Information Technology recognized during National Customer Service Week

Ryan Gay and IT student worker, Katie Shifflette, answering technology questions at College Coffee.

Ryan Gay and IT student worker, Katie Shifflette, answering technology questions at College Coffee.

Information Technology is proud to highlight the exemplary customer service provided by the department’s staff during National Customer Service Week.


Service with a smile

When it comes to offering customer service, the employees of Information Technology (IT) strive to offer faculty, staff, students, alumni, and retirees the best experience possible. From troubleshooting issues, to creating new applications and sites, to assisting faculty in integrating technology into their pedagogy, the IT staff is constantly solving new problems to help the Elon community daily.

Offering excellent customer service isn’t unique to IT. It is prevalent throughout Elon in the work that all employees, both professional and student staff, provide to the campus community. To celebrate outstanding customer service, the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) established National Customer Service Week.


What is National Customer Service Week?

Celebrated each year during the first full week of October, National Customer Service Week is an opportunity to celebrate customer service professionals and highlight the important work they perform. Originally started in 1984, National Customer Service Week was proclaimed a national event by Congress in 1992, thanks to the help of Former U.S. Senators Robert Dole and Nancy Kassebaum and U.S. Representatives Dan Glickman and Pat Roberts.

In addition to celebrating customer service professionals, the week also serves to emphasize the importance of offering excellent service to customers. According to John Kressaty, former ICSA president, another purpose of the week “…is to get the message across a wide range of business, government and industry that customer service is very important.”


What does customer service mean?

Customer service is present with everything IT does at Elon. Every staff member works with any number of University constituents to help them achieve their desired goal—whether it’s fixing a broken printer, creating a new web application, or figuring out a way to use new technology in the classroom.

“We understand that technology changes rapidly and is pervasive in our work as educators,” explained Assistant Vice President for Technology and Chief Information Officer, Christopher Waters. “We embrace a support model that is seamless in our community. The Office of Information Technology consistently adjusts our support strategy to meet the changing needs of our students, faculty, and staff. As a strategic partner with departments and offices, our goal is to listen and understand the need or innovation of our campus constituents.”

In fact, the staff in IT are extremely dedicated to making sure that those we work with have a positive experience.

“Customer service is going the extra mile to provide the customer with what they need,” explained Technology Service Desk student staff member, Janae Williams. “The majority of customers don’t come to Technology just to say hello. [At the Service Desk] many customers are experiencing issues that inconvenience them and the ability to do their job. But, we always do our best to get them to their desired resolution.”

Instructional Technologist, Sara Vanderpool, noted that IT staff strive to go the extra mile when working with customers.

“Customer service means being kind, patient, and a good listener,” she said. “It also means assisting the client until their problem is solved, their question is answered, or until you’ve pointed them to the person who can help. This may mean that you have to do things that are out of the scope of your job.”


How do we provide customer service?

IT staff provide customer service in a variety of ways. Several members spoke on how they strive to provide users with the best experience possible.

“You have to show willingness to help solve an issue,” explained Assistant to the CIO, Mel Brown. “You get the answers the customer needs and you follow-up with them.”

Service Desk Analyst, Ed Williams, noted that he always puts his best foot forward when working with users.

“I provide my best customer service skills—you have to be patient, communicate clearly, and inform them of what’s going on,” he said.

Janae Williams agreed, noting it’s important to stay positive in conversations (particularly when a user is frustrated) and sympathizing when things have gone wrong, like when a student’s hard drive has crashed.

Michelle Woods, Manager of the Technology Service Desk, added another layer.

“I give each customer my undivided attention and put forth my best effort to resolve their issue as quickly as possible,” she explained. “If I’m unable to resolve the issue, I ensure the customer that I will document the issue and get it to the appropriate area that will be able to provide a solution.”


The best parts of customer service

Certainly, there are difficult customer service experiences. People may be frustrated or not able to achieve their desired results, which can complicate things. However, the joy of being able to help others is what stood out most when discussing customer service.

“I love the fact that each user is unique,” Ed Williams said. “Each one needs to be addressed in their own way. I just really enjoy helping others. My favorite moments are when a user will call in and begin a conversation with, ‘I’m not tech savvy,’ or ‘Forgive me for taking up your time.’ I always respond: You know what? I’m here for you! You know, if I were attempting your job, I’m sure I’d need help, too!”

Vanderpool noted that what she enjoys most about providing users the best customer experience possible are the relationships.

“By providing the best customer service experience, I’m allowed to get to know the clients a bit,” she explained. “I am able to ask the client about their day or about their course, which allows me to further provide the best customer service I can.”

“I just enjoy helping people get the things they need,” Brown noted.

Learning how to provide customer service has also been beneficial for students in their experience at Elon.

“I believe that (we) want to leave a positive and lasting impression on the Elon community,” Janae Williams said. “I just enjoy how appreciative customers are when I provide great customer service. I’ve learned that I can directly impact how others feel for the remainder of their day. So, in my mind, I believe I’m helping customers feel better.”


Ryan Gay

Ryan Gay

Ryan is the Manager of Service Management & IT Project Lead for Instructional & Campus Technologies. He has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from UNC-Greensboro.

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