An Interview with ATSI President Tedd Smith

Connections Magazine: Tedd, congratulations on becoming president of ATSI (Association of TeleServices International). What are your plans for your tenure as president?

Tedd Smith: Thanks, Peter.  Being ATSI’s president is a great honor. My theme for the year will be to bring a higher level of service to the members. I announced at my inauguration that I would work on four major projects:

  • Continue to encourage the members’ use of the ethics committee. In these days of business scandals, this is critically important.
  • Larry Goldenburg has created an ambitious education program, “Learning By Association,” that touches on all the facets of our industry. Stacy Polinsky has agreed to chair the education committee to deliver on Larry’s promise. This will be the most comprehensive program that ATSI has delivered in years.
  • Fine-tune the Award of Excellence program in response to members’ feedback and expand with the new Call Center Award of Distinction program.
  • Introduce the SNUG-designed certification program to the rest of the industry. This is a great tool for our members to make sure that their call centers meet standards for agents, supervisors, and site certification.

Since then, I have added another one to the list: the creation of a database of non-paying clients.

There are a lot of other great things going on, such as past president Darlene Campbell’s disaster preparedness program with America’s Blood Centers, and the legislative committee’s list of issues to be addressed by the ATSI Board. Fortunately, ATSI has a great group of people to deliver these services.

Connections: What will be your message as you meet with various industry groups?

Tedd: My message will be that it’s very important to bring more services to our members. I think that ATSI should provide so much high quality service to call centers that everyone will want to be a member.

Connections: The attendance at the ATSI convention was up this year from last year. Is that a trend that you think will continue?

Tedd: Yes, I do. I believe that, in addition to a convention full of great sessions and an extensive trade show, our members want to meet at a great place. The 2003 convention will be at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. When Charlene Glorieux (ATSI’s executive vice president) and I met with the Disney people to plan the convention, we were delighted with the layout of this facility. It is perfectly suited for our group. The convention committee met in August to begin the preliminary agenda and we are already getting lots of great feedback and suggestions from some of our new board members. So, mark your calendar for June 18-21, 2003.

Connections: How are you planning to attract new members?

Tedd: The ATSI Board voted to continue our new member incentive for another year, which means that new members can join for half price. As we bring this big new plate of services to our members, we should also lower our cancellations.

Connections: It was good to see the major user groups represented at the convention. What can ATSI do to further unify the industry?

Tedd: ATSI will continue to offer meeting space and meeting time at its annual convention to all user groups. Also, the SNUG group has offered to expand its certification program to other equipment platforms, working through the other user groups. And I will be visiting all of the user group meetings that I can, so that I can listen to ideas and fly the ATSI flag.

Connections: Will you please review for our readers the services and member benefits that ATSI offers?

Tedd: You bet. The best way to do this is to state ATSI’s mission, which is to enhance the value of association members’ businesses by:

  • Promoting fair competition through the pursuit of appropriate regulation and legislation;
  • Providing research into and development of our industry and its current and prospective markets;
  • Providing support services;
  • Providing educational opportunities and resources to address the challenges and trends affecting our operating environments; and
  • Encouraging and maintaining high standards of ethics and services.

All that we do flows from this mission statement. Our legislative committee monitors congressional and regulatory rulings. Our new “Learning By Association” programs will soon provide our members with an incredible array of tools to market their own businesses to customers. And the many seminars that we sponsor, such as the “Barry Elms Negotiation Workshops,” are designed to increase the knowledge and business savvy of our members.

Connections: Many readers of Connections are not members of ATSI. What can ATSI do for them?

Tedd: The existence of ATSI means that there is an organization whose purpose is to enhance everyone’s success in the call center business. You can either wait for this to happen, or you can help make it happen.

Connections: Tedd, thank you for your candid responses. What closing thoughts do you have?

Tedd: It’s been a pleasure, Peter. First, thank you for the great job you are doing with Connections Magazine. Building on the great product that came from Steve Michaels, you have proved to be an excellent successor. Keep up the great work.

I also want to tell everyone what a stupendous person ATSI has in Charlene Glorieux, our executive vice-president. Charlene has done excellent work in managing the association. It’s great to have someone running the association who makes us all look good. In closing, I’ll be seeing a lot of your readers in October, at the regional meetings, and then more of you in February, at the user group meetings.

Tedd Smith’s company is Hello, Inc., a family-owned call center founded in 1923 in Richmond, VA.

[From Connection MagazineNovember 2002]

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