By Lynne West
“It’s like having a room of COOs, but they’re free,” says Dennis O’Hara, owner of Associated Call Centers and president of ATSI (2008-09), when he talks about one of the many ways ATSI membership has helped him manage and grow his Pennsylvania call center. Specifically, Dennis is referring to the Listserv that is in essence a real-time email blast to other members who can respond with advice and opinions almost immediately to nearly any question or issue posed by another member.
He says, “Having access to such a pool of experienced owners is phenomenal when you realize that dues to join ATSI are less than $6 per week for many members, and that is only one of many other benefits to membership.”
“One of the most valuable resources is the pool of ‘business coaches’ that I can reach out to on a daily basis. The availability of networking opportunities with peers on business methods and challenges is amazing. Sharing ideas and extending a helping hand is what being an ATSI member is all about,” says Mary Ann Wetmore, owner of Network One Communications in Tampa, Florida.
She adds that in addition to the owner-to-owner sharing, there are many ways that ATSI membership can help a business. A few that are important to her company include the educational opportunities (conventions, owner’s forum, webinars, and bulletins), industry awards that help her distinguish her company from competitors and continually monitor and improve customer service, and alerts to members about federal restrictions and laws that could affect call center operations.
Sharon Campbel, owner of Cal Johnson’s Telephone Answering Service, especially appreciated how ATSI addressed the HIPAA issue. “Each member business did not have to go it alone and do all the research and work to become compliant; ATSI came to the rescue, saving each of us hundreds of hours.”
ATSI is currently representing the industry in opposition to proposed revisions in the way telephone companies collect Federal Universal Service Fund (FUSF) fees and other federal and state fees and assessments. The proposed changes would immediately increase the phone bills of call centers with a large bank of numbers by $10,000 to $15,000 per year.
In addition to being the industry voice for governmental issues, ATSI provides members with a competitive edge and credibility, according to Ms. Wetmore. She says, “When I market the affiliation with my trade association, it enhances my relationship with my clients – implying to my customers and the business community that my business is stable and credible.”
Credibility and stability are at the root of the organization as well. Despite incredible changes to technology and the market over the years, ATSI has remained true to its fifty-eight-year-old mission.
Today, ATSI has more than 380 members who provide a variety of services from live answering and simple message taking to emergency response, locator services, and virtual receptionist services. Some are inbound, some are outbound, and others do both. Some members have three operator stations, while others have 300, with many operations in between. The diversity is what makes this association so rich and deep; the dedication and camaraderie of its members are what makes it so rewarding.
If you want to grow your business, improve your service and operation to consistently exceed customer expectations, and increase profitability, invest in an ATSI membership.
“I don’t know how a business can afford to not join,” says Mr. O’Hara after reflecting on what ATSI membership has meant to him personally and to his business. His presidency was just a way to give back and help spread the word about ATSI to other call centers in the industry, realizing that there is truly strength in numbers.
According to Mr. O’Hara, if you join before May 15th, you will be entered into a May 20th drawing for a complimentary ticket to the annual convention ($550 value) or $550 toward the second year of membership (’09-10) and “you’ll experience firsthand the difference ATSI membership will make.”
Ms. Wetmore adds, “The more a member participates and takes advantages of all ATSI has to offer, the more a member gains… and in short order.”
Are you ready to grow your business more creatively and efficiently than ever before? Join ATSI today.
The purposes of the association are:
(1) To promote high standards of ethics and service among its members
(2) To provide members and others with opportunities for dialogue, education, advancement, and improvement of all aspects of the teleservices industry (TSI) through meetings, seminars, communications, publications, and other programs and activities
(3) To articulate and advocate the needs and interests of the teleservices industry before legislative, administrative, and judicial branches of regional and national governments
Lynne West is a freelance writer/consultant from Maryland.
[From Connection Magazine – May 2009]