This month Blackboard hired a new vice president of Client Support. His name is Tony Mandaro, and prior to Blackboard he worked for a software company managing operations for 12 years. Tony’s experience is just what Blackboard needs. He served in the United States Navy, received his BS and a Masters in Education from the University of Connecticut, and taught high school in Virginia for seven years!
While interviewing for his new position, Tony asked me some of the typical questions you would expect any interviewee to ask: What is the staff like? How do you measure success? What are the key operational challenges I will encounter, walking in the door? What do Blackboard users perceive as their biggest challenges? Where do I get a good cup of coffee around here?
Besides the coffee question, most of the answers were not short. Tony and I had a long discussion about the challenges we’ve encountered while the company and the size of our client base have grown, the benefits of our solutions and how we can exceed our clients’ expectations of us. One of Tony’s questions in particular did catch me off guard. Tony asked, "What is the one most important thing Blackboard can do to help clients view Client Support in a positive way?
This question was actually a bit difficult for me to answer as I’m always thinking of new ways for us to improve. How could there be a single answer to Tony’s question? Could there be just one thing we should be doing, doing more of or doing better?
I realized there has been one specific area of Client Support in which I have felt our improvement would have a big and positive impact for our clients: communications. How we communicate with Blackboard users. It seems to me that our telephone conversations with clients are more personal and effective over time than communicating using email. Just look at a few quotes from clients that were recorded as part of a recent client satisfaction survey:
- "Nice to get a quick phone call to wrap the issue up."
- "It took a phone call from support to solve my problem. Emails back and forth were not helpful. The problem got solved because we all got on the phone together."
- "I am so pleased I got to speak to someone to solve the problem."
These comments and others we received show me that simply making the phone call can make a huge difference. In these instances we were able to close the Support cases more quickly and the experiences for both the clients and Blackboard team members were positive.
With the launch of our new Tier 1 Support model, we will be able to increase the phone calls we make and hope these phone conversations (versus email) will continue to help improve the experiences our users have when seeking assistance from members of our Client Support team.
So, increasing our phone conversations could be one answer to Tony’s question. Still, I’m sure there are more answers out there, for how we can and should continue to improve. I’d like to know your ideas. So let me paraphrase Tony’s important question and pose it directly to you:
What is the one most important thing we at Blackboard could do to make your experience with Client Support more effective, more personal – a positive experience?
Please email your idea directly to Tony and me at my address: firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you.