By Anne Vail, Director of Client Services, and Client Services Team.
In receiving feedback from a survey of its campus constituents 18 months ago, the Client Services team recognized early on that it would soon need to be doing much more with much less in order to provide the best support possible to WCU. In response, the team made several critical adjustments to its service model and the technologies used in an effort to exceed support expectations in a time of higher demands and increasing technology needs in education.
“We received some tough feedback about some of the weaknesses in the organization, ” said Anne Vail, director of Client Services. “Today, many of those clients sharing that feedback are our strongest allies. Engaging with them, we were driven to work together with an honest desire to improve not only ourselves, but our community as well.”
Client Services: More than just the Help Desk
In addition to on-demand support services from the Help Desk (virtually, by phone, or by foot), which are critical and core to its mission, Client Services provides desktop support services to all faculty, staff, and students at WCU and its satellite locations; technical training and educational opportunities for faculty, staff, and students; direct instructional support of all eClassrooms, demonstration rooms, technology-enabled conference rooms, and computer labs; technical asset management for the campus; student computing services, on site and in the residence halls; and on-site warranty repair services for any institutional or personal computer device.
Student support goes on the road, classroom support is augmented
To better serve students, Client Services increased its presence at WCU recruiting events. Teams went to open houses, information fairs, Valley Ballyhoo, and orientation sessions, armed with demonstration computers, literature, and technical experts to assist prospective and incoming students with their technology needs.
In other areas of student support, the CRIB, the student-only campus help desk, regularly went on the road to WCU residential halls and the University Center, bringing support directly to the students. An educational outreach program was launched, which hosted information sessions on the technology topics the students want to know about, and reached nearly 10% of the residential students in the program’s first semester.
Client Services also increased installation of a classroom support technology that allows direct communications between the Help Desk and the classrooms and doubles as emergency communications in the event of a campus crisis. Now, nearly 200 of WCU classrooms can be reached in the event of an emergency. Through expertise in the technology and a team of creative minds at work, Client Services has effectively used its tools to aid public safety, creating another layer of security and safety that parents, students, and academics alike can feel good about.
New training initiatives for faculty and staff
For faculty and staff (although students also benefit), Client Services launched several new training initiatives at a time when the HR training program was declining. The website onlinetraining.wcu.edu was launched, providing over 400 managerial and technical training programs to all of WCU. Several specialized, hands-on training initiatives on the new Microsoft Office products were held and “Office Hours,” one-on-one assistance with Office experts, was created and taken on the road to appointments at faculty and staff offices across campus.
New technical support models
Client Services launched new models for receiving technical support, increasing customer satisfaction by nearly 75%. Self-service assistance, an online knowledgebase (KB), and virtual support through remote assistance (Bomgar) is now in place. The virtual teams alone have resulted in increased productivity for faculty and staff and a real cost savings of nearly 80% in travel and wages for the support of WCU satellite locations (see Bomgar diagram below). (No traveling to Jamaica to support WCU computers there!)
Advancing technologies to enhance the educational experience
Client Services has made significant progress in the past year in advancing technologies to enhance the educational experience. As the economy sours and more students than ever turn to distance learning to supplement their programs of study, the ITV Center, through Client Services, has broken new barriers and bridged cross-continent and -cultural classrooms, bringing them to Cullowhee, NC via the global network.
Client Services is actively working on setting up a series of international connections with France, Belgium, and Mexico, allowing WCU faculty and students to study with students and project teams thousands of miles away in real time. WCU’s ITV center continues to be a crucial link in communications between Western Carolina University, the state of North Carolina, the United States, and other countries around the world. This facility remains vital to the economic status of WCU as well as the surrounding community.
“As you can see, people are our most important resource and alliances are the best way to achieve positive results,” said Vail. “The work of Client Services, together with the Division of IT and our partnerships across campus, has led us to the success we have today with the campus community. Our work has seen measurable increases in client satisfaction, productivity, collaborative activities, proficiency in technical skills, and morale.”
For more information about any of the services or initiatives detailed here, contact the Help Desk at 828-227-7487 or 866-928-7487 (toll free) or Anne Vail, director of Client Services, at 828-227-2331.
(Want to know how we’re doing IT? Visit us online.)