Every member has different needs and each of those members desires help in a variety of ways. When a problem appears, compassionate and constructive support is appreciated, as well as timely feedback. Edge is cognizant of requests and why the region’s member-driven, non-profit technology organization pours full energies into their membership.
Where the member request comes from doesn’t matter, a New Jersey K-12 school, university, or local municipality, as Edge values the member care given and aligns themselves more as fellow colleagues.
“We view ourselves as colleagues of our members, rather than employees of a service provider, and we really behave this way so our members’ goals and challenges are also ours. We are all part of one large team,” said Bruce Tyrrell, Edge’s Associate Vice President Programs & Services.
When a member requires a solution or requires more support, the Edge team owns the request and makes sure the member is fully satisfied with the efforts provided on their behalf. The goal is to solve the issue or problem without trying to oversell. “I believe good member care is at the heart of everything we do and excellent member service can be hard to define, but you definitely know when you don’t receive this support,” said Michelle Ferraro, Edge’s Preferred Account Engagement Manager. “Our success largely depends on always making our members the top priority.”
Every solution created and tool suggested is based on Edge’s core beliefs and values. The member care provided is driven by Edge’s commitment to operational excellence and the organization’s drive to consistently provide value. “While we’re not always the least expensive option, our approach to member care provides the high touch that keeps our members happy and coming back,” Ferraro added. Ferraro also feels because Edge is a non-profit organization, members find this aspect to be advantageous and a distinguishing point from other service providers. The groups become partners with each other rather than competitors.
Service is at the Core of Edge’s Philosophy
Edge’s overall business philosophy is one reason why Tyrrell joined the team over seven years ago. He respected the fact that Edge didn’t have a shareholder mentality and was more focused on a member-first belief system.
“I recently read an article about an organization called Business Roundtable where this group of chief executives from major U.S. corporations are behind an ethos they’re promoting to the country ,” he said. This group of CEOs made an announcement recognizing a value system similar to what Edge has always followed. “The organizations who function strictly to drive shareholder value for profit are not creating a company culture that provides great member service experiences,” Tyrrell added. “I believe Edge as a non-profit has always focused on bringing value to the members and delivering the best member service experience first and foremost.”
Edge has always aimed to deliver and sustain a healthy, vibrant, and purpose-built technology ecosystem to the communities they serve. Through active collaboration, adaptive technology, transformative engagement, and defined solutions, the consortium has designed a national model of excellence in research and education networking since 1997 in New Jersey and beyond. Edge is completely dedicated to serving higher education, K-12 education, the research community, healthcare, public and non-profit service members, while collaborating with partners and subscribing patrons.
If a member has a problem, Ferraro said Edge employees jump right in to make sure a member is satisfied and the situation is handled appropriately from beginning to end. Progress updates are over-communicated and appreciated by the member. For instance, if a network issue has occurred and a trouble call has been placed, Edge works hard to provide timely and frequent updates. “A member becomes uncomfortable when they reported something that’s impactful to their network and they’re not hearing from us on a timely basis. We like to call or email them once every hour to let them know we still have our eye on the ball and focused on their issue. This ‘over-communication’ provides members with a level of comfort and they take comfort knowing we are going to do what we say we’re going to do,” Tyrrell added.
Edge Approaches Solutions Differently Than Other Providers
Everything Edge provides for a member is created from best practices for service provider networks. The enterprise service architecture goes a step further and incorporates specific needs for each particular member. The upgrades and improvements made to the network are completed to enhance each member’s ability to focus on their business, the network, and the business of educational research. Because Edge is a non-profit organization, Tyrrell said the group isn’t trying to squeeze maximum profitability from the architecture and there isn’t an extra charge for capabilities needed for future success. Solutions are developed and uncovered for members that address underlying problems, as well as needs and wants. “We devise solutions where needs and wants are taken care of,” explained Ferraro. “We don’t want our members to think of us as a vendor, but more as a trusted partner who’s here to help.”
Success is For Everyone
Behind all Edge’s hard work and desire to assist is the core value, “Our success is your success.” Edge employees have roles that span many different core functions, including sales, service, and support. Ferraro says their philosophy is to maintain a member focus mindset while being strongly transparent. “Being transparent plays a huge role in building and maintaining the trust of our members and our partners’ relationships,” she explained. “If we’re successful, our members benefit and they are also successful.”
Because Edge is so closely aligned with higher education, the organization’s core membership is intrinsically tied to the success found at New Jersey’s colleges and universities. “If we’re not successful or if they’re not successful, we might not exist so we’re really driven to make sure that everything we do has a positive impact on the members,” Tyrrell said.
When Edge makes a member visit, the team is comprised of networking staff, the sales group, and chief executive officers. During this discovery process, the Edge team seeks to understand the good and the bad and how solutions can be created for problems being experienced. This interview process helps Edge become a solution provider who drives value to the member. Subsequently, resources are then put into place to create solutions and ongoing support.
“Since Edge is not a large organization, we have the ability to offer resources that a large commercial entity might not be able to incorporate,” Tyrrell said. “Also, we bring executive leaders to these meetings so the membership gets the benefit of the view and the experience of all of these different levels within the organization.”
Providing Support to Each Other
One area Edge has specifically provided ongoing support is with members who have multiple campuses across the state. These colleges and universities are always looking for the best solution in how to provide network services and interconnect campuses. “Edge can step in and provide cost-effective technically-correct solutions in a short period of time. Few institutional resources are utilized and the solution is created for the wide area network. Basically, we are able to cut through the noise in the market and point them in the right direction,” Tyrrell said.
At the same time, security issues are becoming more prevalent, and EdgeSecure has been able to help members with security perspective and assist with service disruption that can be caused by distributed denial of service attacks. As the upstream provider, Edge can detect and mitigate disruptive network traffic flows and save members troubleshooting hours when malicious attacks occur. Another solution Edge has deployed is Secure Internet Gateway capability in the Cloud, which assists members in securing their networks, mitigating malware, and preventing the spread of malicious content. “The capability via the licensing of this functionality is in use for members today, and when a member finds themselves in trouble, we have the ability to deploy this support very rapidly to help them mitigate issues as they happen,” Tyrrell explained.
Evolution of Edge Support
Whether Edge is providing support through their seven lines of solutions, the non-profit consortium helps their membership accomplish their goals and objectives by providing networking services and solutions through trusted partnerships. Edge helps members overcome budget constraints and staffing issues. Ecosystems are always being dissected and the research network is maintained to advance the groups national model of excellence. “We have looked at every aspect of our members’ ecosystems and we’ve come up with solutions to difficult and complex problems they may experience,” Ferraro said. “We’ve sought out the best in class solutions and partners to help ensure Edge is successfully helping our members, providing them with the knowledge and understanding they may not receive with a regular commercial provider.” To continue this high standard of member care, Edge is always focusing internally on their business practices and processes. Constant evaluation and the refinement of processes allow Edge to support each and every member.
“We take a thoughtful approach to the service life cycle with an eye towards continuous improvement of the member experience, which we feel is critical to our organization’s future relevance, our stakeholders and our partners who rely on us to bring them business,” Tyrrell shared. “We are connected at the hip, so to speak, with our members’ success and we need to be successful so they’re successful and vice versa.”
For 24/7 white glove member care, visit njedge.net/support and Edge support will be calling shortly.