blog

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    This Is Customer Service?!?!

    An example of how NOT to treat your best customers---or any customers

    I have always considered myself to be a customer service “warrior.” When receiving really good customer service, I’ll agree to buy just about anything. I’ll even make a point of sending an e-mail or completing an online survey to make sure the rep’s performance is acknowledged as being “truly exceptional."

    On the other hand, there are times when customer service is bad … really bad. When things don’t go well, it is both convenient and easy to blame “the messenger.” However, it is often the case that the rep has been neither trained nor empowered to solve a customer’s problem. Consider this recent scenario.

    I have been a faithful subscriber to a certain popular magazine since the mid-1960s. Until a couple of years …



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    The Interns of Summer

    Summer is almost here. Time for ice cream, going to the beach, baseball, Frisbee and vacations at the lake. And it's time to welcome our latest summer interns and learn a little about them.

    And they are, from left to right:

    Srikanth Garlapati

    Your hometown?

    Kennett Square, PA

     

    College and major?

    University of Michigan and Computer Science.

     

    What led you to choose your major?

    I chose my major because I enjoy the math and problem-solving aspects of Computer Science.

     

    What are you working on at ACS?

    This summer, I will be working on redesigning the demographic fields to allow clients to add custom fields with fewer restrictions.

     

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work/school?

    I enjoy playing and watching sports.

     

    What was the last book you read for fun?

    The …



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    Let's Talk About Payments

    Recently, I participated in a lively discussion with a prospective client around customer payment options. I listed dozens of Advantage features (more on this later) and I was struck by the client’s uncertainty about which features they wanted to support. The discussion changed from what-can-Advantage-do? to what-should-our-business-be-doing? The marketing director wanted to test all options, the customer experience manager wanted frictionless payments, the finance director wanted to reduce fees and cash liability and the operations manager wanted simplified processing. The client realized they had not fully appreciated the complexity and impact of payment options.

    In the past five years, there has been an explosion of studies on consumer payments and technological preferences. The …



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    Unsettling Times

    Unsettling times. On so many levels.

    The last year has been a challenging one for millions of people. If we look at broad strokes, bigotry, racism, poverty, violence, and hatred all raised their ugly heads at points during the year in the US and abroad. Across the Americas we witnessed oppressive regimes cracking down on their opponents violently and fatally. Radical, extremist groups killed and wounded across the globe in various attacks. Greed flourished. Power dictated. Scandal abounded. It has been a year that proved that humans can really be horrible to one another.

    A bit closer to home, many of us experienced the difficulties of our human condition: friends and relatives were diagnosed with terminal illnesses, addictions were revealed, mental illness identified, and loved ones …



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    Creating Custom Report Output---the Easy Way

    With the 2018.7 release of Advantage comes an improved way to create custom report output, based on your select criteria. This functionality is available at the browser. It’s easy, it’s robust, and it’s a great way for end users to create custom reports and outputs.

    One of the best features of the browser-based approach is the ability to see real-time results. You can both see the results and export them to a CSV or PDF file. In addition, you can run this from within Advantage, incorporating the report into a jobstream or scheduling it to run on a regular basis.

    When you add a new select set in the browser, you are prompted for the Select Set Type and Data Source. These are validated drop-down fields; each also has a “quick search” tool to allow you to find values based on words or …



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    Conference and Trade Show Highlights

    I just returned from my 3rd conference/trade show in 4 weeks. Others on my team attended 3 more that  during this same time. June is the busiest month of the year for conferences & trade shows---by far!

    Two of the trade shows I attended were focused on membership associations: AMS Fest in Chicago and Society Street in London. As a showcase company at AMS Fest (AMS = Association Management System), we were given 2 opportunities to demonstrate our software to membership organizations shopping for an AMS. This is a great event---well-organized, effective, and informative. One of my favorite sessions was one where 3 experts from different consulting firms sat on a panel and fielded questions about how to implement a new AMS. They have decades of wisdom among them and can help a membership …



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    A Sure Sign of Spring: Trade Show Fever

     

    It’s as reliable as seeing the first robins and crocuses---when the schedule starts filling up with trade shows (some on the same dates), you know Spring is almost here. The AdvantageCS team will be attending, sponsoring, and exhibiting this Spring at conferences in the US, the UK and Europe.

    First up is Digital Innovators Summit, March 18-20, in Berlin. DIS has the goal of helping legacy magazine publishers adapt to the digital era. Over the years, DIS has evolved to consider innovations across a range of content-driven media and related industries. Today, DIS attracts some 600+ delegates from over 35 countries. Come visit with Dan Heffernan and Philippe van Mastrigt at Stand 2h.

    Next, is the UKSG (United Kingdom Serials Group) Annual Conference, April 9-11 in Glasgow. This annual …



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    Keeping Busy in Orlando

    Report on 2018 Advantage Users Group Conference

    More than 70 Advantage clients from 17 companies met in Orlando for the 2018 Advantage Users Group (AUG) Conference. As always, the Steering Committee, led by Christy Wescott of Unity World Headquarters, did an outstanding job preparing the agenda and arranging for the speakers and session hosts. Denise Spickler of Wolters Kluwer Health handled her responsibilities as the liaison with the host hotel with outstanding attention to detail, resulting in a conference that was successful in every way.

    Dan Heffernan, AdvantageCS Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Product Planning, kicked off the meeting with his annual presentation of AdvantageCS news, strategy, and product direction. Dan was joined in his presentation by Tony Pytlak, …



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    GDPR Summit in Copenhagen Highly Productive

    Initiated by Carsten Weber from Bonnier Magazine Data, Nordic Advantage clients and AdvantageCS participated in a GDPR roundtable on January 22nd, at the Bonnier office in Copenhagen. What was initially a meeting of two publishers expanded to include four Nordic Advantage clients: Bonnier Magazine Data, Egmont Publishing, Aller Media and Alma Talent. Air Business Subscriptions from the UK also joined this gathering, as did AdvantageCS.

    Participants included John Osborn (Air Business Subscriptions), Bjarne Christensen (Aller Media), Christel Heegaard (Aller Media), Martin Paluszewski (Aller Media), Mari Aalto (Alma Media), Hanna Kaivo-oja (Alma Media), Farhoud Fazeli (consultant, representing Bonnier Magazines and Brands), Rune Spanggaard (Bonnier Magazine Data), Carsten Weber (Bonnier …



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    Come on Down to Orlando for AUG 2018

    You won't want to miss the 2018 AUG meeting in lovely Orlando, Florida. Where else can you meet and exchange experiences and ideas with so many Advantage users? Plus, get the scoop on new stuff in the works at AdvantageCS. And isn't early February (Feb 7-9) a great time to get away from the office and have a change of scene? The conference will be at the Doubletree by Hilton, Orlando at Sea World right on International Drive where all the action is.

    We know you will learn something new and have fun! Send in your registration today.

    AUG 2018 registration form



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    Tidbits from Trade Shows

    With the development of Members Advantage, we have begun to cast our net a bit farther when it comes to industry events such as conferences and trade shows. These shows are great opportunities to meet people and find sales leads, but also a place to keep on top of hot topics in the industry.

    Just in the last month, our team attended Digital Excellence (hosted by MemberWise) in London, the American Museum Membership Conference in Seattle, and AMS Fest in Washington, DC.

    Philippe van Mastrigt attended the London conference and reported the following:

    Benefits are an important factor to prospects in deciding to become a member.

    Online content is an essential part of what members want from a membership.

    Print magazines are still a highly-rated benefit for members.

    Advantage …



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    Extensibility Services in Advantage

    Advantage offers many integration options within a technical ecosystem. One of those is done through Advantage’s Extensibility Services framework. This framework allows our clients to create custom implementations of standard interfaces (e.g., address hygiene). This approach is an integral part of AdvantageCS’s open system strategy.

    The mechanics of the framework are straightforward: Advantage provides the extensibility service contract and interface files while the developer provides the implementation of the service. The service itself could be local to the Advantage software, distributed on a network, or web-based. In contrast, Advantage also supports many out-of-the-box point-to-point integrations to specific vendor packages (e.g., CyberSource for credit card transactions).

    The …



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    An annual tradition in publishing: the Frankfurt Book Fair

    Every year, for the past 14, we have attended the Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place in October in Frankfurt, Germany. If you’ve never attended the “Frankfurter Buchmesse,” it is difficult to paint a picture of just how gigantic this event is. This is the largest trade fair for books in the world. http://www.book-fair.com/en/

    It has been an annual event going back over 500 years to 1454, soon after Gutenberg invented the printing press, when the first book fair was held by local booksellers. It has evolved into the event for negotiating international publishing rights and license fees, and is surrounded by technology companies and other vendors to the industry who are able to do business with many publishers, authors, librarians, and agents in a short span of time.

    AdvantageCS …



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    ‘Tis the season to give online gift certificates

    The Cider web platform provides a robust environment for customer self-service and order placement.  Now, just in time for the holidays, the platform also supports payments made through gift certificates.

    Gift certificates are already a native payment method in the Advantage software package, but now the Cider platform will also support payments made via Advantage gift certificates. You can choose whether or not a certificate is usable for web orders. 

    This feature also permits the ability to use a partial amount of the gift certificate, with the remaining amount available for future orders.  Online customers can enter a gift certificate number directly, if they choose. If a customer has a partially redeemed gift certificate on file, they can select it and use it for payment.

      …



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    Take Me Out to the Ball Game

    As part of our annual summer picnic, AdvantageCS staff and their family members recently headed to Detroit for America’s pastime: a Major League Baseball game. Though our home team lost, our Tigers fans enjoyed cheering their team on, singing traditional ballgame songs, and watching the finale — a spectacular fireworks display. Everyone had a ball (pun intended)!

     



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    Tyranny of the Urgent

    In our world of constant interruptions and crises, it can be difficult to find time to address the critical tasks and projects that fall into the category often referred to as “Q2."  These are the things that in mapping out priorities get put into the second quadrant, which is reserved for those tasks that are important but not necessarily urgent.  We become victim to the tyranny of the urgent.  Our time and our lives become dominated by addressing whatever emergency has popped up that day.  It’s easy for those things that belong in the third quadrant (tasks that are urgent but not necessarily important), to masquerade as a top priority.

    There are many ways to reorganize your priorities to focus on what truly should be at the top of the list.  Sometimes that involves accepting that …



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    Congratulations to Oxford University Press on a Successful Upgrade

    Oxford University Press (OUP) is the largest university press in the world, with 6,000 employees worldwide. They have been an Advantage client since 2001 and today, 25% of their 800 million GBP in sales flows through Advantage.

    OUP recently completed a major upgrade from 11r2 to 2017.0 with a project that spanned 8 months and 2,000+ hours. The move provides them with key functionality that they can leverage in their business, including a move to a .NET environment, up-to-date PA-DSS security, a Rest API, Omnistream and workflow events. System administration is easier with this rev, as is integration with other systems.

    One significant challenge of the project was consortia sales, a concept unique to journals publishing, which involves exceptionally complex rules and procedures. At OUP, …



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    Congratulations to Soon-to-Be Retiree Bob Thornton

    After 28 years at AdvantageCS, Bob Thornton is retiring August 31st of this year. But while most retirees plan to take time to relax, Bob will be even busier. He may be leaving the business world, but he is jumping full-time into the non-profit arena. He will be working on partnership development and fund-raising for University Christian Outreach, a ministry serving students and young staff members at the University of Michigan. Bob and his wife, Rosemary have been supporting UCO for many years.  In fact, Rosemary has worked for UCO in various capacities since they were married, 31 years ago.

    And if that’s not enough, Bob will be working on his Master’s degree in Theology, one class at a time, at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

    Bob began his AdvantageCS career in support and …



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    Promotions in Engineering Division

    Howard Brooks has been named Director/Product Development and Toby Hartman and Paul Sauter have been promoted to Team Managers, reporting to Howie.

    Mike Hasey and John Moore have been promoted to Team Managers, reporting to Matt Varblow, Vice President/Engineering Services.

    In addition, Ray Zick has been named Manager of the Cloud Services Team, responsible for provisioning and supporting Advantage SaaS (cloud hosted) environments and for continuing to evolve and architect the Advantage cloud solution.

    While these changes do not represent dramatic shifts in responsibility, they do represent AdvantageCS’s recognition of these individuals’ increasing expertise, leadership and contribution to the critically important product development side of AdvantageCS.

    Congratulations to all!    

    ( …



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    Welcome New Employee Donal Cousino

    We are pleased to welcome Donal Cousino, the newest member of the Advantage Support Center, reporting to Scott Ghormley. Donal is no stranger to software support, as he worked for 4 ½ years at ParishSOFT in Ann Arbor. There, he spent time in support and also performed data conversions.

    Before that, he was a bookkeeper for various companies. Donal earned a degree in economics at Hillsdale College, with a minor in French.

    Donal gets great satisfaction from digging into a complex problem, figuring it out and solving it. That makes him a great match for software support. His fluency in French is also beneficial. 

    A native of Ypsilanti, Michigan, Donal is the middle of eleven children, ages 21 to 40. His parents and most of his siblings still live in the area. His father and one brother …



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