Enhancing Customer Engagement

From informal discussions with students to leveraging the expertise of UB’s Faculty Senate, UBIT partners with the campus community at every turn to inform short-term decision making and long-term strategy.

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Student engagement

Each fall, UBIT staff directly engage with the student body. In 2017, UBIT conducted our 20th student IT experience survey, which an average of 3,000 students respond to every fall. Services and vendor partnerships like discounts on the Top Hat response system all started as a result of student IT survey responses. Student survey feedback sparked the three-year Wi-Fi Boost project, which doubled the amount of access points on campus, and also solidified the need for UBIT to use email to better reach students. In addition, UBIT has increased our involvement in new student orientation to ensure that students are in the know about IT services from day one.

UBIT also reaches out to leadership through the Student Assembly, Student Association and Graduate Student Association to conduct informal focus groups throughout the fall and spring semesters. Student feedback is invaluable; they tell UBIT how they are using, or not using, our services, and how they feel we could improve or where we’ve been successful.

Often, ideas for new services come out of these sessions, most recently the Tech Squad, which allows students to request tech help from their residence hall or other on-campus location.

UB Tech Squad

UB Tech Squad was designed to deliver the same high-quality customer support to which UB students are accustomed, in an entirely new way: by empowering students to choose when and where they get help.

Allison Ariola.

“My computer just shut off one night... it turns out there were over 500 viruses on it! [UB Tech Squad] deleted the viruses, installed anti-virus software and then upgraded my operating system. It was free of charge, all within a day... I didn’t have to buy a new computer!”

Allison Ariola, Transfer student, Political Science

Students use Tech Squad’s online scheduler to pick a convenient time and place, and Tech Squad meets them anywhere on UB’s campus. From the beginning (2016), Tech Squad was developed through student input, surveys and focus groups, to meet the need for flexible help with technology. The result is a customer-focused service platform standing by to help students from day one with their most common tech problems.

Shamini Priya.

“When my laptop suddenly crashed, a friend of mine told me Tech Squad would be able to help. They took my laptop, asked me a few questions, then got back to me with a full report. They helped me back up my data and install the latest Windows OS. Don’t hesitate to go to them if you have any issues with your computers.”

Shamini Priya, Class of 2018, Communications

Faculty engagement

UBIT schedules focus groups with small groups of faculty at least once per academic year. In the sessions, faculty have a chance to provide valuable feedback on how to better get the word out about IT services to their peers, and share opinions on what tools they need to offer to aid their instruction.
In Fall 2017, UBIT launched a series of faculty town halls, which are repeated every semester. These forums give faculty the opportunity to engage in a two-way conversation with technical staff while participating in demonstrations of tools like  UBbox cloud storage and Panopto course capture. Feedback from town halls allows us to better customize tools and tailor communications to address common faculty questions.

Faculty Senate IT Subcommittee

The Faculty Senate IT Subcommittee was formed during Fall 2016 at the request of the VPCIO and UBIT Faculty Fellow Valerie Nesset, Ph.D. This committee was tasked with addressing the rapidly advancing pace of technology and providing faculty guidance in steering the direction of UBIT services.

Their first priority was to develop a baseline for supporting further decision making. To that end, in 2017, the subcommittee worked with UBIT to develop the first-ever Faculty IT Survey. Data collected during that survey prompted several new initiatives, including the Faculty IT Liaison program and a series of ongoing Faculty Town Hall events that were designed to engage faculty and promote two-way communication between the faculty and IT staff. The subcommittee also helped to develop a policy for security standards on devices, written with faculty in mind.

Faculty IT Liaisons

The Faculty IT Liaison program is a collaborative team composed of faculty members and IT staff, meeting regularly to unpack and experiment with campus technology together in order to foster better communication, understanding and awareness.

Applications are solicited from faculty, with an emphasis on those who can best demonstrate how typical customers approach and use technology. These applicants also learn technology best practices from IT staff that they can take back to their unit.

The first liaison groups met during Spring 2018, and, through a series of collaborative design sessions, explored ways to improve UB’s email (UBmail for faculty and staff/Outlook), cloud storage (UBbox) and learning management system (UB Learns).

Usability studies: A deeper dive into how customers use technology

In addition to these conversations, UBIT conducts usability studies with students, faculty and staff at least twice each year. These studies often focus on new and upcoming services, but UBIT also regularly reviews existing services for opportunities to improve. By carefully watching how a student or faculty member interacts with technology, often in their own office or working environment, UBIT is able to address pain points that technical staff are simply unaware of.

VPCIO Brice Bible and UB Tech Squad student.