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AETC refining directory assistance after ending operator support

By Robert Goetz | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | Nov. 8, 2012

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Two months after Air Education and Training Command ended telephone operator support for its bases, the command's Communications Systems Squadron continues to refine a call tree at each location and improve a new online conference call scheduling system.

At Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, the long-used directory assistance number, 652-1110, remains intact, but as a call tree, while frequently called numbers are posted on several websites.

Lt. Col. Robert Bonner, AETC CSS commander, said many callers - especially those from outside Randolph - are frustrated using a call tree, but it can direct them to the right office.

"When people call, it's usually a result of some issue or incident," he said. "As such, it's incumbent on them to determine whom or what organization they need to speak to rather than rely on someone else to help them. If they can't find the exact desk or work center, they should be aware of the organization or service they need and work their way up. It is also on the organization to ensure they advertise their key services to their patrons."

The call tree lists frequently called numbers, including those for billeting, finance, security forces and vehicle registration, the 902nd Force Support Squadron, the military personnel flight, the Air Force Personnel Center and a variety of other services, which range from the commissary, main exchange and service station.

The list of frequently called numbers posted on the public AETC and JBSA websites expands on the call tree. For Randolph, the main numbers for the 359th Medical Group and 902nd Communications Squadron, which have their own call trees, and a host of other numbers, from the arts and crafts center to the veterinary clinic, are also listed.

Rebecca Meares-Jones, AETC CSS Systems Support Flight, said people who work on Randolph and have access to a computer should use the Air Force Portal or the Global Address List in Outlook to find numbers.

"The portal has improved by leaps and bounds," she said. "All you need to do is go to the portal and click on the link for frequently called numbers on the AETC main page."

Booking conference calls, formerly done through the local operator, is now done through the Air Force Portal and the AETC page, where clicking on a link directs users to the conference call and scheduling page. A link for step-by-step instructions is provided on that page.

Meares-Jones said computer program glitches hindered the conference call system initially, resulting in double bookings and other problems, but she said it's "definitely getting better."

Bonner said the online site should only be used if a conference call is for six or more locations.

"Conferences involving five or fewer people can be set up using capabilities on the existing work phone, also known to many as three-way calling," he said.

Bonner, who said there are few operators at the base level anywhere, said the implementation of new processes for directory assistance and conference calls represents "a different way of doing business that will take some time to adapt to."

He said comments can be directed to the Consolidated Telephone Operations workflow inbox at cto.workflow@us.af.mil. Also, the link can be found on the AETC Portal page under "Unique to Us."