Behind the Cube: Back-to-School Edition

Sep 20, 2019 · 5 min read

At McGraw-Hill, our back-to-school season is largely defined by our efforts to support educators as they encounter these challenges, so they can get back to fostering relationships with their new students. For the past few weeks, we’ve been focusing our Behind the Cube employee highlight series on just a few of our team members that work particularly hard during the back-to-school season.

Today’s highlight: Gabriel Fox, Product Information Manager

Describe your role at McGraw-Hill?

I manage a team called the Product Information Center. We support our sales team by providing answers to any product questions they or their customers may have. When a member of our sales team is putting together a presentation or a quote and need additional information about a product our team is available to answer their questions via phone or email. They may also receive questions during training that require additional research that they can send to us. The type of questions we receive vary widely from inquiries about pricing to what is included in our programs to digital functionality to the curriculum’s pedagogy and much more. Basically, we work to answer any question someone might have about our products.

Each year we answer about 25,000 questions with roughly 90% received via email.

In addition to supporting our sales team we are a resource for other teams at McGraw Hill who have questions or need information about our products. My responsibilities as a manager include reviewing our process for researching and locating answers, monitoring our metrics, and sharing customer feedback with our product teams.

What does back-to-school season hold for you? How do you prepare?

The number of questions we receive during back to school season increases dramatically. We will wrap up any long-term projects we are working on by the end of July so we can focus entirely on handling the increase in volume. It will also be the first time many teachers will be using our new programs and digital tools. To prepare we will get familiar with the new products, attend trainings and meet with our product development teams to ask questions we anticipate we will see from our sales field and users of our products.

What kind of support do you offer educators during the back to school season?

During other parts of the year we will get questions from educators looking to review our products. The type of questions we receive during back to school are very focused on accessing our products or implementing them in the classroom. We will get a lot of questions about what is included with an order, where to locate content, how to use components and requests for training materials. While we don’t usually interact directly with educators, we are a resource for our sales representatives to quickly and easily get information their schools need during this busy time of year.

What are some of the challenges you face during back to school?

Our team answers a wide range of questions for thousands of products that McGraw-Hill has sold over the years. To do so we use many different resources including catalogs, user guides, internal documentation, but perhaps none is more valuable than pervious answers we have researched in the past. During back to school season not only are we seeing an increase in volume, but with the release of new products and resources, we will be seeing many new questions for the first time that will require research or reaching out to our Marketing and Academic Design teams for their input. This makes it challenging to get back to our sales team as quickly as we do during the rest of the year. Many members of our team will work additional hours in the evening or over the weekend so we can continue to provide timely responses.

How has back to school preparation changed over the years?

There has been an increase in interest in our digital products. We often hear from teachers that would like to use our digital tools in interesting and creative ways. We now have online products that are far more sophisticated than they were in the past. As a result, we will work on putting together custom digital walkthroughs, helping teachers navigate our digital platform, and collaborate with our digital teams to come up with solutions. Our product updates are larger, more frequent and many of them happen over the summer before back-to-school starts. It is exciting seeing new functionality and enhancements being built in to our products and being able to suggest tools that weren’t available last year. Another nice benefit of having everything available online is that it makes it easier for us to access our products. We no longer need to track down a physical book or CD to view a program’s content. Now the entire program and all of its components can be found in one place online.

For resources and support to help you start the school year with confidence, visit our Back-to-School Preparedness Page.

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.


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We apply the science of learning to create innovative educational solutions and content to improve outcomes from K-20 and beyond.

Inspired Ideas

Resources, ideas, and stories for K-12 educators. We focus on learning science, educational equity, social and emotional learning, and evidence-based teaching strategies. Be sure to check out The Art of Teaching Project, our guest blogging platform for all educators.

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