Troubleshooting 101: Solving Tel-Tron Problems Pragmatically

Tel-Tron Troubleshooting 101

There’s really not a special, magical process for troubleshooting your Tel-Tron system. In fact, the same troubleshooting steps used to do so can be applied to solve a variety of day-to-day problems. This month, I’m going to show you how to apply the same steps to troubleshoot two entirely unrelated problems.

Step #1: Verify the problem

dinner party

Problems have a tendency to initially appear worse than they really are. Should one arise, it’s up to you to determine the scope. Once you know what that is, it will make solving the problem much easier.

How this relates to real life:

Let’s say you’ve just held a wonderful dinner party for you and six other friends. Everything has gone just swimmingly. You drank, told tales, and were, by and large, merry. The evening concludes, everyone goes home, and you praise yourself with a mental tip-of-the-hat to your excellently hosted feast. Job well done! But the next day, the rumors begin to circulate. Someone at your party suffered some pretty severe indigestion. You could just ignore these rumors, but that’s probably not a good idea. Your inquisitive nature and your reputation force you to investigate.

Where to start?man with belly ache

Find the source of these rumors, trace them to the alleged inflicted person, and talk to that person directly. Keep the questions simple. “Hey, were you feeling sick after dinner yesterday?” If so, make sure it’s not because of something obvious and unrelated, like getting mild food poisoning from a fast food restaurant they stopped at on the way home because they found your dinner to be “insufficient.”

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

Let’s say you use pagers. Ah Pagers… This mobile notification device gets passed around from person to person more than any other device except, perhaps, staff reset pendants. Lots of different people use them, and the devices see use pretty much from dusk ‘til dawn, then all through the night. Given this high amount of usage, there’s a much better chance of an individual pager failure than there is of system-wide pager system problem. If you begin to hear rumors that your paging isn’t working, my recommendation is not to leap to the conclusion that your paging system is down. Instead, start simple. Track down the person with said non-functioning pager, and verify the problem. Is that pager really not getting pages? Maybe we have a training opportunity here. If it’s really not though, determine if the solution isn’t something simple, such as replacing a low battery–the most common reason for a pager not getting a page.

Step #2: Start gathering more data

A single sample doesn’t tell you a whole lot. What’s one poisoned friend or one bad pager? Certainly not an epidemic! Let’s make sure though. It’s time to investigate further.

How this relates to real life:

Alright, the rumors appear to be true. Your friend has just confirmed that shortly after leaving your party, he came down with a debilitating sickness that has shaken the very fabric of your friendship—and no it wasn’t from a drive-by Taco Bell visit on the way home. Don’t panic. As already noted, it’s just one friend. There’s a good chance your other friends are fine, and that would still leave you with five, which is a pretty good ratio of healthy friends. Still, best make sure this isn’t a widespread problem. Start calling around. Find out who else may be affected, and if so, what he ate. Make some lists. This guy ate this. Did he feel OK? This guy ate that. How’s he feeling? And so on.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve found one pager that’s not working, but that doesn’t mean your “paging system is down.” Don’t panic. It’s just one pager. There’s a good chance your other pagers are fine, and that would leave you several other good pagers. (Unless you only have one pager, then don’t panic, but contact us to get you a rush-order on some new pagers.) Still, if that pager isn’t working, gather it from the staff member using it – it’s not doing any good with her anyway if it’s not getting any pages – and start hunting around for another. Find out: are all my pagers affected? If so, which ones?

Step #3: Form a hypothesis

Troubleshooting’s close cousin is the Scientific Method. So yes, you may call yourself “a scientist.” At this step in the troubleshooting process, you hypothesize, based on collected data, a reason for the problem at hand.

How this relates to real life:

You’ve called everyone at the party and discerned that two others had similar indigestion. Not too shabby. You know, for example, that you didn’t poison everyone, so at least one of your dishes was edible. Nicely done! Now to figure out which dish was the culprit. You had a lot of options, but all of your collected data seems to point to the chicken salad. You didn’t have any of it yourself because there was just so much food, and your buddy brought a nacho platter. You just couldn’t resist nachos so you filled up on that and, well, long story short: you didn’t have any chicken salad, and you’re not sick. In fact, the only three people who got sick are also the only three people who ate the chicken salad. Hypothesis: It was the chicken salad, in the dining room, with the salmonella.

biohazard chicken salad

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve searched around and discovered that two other pagers are also not receiving pages. This is important, because if any one pager gets a page, you know that the “paging system” is not down. The pager transmitter—often called a pager base—has a fire-and-forget mentality. It’s told to send a page, it sends the page, and it doesn’t keep track of which pagers got the page. If, while testing your pagers, even one pager worked, you can be confident that the pager transmitter has done what it was supposed to do. It transmitted. Hypothesis: The “paging system” is fine. You’ve just got three misbehaving pagers.

Step #4: Test and verify your hypothesis

You’ve formed a hypothesis, now it’s time to put it through the wringer.

How this relates to real life:

You’re gripped with this notion that your age-old family recipe for chicken salad has somehow led to a disastrous after party for several of your friends. You have to know for sure. Was it indeed the chicken salad? The only way to find out, obviously, is to have a sample tested. Go home, collect it in a bag and send it off to the crime lab. You know, that crime lab everyone has access to that’s just readily waiting to vindicate poor hosts from harsh accusations of food poisoning? That’s what THIS troubleshooter is recommending. Expect results in six to eight weeks. However, for the sake of fully disclosing ALL of the troubleshooting options, there might be a simpler way. Not that I’m recommending it. You know that annoying guy, the one always sniffing around at lunch looking for freebies? Ask him if he’d like some chicken salad. Homemade. Very fresh. Made just last night.

How this relates to Tel-Tron:

You’ve done some excellent trouble shooting and data collection to this point. As a practicing scientist, you’ve narrowed the problem down to three pagers that seem to be acting up. You’ve also prevented a wide-spread panic by proving that the “paging system” isn’t “down,” but in fact, you’ve just got some bum pagers.
Call tech support!Still, there are a few more things to test. A lot of communities use what’s called “mapping,” so it’s a good idea to double check settings. I’m not going to go into all that here. You’ve done quite a bit of heavy lifting already. Let us help you with this last step. If you’re not sure how to check a pager’s settings, give Technical Support a call. Best case scenario, we’ll get these pagers working! Worst case, we’ll simply re-verify the work you’ve done and come to the same conclusion you have: three bad pagers. While perhaps inconvenient that you’ve got some broken pagers, you should still feel good that you’ve got a handle on things. You figured it out! And you did this all while carrying the soul-crushing guilt of poisoning your friends with bad chicken salad. Well done!

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. “

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. “

Ralph Waldo Emerson

turn·key / ˈtərnˌkē/• n. (pl. -keys) archaic a jailer.• adj. of or involving the provision of a complete product or service that is ready for immediate use.

We’re not big on talk here at Tel-Tron, we sell turnkey solutions and actually provide the same.  Every project that Tel-Tron partners in embodies the idea that the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.  Tel-Tron has been the leading manufacturer of emergency call systems for decades but we don’t stop participating at the end of the production line.  Tel-Tron provides the highest quality and most consistent turnkey solutions because we ensure that the equipment we took so much care to design and manufacture actually gets implemented in the way it was designed.  Tel-Tron project managers, trainers and support staff are with your team from the moment you buy the system to ensure that shortcuts aren’t taken, steps aren’t missed and that you always get the same consistent quality that allows you to concentrate on providing the best care to your residents.

I’m sure many of you have been involved in projects where fingers get pointed, excuses are made and it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who assumes responsibility for anything, the Tel-Tron turnkey solution for emergency call systems couldn’t be more different.  Many of our competitors use dealers, electricians, general contractors or maybe even the subcontractor doing the fire alarm system to act as the responsible entity for their emergency call system needs.  That subcontractor may then subcontract the job out to someone else when they get busy installing fire alarms.  The end result is layers of incompetence.  Tel-Tron project managers only manage projects that include Tel-Tron emergency call systems, they test every device, they ensure your staff is properly trained; they coordinate integrations with other vendors and are at your community ensuring that the transition to your new system is as seamless and unobtrusive as possible.

Our project management team ensures that everything from system design drawings, pre-requisite installation requirements, training, reporting and every other aspect of the system installation and operation are all handled by the same team of experts that are always accountable to you.  We’ll provide you with updates, project schedules, integration documentation and even coordinate the meetings with any other technical partners that need to be involved.  With decades of experience, industry certifications and an ownership mentality regarding your investment there is no need to look any further than your team at Tel-Tron.

Put us to the test..  Let us know what’s important to you, how you wish it worked, or just paint us a picture of the destination and then turn us loose to ensure your vision gets fulfilled.  We let our actions do our talking and can’t wait to show you how different things can be when Tel-Tron provides a true turn-key solution for your senior living community emergency notification needs and more.  Look for our blog next month on the advantage of Tel-Tron’s distributed regional presence and how we leverage those resources to manage your installation with Tel-Tron factory certified project managers for less than many of our bloated competitors while still providing services they can’t or won’t.

Online ordering….Easy and Free Shipping

A few years ago we had an initiative around Tel-Tron to “Make it Easy.”  It incorporated everything from posting all of our operations guides on our website for customers to easily access to improving manufacturing processes to maximize efficiency.  One of the customer-oriented results was an online store, allowing communities and dealers to order over the internet.  This meant they could order at their convenience and not have to send a fax, wait on hold over the telephone, only call during our business hours, etc.

According to our customers this was a convenient and welcome tool.  Internally, though, we were still manually entering the order into our accounting/inventory software, which unfortunately led to entry errors on our part on occasion.

As technology advances, thankfully so does accounting software.  Our current software has an e-Business module that integrates the online store directly into the sales order module!  When a customer places an order online all we have to do is approve or deny it and it becomes an order, automatically setting it up for same-day shipping.  (For the curious…the only reason an order would be denied is if your account is inactive due to non-payment…fair enough, right?)

Step One

Easy for us for sure.  How easy is it for you?  Check this out…

1. Go to my.tel-tron.com and login

2. Search by item or click on a category to display all products within that category (wireless, room equipment, most popular, etc.) and click “Go”

3. Enter the desired quantity for each item and click “Buy”

4. After you’ve selected all your items, click “View Cart” and complete the check-out process.  Be sure to click Accept after you’ve reviewed the order so that it sends it to us.

5. You’ll receive an email confirmation stating that we have received your order and that it will be processed as soon as possible unless you hear from us otherwise.

Steps Two and Three

That’s it!  Easy as pie…or child’s play…or tan fácil como 1-2-3 (as easy as 123) as the Spanish say…but I digress.

If you’re already using the online store we thank you!  And we hope you’re enjoying the FREE ground shipping.  If you don’t have access yet please contact Leah Hughes at lhughes@tel-tron.com  and she’d be happy to provide one for you.

Happy Shopping!

Training the Trainer – It’s As Easy as Staying at a Holiday Inn Express

All of the latest and greatest technology, coolest software and state of the art reporting capabilities are nothing more than really expensive paper weights without proper training.  I’m always amazed at how many people think that just because they use something they are somehow now an expert on how to teach other people how to use the product.  The fact that I watch the Daytona 500 every year, drive a car to work, have seven speeding tickets to my name and look great in a fire suit and helmet doesn’t make me a race car driver and it certainly doesn’t make me capable of teaching someone how to drive a race car.  We often get familiar with the products that we use daily, even comfortable.  Our understanding of those products grows the more we use them.  That’s great; we all need to learn more about the tools we use.  The problems start when our confidence exceeds our knowledge.  Knowing how to use a product in a limited scope is far different than understanding a product well enough to teach any user how to use it in any application.  Remember, just because you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night doesn’t make you a trainer.

One of the traps that non-professional trainers fall into is that they assume everyone uses the product just like they do.  The person that trained them probably felt the same way.  The conclusion of this informal passing down of knowledge is that things get distorted through perceived experience rather than fact.  Observation can be a great tool in understanding something but often a misinterpretation of some coincidental event gets wrapped up into the “myth of operation” that is passed down from person to person until what new employees are learning barely resembles the information that was originally introduced with the new product.  Things get lost in translation, people hear what they want to hear, short cuts are taken and people without a passion or interest in training treat the endeavor accordingly diminishing the product delivered to the people that need it most, the newest members of your team.

How do we combat this?  How can we ensure integrity of the information being disseminated and confirm that the people that need it most not only comprehended what we taught them but also can implement it now?  How can we continue to reinforce these lessons?  How do we keep that base of knowledge growing?  All relative questions that operators deal with everyday, turnover isn’t going away.  Tel-Tron Technologies has a training program called “Train the Trainer” that addresses all of these problems and more.  It’s free to you and our involvement with your team NEVER ends.  We are always there to help you grow and continue to support your onsite trainer provide the best professional training practices to your staff the day they start and reinforce those lessons throughout their careers.  Let’s get down to the details and see how it’s done.

We help identify a trainer at your community if you haven’t already.  Trainers are a special breed and not everyone is right for the job, we can make sure you get the right person in the right spot.  Once we have identified the right person we make sure they have the right material and ensure they use the right process.  We start out by ensuring that five basic concepts are put into practice:

  1. There is a difference between listening and learning!  I see people paying attention almost every time I teach a technical class.  If I’m not on my game, continuously involving the learners then it is almost a guarantee that many won’t be able to retain or use the information I provided in as short a time as an hour later.
  2. Not everybody learns the same way.  Unless you have years of experience and a lot of familiarity with your students your probably won’t be able to figure out how your students learn in enough time to be effective.  Do your students learn better through visual examples, auditory examples or tactile examples?  We teach you to provide examples in all formats and ensure that you have the material, produced and provided by us, the manufacturer, to meet your employees’ needs.
  3. Asking good questions is more important than providing all of the answers.  We help your employees use the Socratic method of critical thinking to ensure that these are lessons truly learned not just taught.  Using a dialectical method that involves discussion and logic rather than a recitation of facts is always more effective for long term retention.
  4. Keep the lectures to an absolute minimum.  Slides too.  We provide you talking points and PowerPoint presentations but more importantly we teach you why you should use them sparingly and how to teach your employees using other medium that are more effective.  Interactive learning, games, role playing and other techniques are at your fingertips and provide a much richer experience for the learner.
  5. It isn’t about what you know but what your students learn.  Proving how smart you are to your audience is not conductive to a great learning environment.  You don’t have to be a college professor with a PhD in a given subject to be a great teacher.  In fact many “teachers” with those credentials are awful.  Focusing on the needs of your students, understanding how they learn and keeping them engaged are far more relevant than your technical base of knowledge.  We help you develop those skills throughout our partnership.

By providing your onsite trainer with the tools they need to be successful and self-reliant your life gets much easier.  Cost of ownership goes down.  Over 80% of all calls to our technical support center are related to operational instruction.  Over half of our onsite service is related to operational misinformation.  Imagine saving 70% of your employees time related to technical issues and 50% of your annual cost on service.  Remember, we provide this service free with every new installation or upgrade.  Consistency of delivery is no longer a problem, we provide you the training materials, hands on tools, DVDs, quick guides, testing materials and online learning services that ensure the technical materials you need to do your job are current and consistent.  We’re with you every step of the way, you’ll have a personal “Train the Trainer” mentor that guides you through the process for as long as you need and is standing right by your side the first time you’re in front of a class.  That’s what a partnership is about and that’s what you get every time you do business with Tel-Tron, your partner for life.  Don’t just take our word for it, listen to what our partners and training participants have to say.

The personal touch

Like everybody else, I am a consumer.  I purchase products from many different companies.  However, as I think about those companies, I can’t say that I have a personal attachment to any of them.  I wouldn’t think twice about buying my next video game from Target instead of Best Buy.  To me, they’re all the same.  All except one.  I am fiercely loyal to Publix, a grocery store chain here in Florida.  I could cut my grocery bill by $20 by shopping at Wal-Mart.  But what sets Publix apart is CJ and Beth.  CJ is the bagger that often bags my groceries.  Beth is a clerk that often rings up my order.  CJ likes to go bowling on Friday and Saturday nights at the local alley.  Beth has a Pomeranian named Felix.  They both greet me warmly and I believe they sincerely mean it when they wish me a good evening.  I’m not the only one who feels that a personal touch makes for a better customer experience.  Here’s one of many articles available online about the topic – http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/104972.

Cheyenne - Tech Support

This same attitude is what you get when you contact Tel-Tron.  This isn’t just a job for us, it’s our career and we enjoy doing it.  We give you plenty of options to contact us – online inquiries, online ordering, email, web cases.  But if you prefer to talk to a person, we’re here for you.

Brooke - Account Support

Brooke will answer virtually any question you have.  She’s getting ready to close on her first home, by the way.

Leah will field all of your invoice and billing questions.  She just had a baby boy.

Damon or I will solve all of your technical woes.  I’m a Wisconsin sports fanatic and Damon is a movie buff.

Damon - Tech Support

Sam might call you for a courtesy call and see if there’s anything you need.  She’s in our Phoenix office and enjoys attending music events.

Sam - Customer Success

We all develop relationships with our customers over time.  You’re not just another customer to us.  We’re your partner in ensuring the life safety of your residents.  We work together to keep your emergency call system working as you need it to work.  We understand how important your nurse call system is to you and why it’s important that it be reliable and running 24 hours a day.  We offer 24-hour emergency technical support.  When you call that number, you’re talking to Damon or me at home, not a call center somewhere else.

Whether you call us, email us, fax us, order online or create a web case online, we’re here for you.

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