Spring has sprung, making the wintry conditions that closed out 2016 and welcomed in the new year a distant memory — or at least, we hope that’s the case. Headquartered in New England, Liaison International has faced its fair share of blizzard-like conditions over the last two decades. For our many employees who split their time between commuting to our Watertown office and working remotely, days with inclement weather are business as usual. For the members of our service team — the ones who are trusted with processing mail that features the private information of millions of college applicants — a closed office means a loss of productivity during the busiest time of the college admissions season.
The complicated logistics around maintaining an inclement weather plan for those who sort, open, scan and verify physical applicant mail are a key reason that Liaison is the only admissions management solution provider to augment application hosting technology with in-house manual verification and processing services. A secure contingency plan is expensive to maintain and requires meticulous care to implement as a data breach at this level would be unforgivable to the hundreds of schools and programs that trust a third-party provider to process applications.
2015’s harsh winter caused eight days of office closings and provided the last straw for realizing that a change was needed to ensure that we could securely process applicant mail no matter the condition of roads outside the office. “Every member of Liaison’s team is committed to connecting students with higher education opportunities. Investing in the tools needed to carry out this work in any and all weather wasn’t a hard sell,” shared Deb Erdner, VP of CAS operations. “But we wanted to ensure that we spent enough time developing the plan so that no partner was affected when we officially rolled it out.”
Flash forward through 2016’s uneventful winter and 2017 quickly offered the perfect test for our new inclement weather plan as the local news forecasted an early February nor’easter that would dump as much as a foot of snow on some regions and caused officials to call for motorists to stay off the roads. This time, we were ready. Despite not being able to get into the physical office on February 9th, our team was outfitted with the soft phones, laptops and secure connections they needed to take 1,200 calls and answer 1096 emails and verify just over 800 applicants, with all but 14 — the mail can’t be opened from home, unfortunately — of our team members working securely from their safe, warm homes.
The results? Many happy clients like the AAVMC’s Dr. Andrew Maccabe: “As you may know, one of the main reasons AAVMC outsourced our customer service to Liaison International was because of the continuity of operations that you can offer. We appreciate your efforts to develop a strong backup plan and allow employees to work from home,” responded Dr. Maccabe to the news of increased productivity. APTA’s Libby Ross shared, “Thank you all at Liaison for diligently working over the snow storm! Everyone’s time and dedication are greatly appreciated. I know it couldn’t have been easy to do. Liaison is an amazing company.”
2017 may bring more snow yet, but Liaison and its higher education partners can rest assured that while the weather may do its worst, we’ve got applications that will be processed whether the roads are clear or not. Learn more about how Liaison’s support services take on manual tasks to leave admissions offices with more time for strategic admissions decisions here.