Local Businesses Earn National Service Awards

Local Businesses Earn National Service Awards

Finger Lakes Answering Service, Communications Group Recognized for Excellence


SYRACUSE—Two area call centers: Finger Lakes Answering Service of Auburn and its sister company, Communications Group, of Syracuse, were honored with the industry exclusive 2005 Award of Excellence for outstanding service.

The awards are presented annually by the Association of TeleServices International, the industry’s trade association for providers of telecommunications and call center services including telephone answering and message delivery. During six months of intensive testing, an independent panel of judges scored call-handling skills such as courtesy, response time, accuracy and overall service to clients, the cornerstones of the call management industry.

The award focuses on the most important factors for determining customer service levels for an answering service; Finger Lakes Answering Service and Communications Group customers are not surprised by the awards.

“They make my day, every day,” Donna Miller, Property Manager for Genesee Gardens in Auburn said. “Every time I come in to take them off service I’m thrilled at how friendly they are and impressed because they are very efficient.”

Miller, who said Genesee Gardens has been a client for more than five years, said she was so impressed by the friendliness of the call takers that she was compelled to make a special trip to meet them.

Finger Lakes Answering Service President Gard McLean said Miller’s visit to meet the call takers is not unusual.

“We’ve had many clients come in to meet the staff—they all say they’ve been treated with such warmth and professionalism that they just want to meet the people on the other end of the phone, Many others send in “Thank You” gifts to the employees” McLean said. “A big part of our success is because of the relationships we build; our customers are important and we’re always mindful of that.”

The excellent customer service is what put these two companies in the running for the national award.

“We’re excited about the awards and honored to be among such a select group,” McLean said. “We know we’re doing a good job throughout the year based on clients’ comments and the referrals they give us; however, it is a feather in our cap to receive validation from an industry association.”

Only companies with high scores in all categories are presented with the coveted Award of Excellence. Finger Lakes Answering Service and Communications Group are two of only four winners in New York State; the other two are located in Long Island.

Diane Todd, the office manager of her husband Dr. Robert Todd’s Syracuse-based neurology practice, said she didn’t need to hear they received recognition for excellence to know it is the hallmark of their service.

“One of the best things about this company is the relationship they build from the start—they work at being a partner with us,” Todd, said. “They do their job well and they are courteous—not just to the doctors, to every member of our staff. Unlike other answering services we’ve used in the past, each and every call taker tries their best to handle the call—they aren’t interested in just turfing it (getting it off their plate).”

Todd stressed that while many would expect that communication is everything in the industry, “these companies do it better.”

Communications Group was founded in 1965 as a local answering service, and was acquired by Finger Lakes Business Services, Inc. in 2003. The sister company, Finger Lakes Answering Service was founded in 1990 as an answering service, and was purchased by Finger Lakes Business Services in 2002.

McLean, who is a Skaneateles resident, is the president of both companies while Cicero resident Ray Schremp serves as vice president and co-owner. Finger Lakes Business Services employs 38 people at the Auburn and Syracuse locations.

Both firms handle calls and messaging for a variety of businesses throughout the United States, including apartment complexes, funeral homes, health care professionals, crisis lines, small offices (virtual receptionist services), various contractor trades (plumber, electrician, contractor, etc.).

ATSI, which was founded in 1942 as a national trade association representing live answering services, now encompasses companies around the world offering specialized and enhanced operator-based services including: call centers, contact centers, inbound telemarketing (order entry), paging, voice messaging, emergency dispatching, faxing, and internet services among others.

Finger Lakes Answering Service and the Communications Group were presented with the award at ATSI’s 2005 Annual Convention held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in St. Louis, MO.