Show You Care—Use Automated Messages

by Kerry Martin

Let it be known that this might be the first time someone writes praises about the efficiency of a government agency.

But honestly, I couldn’t help but be wowed by a great use of technology employed by the Economic Development Administration for an online award application form.

As part of a strategy to spotlight our clients’ activities and efforts, we seek out award programs that cater to their industries.  I’ve seen my share of online submission forms for award nominations:  ones that have upload tools for PDFs, some that warn you that the page will timeout in 15 minutes, and plenty that have some unknown “error on page” message in the bottom of your browser no matter how many times you refresh.  What’s worse, I know that after clicking the “submit” button I’ll receive some automated message saying that if I don’t receive confirmation within 10 business days I can contact info@xyz.com.

So suffice it to say, I nearly have a panic attack every time I hover over that button thinking that some technology glitch could erase my application, cause me to miss the award deadline and I won’t find out for ten days (possibly longer knowing that my 87 emails to info@ surely won’t get returned in a timely manner).

This time, however, was completely different.  After clicking submit and waiting for the page to finish loading, I subsequently heard the ding of my email notification.  There in my inbox was a full report of what I had just submitted, with embedded links showing the PDFs that I had uploaded—displayed exactly how they will be seen by the award review committee.  Who knew a government agency’s upload tool would be so comforting?  (Or rather, their use of online form builder, Wufoo.)

So here’s a challenge to everyone reading this post that is in any way connected to an online submission form—invest in some IT consulting (or just sign up for a service like Wufoo) to construct an automated response system to message users who interact with your organization. When they get confirmation that their application was received, it sends the signal that you care—and saves them from having a nervous breakdown worrying if their application was lost somewhere in cyberspace.

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