By Sue Cunningham
My father, Dick Cunningham, started the family business, Cunningham Communications, our telephone answering service in 1989. My mom and I helped answer the phones, even though I was a shy kid, and did not think I could talk to people on the phone.
In those days, we wrote messages for clients on pink slips and attached them to a wheel, and read them back when the client called in later.
Answering the phone was a great job for me after school and all through Aquinas College. The office was conveniently located just a short walk after classes.
I am an only child. My mom died several years ago, and since my dad died in December, I have taken over the family business.
If you knew my dad, then you understood his dedication to customer service. Dad used to say that we could not go home until we returned every call, answered every question and solved every problem.
That is the approach I take to moving Cunningham Communications forward, to honor his legacy.
At a time of instantaneous communications, a telephone answering service still matters.
First impressions count.
When someone calls your business, they want answers. That caller may want to purchase your product or service.
An often-cited Forbes Magazine report, says 80 percent of callers will hang up if they hear voice mail instead of a live person answering the phone.
Our call center staff, many of whom are original employees, serve as the virtual “front door” for our customers. It may be a doctor’s office calling for messages.
Seasonal business such as snowplowing or yard service operators get deluged with calls after freak snowstorms. We handle all those calls in a timely, personal manner.
The latest computer technology helps our operators patch calls and send text messages to clients. For physicians and hospitals, a HIPAA compliant “MiSecure” smartphone app allows staff to relay patient information over secure text messages.
But there is no substitute for a friendly human voice, who answers the call promptly and appropriately.