4 Characteristics of Successful IT Help Desks in Higher Education

Colleges present different challenges for IT help desks than businesses. For starters, they have different customers and different hours. Students are extremely tech savvy, much more so than the average working adult, and possess high expectations not only for the technology available to them, but also for support.

In addition, students often use their own technology and work away from a physical campus. Unlike in a traditional business setting, in which employees mainly work on the company's devices, IT help desks must contend with compatibility issues more often.

Given these distinctions, it is not particularly surprising that a successful help desk for an institution of higher learning is fundamentally different from that of a business.

University/College IT Help Desk Support

Here are four key characteristics of successful university/college help desks:

  • Training/Advising

    It is important for the IT help desk to provide training and advising sessions for university professors and staff members. It does not matter if the university contains high tech capabilities if no one knows how to properly use them. In some instances, IT may even need to demonstrate how the university's technology can enhance the learning experience to convince staff members and professors.

  • Easily Available and Efficient Support

    Whether it is fair or even realistic, the modern student expects everything to come almost instantaneously, including their technology support. Similarly, professors will remain reluctant to adopt new technology if they find that it does not work or does not get fixed in a timely manner.

  • Support Easily Available Across Multiple Platforms

    IT strives to connect to every aspect of the community through every means possible, whether it is a printer in the library, a BYOD (bring your own device), or the university's blackboard website. Given this goal, IT support should be easily available for and from any platform.

  • Communication with the Community

    IT should strive to make it easy for the university community to communicate their concerns. Sending out surveys - one each designed for faculty, students, and staff - at the end of every semester or year serves as a good way of garnering the concerns and ideas of the campus. While asking "yes," "no," "good," "bad," or "mediocre" makes it easy to evaluate the data, individuals should be able to leave specific concerns or suggestions that cannot be addressed in such a simple format. Having an online comments box, through which campus members can write suggestions or concerns can be helpful in not only learning where the help desk can improve, but also providing new ideas.

University/college IT departments can adopt these four qualities to build and strengthen trust between their communities and their help desks.