Students have become a key and significant customer base for support services and Service Desks, and keeping them happy is a challenge and an opportunity. Within the past few years, the UK’s university sector has experienced dramatic changes, and challenges, that have impacted IT and Service Desk operations. Most notable:
- Students now pay £9K per year in fees and face total costs of around £15K per year. This has raised expectations from all angles, including IT and support services.
- Students now totally depend on IT. The bulk of 2013 first year university students were born in 1995. These young adults don’t know of a world before email, the Internet, e-commerce.
- WiFi usage at UK universities is going through the roof.
- Most students have at least two devices (BYOD, BYO?) they expect the University’s IT team(s) to support. When I earned my B.Sc. in 1990, I knew only one person with a PC. Welcome to the consumerization of IT.
- Several websites now provide prospective students with IT performance statistics. IT performance is now a criteria for selecting which university to attend.
At last week’s UCISA Support Services Conference in Edinburgh, Cherwell’s Steve Beavis shared some of his thoughts on how to meet, measure and report on student satisfaction levels in regards to IT support. Steve has two teenage children (15 and 19), and “if they’re not connected, they act as if their right arm has been removed.”
According to Steve, if a student comes to the Service Desk with a problem, all they want to know is (a) can you fix it, and (b) how long it will take you to fix it. One university told us that one of their students showed up on campus with 12 devices he wanted supported…12. Another told us their students have no concept of an Ethernet cable – it’s only about wireless.
High density WiFi at universities is now a popular topic, meeting network traffic demands especially in areas on campus where students congregate. Not getting online can be a big problem.
Ultimately, you need to understand your students’ expectations. You need to engage with students, ask them questions, and ask the right questions. It’s not about what we think they need and displaying 600 metrics that showcase this. We need to completely scale this back. We need to ask, ‘What do the metrics mean?’ If you cannot react to the metric, there is no point in tracking it, using it or measuring it.
So, what are the metrics that mean the most to the students attending your university? If they came to see the Service Desk or used a Self Help Portal, what metrics would they want to see?