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Bocconi University puts students and staff at the centre of support with Zendesk

By implementing Zendesk in a truly innovative way for the sector, Bocconi University has not only made student support more efficient but also improved all internal operations – enhancing both the student and employee experience with a fully digital and multichannel process.

Bocconi University
“We just love the power of the multichannel features for ticket management. This approach lines up perfectly with our modus operandi and allows us to perform at our very best.”

Director of Operations and Transformation Projects at Bocconi University

“We were really impressed by how user-friendly Zendesk is and we were even able to get employees who had never used ticket management systems before up and running very quickly.”

Head of Digital Transformation at Bocconi University

ESTABLISHED IN

1902

NUMBER OF STUDENTS

15,000

NUMBER OF STAFF

700

NUMBER OF CORE FACULTY

400

600

Average tickets managed per day

500

Average users served per day

1,500+

Articles in the knowledge base

40

University departments involved

Bocconi University was founded in 1902 by Ferdinando Bocconi, a visionary entrepreneur, and was named after his son Luigi, who died at war.

Today, it’s a leading European research and teaching university that specialises in economics, management, law and social studies. Bocconi boasts an excellent international reputation and is proud of both its long history and Italian roots.

The university has the following schools:

  • The Undergraduate School, which offers all kinds of bachelor’s degree courses;

  • The Graduate School, which offers two-year master’s degree courses, pre-experience university master’s degree courses and supplementary courses;

  • The School of Law, which offers a five-year law course, a bachelor’s degree in global law and many other courses in the field of law;

  • The PhD School, which offers a range of research doctorates.

What’s more, the SDA Bocconi School of Management was founded in 1971 to cover post-experience education. It offers MBAs, specialised postgraduate degree programmes and tailored programmes for graduates.

The value of customer feedback

The university has recently made it much quicker and easier for students to get in touch with the admin staff who support the students throughout their studies. The offices involved provide assistance for any

  • services dedicated to campus life (accommodation, taxes, activities),

  • all teaching services,

  • study abroad opportunities and

  • placement services.

The university selected Zendesk as its tech solution for all support issues after a trial made it clear that the software had everything the university required for a successful implementation, as underlined by the Service Design Coordinator.

Feedback gathered from around 15,000 students helped confirm that implementing Zendesk had been a resounding success. But in order to collect and organise this feedback, the university opted for a gradual rollout – implementing the new technology one step at a time. The rollout began with only a limited number of offices using the software, before extending to all other offices dealing with student requests.

Given the importance of feedback during the implementation phase, the university decided to regularly ask students for their opinion in a satisfaction questionnaire. The questionnaire was sent to students every 15 days during the rollout period and was used to not only track their satisfaction across every phase of the implementation process (before, during and after) but also intervene quickly in case of any serious issues.

Collecting data in this way will allow the university to continuously measure student satisfaction and to act quickly if any issues arise. This will be hugely important in ensuring the new system works efficiently for everyone involved.

Analysis was key to both identifying issues quickly and establishing a process of continuous improvement, in line with a “close the loop” approach. What’s more, students can forward their feedback on the ticket management process in a variety of ways. They can either reply to the ticket resolution confirmation emails they receive directly or use the “My activities” section on the Zendesk Guide platform.

On top of that, students can access self-service articles on the “B in Touch” web solution, which is also available on the Zendesk Guide platform and enables staff to continuously improve the quality of resources made available to users. This helps ensure a high level of student satisfaction because the software is tailored to specific user needs, making it simple and efficient to use.

The satisfaction score, which is being tracked in Zendesk Support, is already over 80%. And this impressive stat is expected to rise even further as the project progresses. Of course, this figure wouldn’t be possible without all the Bocconi University employees who use Zendesk every day, which is currently around 40% of total staff. Most importantly though, this is much higher than the percentage of employees who were using previous system (only around 25%). As the Head of Digital Transformation pointed out: “We were really impressed by how user-friendly Zendesk is and we were even able to get employees who had never used ticket management systems before up and running very quickly”. The fact that it was implemented so widely and quickly speaks to the versatility of the tool to respond to multiple needs, which ultimately benefits both the quality of the services offered to students and operational efficiency.

In short, it’s an integrated, multichannel and multilingual solution.

A three-person team was created to kick off the Zendesk implementation project. They were all from the Service & Design Intelligence department and have since been working closely with admin staff and coordinating operations.

When it comes to user adoption, it’s worth mentioning that the project involved staff in more than 40 student support offices – totalling about 400 employees working as “full” or “light” agents. Two teams have been created:

  • The Champion Team, which includes at least one member from each of the 8 offices with the highest ticket volumes, and

  • The Representative Team, which includes at least one member from each of the offices working with Zendesk, coming to 40 people.

Staff are currently handling around 600 tickets a day and students can send requests and get replies, both in Italian and English, via chat, email, telephone and on the dedicated B in Touch portal.

Managing individual tickets across multiple channels and offices is incredibly easy and efficient. Each team member has a full view of all previous interactions, so they can avoid repeating information already provided to students and instead add value to previous responses. Moreover, different offices can be looped into the same ticket making it easy to involve the members of staff best positioned to help.

“We just love the power of the multichannel features for ticket management. This approach lines up perfectly with our modus operandi and allows us to perform at our very best,” the Director of Operations and Transformation Projects explains. This new, integrated and multichannel approach is a drastic change from the system that was previously in place at Bocconi University, which negatively impacted performance as tickets were handled on separate channels and the user experience was lacking for both students and staff.

Introducing Zendesk has brought a host of improvements in the way the offices work, including

  • quicker responses thanks to the ability to easily monitor handling time and features that allow us to increase efficiency, including the option to respond to multiple tickets and use of macros to automate repetitive tasks;

  • more pertinent answers thanks to the ability to access the history of tickets opened by each student;

  • and the content management system, which makes it easy to manage and maintain a knowledge base for students organised based on FAQs, keywords and tags. The database features more than 1,500 articles, in both Italian and English, divided in 26 categories, which can be browsed using a search function. Information is always updated according to both queries and requests, and each operator can independently improve any existing content or create something new.

The advantages of managing and sharing data and information

Zendesk was introduced rapidly thanks to the hard work of the whole organisation and support from external partners. What’s more, as the Service Design Coordinator highlighted: “We had the opportunity to get in touch with other Zendesk customers during the implementation phase, which helped us increase efficiency and accelerate the rollout”.

The process was split into 4 phases:

  • analysis and iterative tests for specific areas and features,

  • large-scale implementation extended to all offices,

  • consolidation and fine-tuning, and

  • ongoing improvement.

Supported by the IT department, initial work involved integrating the different systems and data sources in use, e.g. CRM. After that, work focused on features to support productivity, such as macros and knowledge capture, as well as analytics and reporting. This was carried out using dashboards developed with third-party solutions fed by data made available by Zendesk. As stressed by the Head of IT Applications, “this solution was easy to integrate with pre-existing tools.”

Integration was subsequently extended to the Corporate Marketing and Communication departments to ensure consistency in terms of editorial content, tone of voice, and the look and feel of the interfaces managed by Guide and made available to students.

These new features allowed the departments to improve and consolidate many processes that were part of the employees’ daily tasks. Staff were guided and supported through the changes with regular meetings and support chats that allowed the university to evaluate any issues that emerged – regardless of whether they concerned the managerial, procedural or technical side of things.

Analytics have already revealed that the B in Touch platform is mostly used by final year students of bachelor’s and two-year master’s degrees, who open 60% of the tickets. This highlights a key area of focus for staff, namely processes relating to the end of university courses, including international experiences, internships and graduation.

Extracting value from data like this allows the university to identify room for improvement and take action to streamline processes. That’s why it intends to consolidate and systematise this extraction.

An ambitious plan for the future thanks to Zendesk

Bocconi University has already identified many projects that will improve both student and employee satisfaction.

Here are some of the most relevant:

  • Data intelligence and service design: business intelligence is expected to improve with better data analysis and representation. The goal is to identify opportunities to improve both the services delivered and internal processes.

  • Sentiment analysis: integrating Idiomatic into Zendesk will allow tickets to be analysed semantically, making it possible to automate categorisation, classification and prioritisation. AI algorithms included in the system will also enable a predictive approach.

  • User experience: this project aims to improve the usability of content made available with Zendesk Guide. In particular, the university wants to reduce the number of available categories and create a system to make navigation and search easier.

  • Ongoing education: the goal of this project is to provide staff with the necessary skills to use and master the myriad of advanced features offered by Zendesk – especially in terms of automation, analytics and reporting.

Bocconi University can now count on the modern, flexible and powerful software solutions delivered by Zendesk on their ambitious journey towards providing a seamless support experience for all students.

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