UCLA’s Help Desk Moves to the Head of the Class

August 23, 2010

“Zendesk’s price, convenience and ease of use were unbeatable. The solution delivers loads of features, but at the same time, it’s highly configurable. We don’t have to host and maintain yet another application on our servers.”

– Cathy McCann, Help Desk Supervisor, UCLA Department of Psychology

ucla_psych_logoThe University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is one of nine campuses of the University of California. UCLA’s Department of Psychology, one of the largest and most productive departments in the nation, boasts state-of-the-art facilities and numerous resources that provide abundant opportunities for innovative research. Its renowned faculty members have received more than $14 million in annual extramural funding and are acknowledged leaders in their fields.

Like most universities, UCLA seeks to run its campus services efficiently so that it can devote more resources to teaching and research. The Department of Psychology is no exception, maintaining a core help desk staff of just two employees, who handle support requests from more than 200 staff members, instructors, and researchers.

“For years, we’ve received support requests in a variety of ways—by email, by phone, and in person—with needs that range from simple password requests to complex issues,” says Cathy McCann, help desk supervisor for UCLA’s Department of Psychology. “While we strive to be available, it became clear to me that we would be more efficient if we had a simple process—with only one way for staff to log a support request—and a single ticketing system to track everything centrally. We also wanted to get out of hosting yet another application on another server and all the maintenance and time that involves.”

When the university’s free open-source program broke, after it switched to a single sign-on environment, the decision was made to upgrade to a true online help desk solution. And so far, that decision is paying off in very big ways.

Triggers help a small staff communicate with a large user base

As a small team servicing a large user base that varies widely in technical aptitude, McCann needs to be sure that there is tight communication when it comes to resolving issues. Zendesk’s Triggers—automatic actions that take place when certain conditions are met, as defined by an organization’s support workflow—take discussions that used to happen in the hallways or over multiple emails and consolidate them into a single, trackable online conversation.

“With Zendesk, every time the support database is updated, the user receives a status update email and they know we haven’t forgotten about them,” McCann says.

Reporting functionality helps teams know how well they’re doing and motivates them to do more

Using Zendesk’s reporting functionality, management can easily see how many tickets staff has handled in a day, week or month. By comparing statistics from month to month, management gauges how well the team is keeping up with the workload.

“Zendesk’s reports help motivate us,” says McCann. “We like knowing that we’ve increased our productivity by a certain percentage month-over-month. And the reports are highly configurable, so that I can get exactly the data I need to show my colleagues and superiors on a regular basis.”

Finding ease-of-use, sophisticated features and flexibility

It didn’t take long for McCann and her staff to appreciate how easy Zendesk is to use, and even better, how easy it is to train others to use. All that for a price within McCann’s budget.

“Zendesk’s price, convenience and ease of use were unbeatable,” McCann explains. “The solution delivers loads of features, but at the same time, it’s really easy to use—both for me and for our users—and highly configurable.”

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