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IT enhances support through service badges

December 7, 2015
graphic of a shield-like shape with the words customer service across the middle

“It’s about supporting our staff with resources and training to ensure a consistent, high quality customer experience.”

This spring, IT's End User Support Services introduced a service badge program, a trend in higher education that supports learning and development while enabling staff to quickly solve problems and provide effective solutions.

But this is more than just a certificate of completion for staff. Chris Ament, senior director for Academic Technology and User Support, said the focus of the program is to enhance the end-user experience. "It's about supporting our staff with resources and training to ensure a consistent, high quality customer experience."

Each digital badge is backed by learning outcomes that must be achieved in order to earn it. This directly  benefits managers, staff and end users:

  • managers can verify an applicant's skills and their ability to work in a specific area,

  • staff are able to provide documentation of their skills and display the badge on LinkedIn, enabling career advancement, and

  • end users can be assured top-level service from a person credentialed in their specific area of need.

To obtain a badge, employees must complete blended training consisting of online activities, face-to-face instruction, on-the-job practice and evaluation. The training is based on real-world scenarios and is task-based, meaning the employee will get to practice the skills they will use on the job.

"We have been receiving positive feedback from end users on service provided by newly badged staff that indicate the program is working well." said Kathy Breitenbach, service owner, Training and Usability Services.

"Adam B. was courteous, patient, and very professional while assisting me with multiple questions. It made my experience as a returning student more positive and appreciative of the services and support personnel employed by the U of MN."

"Emma, the technical person that assisted me was very helpful and capable."

"Exemplary service on a complicated problem."

Junior Computer Engineering Student Dan Zastrow started working on the service desk in August. He completed the training and proved his skills on the job, earning four service badges. Although the program is invisible to the user, he believes it has definitely helped to achieve "overwhelmingly positive" customer reviews.

"When talking to someone we provide better customer service because we have different strategies to solve a problem," he said.

Sophomore Computer Science Student Emma Pearson reinforces that sentiment. "[Having service badge training] means you have the ability to process information and successfully do everything you need to help a caller."

Beyond providing exceptional help, the badges provide a tangible benefit for students who want to stand out in their job search. The badges can be listed on a resume and in a LinkedIn profile, which can be an important differentiator for students in a crowded job pool and something that both Zastrow and Pearson see as valuable for their future careers.

"I think it looks good on a resume. It says I have training and customer service skills," said Zastrow.

"It is a significant representation that you finished everything and shows that you did well enough to pass a rigorous training process," said Pearson.