Our Director of Marketing, Alanna, has a piece of paper taped to her wall that says, “What does this experience make possible?” It’s kind of a running joke between her and Stephanie, our graphic design guru. When they are going through a “challenging” piece of work, they will ironically quote the sign. But of course it’s not just a joke; it’s a legitimate question.
I’ve had plenty of opportunity to ask myself this question lately. On December 18th I took a tumble while riding an electric stand-up scooter that resulted in two broken and dislocated elbows, as well as some messed up tendons! (Those of you who watched the Facebook holiday video may have seen me being carted off in an ambulance.) I’m in braces now and able to do lots of things on my own again, but the frustration of not being fully independent or allowed to lift anything sets in on occasion. When it does, I come back to this question.
One answer is that the accident has “made possible” an awesome test of my support network. I’m so grateful for an amazing life-partner, steadfast friends, and an understanding and supportive workplace!*
The forced down-time has also given me lots of space to think about where CollegeSource and its customers are today. What we are experiencing now, and what that makes possible for us in the coming year? This has led to a number of conversations between myself and Kerry, our CEO, about the experience, good and bad, of being a CollegeSource customer and employee. And we have been dreaming about what these experiences are making possible for us in 2019.
While we have some exciting new product and enhancement ideas in the hopper, we decided that a big theme for this year is going to be improving both the internal and customer experience. That means doing some cleanup behind the scenes in our supporting technology platforms, how we handle incoming requests for functional and technical support, the way we collect feedback, documentation and knowledge base development, and other improvements that may not be immediately visible to customers but will have an overall impact on the quality of the service they receive. Those changes also has an impact internally, as some of the systems we are marrying have been separate since CollegeSource acquired redLantern 10 years ago. While we have worked very hard to not let these separate systems be a problem for our clients, they have sometimes been difficult for our own employees to manage!
A perfect analogy is the trick of smiling while talking on the phone. Studies have proved that while the person on the other end of the line can’t see your smile, they can absolutely “hear” and “feel” it! Smiling changes your mood and the character of your voice, and that comes through the line. (If that’s true, then the reverse has to be true as well. If you are frowning, confused, conflicted, etc. – that comes through the line as well.)
Metaphorically, “smiling” for us means things like:
- Relocating a number of our backbone services into the same cloud environment to make communication between CollegeSource applications more seamless and snappy.
- Combining the Cincinnati and San Diego financial software to reduce connection points and establish clearer invoicing routines.
- Investigating new help desk utilities for improved front-line support.
Of course this doesn’t mean we are taking a break in making our already great products even better. Major improvements to the uAchieve Planner, TES & uAchieve integration points, the TES “super grid,” and other brand new services are all in the works!
I’d love to spill the beans on some of those, but that’s what our conference is for! If you want to get a closer look at new product development, network with other CollegeSource software users, and do some in-depth training in our software (regardless of whether you are a beginner or an advanced user), I encourage you to get signed up for our Annual Conference this June.
We look forward to the work of 2019, and to impressing upon you once again why you chose CollegeSource to provide solutions for you and your students. It’s not enough to just “get it done.” We want the experience of working with us and our products to be every bit as good as the outcomes!
* I have to say this. CollegeSource’s CEO, Kerry Cooper, is incredible! One of the brightest, most empathetic, and generous people I know and certainly the best “boss” – she hates it when I use that word – that I have ever worked for in nearly 40 years of employment. I wish you all had bosses (and coworkers) as great as mine!