How OpenPhone powers seamless communication for Athena’s 800+ Executive Assistants

Who are they?

Athena is an agency that connects busy global executives with best-in-class Executive Assistants (EAs) in the Philippines. Athena’s main goal is to help leaders maximize their time — or, as Leica Chang, Director of Operations at Athena, sees it: to “make time matter.”

Athena’s entire operation is built around this goal. Executives who hire Athena EAs receive training to learn how to successfully delegate their work, and Athena EAs receive ongoing professional development to ensure they’re using the best processes, systems, and technology to scale their work.

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"OpenPhone brings so much value to our executive assistants and so much value to their clients."

Leica Chang

Director of Operations at Athena

The challenge

While Athena’s EAs are based in the Philippines, most of their clients live and work in the United States. This presented an immediate difficulty early on: EAs would often stay in touch with their clients over WhatsApp or FaceTime. However, they couldn’t just pick up the phone in Manila to call restaurants, offices, and banks in the United States.

"As an Executive Assistant, calling is hugely important. Our EAs need to have an easy and efficient way to make and receive calls on their client’s behalf. Without this, it becomes very challenging for our EAs."

Leica Chang

Leica Chang

Director of Operations at Athena
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The Athena team initially adopted Skype as a solution. EAs’ Skype accounts required the purchase of credits so they could call anyone in the United States. They also often had to ask the leadership team for more credits. This process quickly became “very, very manual,” Leica says. The team needed to manage 100 EAs’ accounts, and often EAs were left waiting for credits right when they needed to carry out critical calls.

This time-intensive process didn’t fit with Athena’s philosophy of maximizing time. On top of that, when Leica surveyed their team of EAs, the existing communication system was one of the most frequently cited pain points.

“So we started looking for solutions,” Leica says. “At that point, we knew we were going to grow the business exponentially, so it was important for us to find a solution that was easy, quick, and [that] our EAs would appreciate.”

"We really saw the difference in EAs’ confidence and clients’ confidence when we started using OpenPhone. I believe it's really a good investment, especially for teams across different locations."

The solution

As the Athena team searched for a solution, OpenPhone emerged as a potential contender. Several EAs had already adopted OpenPhone on their own, and when a few more EAs trialed it, the results were promising.

“It was a really good tool — easy to use, pretty straightforward,” says Leica.

OpenPhone also met Athena’s other requirements. The product was reliable, the pricing was affordable, and — after several interactions — Leica felt the OpenPhone team was responsive and invested in Athena’s success.

“Everyone was just so accommodating. All of our questions were answered,” she says. “We felt really good about the team.”

With that instilled confidence, their EA services continue to expand. OpenPhone supports the Athena operations team’s rapid growth as they’ve expanded from 100 EAs to over 800.

Enabling free calling to the US and Canada

“The main reason we were trying to find a solution was that we wanted to save time,” says Leica. “And we really believe that aligns with OpenPhone as a solution for us.”

EAs no longer have to worry about purchasing credits to call US numbers. They enjoy unlimited calls to the United States and Canada on their OpenPhone plans. Even when EAs require extra credits to make international calls, the process is seamless on OpenPhone. Leica and other admins can see how many credits remain and purchase more in just a few clicks.

For Athena’s EAs, this has been a huge time-saver — especially as clients increase their amount of international travel post-COVID.

But it’s not only the EAs that notice the difference. “For our clients, too,” says Leica. “They get responses faster, and they get solutions faster.”

Creating scalable systems

Today, OpenPhone is a core part of Athena’s onboarding process — for both clients and new EAs.

During onboarding for a new client, their EA receives a business number whose area code matches the client’s. The EA can access their new number immediately through OpenPhone’s mobile and desktop apps; clients have a go-to number they can use to reach their EA from day one.

New EAs also receive training on how to use OpenPhone during their own onboarding. That way, they can hit the ground running with a client as soon as their initial training is complete.

“It's part of how we set our EAs up for success,” says Leica. “When they know that they've gone through a thorough selection, they've gone through structured training, and EAs have the tools they need, it increases the confidence of the EAs. It does wonders when they meet the client for the first time.”

The Client Success team at Athena uses OpenPhone to directly reach out to their existing clients via phone calls and texts – helping the team to build stronger personal relationships with the clients. They use the HubSpot integration to log their OpenPhone communication in HubSpot, allowing them to track conversations.

“We really saw the difference in EAs’ confidence and clients’ confidence when we started using OpenPhone. I believe it's really a good investment, especially for teams across different locations.”

Ensuring privacy and security

When EAs work with executives, they’re often privy to all sorts of information about their client’s work and private life. As the Athena team scales, it’s become more important than ever for Leica and her team to be able to centralize security.

Because Athena manages all of its EAs' business numbers through OpenPhone, all their conversations are securely stored using 256-bit AES encryption.

“At all times Athena can control that number,” says Leica. “It’s very important to us that whatever is communicated over text or calls is always kept private.”

Bottom line

OpenPhone serves as the foundation of Athena’s communication platform, allowing Executive Assistants to grow their capabilities, productivity, and confidence.

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