Tag Archives: Interviews

An Interview with Lori Jenkins Convention Chair Urges “Focusing on the Future”

ATSI convention chair, Lori Jenkins, took some time to talk about the convention and to encourage us to attend! Here is what she had to say:

Connections Magazine: What will be new about the ATSI convention this year?  

Lori Jenkins: ATSI has recommitted itself to better serve members, such as an expanded education offering. It is called “Learning by Association.” Although it will be premiered at the convention, it’s an ongoing, multi-year program, to be delivered in a variety of formats.

Connections: What else can attendees anticipate?  

Lori: We tend to become wrapped up in running our business and forget the big picture. Then, we run out of ideas to help make money or grow. The convention will provide a means to allow us to rethink the running of our business and begin “Focusing on the Future.”

Connections: I know that you will continue to add vendors for the exhibit hall, how is that going so far?  

Lori: Most major vendors are already committed, including Amtelco, Startel, CadCom, Telescan, Professional Teledata, TAS Marketing, and first time vendor, Blue Pumpkin.

Connections: How does that compare with last year?  

Lori: We are about 20% ahead of last year’s pace and expect to sell out the entire convention floor. There are 42 booths and 30 have already been taken!

Connections: What level of interest and excitement are you sensing from members about this convention?

Lori: ATSI President, Darlene Campbell, has traveled extensively for the association. At each stop, she has experienced a renewed excitement for ATSI. We expect this to have a snowball effect and generate a rejuvenated enthusiasm at the convention.

Connections: Why should readers attend the ATSI convention this year?  

Lori: If they don’t, they will miss a great opportunity for learning and networking with their peers and industry leaders, not to mention the educational sessions.

Connections: What closing comments do you have?  

Lori: Sign-up right away and get the early bird discounts! Seriously, networking is always a big plus.  We also have a tremendous opportunity with the benchmarking program. It will be a great convention and I look forward to seeing everyone there.

[From Connection MagazineApril 2002]

An Interview with Darlene Campbell

This year’s ATSI President, Darlene Campbell, has had a busy and active schedule attending to her duties and pursuing her goals for the association. Connections Magazine caught her between trips for this update:

Connections Magazine: You’ve been busy traveling to various regional and user group meetings this year, how many trips will you have made by the end of your term?

Darlene Campbell: I will have made seventeen trips for ATSI.  On each one, I learn more about our industry.  I have made new friends and reconnected with others.  This has been energizing for me. There is a renewed interest in involvement in our industry as former members rejoin. Many individuals have asked how they may be involved.  I have taken advantage of offers to help and quickly placed volunteers on committees.

Connections: What have you learned over the past year?

Darlene: Our industry is changing and the pace is fast! If you are locked into the traditional answering service mindset, you will continue to make a living but revenues will be limited. My observations are that if you change your business profile and become Web-enabled, adding Interactive Voice Response and bilingual agents then your business will grow significantly.

We also need to consider outbound work. This does not have to be in the telemarketing venue that is considered distasteful. Take one piece of this business profile and move it until you are ready for the next step. Consider collaborating with others who share the same goals.

Connections: What projects have you advanced for ATSI?

Darlene: I have championed a public awareness of our industry through affinity programs with national non-profits. It is important, as business owners, to have corporate good citizenship. I know that many do so at their local level, but we need to look at a broader picture.

The members of ATSI desired a national public awareness of our industry and I considered this as my number one challenge as President. I took this seriously, seeking organizations I thought were a good fit for our membership. After September 11th, I felt that the community blood centers were the right place to start. Our businesses, by nature, are accustomed to handling emergency related calls. That is what we do! We just need to be prepared to handle these calls under extreme circumstances.

Connections: How have these initiatives been working out?

Darlene: Jim Mac Pherson, President of the American Blood Centers called me right after their recent annual board meeting to tell me that their board had unanimously decided to joint venture with ATSI. It is their desire that their offices all over the United States are prepared in the event of another disaster like that of September 11th. He knows they are not prepared now and would like our expertise in getting ready.

Connections: Has there been any resurgence in ATSI membership?

Darlene: Yes. I believe it is because we are committed to a national program of public awareness of our industry. Also, it is because our board of directors agreed to dip into our reserves to provide meaningful education programs.

Connections: What will be some convention highlights?

Darlene: ATSI developed a benchmarking program for the industry with the assistance of Opportunity, Inc. The benchmarking surveys were designed to have us examine every area of our business. Our answers will give our industry a baseline to build upon.

We knew that our industry does not measure every operations component in the same manner but Opportunity, Inc. considered that. It is the goal of ATSI to refine this process over time so we truly have a significant, meaningful benchmarking process.

As business owners, we know that our highest expense is labor. Convention attendees will have the opportunity to look at tools that will assist with the hiring process, the scheduling process, and ultimately better control this highest outlay of capitol. We have new vendors presenting at the convention this year to assist with this goal.

Networking is still one of the greatest benefits of convention attendance. It is difficult to place value on this. Personally, I consider networking to be one of the greatest reasons to attend the convention.

Connections: What are your closing thoughts?

Darlene: I am honored to have represented ATSI this year as President. I have learned much about our industry. The most significant thing is the sharing of information among the members. The exchange of ideas is invaluable.

Our members have conveyed to me that we are all in the same business. “We just do it differently depending upon locale and culture.” Their attitude is “there is enough business out there for all of us.”

I look forward to seeing everyone at the ATSI Convention, July 10th through 13th.

[From Connection MagazineApril 2002]

Scheduling Appointments: The Inside Scoop

By Derrick Boston

The following is an interview with representatives of two answering services – Belinda Campbell, of World Class Communications in Seattle, WA; and Josh Weingart, of Answer, Inc in Lakewood, CO.

Question: What prior methods had you used in scheduling appointments?

Belinda: We used to schedule appointments using books. We took appointments for a psychiatric group but they stopped using us. We have just started scheduling appointments again.

Josh: We made a specialized form using software provided by our system vendor.

Question: What are some of the advantages you would look for in a new appointment scheduling software?

Josh: That it is interactive and the operators can’t schedule over each other and they can’t double book at the same time. That was our main problem with our previous system; two operators would save at the same time and one message would be overwritten.

Question: How long is the training time on your current system and how have the operators reacted to it?

Belinda: It took about 4 – 5 hours to learn the new system including time on the phone for questions to the vendor.

Josh: It took no more than 3 – 4 days for everyone to get comfortable. And it’s now included in our 4-day training program and it takes no more or less time than any other area. As far as the operators’ reaction, it’s definitely favorable. They enjoy being able to do some of their work interactively on the Internet.

Question: What is the most important thing that any other answering service should know about choosing an appointment scheduling system?

Belinda: It boils down to not letting it intimidate you. It must be very user friendly as a lot of it is common sense. It should work for any kind of client – not just doctors.

Josh: The most important thing is that it opens up a whole new area for revenue.

Question: How have your business clients reacted to your new appointment scheduling system?

Belinda: We only have one client on it now and it is just fine. Our client keeps changing his schedule, now that he can and we need to train his staff to make changes on their own. Our client can block out their own non-work times and confirm their own appointments. Right now they ask us to do it but we have to get them going on it too.

Josh: It’s extremely positive for all of our clients. The only downfalls were in the beginning when it was getting started.

Question: What are two of your favorite features of your new appointment scheduling system?

Belinda: The ability to block operators by making them inactive so they can’t long in. We use this with operators who are not properly trained or are new. The ability to see schedules without making changes would also be good for training. I like the ability to customize the work hours on different days.

Josh: I like the interactive schedule where you can see the calendar in front of you and you can see it in any time increments you want. I think that makes it easy for the operators. As far as the stats, I like being able to pull up information by operator or by business and see how many appointments were scheduled, so we can see which operators did the work.

[From Connection Magazine – September 2001]