On the job: Diane Arnold
You may not know her face, but you’ve probably heard Diane Arnold’s voice. A communications service specialist III for Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services, Arnold is the voice behind many of the university’s telecommunications services, including the university paging system and many of the automated answering services on campus.
Born in St. Louis, Arnold grew up in Urbana and attended Urbana High School and Parkland College. Before joining the university, she worked as a supervisor at a local restaurant and as assistant manager in retail sales.
She and her husband, Alan, who works in the composing room at the News-Gazette, own two cats, a domestic longhair and a Manx – both adopted from the Champaign County Humane Society – and a West Highland white terrier. They reside in Savoy.
In 2005, Arnold was awarded the Chancellor’s Distinguished Staff Award.
How long have you worked at the university?
I started in the telecommunications business office on March 23, 1987, which coincidentally was the first day after the switch from Illinois Bell telephone service to the university having its own wired telephone service. I worked in the business office for a year and a half. Eventually, I went to the customer service side, and I’ve been here ever since.
Originally, the telecommunications office started out as its own department. Then, in 1992, we merged with the Computing Services Office to form the Computing and Communications Services Office, which became CITES in 2002.
One of your colleagues called you the “Queen of Voicemail.” Why is that?
(Laughs.) Well, technically I’m the voicemail administrator, but what precipitated that, unfortunately, is when we had a major voicemail outage last August. When our voicemail vendor went to restore the system, virtually all of the automated attendants – the voice greeting that a caller receives instead of a receptionist or secretary when they call Willard Airport, for example – were lost. We had 114 at the time of outage, and 69 of them were in my voice. I had to re-record almost all of them again. I came in on a Sunday afternoon and re-recorded all of them.
How long did it take you to re-record all of those outgoing messages?
I came in at 1 p.m. and left at about 10 p.m., and then I came in at 6:30 a.m. the following morning to finish up the few that were left.
It sounds like you went above and beyond the call of service those days.
I don’t consider it that, I just consider it a part of my job. I was more concerned that everything would be up and running properly come Monday morning. It needed to be done, so I didn’t think of it in those terms.
So, chances are if someone calls a UI number, it’s your voice on the other end?
Yes. If you call McKinley Health Center, Willard Airport, the Office of Admissions and Records or even the Illinois State Police in Pesotum, that’s my voice answering the call. I’m also on the paging system. So if you call a UI pager, you’ll hear me as well. Someone recently asked me if I do the recordings for the MTD buses – I don’t.
How did you get the job?
I don’t remember. (Laughs.) Years ago, when we first got voicemail and started doing auto-attendants, my boss used to be the voice for them. Then one day someone said that I should do it. I’ve been doing them ever since.
Beyond voicemail emergencies, what are your day-to-day duties like?
Well, I don’t really have a normal day because I do a lot of extra things. I process orders just like everyone in our office. I do consultations for clients either on the phone or on site when someone wants to move offices or hire new staff. I go out and meet with them to see what their requirements are, and then I work with them to meet their criteria. As well as doing a lot of reconciliation and training in our office, I also work with a lot of outside construction companies, retailers going into Illini Union, and Research Park occupants when they need service on campus.
What aspect of your job do you like the most?
That it’s never quite the same every day. I love solving our customers’ problems – figuring out the one little component that may not be working – and fixing it. I also like, when we get a new feature, figuring out how it works and how we can use it to help our clients.
What do you like to do off the job?
I like to read, and my husband and I like to travel and play with our pets. We’re big pet people. We also do stained glass, but that gets a little pricey. Mostly, we like to hang around at home with our critters and watch movies.
News Bureau, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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