What’s the real deal with “Going Green”? And why should businesses care?
Direct Line shares three ways you can actively takesteps toward reducing your business’s carbon footprint, preserving natural resources, and also protect your bottom line. Going green isn’t just a fad, it’s great business practice!
- Go Paperless & Recycle:
Did you know that the average business consumes 3.6 tons of paper per year?If your business just recycled 1 ton of paper a year, you would save approximately 17 mature trees. If you made it a regular business practice to recycle all paper, that’s a nice little forest bank of trees. If every business made this a practice, imagine the amount of land that could be preserved. Or…. consider taking things paperless! For example, when a business sends us a fax, we receive it electronically and reduce unnecessary use of paper. Additionally, we have a comprehensive plan where we confidentially shred any documents with identifying information, and use electronic secure records as much as possible to avoid the need for paper in the first place.
- Reduce Your Electricity Use & Increase Your Power:
Did you know that the average business consumes 1,175,000 Kilowatts per year?
That is enough energy to power 65 average sized homes for an entire year. In 201 – that’s enough to power 65 average sized homes for a whole year! Now get this, businesses account for at least 40% of all energy consumption in the U.S. While we have always been an advocate for the use of ambient light (skylights/windows) for natural light, when technology improved we improved with it. In 2011, Direct Line did an power consumption audit and reduced the use electricity in our business. We updated our current lighting fixtures throughout the building from the traditional fluorescent bulbs and installed improved ballasts to hold high-Philips ALTO II technology which combines low mercury with long life and energy efficiency to reduce energy consumption for lighting and lower associated CO2 emissions. As a part of this process, we reduced the number of bulbs in use in our smaller meeting spaces and installed motion sensors to automatically shut off the lights in areas not actively in use.
- Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint & Benefit Your Employees:
Did you know that employees have a significant impact on CO2 emissions?
Just by getting employees to work on public transit will significantly reduce your business’s carbon footprint and an the added benefits are that it leaves more parking for your customers, helps to alleviate traffic for everyone, AND saves employees the cost of transportation to get to and from work! In 2013, Direct Line implemented the AC Transit Easy Pass program as an employee benefit for each of our employees residing within the AC Transit service area. Each employee will receive a “Clipper” card with their name and photo printed on the back. An EasyPass is pre-loaded on each card and the monthly passes continue to be renewed and loaded on their card as long as the employee is a part of the company.
Did you know that improving efficiency and lowering operating costs can save your business hundreds of thousands of dollars per year?
When a business decides to “go green” the first and most obvious change noticed tends to be a reduction in waste. This reduction in waste automatically equals a decrease in costs. Those two things alone combine and the result is increased business efficiency! Actions like these mean you get to decrease your utility costs, supply costs, and expenses for employees while you increase your company’s bottom line. Also, studies have shown that companies with green initiatives, and better still – green products, have witnessed an increase in their profits. Even more important, it’s just a great way to be a global citizen, and show the world you care.
Direct Line cares.
Mother Nature can strike anywhere at any time, so any successful business must prepare. Whether it’s an earthquake, snow storm, hurricane, or even a
simple blackout, the process of “business as usual” can interfere with your ability to provide the high-standard of customer service your clients deserve. You can, and should protect your business by identifying risks associated with natural and man-made disasters by creating an action plan, and keeping that plan updated. Without a back-up/action plan, you could be in the 25% of businesses that never are able to re-open after a major disaster. (according to a report by the Institute for Business and Home Safety) Following a disaster, statistics show ninety (that’s 90) percent of companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days. Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to provide products and services to your community.
- Start with a General Risk Assessment:
- Identify the top threats to your organization and any vulnerabilities
- Analyze what business functions are critical to your operations
- Identify the resources needed to protect those critical business functions
- People, Processes, Technology required and Communications needs associated with each
- Establish a Crisis Management Team, and those within that group responsible for Communications.
- Partner with an answering service which provides local service and which has a network of nationwide support.
- Develop and regularly update an Emergency Contact List to include: Home Phone, Alternate Mobile. Personal E‐mail. Family Contact Information, and an Evacuation Plan
- Consider setting up an Alert Notification System capable of multiple means of communication to employees, stakeholders & clients. TEST this system regularly and ensure employees are familiar. This could be something you use in partnership with your answering service to help you send out alerts.
- Establish a separate, formal notification plan for employees’ immediate families and close relatives in the event of loss of life, missing personnel, etc. Additionally, ensure that caregivers and daycare operators upon whom employees depend can receive appropriate information.
- Ensure that a formal system exists to integrate new hires into the Crisis Communications Plan
- Consider establishing a public hot line, or a “dark” Website that can be activated on short notice to provide information during an emergency to everyone in the community
- Consider an Online Social Networking Platform for web‐based crisis communications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
- Establish a universal and easily accessible database of information about the company and disaster strategies and plans. Database should include company background information, critical documents, key contacts, passwords, etc.
- Consider setting up a password‐protected online message board specific to your organization
In today’s economy, many companies are making hard choices to reduce costs, and often times this involves outsourcing. Companies are discovering quickly the benefits of hiring an answering service as a “virtual receptionist” as opposed to having a traditional “onsite” receptionist because of the ability to reduce cost while increasing the potential of support to their customers. Often customers are unaware that the “receptionist” is working remotely, because he/she can perform the same tasks as an on-site receptionist. We can take it one step further. We can literally act as your front desk receptionist by answering your phone in your company name – screening your callers and when appropriate, based on your instructions, “patch” or cross connect your caller directly to you or anyone in your office. We know where you are, which calls are important to you and what you want done with each call at any precise moment in the 24 hour day.
Most customers realize there are many advantages, above and beyond a cost savings!
- An on-site receptionist cannot provide 24/7 availability, however a virtual receptionist is hosted by a staff of professionals who are always available to take calls, answer questions, dispatch, transfer calls, and even book appointments at any hour. (and more than one at a time)
- A virtual receptionist can offer a variety of bi-lingual support in multiple languages by utilizing multiple resources for language service.
- Your answering service can provide a high-level of technological services that you may not have available in your office. Whether it’s pulling call reports, call recordings, or delivering messages in a variety of transmission methods, your virtual receptionist has the best technology available at their fingertips.
- No sick-days, vacations, weekends, or down hours… your answering service based Virtual Receptionist is always on. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
We provide professional receptionist service to companies of all sizes, from the one person office to Fortune 500 companies; and we provide our service to clients all across the United States and abroad. Our very “live” Virtual Receptionists may not exist in your office, but they exist in ours. And they are available 24 / 7 to give you the peace of mind knowing that they are ready and able to answer your phone, take a message from your caller, give out or gather information and contact you immediately.
A LITTLE INDUSTRY HISTORY:
The first telephone answering service was established in Richmond, Virginia as Mrs Smith’s Doctors Exchange in 1923. Margaret Redmond Smith, who was bedridden by the way, operated her answering service by using an old French-style telephone mounted on an accordion style extension next to her bed. She answered calls for local doctors, and created a viable business for herself for the next two years. Following her passing in 1925, the business was continued by her son and his wife. (Many answering services have histories of being passed down to the next generation of the family) In 1933, they expanded the business to serving commercial customers in addition to their already existing medical clients. It wasn’t until 1955 that they moved the business out of the home and into a formal office space in town.
OUR HISTORY IN A NUTSHELL:
Our founder, Ruth Goldenberg, established Direct Line in 1979 in a small office with leased switchboards from the telephone company in Berkeley, California. The primary focus was initially providing 24 hour emergency dispatch services to the medical community and dispatch and messaging services to business and professional clients. The small agency became well known and highly regarded in the community. Over time we have expanded and have stayed ahead of the curve as technology has come available. We were one of the early adopters of computerized answering service technology in the 1980′s, and our modern computerized system allows us to provide highly technical services, some not even involving answering a phone. As technology improves, we continue to stay ahead of the curve.
While part of our client base has remained consistent, our systems and people have allowed us to offer much more sophisticated services to clients in every profession. We have also evolved into providing call center services including inbound order taking, reservation and information gathering services, and alert monitoring via email/messaging for a wide variety of clients. We serve doctors, attorneys, small business, large corporations, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and major technology powerhouses. Each service we provide is able to be tailored to fit the needs of our clients, which is what keeps them coming back to us month after month, year after year, and even decade after decade.
Like Mrs. Smith’s answering service, Direct Line TeleResponse continues to remain in the Goldenberg Family. In 2012 the torch was passed down to the next generation, Ruth’s son Ken. With over 20 years of experience in the family business, Ken Goldenberg has been established as the new company president and has continued the agency’s legacy of excellence.
Direct Line as a privately owned answering service managed by the same principles since the company’s inception in 1979.
Direct Line TeleResponse would like to introduce our newest ATSI Certified Agent!As a part of our process to ensure excellent customer service, Direct Line TeleResponse utilizes an agent certification process through ATSI (the Association of TeleServices International), our national trade association. The ATSI Agent Certification consists of two parts; a written exam and a verbal test administered by a representative of ATSI. It is required to get a 90% on both parts to pass and become certified. All employees participate in this process, which occurs after their first 6 months of training. All eligible Direct Line employees have passed this certification, except those who are currently in training and in the process of testing. The ATSI Agent Certification program allows us to assess all of our employees to ensure they meet nationally determined standards of excellence. We do not have a product to sell, and we cannot hide poor customer service behind a shiny product. Our product IS our service – answering the calls of our highly prized clients; pleasantly and professionally; obtaining information accurately; determining our clients specific instructions on how to process their important information; and when called for, reaching our clients in a timely manner. That’s what our business is all about, excellent – outstanding – remarkable service!
Have you heard? The east coast is shutting down as the “Franken-storm” named Sandy makes its arrival today. Sandy is what they are calling a “masive storm” that is threatening power outages, and shutting down government offices, businesses, transportation, and schools. What happens if you didn’t forward your phones before the storm arrived? Don’t worry, if you have call forwarding on your phone you can forward remotely! Don’t miss an important call, forward your phone to us, we offer excellent options and are prepared in any disaster situation. (ALWAYS Open 24/7/356)
On any phone with call forwarding enabled, you can enter a code provided by your carrier that will forward your calls to another number (Like to an answering service.) Some carriers also allow you to remotely access your call forwarding feature on your phone.
Here are instructions for two of the most commonly used telephone services:
- Call the number provided by AT&T. This number varies by region and can be obtained through the local AT&T office or at 1-888-944-0447.
- Enter the subscribed phone number and, when prompted, enter the personal identification number which AT&T provided upon registration of services. If you have forgotten your PIN number, call 1-800-944-0447.
- Enter the code given by the provider. This number will be *72 on the east or west coast or *73 for all other areas.
- Enter the number for the phone to be forwarded to, followed by “#.” A confirmation will let the user know the forward is successful.
- Dial 1-888-294-1618 from any touch-tone phone.
- Enter the phone number of the phone to be forwarded.
- Enter the call forwarding PIN, then “#.” The PIN number is provided by Verizon when services are set up.
If the PIN number has been forgotten, call 1-800-483-4224 from a landline phone or *611 from a Verizon cellular phone.
- Enter the number for the phone to be forwarded to. Wait for confirmation, then hang up.
OTHER COMPANIES – SEE LINK TO WIKIPEDIA
Direct Line TeleResponse of Berkeley, CA has been honored with the exclusive CAM-X 2012 Award of Excellence (Emerald Award) for the seventh consecutive year. This award is presented annually by the Canadian Call Management Association, the Canadian counter-part to American TeleServices International (ATSI)
ATSI is 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. Direct line has won the Award of Excellence through ATSI for the past 11 years.
Seven years ago, Direct Line decided to seek year-round testing and monitoring of call quality and signed up for the CAM-X Award of Excellence program in addition to the US counterpart (ATSI’s Award of Excellence). Participating in these two programs allows us to have year round testing, of our agents to encourage them to consistently maintain their excellent call taking skills as they never know when they may get a graded call.
Independent judges are contracted by CAM-X to evaluate message services over a six month period. The criteria for scoring include: courtesy, response time, accuracy and overall service to their clients. If the company scores 80% or better in ALL categories, they are presented with the coveted CAM-X Award of Excellence. This is our seventh consecutive year winning this award.
CAM-X is an industry trade Association representing Call Centres and Telephone Answering Service companies from coast to coast across North America who work together to share ideas, develop new technologies and network with their peers in order to continue the growth of their businesses as well as that of the industry. CAM-X members are leaders in the field offering the most progressive of solutions available in today’s call centre environment.
This gallery contains 36 photos.
It was September 10, 1979 that Ruth and Larry Goldenberg flipped the switch, opening the doors of Direct Line Answering Service at Dwight and Fulton streets in Berkeley California. In the years since, Direct Line has maintained the highest level of customer service through implementing high standards of excellence and keeping up with technology. We were one of the early adopters in incorporating computerized systems into our service, and continue to ensure our customers receive the best technology our industry has to offer.
While we didn’t start out in the early 1900s (like this picture above), but we did start out with 10 accounts whom we served by using cord-operated switchboards similar to these. We rented our switchboards directly from AT&T and we ran our business out of a small rented office. Today, we serve over 800 clients utilizing state of the art technology with our computer-telephony integrated Pinnacle system and other high-level technology resources. We operate out of our custom designed office building located in Berkeley, California, and benefit from having a highly qualified workforce with technology experience. We pride ourselves on recruiting top-notch staff and ensuring they are provided the best possible training and technology access. We strive to provide a healthy and positive work environment, and recognize staff for their achievements through our “RAP” awards and through our staff appreciation events.We improve as technology improves, allowing us to take our long-respected legendary accuracy to an even higher level.
For the last 18 years, Ken Goldenberg (their son) has been a solid member of the leadership team driving Direct Line’s success, and over time he has taken more and more of a primary leadership role in the company. He has committed to continuing the high-level of excellence the company has exemplified over the past 33 years, and is committed to carrying that torch forward. On this 33rd birthday, Ruth and Larry are ready to hang up their phones… but of course that doesn’t mean they aren’t still there to support Ken as he takes over as the new President of Direct Line.
Over the past 33 years some things have changed (such as our location and our name, and the generation of leadership), and others continue to remain the same (several of our long-standing customers and our family-owned company). We here at Direct Line pride ourselves on having a positive and motivating work environment, on our commitment to making our community a better one, and most of all to serving our amazing clients here in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the world.
Thank you for continuing to be an integral part of our business family, and we look forward to serving you for another 33 spectacular years!