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Caller codes cut cost.


The American Association of Homes for the Aging is growing older gracefully.

In four years, membership has blossomed 40%, staff 20%. Members include not-for-profit nursing homes, continuing-care retirement communities, senior housing facilities, and community-service groups.

Two AAHA conferences are held a year, attended usually by about 3500 and keying on political issues. Under normal circumstances, people call AAHA for information on policy and government affairs. Two to three months before the conferences, the phones ring off the hook in Washington and in regional offices.

AAHA people have to answer promptly. Therefore they must keep personal calls short, eliminate personal long distance, and limit business long-distance call length.

To enforce its charter of unhindered help to callers, the association installed an Isoetec digital system, with call accounting from Executone Information Systems.

"Before," says AAHA's Sally S. Long, "we tried to cost calls back against each division--viewing divisions as cost centers (though they are not all revenue-producing). We discovered we were not doing it accurately."

The new regimen involves six-digit account codes before a long-distance call: two digits for department, four for individual. This has lowered AAHA's phone bill by 25%.

Sounded A Warning

Shortly after the system went on-line, AAHA's senior vice president told employees personal phone calls should be kept to a minimum and personal long distance was taboo. The number of calls, and their costs, fell significantly.

The president then told employees management reports were being printed every month, supervisors were being given copies, and the information would be shared with individuals.

"We just got our first bill after that memo," says Long, "and our long-distance calls are down 35%."

Line-utilization reports identify problems in call management at the switchboard. Long can identify volume of lost calls. She knows how many calls come in through the switchboard, how many are answered by main and backup receptionists, how many outgoing calls switchboard attendants make.

The reports show which incoming lines are used the most and which are troubled.

Reviewing department reports, some directors have requested copies for their employees. Accounting gets a copy so it can charge costs to the right areas.

AAHA puts out a weekly newsletter, a directory of members, and member alerts on public policy.

It orchestrates educational sessions and issues supporting books and references.

Nursing-home administrators need to acquire credits. AAHA offers professional-development seminars and courses, in which there is plenty of use for the new call-accounting system.
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Title Annotation:at American Association of Homes for the Aging
Publication:Communications News
Date:Nov 1, 1990
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