By Lisa M. Maloney, Administration
It’s hard to imagine meeting a kinder, more affable person than Joe Relihan, YPPS’s Customer Service Rep extraordinaire. Back in 1991, Joe started his career at Yale in the CIS Computer Repair Department doing mostly diagnosis and support similar to our modern day ITS DSP (data service provider) but working on a small team. A large part of his job as Assistant Manager was customer service and satisfaction. Around that same time, RIS (what is now known as YPPS) lead by Bernie Hayden was starting to grow and they needed a customer service rep. Having heard great things about Joe, Bernie asked him to come in and chat about a job opportunity. “I remember walking into his office and during the interview he read me several letters that I did not know about, sent by happy customers from various Yale Departments,” said Relihan. “I was, of course, pleasantly surprised by the letters and that he had sought me out to work with him,” he continued.
Soon after that interview, Joe became that department’s first customer service rep. Back then RIS was a small department consisting of 10 people and it offered only print, mail and graphic design services–so everyone chipped in. Joe would pick up and deliver completed jobs and also process the out-going U.S. mail. But his primary responsibility was establishing new business and providing customer service. “In the 1990s I did a lot of cold calls, and if someone told me I’d be doing this kind of a job, I’d have said they were crazy.” But the shy, self-effacing Relihan soon began to increase RIS’s presence and his easy-going manner won over many new customers who still use YPPS. “My goal is to help Yale departments save time, save money and improve the process” Relihan said.
Today, Joe still does customer service but is now part of a team. Just as YPPS has expanded its many offerings, so his role has expanded as well. Recently, he was part of the team that worked to eliminate most Pitney Bowes meters around campus helping save the University $230,000 in yearly meter rental costs. Joe is also one of the folks behind the Records Management Project. As part of this program, he meets many administrators and, with patience and tenacity, explains the many benefits of digitizing old files and eliminating unnecessary ones. He also discusses how digitizing enables departments to cut down on costs, create work efficiencies and in some cases opens up opportunities for reutilizing space for better purposes. He also educates departments about the University’s retention policy set by the Yale General Counsel and how that applies to each department. “We let departments know legally how long they are required to keep their files, and we discuss the many benefits of digitizing and the convenience of a searchable database,” said Relihan.
Since the inception of this program in 2009, there have been 40 departments that have taken advantage of it—YPPS has scanned over 2 million pages to date. The first department was Internal Medicine. “They had over 50 boxes and filing cabinets crammed into this room, to access any of the boxes was a time consuming, labor-intensive job. We scanned everything in those boxes and cabinets and turned them into searchable PDF’s. That space that once housed all those files is now a serene, plant filled break room,” said Relihan.
Besides helping Yale Departments save money and create efficiencies, Joe, volunteers to help local underprivileged kids. Since 2009, he has worked with the Science Park Outreach Committee fundraising for the Wexler/Grant Elementary School. Each Christmas he visits the school dressed as Santa Claus handing out gifts to all the students. “The first year when I stepped onto the auditorium stage, the kids were so excited and screaming, it was a bit overwhelming, but so incredibly rewarding. I love doing it and it means a lot, for some of these kids this is their only holiday gift. There’s nothing quite like the look in a child’s eyes when they see Santa,” said Relihan.
Joe has a deep commitment to and affection for the YPPS family and Yale. But he does lament the all online, electronic world we live and work in. “I am absolutely blessed to be working at Yale and with this great Team at YPPS. When I started here everything was done in person or over the phone. There was more personal contact. Everything is electronic now and you have to be careful not to lose that human connection.” said Relihan.
After hours, Joe enjoys spending time with his wife, Camille, raising his two children Kristen and Kevin, golfing and taking his two active dogs (Baily and Riley) on long hikes.