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Customer-Centric Evolution: Why Versailles-Woodford Chose to Partner With Xplor Recreation

Versailles Woodford Parks and Recreation & Xplor Recreation

Their Background

Versailles-Woodford Parks and Recreation, located in Kentucky, is a collaboration between the city of Versailles and Woodford County. Together, they cater to an engaged community of over 28,000 members.

Back in the early 2000s, they embraced their first recreation management software platform, initially a frontrunner in the field. However, as technology advanced, their software lagged behind, failing to keep pace. The outdated system coupled with ongoing customer support issues led to mounting frustrations among both community members and staff.

Fed up with their challenges and driven by a commitment to deliver the best possible experience to their patrons, the Versailles-Woodford team decided to start their search for a new recreation management software partner in 2023. Leading this effort was Aaron Stover, the Director of Programming.

Aaron's journey with Versailles-Woodford started in 2013 when he joined part-time as a summer camp counselor. With 11 years of experience and a deep understanding of the community's needs, Aaron played a pivotal role in advocating for and evaluating software that would empower both its community members and staff.

Continue reading to discover the software challenges Aaron and team faced and why they chose Xplor Recreation as their new partner.

aaron stover headshot


Featured Quote:

“When I first started my job years ago, I half-jokingly said that I wanted to bring our department into the 21st century. Well, things basically got to a point where we either needed to switch software or get left behind. Now here we are making that happen with Xplor Recreation.” - Aaron Stover - Versailles-Woodford Parks and Recreation

Their Challenges

The Versailles-Woodford parks and recreation team had been using their previous recreation management software for over 20 years, since opening their doors in the early 2000s.

At the time, it was the “creme-de-la-creme" as Aaron put it, but in recent years the team experienced many challenges and frustrations that made them question if the technology they were using held the test of time – unfortunately, it didn’t.

"When I first started my job years ago, I half-jokingly said that I wanted to bring our department into the 21st century. Well, things basically got to a point where we either needed to switch software or get left behind."

Of the many issues they were facing with their recreation management software provider, three key challenges stood out.

 

Key Challenges Included:

 

Increasingly Ineffective Customer Support:

Poor customer support from their previous software vendor was the biggest factor that drove them to switch. Simply put, in most cases the support team failed to provide effective solutions to Versailles-Woodford's inquiries and would have to be chased down to get follow-up answers. The quality of their customer support took a noticeable nose-dive after the COVID19 pandemic. As a result, the Versailles-Woodford team reached a point of accepting that they would have to live with their problems, because their software’s support team wouldn’t be of any help.

"Our [previous software’s] customer support quality was the biggest factor that inspired us to look at other options. There’s been a massive decline in quality since COVID.  When I connect with a support rep, I shouldn't feel like I know more than they do, and that's usually been the case.

 

For example, just before Christmas, we ran into an issue with our automated emails not working. We put in a support ticket, worked with a local IT team to do our part and just never heard back for three, maybe four weeks. I kept following up without any response and I was getting increasingly frustrated. Then when we finally got a hold of them, they recommended the same solution that didn’t work when we originally reached out. So, they said they’d escalate it internally and follow-up. Radio silence. I followed-up and haven’t heard back since. That was 3 months ago. So, I’ve just given up and accepted that this will never get resolved."

 

Frustrating Customer Experience:

Like other agencies, the Versailles-Woodford team prioritizes their community members over all else. So, when it came to their rec management software, they aimed to provide nothing short of an exceptional experience for their customers. After many attempts to address configuration issues and improve how they used their previous software, they realized it still fell short of delivering the modern, user-friendly online experience they wanted to offer their community members.

"Our client online experience was another big issue. [Our previous software] just isn’t user-friendly and the general aesthetic of the online experience isn’t good or easy to navigate. Especially on mobile devices, which is what most people are using now.

 

We - me in particular - would get a lot of complaints from patrons asking for help with online registration. I’d get so many calls from first-time users saying they need help because they just can’t make sense of our online experience. Something as simple as creating an account should not be a struggle in today’s world. But I would get at least 10 of these calls a month. I just had to accept that I'd be spending a lot of time each month dealing with these types of issues, which was incredibly frustrating.

 

With [our previous software] we just couldn’t empower our patrons to be as self-sufficient as they want to be. Our customers are the reason why we're open at the end of the day, and they need to be the ones to be able to have control and feel confident making changes to their account, updating their information, registering for those things. Which wasn't the case."

 

Outdated and Clunky Software Interface:

Usability issues weren’t limited to their customers alone – the software as a whole felt dated, unintuitive, and complicated for community members and the Versailles–Woodford staff alike.

"Another big frustration for us was wanting to feel like we are in the modern era when it comes to our technology. That's something that we’ve been lacking and behind on.

 

In general, [our previous software] doesn’t look modern on the front-end or back-end.  Navigating around the software just doesn’t feel self-explanatory and intuitive like the tech we’ve become used to in everyday life.

 

We know there are some issues that come from how we set things up in the past, so we've bridged as many of those gaps as we could. Even then, we realized that this just isn’t how modern technology should function or look, and that the software wasn't the best. And it wasn’t just us - our patrons still felt the experience sucked even after all the changes we made. We really needed things to be more streamlined and efficient."

Their Solution

As challenges continued to stack-up for Aaron and the Versailles-Woodford team, it became clear that they needed to start looking for a new recreation management software partner.

Aaron was involved in the process from the ground-up, playing a pivotal role in influencing and driving the change.

Aaron kicked things off by working with other key stakeholders to outline the key criteria they were looking for. Beyond addressing all the challenges Aaron shared earlier, what mattered most to them was finding a software solution that would provide the best possible customer experience to their community members through modern technology.

It didn’t take long for Aaron to know that Xplor Recreation was the software partner to help the Versailles-Woodford team tackle their challenges, but Aaron wanted to ensure that he did his due diligence given the significance of this change.

"I knew pretty much from the start that Xplor Recreation was going to be the right solution for us, but I needed to do my due diligence and be absolutely sure. The research I did also helped me confidently present all the benefits we'd gain by switching to [Xplor Recreation] to the board."


Xplor Recreation case study book a demo graphic

 

Key Reasons for Choosing Xplor Recreation:

 

Modern, Intuitive, Easy-To-Use Software:

After seeing live demos of the software and playing around in a test environment, Aaron was already envisioning all the time savings that the Versailles-Woodford staff would enjoy with Xplor Recreation’s intuitive platform and user-friendly interface.

"Seeing the software in action during demos, it was obvious that the software was intuitive and easy to use. The ease of access and the general flow of things just made sense and felt smoother. Personally, there was so much I had to deal with on a daily basis [with our previous software] that I won’t have to once we switch over. I’ll have much more free time and the energy to actually do things I’ve been wanting to do in my job."

But what truly mattered to Aaron, and what influenced his decision the most, was how Xplor Recreation could empower community members and simplify their lives.

"End of the day, it’s great that the staff and me will be able to benefit from the software, but how we can improve our customers’ experiences makes a world of a difference to me.

 

The customer side of things just really stood out to me with [Xplor Recreation]. Everything looked really modern and felt self-explanatory. I could picture any of our customers using it easily on a daily basis, and that was key. I felt confident that we’d finally be able to empower our customers to manage everything they need on their own - especially with the Xplor Recreation mobile app. When I saw we could have our own custom app, I didn’t even think twice about it."

 

Reliable 24/7, 365 Customer Support:

After giving up on getting resolutions from their previous software provider’s support team, Aaron and the Versailles-Woodford team stressed how important it was for them to have prompt access to customer support, no matter the time. Xplor Recreation’s around-the-clock support (at no extra cost) was another key influence for Aaron and team.

"The 24/7 support was a massive selling point for us. If our front desk staff is dealing with issues on the weekend, I’m the one getting the call. I don’t mind, but I need to be able to help them with a solution. Being able to get support whenever we need it is so important. We can’t hit pause on serving our customers because we’re waiting for our software partner’s support team to clock in."

Versailles-Woodford will be going live with Xplor Recreation in the Fall of 2024.