“Education” for the 2020–2021 school year (PART IV)
Providing Exceptional Support
A remote or hybrid environment requires as much if not more support. To do this, we leveraged some tools to track, monitor, prioritize, and respond to requests from the community.
We have been using Zendesk for years now concerning issues, tickets, events, and communication. 90% of the tickets and requests came from faculty and staff. The percentages shifted as we entered into remote work beginning in the spring and extending to the start of the 2020–21 school year.
A few built-in solutions we leveraged within Zendesk from the start were sharing an email address with families that flowed directly into Zendesk as a ticket. Triggers and Views were set within Zendesk to prioritize and focus on requests alongside internal requests. We knew this would be challenging for families, so ensuring we would see and respond quickly to their concerns and needs was essential.
We leveraged Zendesk’s AnswerBot system to provide quick troubleshooting suggestions as part of the response. We deepened our knowledgebase articles to feel comfortable that answers may help the moment we received the ticket. The time and work spent during the summer to beef up our knowledgebase reduced the number of tickets that required extensive back and forth communication.
As the summer progressed, we recognized that the school would be opening in the fall and needed a way to track the team’s interaction with the community (for health contact tracing purposes).
We set and communicated a policy that any technical request must be submitted as a ticket to schedule a meeting and track our time. Aside from facilities, the technology team interacts with more devices and community members than anyone else. We knew the technology team would also be an afterthought if there were concerns within a classroom or pod about COVID exposure.
The process required some revision, but we settled on an update from the school nurse providing us with the date(s) and room(s) impacted regarding prospective cases. The communication from the nurse maintained privacy and confidentiality. Still, it allowed us to leverage our “tracking system” to search for details that would verify if we had been in that room during the time in question.
The CDC updated its information regarding exposure time and proximity to an infected person. It was no longer six feet, unmasked, and fifteen minutes or more. It became proximity to an infected person for a total of fifteen minutes over twenty-four hours. Even if the school was disinfected daily, technicians might spend time in a room working on technology when school was done for the day and prior to any daily sanitization.
This process served us well. We created a ticket for those who did not submit a request, communicated and scheduled through the ticket, and solved the ticket. This process provided a timeline and interactions with the community and allowed us to follow up as needed.
Helpdesk takeaways. Even for smaller teams, having a centralized system (that is not email) is critical to the flow of requests, even in “normal” times. With COVID and remote work, tracking centrally and utilizing a cloud-based system for monitoring, delegating, prioritizing, and responding to requests is imperative.
After more than seven years of working with Zendesk, I highly recommend looking into it for any support group.