Ohio Wesleyan University + Zendesk: Service excellence for students and staff
To assist students, faculty, and staff with IT issues, Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) turned to Zendesk Support.
“With Zendesk, we found a system that was easy to use and to customize. We also wanted a browser-based system with no software to install, so that we could access the solution from PCs or Macs.”
“When someone borrows a laptop or other technical equipment, Zendesk Support automatically tracks the loan and reminds them periodically about due dates. This functionality has facilitated communication while eliminating a manual task that wasn’t adding value.”
Education, higher Education, University
Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) is one of the nation’s premier small private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors and courses of study, and 23 Division III varsity sports.
OWU’s 1,850 students represent nearly every U.S. state and more than 50 countries. The university is included on the best colleges lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review.
Support for technical issues are not scaling
OWU’s focus on excellence extends beyond the classroom. The university’s Information Services help desk strives to provide faculty, staff, and students with prompt resolutions to virtually any technical issue.
“Whether people are having trouble logging onto email or dealing with a jammed printer, we’ll be there,” said David Soliday, Instructional Technologist, Ohio Wesleyan University. “We like to think that our personal, attentive service is one of the things that makes OWU great.”
But even at a small university, keeping up with technical support issues can be a challenge—especially if agents lack the right tools for the job. Until recently, OWU was using a help desk solution that required client software to be installed on each agent’s computer. Also, the solution wasn’t connected to OWU’s help desk email account, which hindered communication.
“On our old system, it was getting too hard to track issues and there was no reporting,” Soliday recalled. “We were feeling less and less enthusiastic about devoting budget to our next upgrade.”
Starting over with Zendesk Support
After researching his options online, Soliday identified two possible solutions. He evaluated an open source application and then registered for a free trial of Zendesk Support.
“We needed a system that was easy to use and to customize,” said Soliday. “We also wanted a browser-based system with no software to install, so that we could access the solution from PCs or Macs.”
When OWU went live on Support, the university integrated its help desk email account into the solution so that any email request would automatically be converted to a ticket.
“We wanted a system that would eliminate the hassle of having to manage a separate tracking system and email account,” Soliday explained. “We also needed the system to be affordable. Zendesk Support ended up being much cheaper than what it would have cost to upgrade our old system.”
For an OWU help desk team that values efficiency, Support has been a key tool. Using macros, triggers, and automations, Soliday and his colleagues have automated several manual business processes.
“When someone borrows a laptop or other technical equipment, Zendesk Support automatically tracks the loan and reminds them periodically about due dates,” said Soliday. “This functionality has facilitated communication while eliminating a manual task that wasn’t adding value.”
Of course, OWU’s help desk team also has configured Support to send more conventional notifications. Agents and technicians receive emails when new tickets are assigned to them, or when the status of a previously assigned ticket changes.
Whether they’re sitting at a desk or logging on to Support remotely, OWU’s technicians can now easily determine when one main problem is causing multiple incidents across campus. Support allows help desk staff to categorize certain tickets as problems and to label subsequent tickets as incidents of that problem. Once the main problem is resolved, an agent can simply close the problem ticket, and Support will automatically update and close all incidents.
Thanks to Support analytics, OWU maintains excellent visibility into its overall support trends. But one of Soliday’s favorite features offers a different kind of visibility.
“Zendesk Support has allowed us to upload all of our employee ID photos into the system,” said Soliday. “As we work on tickets for faculty and staff, we can put names with faces and get to know our user base better.”