‘Won’t you please, please help me’

‘Help’ is a widely-offered commodity these days – there’s usually a little button offering ‘Help’ on the screen of your device of choice; companies offer help lines and help desks. Some kind of ‘help’ function has become a must-have accessory for many organisations, with ‘Customer Care’ being a box everyone needs to tick. But the quality of the aid and assistance actually offered varies considerably…

Yesterday I spent some time working on the Student Information Centre Helpdesk at Edge Hill, as part of a ‘Back to the Floor’ day organised by HR. It was the busiest and least caffeinated I’ve been for a long time… the volume and diversity of enquiries kept me on the go without let up for the whole period. I was impressed and surprised by a number of things:
– the complexity and scale of information that needs to be immediately available from the desk
– the huge range of services deployed to support students
– the immediate willingness of staff around the University to drop what they’re doing to help sort out a student’s problem
– the Kafka-like world of student finance, and the effort involved by Universities and the students themselves in making it work.

The Student Information Officer did a great job of mentoring me whilst (inevitably) responding to a lot of the questions after I had blanched in fear, dropped the papers on the floor, proffered the wrong form and so on. But I now know what an EMC form is and the deadline for a Module Change Request.

At Edge Hill, at least, the ‘Help’ on offer is real and (now that I’ve left the proper people to get on with it) professionally delivered.