Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

IT Service Desk brings fresh outlook to customer service

The HelpDesk has gotten a new name and a fresh outlook on customer service, according to a UA press release.

Renamed the IT Service Desk over the summer, the organization has revamped its key customer-facing units by hiring more student and professional staff while adding several new services and resources. The service desk, which receives 200 to 225 calls and e-mails daily, now employs four full-time staff members and 10 to 12 student employees.

“Changing the actual name of the IT Service Desk has already helped dramatically,” said Christina Frantom, director of public relations at the Office of Information Technology. “When it was called the Help Desk, we would get calls from all kinds of people and issues on campus. The word ‘help’ wasn’t specific enough to the service that we provide here at OIT. So because of all the extra calls and e-mails, it really reduced the amount of time that we had to help students, faculty and staff with IT-related issues.”

Each day, calls and e-mails flooded in about everything ranging from roommate disagreements to on-campus parking issues, Frantom said. Parents would even call about late tuition payments or problems their children were experiencing while adjusting to college.

Although a more appropriate name was important, it’s the changes within the IT Service Desk that make a difference around campus, Frantom said.

“One of the most exciting new services we’re offering students this fall is 24-hour call assistance,” Frantom said. “So if there’s an incident or a system that our office supports that goes down or some kind of reduction of service, we can answer the call physically, then get on the situation right away.”

Students, faculty and staff can call the service desk at any time to get assistance with virus protection, the MyBama and eLearning sites, Crimson e-mail, and problems with smart phones like the iPhone and Blackberry, Frantom added. If it’s an emergency, technicians can be sent to the client to help them get their computers back up and running.

Along with increasing the services it provides, the IT Service Desk has bulked up its student and professional staff. The service desk is now staffed with the addition of two business analysts who are answering clients’ calls and e-mails. Requirements and training for student employees has also become more rigorous, Frantom said.

“Most [student employees] are trained and getting their degrees in some kind of IT field, whether they’re computer honors students or some other computer science degree,” Frantom said. “We changed the type of student we hire at the service desk.

“Also, the training we’re offering students is more thorough and in-depth than it’s ever been. We’re hoping it helps with retention and also the ability to provide students, faculty and staff that come in with a higher level of customer service.”

Ellen Anderson, a senior majoring in business management, has worked at the IT Service Desk for a year and said the experience is incomparable.

“It is an office environment, but it’s not as strict as a big corporation,” Anderson said. “It’s a fun work environment, and it’s given me a lot of good experience — especially in customer service. And we get some pretty interesting viruses.”

Felita Winn, the IT coordinator at the IT Service Desk has also seen her fair share of interesting incidents.

“We had a gentleman who said his computer wasn’t working,” Winn said. “So when he brought it in we asked him ‘Where is the computer?’ and he had brought the monitor instead.”

It’s these simple fixes that Christina Frantom wants to solve quickly in the future. The IT Service Desk is planning to launch a self-service website which will provide FAQs and tips to help students solve their own IT problems without having to visit the service desk.

“We are hoping in the future to implement self-service, which means there will be a web interface where students can go in and help themselves with issues or problems,” Frantom said. “We’re not at that point yet, but we’re hoping that it happens in the near future.”

To contact the IT Service Desk, e-mail [email protected] or call (205) 348-5555.

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