I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Aspect Software User Group Association (ASUGA) board member Ann Swift to discuss her role on the ASUGA board and the benefits of being a part of ASUGA.
Ann is the manager of Workforce Systems for Southwest Airlines. She leads a team of analysts that work to keep the call center desktop apps performing. These apps include Workforce Optimization, Workforce Management, UCC, UAD and SIP. Additionally, Ann’s Team supports the telephony system and Salesforce Customer 360. Ann and her Team act as the link between Southwest technology and their vendors to support almost 4,500 employees.
An ASUGA member since 2014, Ann is completing her first two-year term (and is currently up for reelection). During her term on she has served as the Co-Director of Social Media. Ann is responsible for ASUGA’s presence on LinkedIn and Facebook. Ann said, “We have to connect with all people and meet our customers and our membership where they are.” The goal is to be visible across multiple platforms to connect with members where they are socializing and gathering information. It creates an omnichannel experience for members and potential members. Social Media platforms create more ways to engage with members.
I asked Ann what her favorite part of being an ASUGA member. She said that she enjoys collaboration – getting answers for questions related to unusual configurations. She explained that because the majority of Southwest Airlines Customer Representatives are represented by a collective bargaining agreement, they have agreed upon work rules which require them to think outside of the box regarding configuration while limiting customization as much as possible. Ann has thrown questions to the community and they’ve come back with ideas on how to approach a problem. The collaborative nature of these answers have either solved the problem or changed the way she has thought about working through to implement a creative solution.
When asked how her employer supports her being a part of the ASUGA community, Ann said Southwest Airlines is big about becoming partners with their vendors. Southwest Airlines lives by three tenants: having a Warrior Spirit, a Servant’s Heart and a Fun-LUVing attitude in all that they we do. We live by the Golden Rule. “We treat everyone like family – employees and vendors. We’re encouraged to build relationships with our vendors and partners. Because once you’re family we all tend to work together a lot better. It’s a safe space and as long as you’re respectful you can work through almost anything.”
Moving on to her position on the board, I wanted to get details about how the ASUGA board works with Aspect? Ann said the board meets twice a month. In one meeting the board hears from Aspect product owners regarding upcoming roadmap items. Then, Aspect product owners are available for questions and feedback from board members. The other meeting is a membership meeting in which they discuss logistics and items they need to promote and do for ASUGA to represent the members.
Ann continued to say that beyond the meetings, ASUGA is a big part of the annual ACE event, board members attend and staff a booth. Additionally, ASUGA sponsors monthly webinars as well a constant presence on the ASUGA forums, answering questions and adding input. Furthermore, board members attend local user group meetings in proximity to their home city in order to promote ASUGA memberships and to be the face of the users of Aspect products.
This made me wonder if in the past 10 months, did Ann feel like she’s had more access to the Aspect executive team than she’s had in the past? She replied, “Absolutely. In the past six to eight months at every other meeting there has been an Aspect executive, senior leader or product owner talking about their line of business, what the goals are, forward-thinking statements as well as what they’re working on.”
Because of her visibility on the ASUGA board, Ann has been asked to be a part of the Aspect Customer Advisory Board. This has created another opportunity for Ann to engage and interact with Aspect as well as other users and promote features they’d like to see in future enhancements of the existing products.
I asked Ann what advice she has for Aspect customers who are not engaging with ASUGA today? She said “Why wait? You’re missing out on a lot of valuable information and a lot of tenured, knowledgeable professionals who can answer questions. People who have probably faced the same questions or issues you’re experiencing – and have had them solved. They can give you free advice without necessarily going through Aspect Professional Services. There are a lot of things you can configure and do yourself if you know the right path to take.”
Ann also reminded me that ASUGA has an online career space to post job openings. She said, “It’s a great way to find people who already know how to use the product, without extensive training. It’s a good resource if you want to make a career change or if you’re looking to fill a position in your current organization.”
When Ann is not promoting ASUGA she’s a grandmother to Claire (they call her CC). She loves to read and she loves to cook. In fact, she tried out a new roasted vegetable salad for Thanksgiving – butternut squash, roasted beets, parsnips with a maple Dijon vinaigrette, over an arugula bed with candied walnuts and goat cheese (YUM!). Ann is a constant learner. She said, “Really, I enjoy always being challenged. I take classes and attend webinars to stay on top of contact center trends, best practices and technological advances in the industry.”
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