The Story Exchange, Jill Blankenship, Frontline Services
Your Name: Jill Blankenship

Business Name: Frontline Call Center, a provider of  inbound and outbound outsourced customer management solutions; MyEasyBilling, a service to allow businesses to set up custom, toll-free greetings

Type of Business: Telecommunications

Business Location: East Sound, Washington, United States


Reason for starting
I have always enjoyed a lot of diversity in my profession. When I first moved to Orcas Island, WA in 1998, I earned my living as a real estate agent and also in retail management, dependending on the season. Orcas Island is a tourist destination and the employment trends in the islands reflect this dependency. It was during a dinner that a friend suggested the idea of a call center and the idea took root. Out of hours of learning combined with help from the SBA and my family, the call center was born. Opening Frontline Call Center became a viable business opportunity that could meet the need for steady employment in this rural area with severe location challenges. It also provided the perk of being an environmentally low impact business.

How do you define success?
I don’t think my definition of success can be defined in a single measurable moment. Looking back over the year there were so many smaller moments that came together this year in a big way creating a gradually experienced sense of fulfillment overall. I would define the forward momentum created by these events and the spark of life they provide to be a great measure of success.

Biggest Success
My biggest success came this year when I was notified that I won WA State’s Small Business Person of the Year award. To be recognized out of all the small businesses in our state, as both a women a person was a great honor. Telecommunications is an aggressive industry and it has been a lot of work to stand out in this area as a small business. The recognition not only for the applications and services we provide but also for the leadership and innovation side was a great success both personal and business wise.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
The top challenge that Frontline is faced with is the global competition in this $350 billion dollar industry. We have worked hard at overcoming this by creating our own pay per minute proprietary software and the Community 2.0 application. Community 2.0 allows our client’s access to reporting and real time call logs and gives the Agents a secure platform to access tools and information on more of a need to know or on demand basis in order to handle highly customized scripts in a conversational versus scripted manner.

Who is your most important role model?
I change my role models as my needs change. My current role model is Dr. Eve C. Tsai. I thought at one time I wanted to be a Neurosurgeon, so I still follow the field with interest. Dr. Tsai has had many breakthroughs into the Neurosurgeon field and is reaching a high level of recognition as she was recently listed as one of the top 25 Women of Influence. It’s inspiring to see strong women break into other male dominated fields and be recognized as innovative to the industry. The true inspiration is that she still makes time to help others and to mentor. Mentoring is hard work and it takes a lot of passion to inspire others. Right now I feel that it is important that I look to those who are doing it well as my life path is allowing the opportunities to mentor other call centers and people in the industry.