Every day is different: Life as a User Engagement Specialist at Elsevier

In this UX job, the one constant is change

By Lisa Gervais - January 11, 2021
Quote card Lisa Gervais
Lisa Gervais is a User Engagement Specialist at Elsevier. She is based in Philadelphia.

Every day begins with a stand-up call with my squad where we go through our user-reported production incidents.

But from there, every day is different from the one before.

As a User Engagement Specialist, I work on the Elsa project, looking at user engagement and adoption, user support and user onboarding. Elsa is a content creation platform for authors, contributors and Elsevier staff. It’s used to track edits to book manuscripts, tag content, enable collaboration, and much more. Overall, it’s a way of bringing together all the people who collaborate on book projects to make content easily discoverable, rich with enhancements, and easy to read and share.

Once we’ve had that stand-up call, I work with the Elsa User Support Specialists, who help our users, and with the software development team that investigates and resolves any technical issues our users report. During this meeting, I answer any of the squad’s questions about open tickets and take information back to the Elsa User Support Specialists if needed.

Today we’re talking about, among other tickets, the status of a ticket where a user is reporting a problem with their content. The software developers need more information about the issue, but we’re also discussing if they can release a “hotfix” to resolve this issue for the user sooner than our next regular release.

Aside from these daily standup meetings, most of my days look pretty different than the one prior – and I love that.

It was time for a change

I joined Elsevier six years ago in the Salt Lake City, Utah, office working with the Amirsys team on their diagnostic radiology and pathology books. Previously, I spent several years in Shanghai working in EdTech product development. The SLC office was a great, high performing team to start my Elsevier career with, and working with authors was very rewarding. But several years later, as I thought about my career development path, I knew my next role needed to be one with a lot of variety.

In my role as User Engagement Specialist, any given day might see me creating the support documentation that populates our Elsa Support Center, troubleshooting user-reported issues, looking at product metrics to understand where we can better engage users in Elsa, leading author training webinars, running our release planning meetings, or participating in discussions about process improvement.

Acting fast and pivoting if wrong

“It's not every day (or ever!) I see myself in Times Square.” Lisa Gervais was featured as a presenter at the virtual Pendo User Conference this fall.

After our morning standup meeting, I might then take a look at our product metrics. We use Pendo not only for our in-app messaging but also to track how users are interacting with Elsa. Today, I’m looking to see if a new guide directing users to our “Upload from Word” feature has been successful at increasing feature adoption. I can see that there is a small uptick in feature clicks, but I’ve also been reviewing feedback that tells me users have been uploading their Word document in the wrong part of the app. I’ll create a new guide giving users better direction, and then I’ll continue to monitor feature clicks and guide views to see if it’s working.

An important part of my role involves “acting fast and pivoting if wrong.” Sometimes a decision to put in a new onboarding guide or the directions given in a help article might not be getting us the traction we need. Monitoring the usage data and listening to feedback ensures that we know when we go off course so we can quickly make adjustments that get us back on track.

Working with colleagues around the globe

Mornings are usually meeting-heavy for me as I try to catch our UK-based colleagues before they sign off for the day. I’m very lucky to work with colleagues around the globe. On any given day, I might have a meeting with our support team in the Manila, a check-in call with our Implementation Manager in the Oxford office, a stand-up with one of our software development squads in India, and a quick chat with a colleague in the Amsterdam office. Today I’m talking with our Implementation Manager to organize an upcoming webinar on how authors can get started using Elsa.

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Making time for professional development

At the end of every week, I block off some time on my calendar to work on professional development. Some weeks my schedule might not allow me to do this, but I like the reminder on my calendar to make the time when I can. I recently finished Elsevier’s CX Essentials course and I’m currently finishing up a Udemy course on agile product management and delivery. I’m also a part of the Elsevier Brand Ambassador program, and I volunteer as a Psychological Safety facilitator.

This year, one of my goals was to get a deeper understanding of Pendo. I co-lead a Pendo User Group in the Philadelphia area, was chosen as one of 20 Pendo MVPs for 2020 and presented at this year’s (virtual) Pendo User Conference.

This accelerated our use of Pendo in Elsa and our understanding of how in-app messaging can enhance user engagement — and it wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t encouraged to take the time for professional development.

As I end my day, I check my calendar to see what’s on the schedule for tomorrow: daily stand-up to start the day, but then the rest of the day all looks a little different than it did today!


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Lisa Gervais
Written by

Lisa Gervais

Written by

Lisa Gervais

As a User Engagement Specialist at Elsevier, Lisa Gervais coordinates engagement, support and onboarding for users of the Elsa content creation platform.

With a degree in News Editorial Journalism, Lisa started her career as a journalist in Detroit, Michigan, before moving to Shanghai to work in EdTech content development. She joined Elsevier in 2014 in the Salt Lake City, Utah, office as an editor before moving into her current role. She is now based in Philadelphia.

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