Holiday Party Recap 2013: Spiked Eggnog Edition

By Christopher Brooks, Manager, Web Production & Online Ads.

Yesterday we decided to loosen our ties and celebrate the season. After wrapping up a productive work day we headed over to Lola’s Bar and Grill where the festivities began. Employees and their guests gathered together with free food and drinks to enjoy the great accomplishments of the year. Pool and shuffle board tables were filled with laughter and camaraderie as coworkers let off a bit of stress to enjoy the evening. It was a time to not only celebrate the season but also some of the great successes over the past year. Big projects were completed this year, namely the launch of Signal CRM.

Check out some of our photos from the party!

Access Granted: Derek Haller

Posted by Brija Johnson, Digital Media Intern

Derek Haller has been instrumental to the success at iConstituent. Here's a little bit about Derek and his journey to becoming the Director of Product. Derek grew up in Burke, VA, a suburb just outside of DC, not far from the Redskins stadium.  His greatest childhood memory is being in attendance for every home game, including the playoffs, of the Redskins’ ‘91-‘92 Superbowl season. His affinity for sports had only just begun. When he’s not glued to Clemson sports or indulging in an exciting game of Boggle, Derek enjoys bourbon and skiing amongst other things.  His love for skiing has made Colorado his favorite place to visit although he cites a different destination as being the most interesting. Can you picture hiking in a jungle with underwater caves where you can go tubing at your leisure? If you can’t, just ask Derek to tell you about his trip to Belize in 2005.

Fast forward a few years, Haller now serves a prominent role at iConstituent. It began when his former company, InterAmerica, was acquired by iConstituent. He chose to stay with the company after the acquisition because the work is fast paced and everyday is different, the company is small enough that his impact is evident, and the market is permanent with a steady number of clients. iConstituent is an innovative company filled with people doing their best to bring happiness to their customers. People may already know this, but often that gets overlooked in an environment that is fast paced and high stress. With the majority of the customers working for powerful, influential, on-the-go individuals, it can be difficult to deliver products that are frequently evolving and provide instantaneous customer service to meet expectations.

Haller admits while he likes working for iConstituent, his position is like any other accompanied by some challenges. “The hardest part about my position is saying no.  When you’re a small business like iConstituent that makes products, there are always more requests and demands from different stakeholders than we’ll ever possibly be able to create with the resources we have.  That means that I’m saying no to someone at any given point on an almost daily basis.  It is sort of like working for the IRS – in the end, nobody likes you, but they understand you’re a necessary evil in order for everything to work.  But that is also the best part about my job – getting to figure out what we can make with the tools we have that’ll make the most customers happy.” Some of his proudest moments with the company have been over the past two years with the redesigning of the two biggest products currently being offered. The Constituent Gateway and new iConstituent Signal CRM are two huge projects that not only make him proud of himself, but also the team that has worked tirelessly to make it all possible.

His life journey, filled with adventure and enjoyment, can be summed up with a title from a great movie… Ace Ventura: Pet Detective 2. Derek still proclaims his greatest overarching accomplishment to be graduating from college, even if his mom was a bit skeptical. And with his travels you may be surprised to hear he has never crossed the Atlantic Ocean. But regardless of what you know about him now, in a hundred years when you look back on who he was, remember his Instagram account and know that he ate well.

iConstituent Launches New Constituent Relationship Management Product for Government

iConstituent LLC., a leader in government digital communications, announced today the launch of a brand new Constituent Relationship Management product, iConstituent Signal CRM. Signal CRM enables the teams that work for elected officials and other governmental organizations to manage constituent relationships, keep up with continuous constituent correspondence, and provide constituent casework services.

According to Derek Haller, Director of Product for iConstituent, "Signal CRM is a top to bottom re-envisioning of what a Constituent Relationship Management product for government needs to be in this day and age: software that is easy to use, beautifully designed, and powerful enough to keep up with the constantly growing amounts of digital communication our governmental entities are dealing with."

Signal CRM is designed to streamline, augment, and optimize the back office work that legislative and communication teams perform on a daily basis for constituents. It enables them to receive communications from constituents from multiple different electronic channels, reply to them all, and then leverage that information to better understand the sentiment and position of their constituencies. The users of Signal CRM are able to manage hundreds, if not thousands, of constituent communications through Signal CRM’s user interface.

Speaking about the way Signal CRM’s interface was built, Haller adds: "When we started to conceive Signal, we worked with a top Silicon Valley design firm and then employed dedicated User Experience Designers to really focus in on the way users achieve these tasks and try to solve this huge problem. The fact is — the amount of communication a Governor or Congressperson receives daily far outweighs the ability of a normal person to keep up with it, make sense of it, and reply to it. They were screaming out for a better solution."

With an interface designed to tackle this problem, Signal CRM was built on proven technology and is delivered in a Software as a Service (SaaS) model from iConstituent’s own private cloud. "More and more pieces of government are transitioning to the cloud for their software solutions," said Jeff Green, Chief Technology Officer at iConstituent. "Signal CRM is a truly cloud aware product, built on iConstituent’s own secure infrastructure. We made this decision so that we could provide a product that was not only incredibly well designed to meet the user’s needs, but it could be implemented in any size organization and to scale. It doesn’t matter if they have one user or one thousand."

iConstituent Signal CRM is available immediately. Interested organizations should contact iConstituent directly at (202) 355-9355 or visit http://www.getsignalcrm.com.

About iConstituent

iConstituent® is the leading provider of government digital communications solutions and is an approved Congressional vendor with headquarters in Washington, D.C. iConstituent develops digital communication and constituent relationship management solutions that help Federal, State and Local agencies and offices communicate more effectively with their citizens and constituents. In addition, iConstituent provides a full spectrum of professional services to help agencies take advantage of digital communications best practices and policies to communicate more effectively and efficiently with their constituents in the Federal, State and Local markets. iConstituent’s products and services are used by the U.S. Congress, Federal and State agencies, statewide office holders, state legislative caucuses and non-governmental organizations.

From PRWeb.com

Signal CRM 1.0 – The Contact Record

Posted by Derek Haller, Director of Product

When setting out to design a completely new CRM we knew one really important fact: CRM products have always been great at absorbing all sorts of information, but they weren’t the best at structuring it for human beings to be able to easily understand it. When you add to this cocktail the tricky terminology of government organizations, the nomenclature of an Elected Official’s own internal conventions (which often aren’t consistent as people and processes change over the years), and the learning curve to get up to speed with it all? It becomes impossible for the layman to do what you might consider the simplest task: look up a contact and see what stuff you’ve done with them.

With that in mind, we knew we needed a really well designed Contact Record. It needed to have places for all of the important, really powerful, information. Those addresses, emails, phone numbers, organizations, households, and metadata tags that are constantly absorbed from its different import channels and the manual data entry work of the team all need to be there. But, that reservoir of data needed to be presented a way that didn’t feel like it was overwhelming.

With that in mind, this is Signal CRM’s Contact Record: 

Tons of information, right? It has all of the key data you’d expect to find in a CRM Contact, but it’s been designed in a way to let you clearly focus on the most relevant part: your activity with the contact. We call this the Contact Feed; a sequential list of every correspondence, note, casework, casework journal entry, tour, flag — anything you do with that contact ends up in their feed.

You’ll notice that each entry in the feed is clearly spelled out in human readable language. We wanted anyone to be able to open up the contact and understand what was going on with them. There’s no horrible, horizontally scrolling, grid with obtuse labels like “Group Code” or “Interest Code.” Just a nice snippet of text that tells you exactly what that activity represents.

We think this is a better and more intuitive way to work. The Feed also gives you the ability to see the activities of the team for that contact in line, in chronological order, so that the most recent action is always right up top.

Have good Delivery Rates?

If your Office sends mass email to constituents, through an eNewsletter service, you should be aware of your delivery rates. Why? Because, your mission critical messages may be blocked by spam filters and not getting to your constituents; thus, your message will simply NOT be heard.  Some vendors do not show you delivery rates, and you should inquire why not: Demand to see your delivery rates. Open rates/Click through rates is not good enough. They only tell you your success rate after the email has been received and delivered into an inbox. However, 50 percent of your constituents (or more) may not be receiving your eNewsletter in the first place because the ISPs are blocking your mail. That’s right, your eNewsletter may be blacklisted by ISPs! So, Open Rates/Click Through rates are meaningless without knowing your delivery rate.

Introducing… Signal CRM

Posted by Derek Haller, Director of Product

18 months ago, our team at iConstituent decided that our CRM was not good enough.  And so, we brainstormed a lot of ideas about how to improve it.  The discussion was wild and crazy; it ran the gamut of adding features, to removing features, to changing what they were called and where they were placed.  In the end, we decided that none of these ideas were good enough.  We wanted to not only improve our CRM, but also change what everyone’s expectations for a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) product tailored for Elected Officials and government truly could be. 

We knew it had to be three things:

  • Beautifully designed from the ground up.  That doesn’t just mean it should be pretty to look at; the technology behind it needed to be designed well and the way humans interact with it to do their jobs needed to be designed to fit their expectations and needs.
  • Future proof.  The requirements for CRMs, both technologically and from the needs of users, have and will continue to accelerate as more and more communications and media become digital (over 70% of constituent correspondence now comes via email in 2013).
  • Something we were proud to create.  iConstituent is a product company; it makes things that solve problems for people.  We wanted to be proud of our CRM and happy that what we’ve made was helping other people.

This is where we knew that we had to start over.  It was the only way.  And today is the first milestone in that continuous journey and we’re excited to finally be able to share: the release of version 1.0 of a little thing we called iConstituent Signal CRM.

Signal CRM is a next generation CRM.  It has a user interface designed by a Silicon Valley based firm – people that companies like Yahoo! and Intuit have trusted to make beautifully designed and functional software.  It has architecture and technology built for the increasing demands on our Elected Officials and their CRM systems.  And most importantly, it is something everyone at iConstituent is incredibly proud to have made.

So check out a little bit more about Signal CRM by visiting its own dedicated micro-site at www.getsignalcrm.com or give us a buzz at dcsales@iconstituent.com to setup a private demo.  And be sure to circle back to this blog frequently as we’ll be posting many more details about Signal in the coming days.

We made some changes to the homepage, hope you like it

iConstituent®, an approved Congressional vendor, is the only company in Congress that provides a full spectrum of products and services to meet the needs of the most demanding Congressional offices.  From in-office technical support to the Constituent Gateway® CRM, iConstituent is a true “one-stop” solution.

We are looking forward, not back.

2013 has been a challenging year. The Sequester. Budget Cuts. The Government Shutdown.  It has been interesting, for sure. But, at iConstituent we have learned a lot, and we are energized and ready for a brighter end-of-year and 2014. Despite all the challenges of 2013, iConstituent is busy investing in its future. These investments include a beefed-up systems infrastructure, an expanded Helpdesk, new tools for our support staff, a larger on-site Hardware team, and more software engineers. Our objective is simple: we will once again regain our position as the vanguard of innovation in government to constituent communications. With that in mind, we will be releasing a totally new, completely redesigned CRM product called Signal. We fully expect Signal CRM to have a powerful resonance in the marketplace with its simple-to-use interface and powerful features.   We want to move the needle, become a positive source of disruption in our market, and truly push the boundaries forward in what can be done with software to solve problems in constituent communications, casework/constituent service, and correspondence management.

I am also proud to announce that our push towards innovation has brought with it several key promotions for some of our longtime staff as they take on this mantle: Derek Haller, formerly with InterAmerica Technologies, is now our Director of Product and will be helping chart the direction of our products moving forward; Greg Fickel, also from InterAmerica Technologies, has been promoted to be our Director of Customer Support Operations and will oversee all our support channels and team; JeNaye Johnson, formerly with Fireside21, is taking over the management of our Customer Service Helpdesk as our Helpdesk Manager; and, finally, Chris Brooks, a longtime member of the iConstituent team, is now the Manager of our Professional Services team. I couldn’t be happier with the staff at iConstituent, and each of these internal promotions brings with it fresh voices, perspective, and a genuine passion for iConstituent’s primary mission of helping build meaningful relationships between constituents and their government. 

To summarize: We are looking forward to the future and not back. We have learned a lot this year, and taking all of these lessons, have improved and will continue improving our business in all areas. iConstituent is and will continue to be a formidable, innovative, force in government to constituent communications. Stay tuned for some more exciting news. 

Sincerely,

Zain Khan
Chief Executive Officer
iConstituent, LLC.