Confessions of an IT service desk staffer

  • Clelia Lieberman
  • Customer Stories
  • Solutions
  • 2021
April 02, 2021

Confessions of an IT service desk staffer

Being a student can be exciting—and tough — all at the same time.

There are many new things to get used to: a new place to live with new people, finding your way around a jumble of buildings, and new freedoms, often for the first time. Then there’s the challenge of your studies, with lots of new things to learn, deadlines to meet, and exams to pass. For many, life can feel quite stressful.

With IT such an important part of student life and learning, the last thing any of us needs is to have internet connection or printer problems the night before handing in that all-important first assignment to the tutor.

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In search of friendly IT support

From my experience, most students want a friendly face, a reassuring voice on the telephone, and lots of useful information to help them navigate their new surroundings. They want to be able to sort things out themselves—but know that help is available from friends if they need it.

That’s what the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland had in mind when it worked with ServiceNow to create a new IT service desk.

But EPFL’s genius was to decide to staff its service desk with its own students.

Who better to understand the needs of students than students themselves? I’m not sure anyone at EPFL imagined just what a great idea it would turn out to be.

It’s unusual for a university to employ its own students on its IT help desk—but for me it makes perfect sense. Students are used to learning new things every day, so learning the skills needed to work on the service desk is comparatively easy for us.

Now, up to 80 undergraduates from every school in the university enjoy flexible, stimulating, and educational employment using the Now Platform® to support fellow students and staff, adding value to their CVs in the process.

A valuable learning experience

Working on the service desk provides interesting and rewarding work that students can fit around their studies. It’s a valuable learning experience for all of us, and not just a job because we need some extra money.

It’s reassuring for students to be able to seek help from other students who have faced the same issues. Because of that, we service desk staffers know immediately what to do to provide support and help students in need.

As one of the longest serving student assistants, I’ve developed valuable skills for my own professional development, such as listening and communicating with lots of different people. These aren’t just students, but also professors and administrative staff.

My job has taught me how to work with people to solve problems and how to handle situations with care and diplomacy, because sometimes people are very stressed when they contact us.

The ServiceNow support system is constantly improving, with more and more self-service documentation to help clients resolve common IT issues.

The data analysis that shows the most common problems or issues is especially valuable because it enables us to provide better solutions and help people help themselves.

We can quickly send status emails to user groups about a particular issue or problem. Users appreciate this, and it prevents a flood of phone calls and emails to the service desk.

I saw recently that 96% of people using our service desk say they’re satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive. I think that’s something we can all be proud of.

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