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Helping the Help Desk

I remember a time when the Help Desk was the de-facto support center for the school. The Help Desk was responsible for technical support, but often it was the one phone number students could call and talk to someone. Today, the rise of CRM implementations in Higher Education is changing the process. The CRM solutions provide additional capabilities to functional users to receive, track and follow-up with students. So, where does this leave the Help Desk?

Busy call center operators in a modern office. 3d image

Supporting the Help Desk
There are many different solutions to support the Help Desk. They range from simple tracking with limited capabilities to full help desk systems including connections to a configuration management database (CMDB). I see opportunities for schools using limited capability solutions to leverage CRM and take a leap forward. To do so, it is important to first determine the goal for providing technical support to students. The question becomes, is the Help Desk a necessary evil or will it help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your technology delivery?

With a clear understanding of the goal of the Help Desk, the next key is to determine how the goal fits into the organizational vision. Ask yourself:

  • Do you have a vision of one stop servicing of the student that includes everything from registration through technical support, or is your technical support viewed as a separate entity?
  • How are you measured, and are you meeting the expectations of students and staff that contact your Help Desk?
  • Is your Help Desk staff presented with and asked to help resolve non-technical issues?

The Need for Student Centricity
A traditional Help Desk application is robust with details that support a technical environment and help your team resolve technology issues. The traditional approach may be exactly what you want, are comfortable with and meets your goals. But we often see that students and staff are expecting more. They want one place to go with all issues, they want the interaction to be easy, they expect that you will know them and what they have already brought to your attention, and they want information and assistance accessible in many ways, when they want it. In other words, they want you to be student centric.

Leveraging CRM
If this is the case for your institution, you may want to look to your CRM strategy and consider integration of a Help Desk tool. With integration, the Help Desk and the management of technology support can quickly review additional capabilities as well as present a consistent view of the student. As a benefit, a CRM leveraged to support the Help Desk tracks all interactions with the user community. The Help Desk associate can quickly identify and understand any support history associated with the caller. In addition:

  • Workflows now flow across departments
  • Cases are routed to the appropriate department to ensure they are not lost
  • Automatic escalation occurs to guarantee timely resolution
  • Knowledge base can be leveraged to provide a resource for training, support and to position self-service capabilities

The unique aspect of the CRM knowledge base is that it covers more than the traditional Help Desk application, and the student or staff user has one tool for self service across many areas.

CRM is bringing these capabilities to the organization. The key question is, will the CRM provide additional capabilities to the support processes? If the answer is yes, the student wins with an improved experience. The Help Desk also benefits from an organizational capability when the justification for a dedicated Help Desk system may be hard to approve or very low on the priority list.


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