13 MELB: More than just a call centre

December 13 / 125

Phillip O'Neill of 13MELB
Phillip O'Neill of 13MELB

You may be more familiar with the University Digitisation Centre (UDC)  at 158 Bouverie Street than its upstairs neighbour, the 13 MELB Contact Centre.

Our paths cross throughout the day, yet our working worlds couldn’t be farther apart.  The UDC deals with exciting projects regarding the preservation of rare and precious manuscripts, capturing decorative gold highlights and 3D scanning of death masks; we manage phone and email enquiries for much of the University.

We have, however scored the top bunk in the building and have the advantage of being on the first floor with lofty ceilings and expansive windows. Think light-filled New York loft.
While the task of managing first level phone and email enquiries may seem a little routine and uninspiring, in truth, the experience of working here is actually the opposite.

The Contact Centre is a dynamic communications hub where the unexpected always  lingers just around the corner. Since the Centre went live in January 2011, we’ve managed over 600,000 enquiries, many of which arrive at particular times of the year when key processes converge.

We embrace the challenge of the unexpected, and no matter how pressured the working day or how relentless the enquiry volume, it all happens within a rather zen-like pastel green environment where staff come together to create the initial go-to resource at the University.
We’re a diverse team of some 30 staff in continuing positions, and a group of 25+ Students@Work staff. Our student staff, who are both undergraduate and postgraduate students, come from a range of disciplines. They add enormous value to the business as they have a unique experience of campus life and come with knowledge, energy and ideas that are critical to our growth. So when you contact us, the person assisting you may well be a current student!

We know lots of things and we know quite a few people across the University. Be it about enquiring about a course, applying for special consideration, donating a body for medical research or identifying an insect in your backyard, we can connect you with experts across campus if we don’t have the information. We aim to resolve the majority of enquiries at the time they’re made, however we will always refer on to other business units for expert assistance in keeping with our service delivery protocols.
In addition to our core enquiry management work, we manage frontline enquiries at the Student Service Centre in the Baldwin Spencer Building. Staff there assist students with face-to-face enquiries about scholarships, international student issues, a range of student administration processes, financial aid & housing, and disability liaison.
Importantly, the Contact Centre also comprises the Student Communications team which communicates with students via my.unimelb (the Student Portal), ask.unimelb (the FAQ database), social media and a number of other channels.

They develop tools such as the info update web form to facilitate communications with key stakeholders, assist with communications planning, and also support our own internal communications through the 13 MELB wiki and our in-house digital displays.

The Student Communications team is also responsible for driving our various reporting needs and supporting the range of systems and technical tools that underpin the Contact Centre’s work. As with the wider business, they are constantly questioning traditional ways of doing things and rethinking how we can improve the student experience. Our wonderful student intern supports these innovations, with fabulous support from a project officer with a wealth of experience in the communications arena at UBC in Vancouver.
On a final related note, we are working on a number of projects to improve our service. They include the RightNow Stage 2 Project (to improve email management), a 13 MELB Facebook Page to engage with a wider audience and humanise the Contact Centre, and our live-chat trial as a way of reducing email volume and managing concurrent enquiries.

It’s never just business as usual at the 13 MELB Contact Centre. And it’s that very buzz that gets us excited!

Phillip O'Neill,  Contact Centre Manager
Student Services | Melbourne Students and Learning

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