University of Auckland

Successfully underpinning an enterprise CRM strategy with Oracle Service Cloud

University of Auckland successfully underpinning an enterprise CRM strategy with Oracle Service Cloud

Founded in 1883, the University of Auckland is now New Zealand’s largest with 38,500 students, nearly 10,000 of whom graduate annually.

The main campus is in the heart of Auckland city and has four specialist campuses.

In 2007, the University of Auckland’s Call Centre went to market for a replacement contact centre tool - initially limited to email, a knowledge base and for documenting calls, with some integration to the University’s identity access management system. The University implemented Oracle Service Cloud (formerly known as RightNow) for this requirement.

Hilton Lloyd, Team Leader of CRM Services within Shared Application Services, says, “The Service Cloud system soon proved itself to be a reliable tool so a pilot was initiated to start rolling the system out to the areas that would get most value from it.  Over the next two years this included the Faculties of Business and Science, Student Financials, International and HR. Support for the solution quickly grew, along with all the reporting and navigation sets for the various users.”

CX on a large scale

A big change came in 2010 when the University agreed to a new Enterprise contract for Oracle Service Cloud, growing from 50 to 500 active user accounts. This contract covered all faculties, all academic services and satellite offices. The Call Centre began using the application as a single point for all email, phone and web enquiries and the Student Centre using it for all face-to-face services.

“This approach provided us with one set of KPIs, one way of reporting for all, one knowledge base - and one source of truth, with one consistent view of the student, providing transparency across all areas”, says Hilton.

“With CRM and CX (Customer Experience) at this large scale, technology alone won’t cut it,” said Hilton. The University needed to establish a large project team and a representative user group, with strong governance, along with a dedicated trainer and standardised training programme. “It was a real cultural change” says Hilton, “and we took the opportunity to incorporate CX principles into the system design. This change took some time, but resulted in measurable improvements in customer service, staff culture and attitudes”.  Hilton added, “It became easier, and the team developed the Oracle Service Cloud application to manage face-to-face enquiries in the main Student Information Centre with no training required!”

“This approach provided us with one set of KPIs, one way of reporting for all, one knowledge base - and one source of truth, with one consistent view of the student, providing transparency across all areas.”

Hilton Lloyd, Team Leader of CRM Services within Shared Application Services

Keep it simple

In 2012, the University embarked on a project to expand the use of Oracle Service Cloud for managing its key strategic relationships with external organisations. Diverging from advances that had been made in previous designs, a more traditional user interface and system design was adopted for this module. However, over time a number of challenges became obvious. While the user interface design was very functional, the usage became highly dysfunctional, as there was too much for staff to remember.

“This resulted in some inconsistent processes, poor data quality and uncultivated behaviour, where some users refused to use the system” said Hilton. Therefore, in 2013 the University created a ‘Stabilisation project’ to redesign the interface and make the system more usable.  “Our main lesson was that CX principles must be applied everywhere!” added Hilton.

Enhancements lead to great results

Hilton said, “We have further enhanced the system to include more recruitment event forms, greater automation around service request forms, Facebook integration, a ‘Voice of Customer’ programme and more. We have also done a lot of work on enhancing our Oracle Service Cloud knowledge base, growing the number of ‘answers’ from 600 to over 2500, and aligning this to our support model. Our revised Knowledge Management strategy ensures we have tight control over answers published, with our customer service agents closely involved in the process. Results over the 2011-2013 period have shown a 56% reduction in phone calls - that’s 72,000 fewer calls over that time!"

With the extended use of Service Cloud and its multi-level functionality, FTE numbers in the Student Contact Centre have dropped each year without diminishing the quality of service, and while both the number of channels they use and monitor, and the number of students enrolled increases.  This has led to savings both in the cost of staffing, training new staff members, and in terms of efficiencies in throughput.  The data gleaned from the system also assists with workforce planning – being aware of peaks and troughs in demand – such as at the beginning of a semester – means the university is able to identify when the Student Contact Centre may need additional short term staffing resource.

The story continues...

The whole journey has been a significant program for the University of Auckland – and still is today.  Since this case study was first recorded, the Oracle Service Cloud application has been extended to the new centralised Staff Service Centre, providing one touch-point for staff around HR, finance, IT, property and research. 

Other recent developments:

  • Text messaging has been implemented in November 2015; sending reminder messages to students about exam times and locations. Previously emails sent to students were often missed, emails no longer being the dominant communication method used by students who now prefer the immediacy of instant messaging.  This has assisted in minimising the administration headaches (outside of the Student Contact Centre) which accompany the inevitable requests for a re-sit when a student misses their exam.  The flow-on effect has been an improvement in efficiency across other areas of the university, and they are now looking to roll out SMS messaging in a wider context in 2016.
  • Live Chat was piloted with 1st year students this year to explore both its capabilities, and the Contact Centre’s ability to service such a channel effectively. They expect to roll this service out in 2016 to select groups – primarily post-graduate students, PhD candidates, and international students.
  • Social media is also increasing in importance as a channel to assist in improving the student experience – to their mind it’s important to appear “switched on” and able to connect with the students using the channels they are active on.

What's Next?

Going forward, the University of Auckland are continuing to focus on key refinements and improvements in their use of Service Cloud – primarily encouraging the use of the knowledge base and self-service web enquiry forms, routing questions to the right people, adding to the knowledge base in real time, as well as digitising a number of webforms in order to simplify processes across the board, and of course, enhance the overall student experience.

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