Via counts on international education community for product ideation
When it comes to making Via’s software solutions better, Via knows exactly who to turn to: our international education community.
“When we say we were built by international educators for international educators, we’re talking about our clients and prospects. Via was built by and for them—literally,” says Lisa Stern, Via’s Chief Client Officer. “They’ve given us their feedback, their ideas and their pain points so that we can make their workday easier.”
Product ideation—the act of gathering, prioritizing and implementing ideas to make products better—is the only way to go, Lisa says. So where does Via gather ideas? Through every interaction we have with clients and prospects, including:
- User research studies
- Surveys and polls
- Sales demos
- Integration meetings
- Onboarding and training sessions
- Support desk
- Conferences and other in-person meet-ups
Product ideation requires active listening
“We’re always listening and we’re always on the lookout for ways we can help improve the way IE professionals work,” Lisa says.
Lisa calls Via’s UX/UI Designer Chelsea Balderson the “mastermind” behind bringing user research studies to Via. Each month, Via holds user research around a theme, such as travel alerts or program budgets. It’s an opportunity to intentionally ask questions, gather feedback and watch users interact with Via. User research studies, webinars and the like are always recorded so feedback can be shared with the Via team—and referred to again and again.
“The whole process of user research and getting feedback from clients and prospects isn’t just to know what we’re doing wrong,” Chelsea says. “It’s to identify the reasons why they’re having any sort of stressors in their day and finding creative solutions to help them. We need to know what users actually want—not what we think they want.”
Everything in product ideation, whether it’s formal or informal, comes down to asking open-ended questions and deeply listening to responses, Chelsea and Lisa say.
Via’s willingness to seek out input from the international education community is one of the reasons UMass Amherst made the switch to Via in late 2021. For example, when the International Programs Office pointed out a formatting issue, Via quickly fixed it, notes AJ LeBlanc, EA Advising Center coordinator and EA advisor at UMass.
“We really feel like we have a voice and that our opinion matters to Via,” AJ says. “Our opinions, our feedback, how we use the product, where we find successes and challenges—everyone we’ve interacted with at Via legitimately wants to know and wants to make it better.”
Here’s how Via vets your ideas
While that formatting issue could be addressed quickly, other recommendations take longer to implement and some are never executed. The reasons are varied, but one thing is constant: Every idea, every recommendation, is considered.
“We’re not building Via for us,” Lisa says. “We’re building it for you, our clients. We’re putting our technical expertise to work to serve you best, but without your ideas, we don’t know what will actually serve you best. Please keep your ideas coming.”
Via is constantly innovating our software solutions based on feedback we receive from our partners in international education. If you would like to participate in user research, please contact your Via account representative or fill out the form below to sign up.