tips featured in our newsletter, but we wanted to elaborate more here:

Have your front and back operations use less paper. At our office we have a recycling container within ten paces of every desk. They are bright blue so you can’t miss them. The proximity of the cans makes it tempting to “shoot hoops” with paper-basket-balls and -airplanes. But if your employees are having fun recycling then that’s not a bad thing. In order for a system to work, everyone needs to be on board. We’ve also implemented paperless invoicing for our clients. We now send secure email attachments as PDF’s with all applicable billing information. No more stamps, envelopes, or paper. That being said, we still send the occasional letter in the mail, but we prefer to do everything online. We also send electronic emails too (because a mailing list to over 20,000 people can use a lot of paper). There is no reason why companies shouldn’t push hard to have their customers switch to online services. Not only will you save paper costs (and the environment) but your man power will significantly drop because everything will be done automatically and your back operations will feel better.

If you need a few more ideas, then here are some suggestions. First, implement a two-sided print policy for all inter-office documents. In addition, eliminate unnecessary pages such as cover sheets and tracking pages. Beside your photocopier store a box for recycling. When possible, reuse this bin of paper by cutting the sheets into smaller notepads and using them at your desk. You can also reuse this paper when you do “test prints.” Find a supplier of low-cost paper that you can integrate into other parts of your back operations… whether it is letterhead, napkins, or recycled boxes. Lastly, encourage a “sober-second-thought” rule, where you ask your employees to think twice before printing anything to make sure it’s absolutely necessary.

It won’t be long before you start seeing an ROI in your back operations. Paper costs a lot less to dispose than it does to purchase.

Office Cows

Every office has a sound. It may be the pitter patter of keyboards or the humming of a photocopier or the ringing of phones or the beeping of computers. These are rather innocuous… other sounds may include obnoxious thought-stopping laughter or distracting gossip in the cubicle next-door or incessant mooooing from cows.

What… you don't have cows mooing at your office?

At our office someone discovered an Outlook feature that lets them customize the sound their computer makes when it receives email. Popular sounds include a cow mooing and a high pitched cartoon that says "Oh, No!"

You'd think this would be problematic since we're on the phone a lot, but it's not.  Thanks to noise cancellation our customers only hear what they're supposed to hear. Since our conference call system removes distracting background noises we can continue on with our office antics.

A lesson from my 5th grade teacher

I recall my fifth grade teacher would have us journal every morning and we had to keep writing without a stopping. She told us to streamline our thoughts and that it didn’t matter if we made spelling mistakes or if our sentences didn’t make sense - so long as we kept writing.

I recently had a chance to re-read one of these journals. I wrote stuff like “My brother annoys me and cows don’t jump over the moon.” It doesn’t get more random then that. Anyway, that’s what I’m doing right now. Already I’ve hit the backspace button ten times but I keep plowing forward the best I can.

Too many times we don’t push forward on a task and we’re afraid to throw it on paper. I’m amazed at how unproductive I can be and how much time I waste staring at the wall. I think about work-related stuff but I don’t write it down.

I’ll be honest, I cheated with this blog entry. I decided in advance what I wanted to write about which makes this though-streaming-process much easier. I’ll have to try this again and truly start from scratch. I suggest you do the same. On your next big project or task, try putting your thoughts on paper, regardless of what they are. Whether it’s an email, newsletter, blog or memo – don’t go back or make any edits until you’re done.

I’m convinced that this will make you more productive and will also help you stay focused. I already feel better having done this. It also takes a lot of concentration. I’ve had to keep typing even as my outlook emails pop up in the corner of my screen. But I press on!

I’m happy to report that this blog took about five minutes to write (which is a record for me).

Let’s see how long it takes to edit it!

[Updated: It took about twice as long to edit… I’ll have to work on shaving that down next time]

Why don’t we Telecommute!?

Have you considered how traffic affects your personal productivity and our nation's economy?

Here is a segment from Wikipedias page on traffic congestion:
"The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that in 2000 the 75 largest metropolitan areas experienced 3.6 billion vehicle-hours of delay, resulting in 5.7 billion US gallons (21.6 billion liters) in wasted fuel and $67.5 billion in lost productivity, or about 0.7% of the nation's GDP."

Toll-Free Tyrant

Around 44 BC, Roman senators began to fear Caesar's growing power in the senate following his appointment as Dictator for Life.

A group of "Liberators" met in secret to find a way to over-throw him. They all agreed to hide daggers beneath their togas during the upcoming senate meeting.

The following day, Caesar was asked to attend a meeting where the Senators would read a petition asking him to hand power back over to the Senate. The petition, of course, was a fake and never existed.

While on-route to the senate flour, Caesar was redirected to another room where he was killed -- the unforeseen result was the eventual fall of the Roman Republic.

For Caesars' sake (and for Rome alike), it should have been a conference call.

Call Scheduler Updates

We've updated your online call scheduler.

  1. When you schedule a start time for your conference calls, the moderators can call-in 15 minutes beforehand. Participants can call-in 5 minutes beforehand.  This will protect you from being overcharged accidentally.
  2. If you are a moderator and you’re waiting for others to arrive, you hold 15 minutes before the system bumps you off if no one else joins.  Again, this will protect you from being overcharged accidentally.
  3. If you schedule a reoccurring conference (i.e. 3:00PM every Wednesday) then the codes will only work for that specified time. The codes will not be active until the following week on the same time and day.
  4. If you setup dial-in playback, the codes will still work regardless of the time stamp unless you make the conference inactive.

Call us if you have any questions. And if you're unsure about anything, we will happily walk you through the process.

More fun statistics: CEO’s and customer service

I was reading an article on redtape.msnbc.com about how CEO's have an inflated sense of their customer support. A recent survey showed that 75% thought that their customer service was “above average.”   Apparently they’ve never had to call it themselves!

A recent study by Accenture and support.com said:

  • 6 in 10 were upset with their most recent customer service experience
  • The average consumer wastes 12 hours every month on computer problems
  • 74% of people rely on family or friend for help, instead of calling customer service tech support
  • 1 in 2 friends and family surveyed said they’d rather help a friend move than offer computer help
  • 81% of consumers who feel they’ve been treated badly say they'll purchase from a competitor next time
  • 27% of people who received “average” treatment say they’ll buy again from the same company

The problem is that companies try to cut costs by shaving their customer service budget down. For example, they will have customers navigate touch-tone voice systems to eliminate the time they spend on person-to-person customer service.

With the cost of acquiring new customers, why not pay a little more to keep them? Great customer service creates loyal customers.  It's just common sense.

The day in the life of a CEO – staying relevant and accessible*

I'm sure you already know this, and that you're already doing a great job staying relevant and accessible to your customers; but I wanted to share with you how I do it with Accu800.

The alarm rings every morning at 5:45am. I lean over, rub the sleep out of my eyes and switch on my Blackberry. I don't check my messages until after breakfast, but my phone stays on in case of emergencies. As I dash out the door, I check my voicemail, emails and toll free faxes.

The painstakingly slow commute starts at 6:20am so I use that time to listen to recorded conference calls. My employees each have an Accu800 toll-free number so that they can record, download and send me applicable client calls, business meetings and job interviews. I can fast-forward through to the important stuff and pause it when I need to throw quarters in the toll-booth.

A friendly face greets me at 7:15 am with a warm cup of coffee. I change the toll-free forwarding location to my office for the time being. The toll free number makes it easy and affordable for my east-coast clients to reach me. A stampede of calls usually ensues about this time.

Most days I'm away from my desk putting out fires, overseeing projects and attending meetings – but my 800 number follows me wherever I go. Whether I'm at home, at the office, or on-the-road, my toll-free number can ring at any location.  Gone are the days of lonely voicemails that sit on my machine for hours.

I retreat from the office at 1:00pm to workout at the gym. I forwarded my calls to an assistant who happens to be a rigorous note taker. I love having a number that can be forwarded to anyone at any location at anytime. And if I wanted, I can travel overseas and still be reached toll-free

In the afternoon I activate and record my own conference calls on-route to visit distributors. I know that I could probably spend more time in the office but the one thing I love most about my job is the face-to-face interactions and the handshake negotiations. If I talk about something important while on a conference call in my car, I email the recording or have it transcribed.

When business is booming I won't even sit at my desk. Accu800 follows me wherever I go and utilizes the latest technology so that I can stay accessible at all times.

* this is a fictitious account of how a CEO would use Accu800.