The leader of the ITS Service Desk is retiring. Ingrid Camacho, whose last day is February 28, has worked for the Service Desk since it formed more than two decades ago.
Camacho initially was hired as a contractor. In advance of the 2000 mandate that undergraduate have laptops, the Carolina Computing Initiative (CCI) was launching to ensure easy access to high-quality and affordable laptops. To support all those laptops that students, faculty and staff would use, the University was creating a help desk.
Fast forward more than 23 years, Camacho prepares to retire as Service Desk Director. She has led the Service Desk since her supervisor, Sharon Glover, retired two years ago. Camacho oversees 40-45 employees. Sometimes they work on campus helping customers face-to-face. Other times they work from home providing tech support via phone, chat or online tickets.
Taking the helm of the Service Desk as the pandemic began, Camacho has led her team during an especially challenging time. The Service Desk had to quickly streamline its services to become a remote workforce just as students, faculty and staff needed more tech help than ever to adjust to working and learning remotely.
The Service Desk had to make sure that customers didn’t “lose a bit of support” even when the staff was “not together in the same building and everybody’s remote,” Camacho said.
Staffers became family
Meanwhile, Service Desk staffers, who tend to be younger than ITS employees as a whole, coped with their own and loved ones’ physical health as well as mental health stresses of isolation, especially early on in the pandemic. Many staff members are single and live alone. For some, it was their first job away from their families. They also dealt with the added pressure of filling in when co-workers got sick.
“Keeping people healthy physically and mentally was tough so we had to do a lot more than just be colleagues and people who work together. We had to become a family,” Camacho said.
That was her most challenging time leading the Service Desk, she said.
Supportive work environment
Similarly, themes of family and close work relationships are integral to Camacho’s most meaningful memory of her 23 years with the Service Desk. It was August 2017, Fall Rush, which is the busiest time of the year for the Service Desk. Camacho had worked every Fall Rush since 1999. Suddenly, Camacho needed to go be with her family. Her dad was dying. (As it turned out, her dad and mom would die 20 days apart.)
“Sharon and my team came into my office, gave me big hugs, and said, ‘We got this. It’s time for you to go,’” Camacho recalled. “But it didn’t stop there. They took care of the business. They checked on me almost every day.”
When her father died, Service Desk staffers drove nearly three hours to attend the funeral.
“When I came back, they received me back with open arms, and they helped me grieve,” she added. “It was a sad time, but at the same time, it was refreshing to have so much support around me, especially at work.”
Will miss kinship
When she retires, Camacho will miss that kinship. “I don’t mean to sound like a cliché, but definitely the people and the long-lasting relationships I have built throughout the years,” she said.
Her proudest accomplishment leading the Service Desk also relates to people — that she “helped train and sent out some of the best leaders” to work within the University and beyond. She feels good that her influence, her friendship, and her relationships with people have impacted lives.
Her diverse background, she said, enabled her to relate to people at all levels. Originally from Puerto Rico, Camacho served in the military before coming to work at Carolina.
Fierce advocate for staff
Kate Hash, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Customer Experience & Engagement, deeply appreciates Camacho. “She is a hard worker and good at her job, but to really know Ingrid is to be aware of all the qualities that make her a great human being,” Hash said. Camacho is “thoughtful, caring and a fierce advocate for her staff,” Hash continued. “She values her team and is always looking for ways for them to grow as people and professionals. She takes so much pride in her staff succeeding in their current roles, but also moving on to the next step in their career.”
When Allison Legge, Interim Director of Undergraduate Admissions, thinks about Camacho, three words come to mind: poise, compassion and professionalism.
“Over the years, I’ve learned so much from watching Ingrid lead her team and support students through some of the most stressful and demanding situations,” Legge said. Camacho “consistently leads with balance, sensitivity to others, and a no-nonsense ‘let’s solve this’ approach. Regardless of the challenges and the number of students involved (I’m remembering ConnectCarolina go-live and the early days of admissions decision release), I always knew that I could turn to Ingrid and her team for round-the-clock support, a wonderful sense of camaraderie, and even a little humor.”
Legge said she’s grateful for what Camacho “has done for me, our colleagues and our students.” She hopes Camacho will always know “what a difference she has made to countless others.”
Hash, meanwhile, will miss Camacho’s honesty, expertise and advice. “My team and I were the constant beneficiaries of her wisdom,” Hash said.
In capable hands
Camacho said she is leaving the Service Desk in capable hands — including those she trained and advised for years. Camacho feels comfortable departing now because she’s confident the Service Desk is in a strong position, with the existing staff and leaders, Hash, in particular.
Hash, she stressed, “put the Service Desk as an equal partner within ITS.” She truly believes in and cares about what the Service Desk team does and who they are as people. It’s amazing, Camacho added, the impact on a group that caring can have. She can now “retire in peace knowing that someone else out there cares as much as I do.”
Making T-shirts, playing pickleball
When she leaves the Service Desk, Camacho will turn her lifelong hobby of making T-shirts into a business. Retirement also will give Camacho more time to be with family and play pickleball. Early in the pandemic when she sought a physically distant yet socially active pastime, she developed a passion for the sport.
“Even the other day in 26-degree weather, we bundled up and we were playing,” she said.
Her move with her wife, Felicita, last March to an active 55-and-older community in Durham will keep Camacho socially connected in retirement. During one of the recent snowfalls, she shoveled snow for neighbors. She also plans to teach computer skills to seniors in her active adult community.
Whether as the oldest of five kids or during her career at the Service Desk, Camacho has always helped other people. In retirement, she said she wants to use her leadership skills to continue “giving a little bit back.”
Camacho recalls changes, forecasts trends
Ingrid Camacho, who is retiring as the head of the ITS Service Desk, has overseen and experienced significance technological, workforce and customer changes during her more than two decades with the Service Desk. She anticipates further big changes in how tech support operations serve customers.
In the two years she’s led the group, the Service Desk, as one example, has supplemented support with the use of chatbots. Using a script for a bot to help customers solve some of the most common issues has given the Service Desk breathing room to alleviate some of the increased demand for customer support during the pandemic.
More robust knowledge base
Also, the Service Desk has had more sophisticated technology and reporting since July 2019 with the University’s launch of ServiceNow as its primary ticketing software. The platform also automates other business and support processes. As part of ServiceNow, Service Desk staff and their customers also benefit from a more robust knowledge base of articles on the help.unc.edu support portal.
Customers increasingly want to solve tech issues themselves. “They don’t want to be hand held,” Camacho said. Instead of waiting on a chat or a phone call, many campus members feel it’s easier and faster to look up a solution online from a help document.
Chat became popular
Going back a few more years, the Service Desk rolled out chat as an additional way to communicate with and support customers.
“It was an immediate success, especially with students,” Camacho recalled.
Chat gave employees variety. No longer were they answering phones for eight or nine hours a day. Chat also helped increase the volume of help requests that the Service Desk could handle. “Chat is three-to-one on the phones,” Camacho said. You can talk to only one person at a time on the phone, but you can talk to three customers at a time on chat. “So, it’s very efficient.”
Call routing was significant
Another noteworthy advancement for the Service Desk, Camacho said, came a decade ago with the deployment of the cloud-based automatic call distribution (ACD). That enabled the Service Desk to route calls to the person who could best and most quickly solve the issue.
Before that, Camacho said, “we had no idea of who was calling the system” and what their issues were. In addition, call volume and issue tracking reports were very limited, expensive, and the Service Desk had to wait a month before receiving reports.
With the move to the cloud, the Service Desk gained additional digital tools that interacted with ACD and “we started getting the information we needed to make smart decisions.” By knowing how many people were calling and what they were calling about, the Service Desk could make better decisions about how to staff operations to support customers. In turn, that saved the University money.
Cutting the cord
Long before these advances, Camacho experienced the shift from Ethernet to wireless technology. Cutting the cord meant the Service Desk staff could take laptops to help customers outside. It also facilitated more collaboration and more discussions and learning about technology, she said.
As for what lies ahead for the ITS Service Desk specifically or tech support as an industry, Camacho offers her predictions.
“A remote force is here to stay”, she said.
Automation and self-help tools, meanwhile, will expand. That’s what customers want and it’s a natural progression with advances in technology. Chat and email will dominate. Some of the largest tech brands don’t even offer phone support.
With more automation and self-service, tech support work forces will be smaller, Camacho forecasted, and they can be more proactive instead of always putting out proverbial fires.