The College’s Call Center, as a component of the overall Student Success Center, was one of only 11 “2011 Models of Efficiency” in the country as selected by University Business magazine. The “Models of Efficiency” program was launched last year to recognize campus administrative departments that are providing better service through streamlined business operations. Click here to read the announcement of the 2011 winners.
The College recognized that a process improvement was necessary in many of its student services areas during peak registration time. Employees faced the challenge of balancing student inquiries made through multiple mediums—in person, on the phone and online—all at the same time.
During peak registration times, the areas of Admissions, Registration and Student Success received up to 800 calls per day, many of which were directed to the voicemail system because lines were busy. At other times, a caller could be transferred four to six times throughout the institution because each department could only answer questions relevant to its specific function. As a result, in-person student interaction also suffered, as telephone interruptions were common.
To reduce the inefficiencies that result in frequent caller transfers, voicemails and time spent on hold or in line, the College established a call center. Centrally located, the center is staffed by three fully-trained operators who are able to answer most general student inquiries. If an operator cannot fully assist a caller, the call is transferred to an academic advisor or counselor from the appropriate area. Through the implementation and use of an integrated scheduling tool, the operator is able to see which advisors are available at that exact moment to assist the caller, thus preventing multiple transfers or the call going to voicemail.
With the call center in place, 87 percent of all incoming calls are answered in 30 seconds or less, even during peak registration times. In the event that all operators are busy, the system’s software routes the calls to the appropriate person in a supported area that has the expertise to assist the caller. Calls to the Vice President of Student Affairs from frustrated students in search of information have been virtually eliminated.
The Call Center implementation also improved student satisfaction with face-to-face interaction at the College’s campuses. Because frontline staff members are no longer pressured to answer telephone questions, they are able to more efficiently and effectively assist students in person, thereby improving the students’ experiences and reducing the duration during which students wait in the queue.
This spring, the College will add email and web support to the Call Center, transforming it into a state-of-the-art contact center.