Editor’s note: We sat down with Kate Hash, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Customer Experience & Engagement, at least virtually, over Zoom, to ask her how her ITS units have adjusted to serving customers’ needs via remote locations.
Q: How has the ITS Service Desk adapted to UNC-Chapel Hill going remote?
A: As most people know, the Service Desk has historically been located in the House Undergraduate Library. In early March, when we saw that UNC might move to remote work, we started to experiment with our employees working from home really fast. It’s something that we’d talked about as a team for a while, so it was interesting to be thrown into it with so little preparation. The team adapted without any hiccups.
The technology the Service Desk uses hasn’t changed. The only difference now is that folks are doing it all from home. In the second and third weeks of remote operations, the volume was really high – at a time of the semester when volume is usually moderate to low. We also didn’t have the extra staff we usually have during Fall Rush, the time of the year we have volume on par with what we saw. We did it all with our regular staff. The Walk-in staff was able to transition to chat support smoothly. Everyone was changing hours on the fly and working weekends to make it work. I’m really proud of what we’ve done thus far.
Q: How has work changed for the Service Desk after the University moved to remote operations?
A: Our hope is that the outside world feels like nothing much has changed. You can still call 919-962-HELP, you can still go to help.unc.edu and chat with someone. It hopefully is all very seamless to customers.
Behind the scenes, of course, some things have changed. The tools we used before, like Teams, are now absolutely essential to the work. When you can’t just pop over to someone’s cubicle or office to ask questions, you need another way of having that interaction. Ingrid Camacho has done a wonderful job leading that team and keeping everything moving in the right direction.
Q: How has work changed for some of the other teams in US&E?
A: There has been a lot of pivoting! Managed Desktop Services, for example, had a lot of early interest in loaner laptops. In the span of a few days, they spun up a new way for anyone to request a laptop and do curbside-style pick-up. They are also leveraging more virtual tools to interact with their customers.
Digital Services has supported some really quick website launches and worked closely with other teams in ITS, like Middleware, to ensure that the University’s websites, especially the Keep Learning site and coronavirus updates, stay online and functioning as expected. Generally speaking though, their work is moving forward as expected and they are excitedly working on our move to the cloud for WordPress.
The Digital Accessibility team has been and continues to be deeply involved in supporting the academic and administrative needs of campus. They moved training online, have helped facilitate live captioning of open meetings, and are providing consultation to faculty on creating accessible online content. It’s easy to forget that the team just formed late last summer because of how quickly they’ve jumped into the work of the institution.
Q: What is User Support & Engagement preparing for now that the semester has come to an end?
A: We’re shifting to proactive work, particularly as it relates to our incoming first-year students. Processes and events that have been in-person for years, even decades, will now be virtual. Everything we know about CCI laptop distribution and summer orientation is going to be very different! We think it’s an exciting opportunity and a catalyst to rethink the way we interact with first-year students.
One of the things I love most about my job and the User Support & Engagement group is how focused on others we get to be. Our conversations lately are all about how we make things easier for our faculty, staff and students, how do we remove barriers, how can we use this opportunity to re-envision our work to better serve campus. Our team is so passionate about supporting others!