Craig Templeton, SigEp's Executive Director, sent this email today to several interested parties. We suggested that it be posted on the blog since it speaks to several items that have been discussed lately and he agreed.
I hear there is discussion of phones and staffing on the blog. I thought some background might help.
Last year, we did a review of the Headquarters & staff structure to overcome barriers to serving volunteers and their chapters. Telephone accessibility was a hot topic. We installed an advanced phone system that seamlessly connects callers to employees whenever and wherever they might be. If away from our desks, calls can be automatically forward to cell phones. Callers can now reach any employee any time, unless on an airplane, or otherwise "indisposed," by just dialing their extension.
That doesn't mean you won't get voice mail, but they'll get your message immediately.
Another barrier was the limited times a receptionist was available to answer & direct calls―particularly annoying to those in western time zones. When Douglas retired, our answering service proposed that, with our new phone system, they could provide live service, not just until "closing time," but 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just as they do for the Crisis Hotline. Particularly beneficial for reaching Regional Directors―calls now transfer directly to them too.
So now, rather than depending on one receptionist who often had to be away from her desk and left at 4:30 p.m. eastern/1:30 Pacific, we have four receptionists dedicated to answer every call. Live.
Like any new employee, they are getting used to our nomenclature, names, organization and services. They'll have everyone's availability on their screens just like Douglas did. When they can't reach me at my desk for any reason, they roll over to Karen for help―just like Douglas did. The same goes for every person and their backup in the building.
And best of all―if it doesn't improve service and accessibility, we can always go back to an in-house receptionist. In the meantime, I thought we'd try actually expanding and improving our service and accessibility…and, yes, at a small fraction of what our undergraduates paid for a full-time receptionist.
For those of you who know the Fraternity so well, I hope you'll help bring the new receptionists up to speed. As with any new employee, you will surely be able to catch them losing now and then, but please let me know when you experience any problem with the service. They have always been responsive and committed to performing at our standard, but if it doesn't work, we'll fix it.
Another top concern was with Chapter Services. Staff guys have come & gone over the years, but we've just undertaken the first staff structural reorganization since I arrived eight years ago. I am sending a letter to all chapter volunteers next week to detail the changes―again designed and intended to improve responsiveness and efficiency. We moved volunteer functions together under Gary Huff's direction and then divided the country east and west for Chapter Services, with a director and administrative coordinator for each, east & west.
I'm impressed by those who think the size of Headquarters staff has grown so much. Perhaps it is a sign of greater staff performance, presence and visibility, because this week I issued exactly the same number of paychecks as in 2000 before I came in. Also, that year our PMR (campus membership) was 12,917 & last year was 14,353. I know it's not popular to hear management in business terms at SigEp, but that's an 11% reduction in the staff to student ratio.
We are committed to finding ways to be more efficient and responsive to better serve volunteers working with undergraduates and chapters. I appreciate any ideas, feedback―or even volunteer assistance in improving. It's a challenge I take very seriously. In the meantime, if you have a favorite who normally helps you in Zollinger House, simply ask for them. Karen, Donna, Kathy, Debbie, Jan, Susan Ilch and Jerry are all still there and love to hear from you. And the newer folks on staff are anxious to get to know you.
You may also be interested that the RD fall meeting is in Lake Las Vegas next month. As it turns out, Vegas is a pretty cheap destination and the Foundation donors (Board of Governors) are having their fall gathering there and offered career planning meetings with RDs. Nice deal―the Fraternity saves on travel and the RDs get an added benefit. I've seen the schedule. Fall is our busiest season. No time for golf, but I hope they have a good time anyway. We'd love to have you to join us at the Foundation Homecoming Weekend in Nevada.
Please let me know if you have any questions, ideas or concerns and thanks for your continued commitment to SigEp.
SigEp│All men by nature desire knowledge―Aristotle
Craig D. Templeton, Executive Director
310 S. Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
Thanks, Craig, for shedding some light on the issues. Communications such as this helps bring a much desired transparency to the workings at HQ. Still, I am sure that our readers will have comments and opinions on this post as they do on others.