“I’d been a Congressional Intern in Grad School where I used one of the first iterations of what would become IQ and then started supporting our products shortly thereafter." - Jerry Callaghan
Evolving Technologies: Since those early days, Jerry has seen the constituent correspondence morph from paper based mail to email and beyond. “At first it was a challenge just to get offices to take in email. Once email became an accepted method of correspondence, the next challenge came with advocacy organizations blasting large volumes of messages previously unseen in a Congressional office. The mission changed from just ‘if we should answer email’ to ‘how can we manage, prioritize and respond to this much email’. The highly successful program for Communicating with Congress (CWC) made a very positive impact, but as Jerry observes, the evolution of technology and constituent communication continues nonstop.
Focus on the Fundamentals: He offers some great advice to his customers: “Constituent correspondence is a gift. Organizing it well lets you create lasting relationships. Plan ahead. Develop and use issue codes and unique letter names so that you can follow up throughout the Member’s term. A good letter naming convention is great, but coding can save you a lot of time when you need to identify audiences quickly. I like to think of viewing your correspondence data as a pyramid. You start at the top with a general category like ‘Environment’. The middle of the pyramid is a bit wider with sub issues like ‘Wetlands’, ‘EPA’, or ‘Noise Pollution’. Finally, as you reach the base of the pyramid use descriptive letter names to differentiate between specific issues. If you consistently code messages as they come in with the appropriate top-level code like ‘Environment’ and a sub code like ‘Env.Wetlands’ you will not have to spend time sorting through all your letters to do a search on an overarching topic. All you need to do is use the code or sub code to find those messages. Letter names then only need to be used to hone in on very specific responses you may want to identify for reporting or outreach purposes.”
Maximizing Constituent Engagement: Jerry also advises his customers to prioritize personal mail. A custom message that the constituent has taken time to write is more valuable than the message pushed out by an advocacy campaign repeating the same message thousands of times. Answer them all, but with IQ, you can answer thousands of advocacy messages in seconds by setting up rules. The personal messages require a little more attention but are well worth the investment.
Customer Satisfaction and Growth: When asked what the most rewarding part of his job is, Jerry answered quickly. “Watching the light bulbs go on … when people embrace the concepts and realize they can make IQ do the repetitive work and that they can dramatically increase their productivity with a little effort up front. I really enjoy matching their needs with best strategy for them – tailoring advice to their specific needs.” Our customers have noticed Jerry too, one citing him for going “above and beyond” and declaring that he is an “excellent communicator” who works hard to “understand what would be best for our office, give advice, explain the new functions simply, and get the process up and running.” Another customer praised his “responsiveness” and “great customer service.”
Jerry will tell you that experience has advantages and one of them is getting to watch others grow and excel. “I’ve seen people go from intern to Chief of Staff. That’s very rewarding … but it also presents one of our biggest challenges. Staff turnover and promotion is so fast! You coach one person and the next thing you know they’ve moved up and you’re starting over with someone new. I mean everybody wins, but wow these are really smart and motivated people!”
Read about how our IQ team stood up a high-profile, high-visibility office in less than 48 hours here.