Following Contract Leads to Help Kids Get to College
“We’re one of the smaller projects within Treasury, but it’s a pretty big deal to us.”
“Our team at Michigan Education Trust (MET) has always prioritized customer service, but in the past our lead collection and email notifications were not part of a defined process,” explained MET Marketing Manager Heather Barthelmes. “We knew we needed a customer relationship management tool beyond Excel spreadsheets to better track our efforts, so we purchased Salesforce to help us regularly follow-up with potential contract purchasers.
“Committing to an educational savings plan is not a whim purchase for parents,” Heather continued. “At MET, we often hear ‘I meant to do this so many years ago, but I just didn’t get around to it’ — so with Salesforce, we were hoping that we could help families start the college savings process a little bit sooner by following up with them a little more intentionally.”
MET’s next step was working with developers to design Salesforce software that captured and organized lead information and helped increase contract sales. Recognizing Salesforce’s potential for purchaser follow-up led to looping in MET’s employer initiative, along with past and present sponsors for its Fostering Futures Scholarship. It took a couple of years from discussion to software production, but MET officially welcomed their new Salesforce system in December 2020 — and joined Treasury’s Continuous Improvement (CI) Project one month later in January 2021.
“The continuous improvement project has really helped us focus on how we should be using the Salesforce product,” said Barthelmes. “We’re troubleshooting and figuring out what we need to do to make this system functional for the long haul. The CI process keeps everyone accountable, and I think we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we would have been had we not been part of this project. We’re one of the smaller projects within Treasury, but it’s a pretty big deal to us.”
Heather appreciates having specific lead follow-up processes in place that are consistent among all representatives. The MET team uses the Task and Timeline Tool, which breaks a large project down into incremental, manageable steps. As team lead, it allows Heather to delegate tasks; everyone can see assignments and due dates, and scheduled meetings keep the team moving forward.
Looking back at the last three years, one of the biggest challenges the MET team encountered was the differing expectations between what the software developers were used to implementing within Salesforce, and what the team needed the user experience to be in the end product. As a service-based organization, MET wasn’t looking for a method to hard-sell; they needed basic customer contact information and a process for record-keeping and communication.
“We’ve learned a lot, and I think the tools that we’ve developed from this project will definitely be used going forward,” admits Heather. “Ideally, we will create so much work for ourselves that we will have to hire two more people just to do lead follow-up! Continuous improvement set the foundation for our software use and for many of our tasks. Importantly, it is helping us do our very best for our customers, and I’m excited to see where it goes.” ~
Fueling the CI Project: Treasury’s Mission, Vision, Values
Treasury’s Mission, Vision, and Values, are built on our foundation of employee engagement, culture of service, and continuous improvement.
Continuous Improvement (CI)is often represented by the PDCA (plan–do–check–act) or PDSA (plan-do-study-act) cycle. The PDSA/PDCA ‘Cycle of Improvement’ is a continuous quality improvement model consisting of a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous improvement and learning.
CI is Treasury’s commitment to proactive and innovative employee-driven solutions in our daily operations and in strategic financial leadership. It is an ongoing practice to improve products, services, or processes while eliminating system waste and maximizing value for our customers.