For a number of years, law schools have received a notice from LSAC each spring asking them to visit the LSACnet.org website to provide LSAC with "Call for Copy" information related to electronic application processing. The LSACnet website has served its purpose well: over the years it was expanded and modified to collect the information necessary to support the processing of electronic applications and law school reports. As the features and flexibility related to electronic application and law school report processing continue to grow, it became clear that we needed a fresh start. This year there will be a new feature added to ACES² to facilitate the collection and processing of all information related to the Application Life Cycle.
Did you know that there are nearly 100 separate school-chosen preferences that control the life cycle of an electronic application and its associated law school report? These preferences control things like
Currently, entry of these preferences is done through a variety of applications, and some preferences are collected manually. Also, the preferences are collected and applied at a variety of levels:
The new and improved data collection process will standardize the collection of all application and law school report preferences. Now data will be collected and stored at the application type, term, and year level. All preferences will be collected in one location to allow for easy recognition of available options and assessment of relationship between options. For example, today we collect information regarding the number of LORs required separately from the collection of preferences regarding how the receipt of LORs impacts law school report processing. Collecting this information using two different methods opens the door to possible conflicts. The new data collection method will present all related information in one place and provide validity checking to verify that no conflicts have been created. Also, by collecting all preferences at the type, term, and year level, it is now possible to do things like bundle electronic applications and reports for first-time applicants, while at the same time allowing electronic applications and reports to be sent separately for transfer applicants.
The new functionality will be available under Utilities in ACES². A new menu option titled Application and Report Settings will lead you to the data collection process. Once all of the necessary information has been entered and verified, it can then be submitted for processing. E-mails will be automatically sent during processing to keep everyone informed as to the status of the application.
The security around the new data collection process has also been expanded. The current data collection process allows for only one user per school to enter data. The new process will allow for one or more users to be assigned to each different application type. It will also be possible to assign users the view-only rights or to simply assign rights to receive e-mail notification during the process.
There will be a variety of opportunities to learn more about this new functionality. A session at ESCon will be dedicated to the details of the new data collection process. Your regional support team will be offering online training as we get closer to e-app season.
Greetings From Newtown!
I mentioned in the previous newsletter some of the areas of opportunity for customer service improvements based on membership feedback that will help us move toward our goal of providing Platinum Service. The LSSS team and ISD organization have been working feverishly over the past few months to get some of these initiatives underway.
We first set our goal of achieving Platinum Service in 2008 when the ISD team established an organization-wide customer service improvement program to provide this level of service to all LSAC constituents. To support this effort, the ISD department doubled the size of the LSSS team, LSAC established a biannual "Sound-Off" and conducted customer service surveys for candidates and law schools as a "Voice of the Customer" initiative, and the entire ISD management staff attended customer service- focused training.
We have established several new initiatives over the past few months as we continue toward our goal of delivering Platinum Service. First, we have established Lunch and Learn sessions for the ISD team with a focus on ACES² and the Law School Admission process. The LSSS team has just recently completed a Crystal Reports training seminar specifically aimed at improving law school-requested report generation. The ISD senior management team has begun monthly listening sessions where they spend an hour a month monitoring customer service calls in order to better understand the nature of the problems we face every day. And lastly, the LSSS team has developed a series of internal training modules based on the law school admission process life cycle. For instance, the Technical and Software Specialist group completed law school reports training prior to the peak law school review season to provide a greater level of support during this time of year.
We have planned for the year ahead several additional efforts designed to improve our service levels. We’ve established an internal Customer Service Committee whose goal is to continue to instill Platinum customer service into our culture. We’re also working on a plan to create a Law School Admission Seminar series that would involve law school admission staff spending time at LSAC and giving a presentation on their admission process.
Our commitment to Platinum Service includes maximum transparency about the process. As such, we will continue to report all of our efforts and findings to you in general, and to the Services and Programs Committee specifically. This customer service update memo was recently provided to the S&P Committee.
In customer service, you’re only as good as your next call, and we strive to make every call our best.
The anticipation and excitement is building as we begin to count down the days leading up to the Electronic Services Conference, ESCon 2010. This year’s event scheduled for April 13–15 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas looks to build on the success of ESCon 2009.
This year’s event is highlighted by keynote speaker, technology pioneer and author, Michael Rogers, and focuses on the present and future of the law school admission process with timely and insightful session topics, such as "The Paperless Office" and "Social Networking," among others. With over 450 registered attendees representing 164 law schools expected to attend this year’s event, ESCon 2010 will provide LSAC, IT, and law school admission professionals a forum to take collaboration and communication to new heights.
We look forward to seeing you in Vegas!
Beth Janke is a technical and software specialist in the LSSS Group. She graduated with honors from Rollins College (Winter Park, Florida) with a BA in political science.
Beth has experience in a variety of industries and IT roles: desktop publisher, software tester, quality assurance analyst, and marketing database analyst. After having two children (AJ–9 ½ and Sarah–4 ½), her career took an alternative and unexpected route. For a few years, she taught music to preschool-aged children; she also worked as a customer service representative for a shower door manufacturer. Beth joined LSAC in March 2008 in her current role and served on both the Northeast and Southern teams. Currently, Beth is a member of the Southern support team. She enjoys the challenge of providing quality technical support and building invaluable customer relationships with the law schools.
Beth is naturally inquisitive and a strong leader. She strives to learn new technologies. She recently led the implementation of the LSSS test environment. Beth recently participated in Crystal Reports training and enjoys exploring new business intelligence tools. She also enjoys attending Code Camps with her fiancé, where she gains insight into future Microsoft and Web technologies.
Beth is excited about her upcoming wedding to Chris Love and spending time with all of her family this summer. If you hear a slight southern twang in her voice, it’s the remnants of "growin’ up" in Texas, North Carolina, and Florida. "See y’all in Vegas for ESCON!"
LSAC is continuing to make great strides in the analysis and development of the application changes that will support the expanded LLM service that is expected to launch in the spring of 2011.
The LLM service is being expanded to offer the Candidate Referral Service (CRS); the ability to search for LLM programs offered by participating schools based on state, alphabetically on the law school name, or by program type; the letters of recommendation (LORs); and processing of domestic transcripts. These services are in addition to the existing service that collects international transcripts and provides the transcript evaluation by AACRAO.
To improve the law school experience, ACES² is being enhanced to support the LLM service, offering most of the functionality available today for JD applicants. For those not familiar with ACES², this application (at a very high level) allows you to perform CRS queries that can be used to identify prospects, flow (electronic applications, electronic law school reports, and CRS) data provided by LSAC into predefined and law school-defined fields, track recruiting events, enable a paperless review process, and create reports specific to the school’s needs.
LLM workshops are currently being planned for the fall of 2010, where you will be able to learn more about these changes. Please stay tuned. More information will follow.
When you cut and paste messages from Word into an Aces² e-mail, you frequently get unintended results. Two things may help:
One of the problems is that single and double quotes in Word are automatically changed to smart (curved) quotes, which are not recognized in some e-mail viewers—they are replaced with a question mark. You can turn off smart quotes in Word. This is done in Word 2003 by selecting Tools/AutoCorrect Options and selecting AutoFormat As You Type. Delete the checkmark in the box next to "Straight quotes" with "smart quotes." The downside is that no Word documents will have those smart quotes, but if you do a lot of cutting and pasting to e-mail, you won’t have to remember to retype the special characters in each e-mail.
Smart quotes look like this: This is a test O’Hara “123”
Straight quotes look like this: This is a test O'Hara "123"
The second thing you can do is use the buttons on the toolbar in the e-mail function in Aces² : Paste from Microsoft Word and Clean HTML (Microsoft Word). These buttons are designed to remove the extra HTML formatting that Word adds when cutting and pasting from Word into the e-mail message box. These buttons will not change the single and double quotes.
To use Paste from Word, highlight and copy text in Word and then—instead of pasting into the e-mail text box—press Paste from Microsoft Word. You will see a message: Do you want to allow this webpage to access your Clipboard? Select Allow Access. This will copy the data from Word without some of the extra tags that Word adds and with better formatting for Aces². You can also select the text in Aces² and select Clean HTML, which will remove even more of the unnecessary Word tags.
Don’t forget about your Exceptions in Aces²! Be sure to check your Applicant and Prospect Exceptions regularly. Once you have made corrections to the applicant record or added the prospect to your Prospects database, be sure to delete the records from the Exceptions "holding area." Leaving these records in the Exceptions area may cause timeout errors when you try to process additional records at a later time.
As always, contact your regional support team for guidance on these or any other issues.
At the December 2008 Board of Trustees meeting, several members of the admission community raised a concern that LSAC support services were beginning to slip from what had been viewed as a very high level of support. LSAC was just completing its first year of the rollout of ACES², and the organization’s ability to support it along with the other electronic services was not moving as quickly as was necessary. At that meeting, the senior management team assured the Board that exceptional customer service was always our goal. The Information Services Division (ISD) had long been focused more on product/service development than on customer support. The Board meeting was a "wake-up call" to our understanding that products/services were not sufficient without the appropriate support mechanisms behind them. During the time since that meeting, we have taken the following steps to improve our customer service objectives:
In order to establish a baseline for admissions professionals’ view of LSAC support services, a survey was conducted in the summer of 2009. The survey was sent to all law schools with approximately 130 schools responding. Graph 1 shows the general reaction of the schools as it applies to availability, professionalism, promptness, responsiveness, and proactiveness of the LSSS support team.
As depicted in Graph 1, approximately 80 percent of the respondents thought that LSAC did an above average to exceptional job. Our immediate focus is to improve in the areas represented by the less satisfied 20 percent and to improve our "exceptional" rating to a level consistent with Platinum Customer Service. The survey pointed out several key areas that needed improvement:
Some problems exist as a result of new LSAC staff developing the knowledge and experience that can meet expectations. In some cases, changes to processes need to be incorporated. In order to keep our focus on these issues, the following changes are being implemented or will be implemented in the coming months:
In April of 2009, LSAC introduced a newly redesigned interactive portion of LSAC.org. The original "online services" site had been developed over 10 years ago and new services like Letters of Recommendation and Electronic Applications were cobbled in as they were created. The purpose of the new website was to create a more streamlined approach that would lead candidates through the entire application process. A survey was included as an integral part of the website in order to solicit feedback about the site’s effectiveness directly from the candidates. The entire comprehensive survey is too large for inclusion here. Graph 2 shows the general satisfaction with the ease of use of the site. The candidates were asked to respond in a range from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree to this statement: "It was easy to complete all the tasks I came to the website to do." 77.3 percent of the respondents agreed that the site was easy to use.
The 11.6 percent of candidates who disagreed with this statement provided more definitive comments to explain why they felt that it was not easy to use. We are in the process of incorporating many of their suggestions in the next two software releases (April and August). We will continue to survey since most users of the site are new. Following are the areas of greatest concern:
LSAC has developed, tested, and implemented many new features and functions in ACES² over the past year. In addition to routine and continual modifications and improvements to the software, we have added new features and enhanced the underlying infrastructure as well. The paperless evaluation process delivered last summer is an excellent example of new functionality, and the addition of the Checklist feature to Applicant Status Online is an example of an improvement to existing functionality.
There have been recent improvements to the Future Test Date Report. You can now run reports showing test cancellations and absentees. Also new is the ability to print multiple documents in one group. This new feature was released to a limited number of schools in a beta test mode. All schools will have this functionality with the next release.
After the next release of ACES², you will be able to collect data related to processing electronic applications and law school reports. In subsequent releases, enhancements will be included to extend ACES² functionality to meet the needs of member schools in Puerto Rico and Melbourne, as well as in Canada.
Down the line, we will address browser compatibility issues. Also, improvements will be made to the existing API functionality so that records can be marked once they are extracted to prevent multiple retrievals. By late summer, ACES² will make it possible for you to track information related to the new evaluations service. Changes are also planned to further improve CRS and forum querying and processing.
Details on all of these enhancements can be found in the Release Notes published with each release. Past Release Notes are available on the Support Site.