The University of Lincoln opened its doors to students in 2001. Just 10 years later, the university employs 1,200 faculty and staff. More than 12,000 students study a wide range of disciplines at the university’s £180 million, modern campus.
Economists estimate that the University of Lincoln has created at least 3,000 new jobs and that it generates more than £250 million per year for the local economy. In an age of budget cuts, colleges and universities in the United Kingdom are looking for cost-effective ways to distinguish themselves. The University of Lincoln recently launched an initiative to provide better service to students, but realized its antiquated help desk software didn’t facilitate the kind of communication the IT staff wanted to provide.
“In the past, when people would call us for help, we didn’t always give them a case number or follow up with them,” said Tara Howard, a project manager for the university. “We solved our customer’s problems, but our help desk software didn’t let us do things like send automatic status updates. People had to chase us down for information. We knew we could do better.”
Early in the search for a new system, the university stumbled across Zendesk Support and began a free trial. They quickly found that Support delivered everything the IT staff was looking for.
“Of all the products we considered, Zendesk Support really caught our eye,” Howard recalled. “It was easy to setup and use, and it seemed like the perfect catalyst for launching our new people-centered approach to support.”
The university took a collaborative approach to its Support implementation. IT staff waited to go live until after they had asked their top 20 internal clients across the campus to evaluate the new service and provide feedback.
“Our focus group loved the solution,” said Howard. “And since we’ve gone live, pretty much everyone else has loved Zendesk Support too.”
Today, the University of Lincoln’s 44 IT staff rely on Support to field support tickets from students, faculty, and staff. Another 20 users in the Estates department use Support to collect support requests on problems related to the university’s physical properties. Support’s automated email notifications, or triggers, keep these clients informed throughout the support process.
“Our number-one goal is to communicate with our internal clients,” said Howard. “We’ve configured Support to email clients when their request is received, when their support ticket is assigned to an agent, when the issue is resolved, and at other key stages in the ticket lifecycle.”
The university’s agents save time by using macros to send standard responses to frequently asked questions. Agents also use the Android app to respond to tickets in a timely manner, while on the go.
“We bought our IT technicians smartphones specifically so they can respond to support requests from anywhere,” Howard explained. “They can now move freely across our campus sites solving problems, rather than having to return to the main office to get their next ticket. They’re much more efficient and productive this way. Agents love Support because it’s so easy to use.”
In the next phase of its implementation, the University of Lincoln will integrate Support with Twitter and GetSatisfaction. The IT staff is also considering putting QR codes on posters around campus, giving students and staff who have camera phones another way to submit tickets.