REVIEWER: Mark Mercer, vice president, U.S. Business Operations for EF Education First.

BACKGROUND: EF Education First was founded in Sweden in 1965 by Bertil Hult. The company’s concept was straightforward: take local high-school students to England to learn English. It was a simple business idea - on-site language and cultural studies - but one with an enormous future. Four decades later, EF Education First is one of the world’s largest private education companies, with a group of 14 subsidiaries and nonprofit organizations centered around language learning, educational travel, cultural exchange and academic programs. EF Education First has more than 26,000 employees, teachers and volunteers, with offices and schools in 51 countries. Our programs enable everyone to make the world their classroom.

PLATFORMS: In-house customer relationship management system; Dell Web servers.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We are using QAS in our educational travel department that sends tens of thousands of packages annually to teachers, students and volunteers in the U.S. and abroad. We were experiencing many returned packages because of bad addresses, costing us a fair amount of money. We knew we needed to cut down on these shipping returns and started looking at ways to offset and validate addresses at point of entry.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Postal addresses entered into Web site forms are often incomplete or incorrectly formatted and need to be verified and standardized separately before use. QAS Pro Web enables Web site users to perform their own address validation before submitting their contact information online. This “self service” mode of address verification resulted in substantially fewer returned packages, which translates into bottom-line savings for the company. Now when we mail something to customers, we can be certain it will reach them. This has really improved our customer communication and service. Additionally, QAS Pro Web has significantly shortened the number of keystrokes that our customer service representatives need to input when taking address information over the phone, increasing productivity. QAS Pro Web also has built-in logic, referred to as fuzzy address matching, that performs automatic address correction on misspelled addresses or returns a pick list of possible matches for the address details supplied. This allows us to make sure we are capturing the right address without inconveniencing our customers.

STRENGTHS: The strongest aspects of QAS products are how easy they are to install and implement. Full sample code is provided for quick and easy integration of the address finder, address search and address validation functions of QAS Pro Web into any Web site form. Additionally, the support factor is a major strength. Any time we have reached out for support, our experience has been that technical knowledge runs deep across the QAS team.

WEAKNESSES: One piece of functionality we would like to see built into future versions of the product is integration with the National Change of Address database so that the system can notify of us in advance of address changes.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We considered doing just batch data quality, but upon deeper investigation, it wasn’t the right fit for our needs. We also looked into another vendor, but its solutions didn’t meet our specific needs either. We ultimately chose QAS because we were familiar with its parent company (Experian), and after careful evaluation, it was the solution best suited for our problem at the best price point.

DELIVERABLES: We don’t currently run any reports with the Web version; the outputs are there, but we have not started the implementation process.

VENDOR SUPPORT: QAS was outstanding as a partner from beginning to end. The support we received through the sales and implementation process was unwavering. I handed off most of the heavy lifting to my technical team, and any time they had a question, QAS was there with an answer. The implementation was conducted mainly via email and conference calls because many of our technical staff reside in remote locations. It was a relatively simple and straightforward process.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation for installation is well written and easy to understand.

QAS Pro Web
QAS, an Experian Company
1 Memorial Drive, Suite 800
Cambridge MA 02142
(888) 322-6201
http://www.qas.com/

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