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Driving IT Support Success with Salesforce

By June 13, 2017

By: Brian Gnatt, Associate Vice President, Customer Experience, UMUC Customer Service

Salesforce opens up new opportunities for higher ed to deliver exceptional student experiences, but its value to colleges and universities goes far beyond recruitment and student services. Using the platform to manage IT help desk interactions provides yet another way to enhance services provided to students, as well as faculty and staff.

At University of Maryland University College (UMUC), we’ve been using the Salesforce Service Cloud to manage technical support for students and faculty for four years. By combining all student services and technical support into a single CRM platform and taking advantage of all Salesforce has to offer, we’ve been able to deliver a simplified support experience for our customers, and provide the tools our advisors and other staff need to effectively support students. Ultimately, this enables the university to use data to increase efficiency, save money, reduce student effort and improve satisfaction.

In many ways, unifying our approach to services has enabled UMUC to create a service operation that offers contemporary, efficient and effective management of all customer interactions.

  • We use Salesforce cases for IT and student services to document interactions, share them within and among teams, and report on our success.
  • We offer students several consistent contact options across all departments, which are all managed and documented in Salesforce. In addition to providing support by phone and email (primarily using Salesforce’s web-to-case functionality), we’ve enabled the online chat function for all departments. Today, more than 20 percent of our IT support contacts are via online chat. Chat usage continues to grow significantly, while phone contacts are decreasing even more significantly.
  • We continuously expand our use of the Salesforce knowledge base for both internal use (so front-line staff can provide correct information with every interaction) and for our public-facing online Help Center, so students can find answers to literally thousands of questions from anywhere at anytime without having to contact the university. The Help Center deflects tens of thousands of support requests annually.
  • We’ve integrated Clicktools with Salesforce to automate surveys to measure customer satisfaction and to identify opportunities to improve support, processes and the student experience across the university.

While using a single platform and consistent communication channels across all student interactions is a boon for the university and improves our service to students, it more importantly offers the opportunity to improve service and operational efficiency through the use of data derived from Salesforce.

For example, creating detailed IT case types and subtypes has helped to illustrate trends in an actionable way and enables us to use Salesforce to identify student pain points and improve interactions. This approach helped us to identify the root causes of password reset cases that our IT help desk was receiving in large numbers. By identifying the problem using data, and implementing operational, user experience and communication enhancements, we’ve reduced our password contacts by 79 percent, which eliminates approximately 50,000 student support contacts each year and saves the university about $500,000 annually.

Identifying and implementing enhancements may not always be quick or easy — especially in large organizations and in higher ed — but Salesforce makes it possible to pull the right levers and make effective changes. Best of all, Salesforce makes it easy to track student interactions and to demonstrate results that improve the experience for both students and our institutions.