MCHENRY, IL – October 25, 2007 – Dramatically improved customer service, expanded product offerings and continued support for existing products are all among the benefits customers have seen since Follett Software Company acquired the Sagebrush library automation business one year ago.
Schools owning InfoCentre, Athena, Spectrum and Accent -- some of whom had expressed initial reservations about the acquisition -- have seen on-hold times for customer support drop to well under a minute, just a fraction of the time it used to take. Follett has made good on its promise to support Sagebrush products; in fact, Follett released two new versions of InfoCentre with dramatically improved reliability and performance.
"Our goal in bringing Sagebrush customers into the Follett family was to rapidly make improvements they could actually see, and build their confidence that we are a premier product and service organization," said Tom Schenck, president of Follett Software Company. "It has been a massive technical and personnel effort, but the response we are seeing after a year tells us we're on the right track," Schenck said.
Customer Service Improvements
Thanks to a significant hardware investment and an intensive management initiative, Follett has dramatically improved the technical support experience for former Sagebrush customers.
Average wait times are now down to under a minute, and most email questions get a response within 24 business hours, according to Kristen Faron, Follett's director of technical support.
"There's been an awesome change," Faron said. "Some of the customers were nervous at first – the acquisition came right when many of them were trying to get help updating their patron records. But they saw the process go smoothly. They've also seen more steady improvement in customer service ever since. From what Sagebrush customers have been telling us at trade shows and site visits, they've been very pleased."
One customer who's noticed the change is Hugh Clark, technology specialist at East Chapel Hill High in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a school that uses InfoCentre. "The main thing is they respond much quicker to customer service needs," Clark said. "Before when we would call we might be on hold for 30 or 45 minutes. It was usually a problem they got to the bottom of, but it seemed like they just didn't have the staff to respond to the phone. Now we wait three or four minutes at most," he said.
In January, Follett released InfoCentre 2.3, giving users the option to access its State Standards service, which correlates materials in the library collection to the specific standards of each user's state or province. The upgrade enabled classroom teachers to find materials that support standards-based classroom instruction, and allows librarians and media specialists to analyze how well their collections support the school's teaching objectives, all from within the InfoCentre interface. This version included access to a MARC record database ten times larger than their previous one, and runs faster and smoother.
More recently, Follett introduced InfoCentre 3.0, which makes it easier to deal with grade and homeroom circulation, lost copies and fines, gives users access to Follett's WebPath Express, and allows InfoCentre to run under Follett Remote even when the server is down or the Internet connection is lost.
Nor have all the improvements been one-way. Destiny 7.5, a version of Follett's flagship education resource management solution released earlier this year, included a number of popular FSC Customers See Benefits One Year After features from former Sagebrush products, such as greater customization options and the ability for patrons to see which books their peers are checking out the most.
Follett most recently announced Destiny 8.0, which features a number of significant improvements, including new Server Health Reports that give technical administrators a snapshot of the performance of all their Destiny modules. The new version of Destiny Library Manager lets students, teachers and librarians write reviews of books and post them in the bibliographic record for other patrons to read, encouraging students to respond to literature and share their written work.
Improvements to Destiny Textbook Manager lets districts view textbook availability across all schools to meet transfer request needs and route transfer requests made to schools.
Pressure-Free Upgrade Options
While Follett has continued to support Sagebrush products, many Sagebrush customers have been pleased to find that Destiny is now an easier upgrade option for them. One such customer is South Lake School District in St. Claire Shores, Michigan, a long-time Athena user.
"We were looking into getting an upgrade to the new Sagebrush InfoCentre program," recalled Charlotte Rebelein, a media specialist in the district. "Then over the summer our sales rep called us to let us know that Athena and Sagebrush had been purchased by Follett. We had to take a little more time to look at everything, but in the end we determined that Destiny was the product for us, because it has so much more available. The capability of being able to access it through the web, and the ease of use was very, very appealing to us.
"It was a no-brainer to go with Destiny," Rebelein said.
About Destiny Resource Management Solution
Follett Software Company addresses the challenges of education resource management with its award-winning Destiny resource management solutions. Destiny is a comprehensive, browserbased system that gives districts and schools the power to manage resources centrally. The solution includes Destiny Library Manager, Destiny Textbook Manager, Destiny Media Manager and Destiny Asset Manager. Districts can choose to deploy the system in its entirety or select those modules that address your top resource management priorities.
About Follett Software Company
Follett Software Company is the partner that over half of America's school districts trust to help them manage everything from library books to laptops, textbooks to trombones, computers to curriculum kits and digital cameras to data warehousing. All of the information is used in the support of data-driven decision-making. Follett Software Company helps districts of all sizes track and use resources more efficiently so their dollars are best leveraged to help each and every student.
Follett Software is a subsidiary of Follett Corporation – a $2.37 billion, privately-held company that provides products, services and solutions to the educational marketplace. Follett Corporation was founded in 1873 and has its headquarters in River Grove, Illinois.