Otago Polytechnic

Taking an award-winning approach to enterprise service with Dynamics CRM

“Customers want the answer yesterday, they don’t want to know why something has gone wrong or to have to wait. Our ESM solution successfully provides the information or fix needed to keep them happy.”

Steven Turnbull, Chief Information Officer, Otago Polytechnic

Otago Polytechnic puts the emphasis firmly on ensuring that both students and faculty are happy. So it’s no surprise they received the award for Technology Innovation at the 2017 Microsoft Tertiary ICT Innovation Awards for their recently rolled out Enterprise Service Transformation project.

Known for its high level of student achievement and satisfaction results, the polytechnic has over 7,000 full and part-time students and nearly 700 staff. It delivers over 100 programmes across campuses in Dunedin, Central Otago and Auckland.

Tackling customer satisfaction

Service management is all about measuring outcomes and constantly improving results for customers. In the case of the polytechnic, their customers are their faculty and students.  

The polytechnic conducted a survey of all staff who’d recently used or interacted with the 14 campus-wide service teams, establishing a ‘before’ benchmark for the Enterprise Service Management (ESM) project.

“We asked our staff how satisfied they were with the method of requesting help and the service that they received,” said Steven Turnbull, Chief Information Officer for Otago Polytechnic. “We kept the survey simple because we wanted to be able to ask the same question again later. The average mark was 3 out of 10 for satisfaction, which was as we expected - but wasn’t great.”

There were several approaches to service management operating throughout the organisation before the ESM solution was introduced. Some departments had a shared mailbox to collect emailed queries and complaints, with loose rules around task ownership. Unfortunately, that meant issues could remain unattended for days. It wasn’t possible to monitor the volume, nature or customer impact of these emails, or know how and when issues were resolved.

Other departments used an in-house service tool, built in the 1990s, to manage IT issues. Repurposed over the years to deal with other service issues, this tool provided measurements of the volume of support requests coming in but gave no visibility of who ‘owned’ the problem or request. Nor could it track issue complexity and resolution or capture user feedback. And based on the results of the staff-wide satisfaction survey, customers were obviously unhappy and frustrated.

In addition, having no online access meant staff across the organisation struggled to log, view, update, track and measure cases on mobile devices. The service teams used multiple non-responsive design websites and there were rendering issues when viewing content on some devices.

A sound platform and partnership decision

In early 2016, Otago Polytechnic went to market and chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM as the platform for their new ESM solution and engaged Fusion5 as their partner.

The polytechnic and Fusion5 took a collaborative approach, to deliver the best solution, says Turnbull. “We needed to work closely together as neither of us had done anything like this project before. And according to Microsoft – no one had! We were really pushing the boundaries of what could be done. But all credit to Fusion5’s team, they made a go of it.”

“Fusion5 are very good to work with,” says Turnbull. “They listened really well and kept us engaged.”

Turnbull says selecting a Microsoft solution was the right decision. “We didn’t choose it necessarily on price or just because we had a leaning towards Microsoft. We looked at it from a platform and architectural perspective. We have a Microsoft environment so there are many benefits to staying with the same platform and keeping that architectural vision of shared data and interaction.”

 

Delivering simplicity, mobility and success

The polytechnic’s new ESM solution provides a single avenue of contact for all of their customers to use, regardless of the problem, question or request.

“It’s as simple to log a case as it is to send an email,” says Turnbull. “We just capture what’s wrong or what help is needed, and a description of the request from the customer.”

Online access from any device solved the mobility issues and users are much happier with the new level of visibility and resolution speed of logged cases.

The new solution strategically supports Otago Polytechnic’s business objective of delivering service excellence by placing their customers at the centre of the journey.

Providing a single centralised service desk across all departments immediately reduced administrative overheads. Staff are no longer distracted by requests for help flowing into shared mailboxes and can focus on their core tasks instead. A triage system is applied to incoming cases to ensure they are correctly allocated – saving time and effort.

And of course, the polytechnic can measure, track and analyse everything against predetermined SLAs, minimising the ratio of frustrated customers to happy ones.

And there’s more to come, says Turnbull. The second stage of the project will improve customer engagement and learner success with extensive online availability and self-help options. The solution will provide a ‘one stop shop’ where collective knowledge from all service areas are accessible by online users 24/7, on any device.

All geared up and ready to roll

Rolling out the solution to departments who had been using the legacy service tool first minimised the impact of change. “They readily adopted the new solution,” says Turnbull. “It provided them with the functionality they’d wanted.”

Departments new to the concept of an enterprise service management tool came next. “We knew it would be more of a challenge for those who had been quite happy using a shared mailbox. So, we took an evangelistic approach and worked on selling them the benefits of the system beforehand. We got them to the point where they all kept saying to us ‘we want to see it, we want to see it!’ ”

Each department was trained as a group, with less confident users receiving additional one-on-one training.

Happy customers

The polytechnic measured the outcomes of implementing the new solution with great care. Turnbull proudly reported that customer feedback increased by 26%, and that feedback increased their Net Promotor Score from 9.2 to 9.7. Customer engagement increased by 13%, and while it was measured during the quiet period over the Christmas break, it showed the polytechnic already assisting 17% more learners than before.

And the customer satisfaction levels? At the beginning of the project their staff rated their satisfaction at a lowly 3 out of 10. The news was way better the second time around.

“We did the same survey a month after going live,” says Turnbull, “and this time the average was 8 out of 10. So it’s a pretty dramatic change in our scores.”

A bright service management future

There’s more good news to come for Otago Polytechnic’s customers.

2018 sees the knowledge management services fully developed and populated with content. The polytechnic also plans to introduce machine-learned artificial intelligence (AI) to leverage Microsoft’s cloud-based cognitive services engine. Customers will be able to directly interact with the AI ‘bot’ in over five languages.

Turnbull says their award-winning Enterprise Service Management solution delivers what today’s customers need – and expect.

“Customers want the answer yesterday, they don’t want to know why something has gone wrong or to have to wait. Our ESM solution successfully provides the information or fix needed to keep them happy.”

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