Interview with ATSI President Gary Tedrick

Gary Tedrick became the president of ATSI (Association of TeleServices International) at their annual convention, which was held in Vancouver, this past June. As Gary begins his term, here is what he had to share about the association and the industry.

Connections Magazine (CM): Gary, congratulations on becoming president of ATSI. What are your plans for your tenure as president?

Gary Tedrick: Thank you Peter. It is a tremendous honor to be in a position of leadership for this fine organization.

My primary goal is to continue the growth and excitement we are creating in making ATSI a key industry resource. Over the last several years, ATSI presidents and their boards have gone to great lengths to redefine ATSI and the benefits we provide to our membership. Our industry is changing rapidly and we are in a pivotal position to help our members not only survive these changes but to prosper from them. We are working hard to make ATSI the informational and educational center for the entire industry.

CM: Do you plan to attend the various industry conventions and user group meetings, as your predecessors have?

Gary: Yes, absolutely. I am very excited about the opportunity to travel and meet with every user group, regional group, and sister organization. There is no better way to learn about our industry and to present the ATSI message about the benefits of membership. We have such a wonderful group of people in this industry that this type of travel can only be a positive growth experience.

CM: What will be your message as you meet with them?

Gary: I will begin by highlighting who we are, outlining the projects we are working on this year, and describe the future we are working towards achieving. Each year the benefits package offered by ATSI grows in quantity and value. I look forward to meeting industry members who are not yet members of ATSI. One of the most important parts of my visits will be the opportunity to speak with these people and explain how we can help each of them individually. I want them to understand why membership in ATSI is money well spent; believe me, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

CM: What plans does ATSI have to attract new members?

Gary: We have been very successful over the last few years using the concept of offering more member benefits for less cost and reaching out to non-members and past members. We also offer 50% off the first year’s dues to make it easy to experience the benefits of ATSI membership.

We have a committee working on external and internal marketing for ATSI. We have just recently completed a CD-ROM that provides an extensive menu of information on ATSI: our history, code of ethics, educational programs, information on our insurance program, loss prevention hotline, public relations (PR), and marketing programs. This is being mailed out to members and non-members alike.

Over the last few years, we have completely reorganized the board allowing representation on the board for every user and regional group as well as having a seat for a vendor representative. We are focused on gaining input from all these groups and responding to the needs of our industry.

We hope everyone, member and non-member alike, will begin to make plans to meet with us for our 2005 Convention and Expo. We will be meeting in St. Louis, MO, June 22-25, at the Hyatt Union Station. With our centralized location, ease of travel, and a wonderful facility, we anticipate a great response. For those wanting to turn their business trip into a family vacation, St. Louis offers many great opportunities locally as well as serving as the gateway to the west.

CM: Errors and omissions insurance (E&O), as provided through ATSI, has been a popular member benefit. Do you see having E&O Insurance has becoming more important in the future?

Gary: ATSI’s E&O insurance program will always be one of the great benefits of membership for this organization. ATSI’s program is specifically written for our industry and there is no better, more complete coverage plan available. In today’s market, you do not want to do business without it. With the rise in litigation and the increasing stresses on privacy now more than ever, E&O as well as other types of insurance are a must for anyone doing business. We are also seeing new areas of concentration and concern. We need to anticipate the new areas of vulnerability caused by VoIP technology, remote operator technology, call logging, record retention, message delivery security issues, HIPAA, and others that have not yet appeared or completely developed on the radar screen. For the faint of heart, the world looks like one big legal action waiting to happen.

CM: ATSI offers three programs aimed to help call centers improve quality: the Award of Excellence, the Call Center Award of Distinction, and Call Center Certification. How have these programs been received?

Gary: We are excited by the way all of these programs have been and are being received. In every case we are seeing increasing numbers of member participation. We are also hearing more and more testimonials about how our members are marketing participation in these programs and its impact on capturing new business. Members of the public have discovered these programs and look to them to identify businesses that offer exceptional service. I have even been told of a state bid that required the successful vendor to be ATSI site certified.

We have also begun a program allowing members to benchmark their customer service departments and compare survey results to an industry average. We will also be providing this year the same type of program for financial ratios. This will allow members to input anonymously the percentages from their business operations and comparing them to an industry standard. What percentage of total revenue is your payroll? What pieces make up the payroll measurement? This will be invaluable to owners and managers wanting to compare their numbers to the industry as a whole.

CM: What new initiatives, such as services and member benefits, can we expect from ATSI this year?

Gary: We have so much in the works; please allow me to list just some of the things members will be seeing. Many of these are under development and may not occur exactly as I am describing them:

  • Define and promote standard industry measurements within vendor groups, setting industry standards and definitions.
  • Establish vendor metrics allowing greater ease of comparison vendor to vendor.
  • Identification of and presentation of emergent technologies.
  • Enlargement and enhancement of the Learning by Association program.
  • Expansion of the legislative committee, including a greater ability for political interaction by our members with their legislators.
  • Customer service benchmarking.
  • Business financials benchmarking.
  • Revision of CD-ROM and transition to Web-based access.
  • The ethics committee stands ready to assist in disputes between members. We will also market the fact that we are a self-regulating industry of the highest ethical standards.
  • Marketing to members.
  • Marketing to non-members.
  • Marketing to new potential sister industries.
  • Promotion of our industry to the general business public.
  • Finally, we are having our website completely reworked; it will be very user friendly, including more industry information for public access, greater search engines and on-line shopping.
  • Annual convention at Hyatt Union Station St. Louis, MO. We expect the best turnout in years!

CM: Gary, thank you for your time, what closing thoughts do you have?

Gary: I hope that I have caused some non-members to begin thinking enough about ATSI membership benefits to call a member or visit our website. Once they become a member, I invite them to find an area they are interested in and join a committee. Believe me, they will get back more than they give; it is the best time and money they will ever spend.

[From Connection Magazine October 2004]