There's no such thing as a stranger to Evelyn Acton. Once she meets you, she adds you to her wide circle of friends, both business and personal. She doesn't stand on ceremony, but will do everything within her power to serve her clients, all in a professional -- yet warm and personal -- way.
Her clients appreciate her efforts. Neal Hawkins of Oakstone is one of Ev's fans. "Ev is one of my very favorite Advantage people," he says. "She's always willing to take extra time to resolve an issue. Evelyn is great, in that she manages to not make me feel stupid when I do something stupid and the answer is really easy."
"The nicest thing I can say about Ev," he continues, "is that, if we didn't have Advantage to talk about, I would still want to know her. The way she makes others feel at ease is a very special quality of hers."
Peter Loftus of SRDS has this to say about Ev: "I work in Arizona, so I am 3 hours behind ACS, yet whenever I need to speak with Evelyn, if she does not get back to me during her office time, she invariably reaches me from her cell phone on her drive home. She never takes the approach that she can get back to me the following day. In her mind, she needs to touch base with me ASAP and if that means on her way home on the Interstate then so be it! A "clock-watcher" she is not and she always puts the needs of her customers first."
Ev earned a degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, and her first job was managing a Coffee Beanery. She soon decided that computers were the way to go and went to Inacomp asking them for a job (not surprising, to anyone who knows Ev). She sold computers and worked to develop the vertical market for their accounting software. She then moved to an accounting firm that used the software she had been selling and developed their data entry department. From there, she joined Creative Solutions where she spent 8 years, finishing as Support Team Leader, Accounting Products.
Evelyn joined ACS in 1998 and was the first Advantage Support Center Manager. (Prior to that time, support was handled by the project teams for the clients they installed.) She still holds that position, as well as Senior Account Manager for nine Advantage clients. In addition, she is the ACS representative to the Advantage User Group Steering Committee and attends all the AUG events.
Nikki Lorenz from Kalmbach has known Ev since she first joined ACS. "Ev is the queen of multi-tasking," says Nikki. "I don't think she's capable of doing just one thing at a time." (Note: As I write this before 8 a.m. on a weekday, Ev is outside my window planting flowers in front of the ACS building. She thought we needed more color so she went out and got the plants and is putting them in before her ‘work day' begins.)
Nikki goes on to say: "She genuinely wants her Support Center to be the best there is and is always open to feedback. More often than not, Ev has already anticipated any suggestions for improvement and is itching to implement changes. The reality is that change takes time ? but that doesn't mean she's going to just sit around and wait for it to happen!"
Under her leadership, the Support Center has grown to include a group of eight analysts who are trained to answer support calls. Besides managing the Support Center staff, she has worked hard to expand the tools that are used to serve clients. She pioneered web support capabilities, enhanced the CSL system and championed offering webinars as a way to conduct more efficient and cost-effective training. In recognition of her many contributions, Ev received the Advantage Ace Achiever award this month at a company-wide meeting.
Andy Wright of Oxford University Press has worked with Ev in the Support Center and on the AUG steering committee. "I think Ev does a fantastic job on so many levels," he says. "Firstly, she has managed to do the 'big things' that she was brought in to do, mainly, to turn the Support Center around and build up a very professional and well-drilled team.
"On a day-to-day level," he continues, "she always replies straight away to emails and, with her almost encyclopedic knowledge of how the software works, is able to either give an immediate answer or will hand me over to someone who can help me.
"Finally, she goes way beyond what would be expected of any employee at the annual User Group Conferences. She always stays for the weekend to socialize and build relationships with those still around and even ropes in her husband, Brian, as an unofficial and unpaid tour guide and chauffeur - customer service that really exceeds customer expectations!"
Ev's favorite aspects of her job are client interaction and the fact that it provides such variety. She says that every day is different and that she never gets the same question twice. In her leisure time, Ev's "current addictions" are quilting, especially memory quilts which include photos, and gardening. She and her husband, Brian, are looking forward to being empty-nesters in a few years when the last of their three children finishes college. Not that she'll relax. You can be sure Ev will have a dozen projects going and will be planning a dozen more.