Finally Making Headway

Finally Making Headway

The AQHA Executive Vice President shares how the Association is committed to improving the member experience.

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By AQHA Executive Vice President Craig Huffhines

Last week, I was sent a headline on my iPhone reporting news that Google Maps redirected 100 cars out of the way of a traffic backlog down a muddy road in Colorado getting all of the drivers stuck. I'm not snickering right now because I know someone is sitting in a war room back at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, with a major headache. And, I can relate.

Photo courtesy of Connie Monsees.

Folks, there is sometimes a cost to modern technology that is unintended; but nonetheless, the train has left the station, and we are not going to give up on enhanced technology with new conveniences that we have come to expect. Now, that's my segue into telling you about some exciting improvements we are starting to see in getting members' registration certificates and transfer work out the door.

I'm pleased to share with you that the AQHA office is gaining traction in getting registration work out of our new computer system to our members at a faster rate, and it's getting better every week. The two things I want to share with you is what we are doing about the call center hold-time and our ability to get back to members in a timely manner, and how we are getting to the root cause of the call volume into AQHA by getting the backlog of work out the door.

If you've ever been involved in a big computer upgrade, then chances are your company or organization has experienced the same rough patch that AQHA has experienced getting this big business system off the ground. In recent weeks, we have been diligently working to process and produce accurate registration certificates. The gold standard for horse value starts with an accurate registration paper, and we understand how important that is to all of you. No need to get into the detail of the infinite number of complex issues involved in getting accurate information onto AQHA registration certificates other than to tell you we are making measurable improvement.

Over the past three months, we went from zero registrations being printed per week to 850 per week once we got the system and printers running. For the month of June, we produced an average of 1,750 registrations per week. We saw our numbers rise through the month and during this final week of June, we pushed out more than 2,000 certificates and, importantly, we were able to get started on new work that arrived last week.

Completion of transfers is increasing in pace, as well. I want to give credit to employees, including show secretaries, AQHA Professional Horsemen, who stepped in to help get transfer work caught up. To date, we have processed roughly the same number of registrations year-to-date as last year, 32,250 in 2018 vs. 30,285 in 2019, and transfers are catching up swiftly.

Priority Service Provided to Sale Companies, Breeders with Upcoming Sales, Exhibitors Showing or Racing a Horse
Focus was placed on special needs, as we assigned teams to work emergency rush orders for those members who are entering races and shows, and to sales companies preparing a catalog for an upcoming sale. We have contacted show and racetrack secretaries informing them that we will push through a registration if it is on a tight deadline. In addition, we have assigned internal care representatives to work daily with sale managers to work on registrations for sale lots.

Challenges Ahead
While we are making good progress, there are still challenges we are working on. For those members who sent in registrations in the first quarter of the year, we are still working on solutions to completing their paperwork. That work was migrated into the new computer system and had some problems during the migration that we have been working to correct. In addition, we had problems matching the DNA laboratory results to an animal. We have corrected that challenge, and now DNA results that had been completed by the lab and scanned into our system are matching up and allowing us to complete the registration. Some of you may have received multiple duplicate certificates in the mail, which was a glitch in the system that has been fixed. If so, we ask that you simply keep the certificate with the latest date and shred the other one.

Fixing the Call Center Backlog
Chances are, if you called the AQHA office in the past several weeks, you may have been on hold for a terribly long time, or you elected to select the call-back option, and did not get a timely response. This is an unacceptable customer service situation. The issue boils down to a numbers game; we have not had enough people to answer the increased number of calls.

The way we are going to correct this is two-fold. First, we are going to continue to get the backlog of work mailed, which is the main cause of the call volume. Second, we are restructuring the Customer Care department to add more than three times the number of call takers. We have already hired more than 20 new call center representatives and have been training them to provide great member service. Last week, we started seeing our hold times decline. 

A gentleman I admire recently said, “Procrastination atrophies servants' hearts into stone.” On behalf of our leadership team at AQHA and our elected Executive Committee members, I commit to you that we are not and will not procrastinate. Launching into this new system had a purpose. A purpose to continue to provide services that make life easier, not harder, for our members and the global horse community. While we are on this journey, we want you to know how much we appreciate each of you and that our desire is to serve you with a better-than-expected experience. We are committed to achieving that goal!