View from Crewe – Reflections

After the excitement of live daily blogs last week from the UCISA conference, this blog is a few thoughts and reflections. For those that missed them, here are “A View from Crewe” blog 1 and blog 2.

I’ve been thinking about where the OU is relative to other universities. We are ahead in some ways – many universities are still grappling with centralising IT support and the balance between faculty independence and the benefits of centralisation. We are also different in some key aspects, for example most universities have one helpdesk for Students and Staff. We are different here for a good reason, our typical student problem is usability of systems rather than things like local WiFi access experienced by on site students. We are behind in some other key areas, such as use of Social Media by IT, over 50% of universities have an IT Help Desk Twitter feed. I’ve started following a few of these, very interesting the different ways in which they are used to improve engagement and communication.

The conference for me was a great opportunity to quickly build a network of contacts at different universities. I think the key thing I learnt was about the nature of relationships with the different groups we support. Researchers, Academics, Administrative staff, Students, all with different needs – the key is building relationships and trust. It is soft stuff, but ultimately far more important once the basic technical components are in place.  In our environment relationships are complex and fluid, this is very different to the “corporate” world.

So my top 5 takeaways:-

  1. Metrics, focus on a few well-chosen metrics, and I got one of the workshop sessions to agree on a top 3
    1. Number of High Severity Faults (rolling 12 months)
    2. A measure of call and online ticket volumes to track how long it takes our business partners to get in contact with us and
    3. A simple measure off the back of every closed ticket “Were you totally Satisfied”. We already have all these measures,  but stand by for some simplification.
  2. Customer Satisfaction; got some really good tips including gathering good service nominations and publishing them. This list is a good checklist for us all. It’s intuitive for those who are naturally great at customer service, for the rest of us, pin them up on a wall and follow them!
    • Be open and think positively
    • Listen and Acknowledge issue
    • Know when to apologise
    • Identify the facts
    • Think about a  solution or an alternative
    • Offer choice and agree what you are going to do
    • End conversation on a positive. 
    • Remember the three most common approaches that lead to customer frustration are
      • Lack of ownership,
      • Lack of empathy and
      • Lack of effort
  3. Innovation – loads of people talk about it, but we heard from someone who has done it successfully. It needs commitment (resource, time and money) at a senior level to make it successful.
  4. Continuous improvement – this is critical. Many have driven this through getting Service Desk Institute assessment and accreditation – very powerful to drive improvement not only of the front line service desk but all the teams and processes that create a great customer experience (Think of the waiter in a restaurant, the quality of of the quality of the ingredients and the staff in the kitchen are critical to the overall experience, not just frontline staff). I’m going to actively look at this.
  5. Gamification – we had a thought provoking view of what designing for a more digital world meant – A bit way out, but the next generation are growing up in a gamified world. The psychology of this is very interesting, about stretching in a comfort zone, leader boards and recognition. Take a look – cheesy, American, uncomfortable, but thought provoking.

Finally some social media takeaways.

  1. Blogging works, my daily conference blogs got over 200 reads each and have been posted on the main UCISA website here.
  2. A huge amount happens on twitter, over 18,000 tweets with the hashtag #ussc14 were sent. If you are interested, take a look at the storify summary of the conference.

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2 thoughts on “View from Crewe – Reflections

  1. I know exactly where you’re coming from on feeling ahead/behind on different things. My first HE IT conference was an eye-opening for exactly that reason. Sometimes it was depressing (why can’t we do that?), other times exhilarating. I think at the end of the day it usually balances out across the sector.
    It sounds a bit of a cliché, but I try to see the whole thing as a method for improvement. We all individually try new things, share the good stuff and together we raise standards across the sector.

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