Blog

Higher Education Innovation In Action

  • Credentials Explains: What is the Intelligent Mail Barcode?

    by Rose Addison, Manager of Documentation & Training | Jan 23, 2018

     
    Credentials ExplainsIntelligent Mail barcode, or IMB, is a 65-character string used by the United States Postal Service to provide efficiency and visibility throughout the delivery process.

    IMBs are height-modulated barcodes – vertical bars – comprised of up to 31 decimal digits representing 130 bits of helpful mail data. These bars mean nothing to the human eye, but once read by USPS mail-processing equipment, sorting the information becomes available as the letter makes its way to its destination. This data can then be communicated for delivery transparency and tracking.

    IMBs are required to qualify for automated pricing and therefore are applied by the sender. At Credentials, we use IMBs in our eRoboMail® solution, which prints, folds, stuffs, creates postage automatically, and best of all, provides mail history via the IMB. Using our state-of-the-art machinery, transcripts are processed and delivered faster than ever before and without error.

  • The Customer Experience – Five Trends We Don’t See Going Away Anytime Soon

    by Rose Addison, Manager, Documentation & Training | Jan 11, 2018

    These days we’re hearing more and more about the importance of a positive customer experience (CX), but what does that really entail? CX refers to how your customers perceive your brand – from the product or service, to the website’s look and feel, to (you guessed it) the customer service.

    At Credentials, our Customer Service Department is the pulse of our organization and it’s what sets us apart in the industry. As we continue to grow, we’re constantly evaluating what we can do to deliver an even better experience to our client institutions, students, and alumni. Here are five of the top trends we’re seeing right now.

    Automation

    Users expect some level of automation… whether it’s text message alerts regarding emergency closures, automatic prescription refills, or using a chat bot to help us quickly get to the right department… automation is here to stay, with one major caveat!

    Users ultimately want access to a human being when automation fails them or incorrectly anticipates their needs. In our climate, almost 90% of our orders successfully complete without any human interaction at all! The remaining 10% involve a personal experience when necessary.

    Automation is our bread and butter! RoboRegistrar® has been automatically completing and printing transcript orders since 2003. These days, automation looks more like automatic authorization, email and text correspondence regarding order status, and transcript data extraction for electronic orders. We also aim to provide automation for our client institutions as well – we locate and approve online orders, manage held and problem orders, and eliminate hands-on transcript processing.

    Self-Service

    Users want to be able to take care of a task themselves, any time, day or night. Convenience is key, so today’s expectations include self-checkout at the grocery store, hitting up the ATM rather than the bank teller, and ordering a rideshare service directly to your location rather than hailing a cab.

    Self-service applications have developed tenfold these days and so have consumers’ expectations. They want to be able to place an order online, locate and access up-to-date order information, and track delivery or request a return – all without the assistance of another human being.

    We’ve been providing our self-service options for quite some time too – our TranscriptsPlus® and ParkingPlus® order forms are available online 24/7 so requestors can place their order anytime, day or night. We accommodate self-service needs with Self-ServicePlus™, our user interface for students and alumni. Requestors can sign in, review order status, provide authorization (when required), check mail history, send us a message, etc. When users opt to have a more one-on-one approach, we’re only a phone call away.

    Personalized Experience

    Many of us don’t even think about this one – it’s so ingrained in our culture, we’ve already come to expect it. Video streaming services, music services, and social media sites filter content based on our viewing, listening, and reading habits. This creates a personalized experience that’s designed to get smarter with use and better anticipate preferences.

    Users expect to be treated as individuals. Big data is here to stay and can help us fine-tune the user experience and ultimately deliver better service.

    In our environment, providing a personal experience has its distinctions. We deal with lots of sensitive data and it's imperative we keep that data safe. All employees are trained to notice potential red flags and respond accordingly. Any interaction with our end user requires the caller to provide personally identifiable information. We vet each and every caller to ensure we’re speaking to the correct person. Security is our utmost concern and we aim to personally safeguard our schools, your students, and alumni. 

    Hard Data

    These days, an educated guess is not an option. Users want facts, not estimates. The customer’s ideal experience involves upfront and up-to-date information and transparency when it comes to delivery and turnaround time. 

    Bottom line, options are plentiful and consumers will easily move on to another vendor in order to make their customer experience easier.

    We share up-to-date information with the end user every step of the way! Requestors are notified of order status throughout the progression of the order. Mail history, delivery acknowledgements, and FedEx tracking information is also shared with end users as soon as it becomes available. We know our end users need their transcripts in a hurry, so we share the hard facts and share them often.

    (Almost) Immediate Turnaround Time

    Today’s businesses are expected to offer fulfillment immediately, whenever possible. Think about it – in a world where almost everything is “just in time” – tomorrow simply will not do.

    Amazon offers same-day delivery, many pharmacy chains provide walk-in care, and colleges and universities are using drones to drop off admissions letters… these practices are becoming the norm and they create confidence in a brand and keep customers loyal.  

    We are working to provide faster turnaround times in every arena possible. While we all know paper transcripts will never go away completely, we are constantly striving to increase our electronic transcript reach. Today, we aim to send e-transcripts whenever possible – after all, electronic delivery is as close to immediate as you can get! When e-transcripts aren’t an option, eRoboMail® makes paper transcript delivery worthwhile. Transcripts are sent from one of our locations based on the recipient’s address. For example, transcripts going to California are sent from our Las Vegas branch, not Illinois, cutting days off the delivery time.

    Conclusion

    In today’s climate, it’s essential to take the customer’s experience into consideration. Consumers want to be empowered to make the right decision and make it quickly. They want an authentic and human experience, even if their only interaction is with a computer or smart device, and they want a company to understand that their time and money are valuable.

    It’s key to cater to the customer’s experience in order to win customer satisfaction. Honoring your customers is truly the only way to stay competitive and relevant in today’s market. Nobody wants to be left in the dust.

  • Eight Tools We Love

    by Rose Addison, Manager, Documentation & Training | Dec 14, 2017

     
    What’s on your task list for the day? If you’re anything like me, and I’m sure you are, you’ve got a lot to do and very little time to do it. Although we can’t always control our workload, we take steps to work as efficiently as possible.  

    The concept of efficiency brought me to my question: what tools make my job easier while increasing productivity? We all typically have a few shortcuts that make tackling our responsibilities just a little bit easier… so I decided to ask my colleagues too and got tons of great feedback. Read on to learn more.

    Admin Tools

    Smartsheet

    Smartsheet is an asset around here and I’m not quite sure what we did without it. Smartsheet provides one central platform for Credentials team members to work together. We use it in many applications, such as project task lists, cross-team collaboration, file sharing, etc. Smartsheet even provides automated alerts and reminders so nothing ever slips through the cracks.

    GoToMeeting

    With four office locations, client institutions spread across the country, and our Sales team often working remotely, GoToMeeting (GTM) is an obvious slam dunk. GoToMeeting is a web-hosted video conferencing tool used to meet with others in real time. GoToMeeting offers screen sharing, built-in audio, and screen recording (for those who can’t make it…), so we’re able to seamlessly conference whenever we need to. The cost of the tool is minimal and it’s very easy-to-use. GTM even offers convenient features, like chat and email calendar plug-ins.

    Sales Tools

    Salesforce

    Salesforce, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, provides our Sales team with tons of opportunity! Sales uses the tool to ensure our customers’ experiences are ideal – whether it’s keeping in touch with clients, collaborating on tasks with fellow Sales team members, or staying on top of potential opportunities, we don’t want to live without it! Salesforce provides the analytics, flexibility, and best of all, security, we need. Did we mention it’s all available from a mobile app?!

    Loopio

    Loopio is an online platform we use to collaborate on requests for proposals (RFPs), security questionnaires, sales proposals, etc. Content is contained in one central library and organized using easily searchable categories and tags. Searching through up-to-date information has never been easier! Loopio even offers workflow structure, such as email communication to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), if ever we still need to double-check our facts.

    Training Tools

    Camtasia

    We’ve all heard the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so how much is a video worth? My team, the Documentation & Training Department, suggested Camtasia, a video-based screen capturing tool we use to create training and marketing videos. Camtasia allows us to record video and audio, edit the output, then share with our intended audience. The best part is that it’s easy-to-use, so no experience is necessary! We now have a library of training videos – which frees up the one-on-one time we individually spend training others.

    KnowBe4

    Our executive team loves the convenience and peace of mind KnowBe4 security awareness training provides. With data breaches constantly in the news, your employees need comprehensive security awareness training. KnowBe4 provides an easy way to educate our employees, track employee’s security knowledge, and provide an audit trail for all our compliance needs. They also deliver tons of content such as newsletters, training videos, and mock phishing tests, adding an extra level of caution to our cybersecurity measures.

    Marketing & Design Tools

    Hootsuite

    Hootsuite is a social media management platform that supports our social media efforts. We use Hootsuite to create and schedule Twitter and LinkedIn posts, allowing us to prepare content in advance and plan ahead for events and other significant times of the year. It also helps us keep a close eye on industry news that is being shared throughout the social platforms.

    Adobe Illustrator

    Our graphics team uses Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based program, to manipulate images in order to apply each institution’s branding to our systems and services. Adobe Illustrator maintains high quality images and allows our Graphics team to design with accuracy. It provides the tools to paint, draw, manipulate typography, etc. and allows the designer to customize his/her workspace. The graphics program works with nearly every computer type and produces small files for easy sharing.

    Not to toot our own horn, but we hear positive feedback from our clients all the time! Our customers can’t believe what they can get done after implementing Credentials services. We’re proud to help you proficiently handle your workload, big or small, and we’re thankful for all the tools we wouldn’t want to live without either!

  • Credentials Explains: Our Approach on Authorization

    by CS Staff | Jun 28, 2017

     
    Here at Credentials, we offer several authorization options to our TranscriptsPlus® clients. Not every institution utilizes each method – as clients choose methods that work best for their specific preferences and requirements.  

    All methods have been evaluated by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) using FERPA regulations, specifically §99.30, which allows disclosure of education records to any party listed in the consent and §99.31(a), which provides for disclosure without consent to third-party agents, such as outside contractors, that perform an institutional service or function.

    The four methods of authorization here at Credentials are: PIN/SHA Authentication, Automatic Authorization, Mouse Signature Authorization, and Wet Signature Authorization.

    PIN/SHA Authentication

    PIN/SHA authentication takes place when the student signs on at the school’s web portal and accesses the TranscriptsPlus online order form via his/her web portal; because of this, the requestor’s identity is authenticated during the initial log on and passed to Credentials in a secure and locked down method.  

    Automatic Authorization

    Participating institutions configured with our automation tool, RoboRegistrar®, have the option to work with automatic authorization, which takes place when a predetermined set of data elements entered on the TranscriptsPlus order form match the information within the Student Information System. When automatic authorization requirements are not met or automatic authorization isn’t offered at an institution, requestors are required to sign an Authorization Form.

    “Mouse Signature” Authentication

    Credentials now supports mouse/electronic signatures through our Self-ServicePlus™ application. When institutions work with this option, Credentials provides the option to sign our Authorization Form electronically, using a mouse, touchscreen, or stylus. This method is very convenient and can be offered based on the school’s written approval.

    Wet Signature Authorization

    A wet signature authorization takes place whenever any of the above options are not used or requirements were not met. At the end of the transaction, a barcoded PDF is sent to the student that requires a wet signature to authorize the order.  In most cases, the signed Authorization Form can be uploaded, faxed, or mailed.

    Most schools choose to have Credentials receive and process the Authorization Form, however, we do have some institutions that prefer to receive and process the Authorization Form themselves. These signature authorization forms are handled on a first in, first out basis by our Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). Our CSR group processes between 40,000 and 62,000 Authorization Forms each month, which doesn’t even include the number of automatic or PIN/SHA authorizations!

    Because the authorization process is a serious legal matter, we treat it as such! Each CSR spends a total of 15 hours learning the authorization process with a qualified trainer before he or she is allowed to perform the function unaccompanied. Once the form is accepted and saved, a different set of eyes performs a quality assurance audit on the received authorization to ensure FERPA guidelines are strictly met.

    We’re proud to offer such a comprehensive offering of authorization methods!

  • Customer Service in the Digital Era: GreatEST Expectations: Part Two

    by Thomas D. McKechney, CEO | Nov 09, 2016

     
    Customers today are operating in a totally new way. They have more power now than ever before as social media services provide communication outlets for every opinion. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, you name it… we’re no longer limited to word-of-mouth.

    Consumers, young and old alike, expect turnaround time to be almost instantaneous. They often have a plethora of choices too. This means, if the user’s expectations aren’t met, and quickly, they’re hopping right on over to the competitor. Think of it like this: you don’t like the way the receptionist at your nail salon speaks to you? On to the next one. Can’t find free shipping on your online order? On to the next one. Don’t like your shrink’s delay in response to appointment requests… on to the next one.

    We deal with this “on to the next one” approach in Higher Education as well… Desirable classes need to be offered NOW. Once a session is over, grades need to be officially posted NOW. Transcripts need to arrive NOW because that killer job prospect wants it NOW. All these expectations got us thinking: there’s a lot that’s out of our control; what can we control to ensure our customers are happy? The answer is stellar customer service! And we’ve got that covered…

    We know customer service is key to success so we posted a poll in our September newsletter asking for your top customer service priority. We’re not surprised by the findings because we practice these characteristics in our customer service call center daily. Take a look at the below infographic for our results.  
     

    So what does all this mean? Honestly… your customer service skills had better be on point! Or, a better plan, let us take the calls out of your office for you!