In the spirit of the back to school season now underway in parts of the world, and given my general fondness for report cards, I’ve been thinking about our marks of late in various support areas. Too early perhaps to hand out definitive grades but worth noting levels of progress.
How well are we maintaining the ANGEL client experience?
Since the Blackboard/ANGEL union back in May, a lot has been
said, written, blogged and Tweeted about the combination and what it might mean
for clients and their experience. Now
we’re at a mile post, back to school, that I’ve been looking to as a good early
barometer of how we’re doing.
So far, the news is good. Right now, ANGEL client support, service and product quality levels have sustained the high levels we have historically delivered (and religiously measured) prior to the merger with Blackboard. It’s still early – both in the back to school season and our integration efforts – but these are encouraging signs in areas we’ll keep tracking and reporting on (Grade: Strong Progress).
What happens when I play the client?
At BbWorld, including in my first “listening” session, I heard two major themes from clients about our support process. First, that support has made important strides in certain areas that we can build on. Second, there remain significant areas of frustration that need our continued attention. To better inform my own view, I made good on a promise made at BbWorld to walk a mile in client shoes: recently I anonymously filed tickets through the normal support process for both Blackboard and ANGEL.
How’d it go? In general I found the experience pretty positive and responsive on both fronts. Some color on specific elements of my experience:
- Response time: I had return calls on both tickets within an
hour (for tier 2 requests) along with helpful suggestions and reasonable
requests for additional information that I hadn’t already filed online.
- Repetitive requests for information: While it didn’t happen during my
exercise, I understand that we can sometimes irritate clients with
requests for the same information they’ve already submitted as tickets are
escalated from tier 1 to tier 2.
- Homework: we’ve already undertaken some coaching with our team
about this to raise awareness of the inefficiency and reduce if not
entirely eliminate the practice.
- Homework: we’ve already undertaken some coaching with our team about this to raise awareness of the inefficiency and reduce if not entirely eliminate the practice.
- Clarity of messages from Behind the Blackboard: Automated
emails I received were okay but could have been more user-friendly and have inspired
some close follow up.
- Homework: we’ve identified a number of small changes that could have big impact: improved subject lines, body copy and greater use of time saving click-throughs.
I’ll do more of these to get a consistent view over time but an interesting first round that I’d generally give a Progressing grade.
While I consider myself to be pretty self-critical, ultimately it’s the grades we earn from customers that I’m most concerned with. In this business, we get graded early and often. Positive and negative, your feedback helps, so keep it coming. In closing, I’d like to share a recent email I received from a client – one whose experience has led her to judge us harshly in the past. I’ll excerpt here, in part:
I imagine that you often receive complaints and criticisms. The client listening sessions at BbWorld must have given you an earful. ;-)
I wanted to let you know about three outstanding Blackboard employees who together have significantly improved my opinion of Blackboard as a company. I've actually been a Blackboard System Administrator since version 3 of the product, so I have a long history of dealing with Blackboard.
The writer goes on to detail some ups and downs and to commend the great work from several members of our support and management teams that have put her institution on solid ground. She ends with this sentiment:
As you probably know well, we universities are facing very tight budgets, and we are under pressure to consider "less expensive" open-source options, in addition to or instead of the commercial products that we license. Outstanding employees like these help develop something that is highly valuable but hard to achieve: customer loyalty. The three of them have made a *huge* contribution to improving my overall experiences and attitudes about Blackboard Learn as a product and about the company in general.
To be sure, we don’t always hit our mark and we’ve got lots of work ahead to get to where we want to be. But this client’s feedback represents a solid grade – the kind we’re shooting for every day.
More to come as we get more results to grade.