ACW is home to a vibrant community of channel professionals from across the country. We enjoy getting to know them at our in-person events and are happy to introduce you to them in this recurring Membership Matters Q&A. This month we’re getting to know ACW member Jill Blankenship, CEO at Frontline Group.
Blankenship is no stranger to recognizing the value in excellent customer support, having spent 26 years in Sales and Marketing working with global corporations dedicated to providing this level of customer experience. When she started Frontline Call Center in 2005, this was the vision she focused on when building her company.
Today, she is leads Frontline Group, which combines three companies — Frontline Call Center, Frontline Services and Ternio. All the companies sync together to provide services in the contact center space for companies looking to outsource customer support or have their own platform.
Blankenship was awarded the 2014 Nellie Cashman Woman Business Person of the Year and the 2013 Washington State Small Business Administration’s Person of the Year.
Why did you join ACW?
Like many ACW members, I wanted to be part of a collaborative group of successful women in the channel. Time is important to me, and I find myself being selective about what groups catch my eye. I couldn’t pass up ACW due to the opportunity to get involved with such a powerful organization of women who mirror my own passions and pursuits. I also like the idea of getting more involved in mentorship.
What do you hope to get from and to give to ACW membership?
This is a simple one. I would like fellowship with peers and networking opportunities! Sharing the wealth of knowledge that I have about contact centers and learning from others is extremely important to me.
What difficulty have you overcome that impacted your career for the better?
The first challenge I faced was locational. I was raising my three children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest that had a very cyclical nature of tourism. Jobs would ebb and flow with the tides. I created Frontline Call Center because customer service is consistent, and my agents could have jobs year-round.
The second challenge was feeling as though the market was saturated and figuring out niches or gaps that could be filled by my tenacity for growth and innovation. Technology is, of course, a male-dominated field, so I challenged myself to combat that precedence and successfully grow, succeed and adapt within the given framework. Thus, I was able to create a new, and more even, playing field. This then allowed me to help create and build out the NICE inContact Certified Implementation Partner Program, and the surrounding ecosystem.
If you were to give yourself advice when you graduated from high school, what would it be?
Two topics come to mind, and both have overlap. The first is straightforward—don’t be scared to succeed. The second comes from a quote that I resonate with greatly. Neale Donald Walsch writes that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I would encourage myself to consistently look for the challenge, and to find comfort in the unknown.
What’s the best book – fiction or nonfiction – that you’ve read recently and why?
I recently reread a favorite of mine, which is the novel “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. The vibrant writing makes the streets of New Orleans come to life, makes me laugh, and reminds me that what may seem like a fire in the moment will pass and new endeavors are ahead.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
I enjoy playing tennis, competitively and for fun. I also love hiking in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains where I live in Utah, and spending time with my family. One last hobby would be practicing Tibetan Buddhism and mindfulness.
What is one personal and one professional goal you have in the next five years?
One personal goal would be to attain a better work-life balance, so that I can travel to Europe. I have never been, and I know that I would love the art, culture, food and overall experience! A professional goal would be to continue to empower my team to take on leadership roles that challenge and stimulate their professional growth.