The University of Wollongong (UOW) positions itself strongly on personalised service.  Replacing its ageing on-premises student service contact centre, Kytec successfully deployed a Cisco, cloud-based contact centre solution to allow the university to engage more effectively with current students, prospective students, and the broader community.

The University of Wollongong was established 1975 and is listed alongside the top modern universities globally. 

There are nine campuses in Australia across Wollongong, Sydney and regional NSW as well as international campuses in Dubai, Hong Kong and Malaysia. UOW also has established partnerships with a number of international education institutions in China and Singapore. 

The challenges

UOW had an ageing, on-premises, contact centre that had a number of issues including limited functionality.

Whilst UOW contact centre staff make a significant number of outbound calls to follow up on issues, check on student welfare, ensure student enrolment and much more, there is an even higher volume of inbound inquiries from current students and future students. Ensuring the platform being used is reliable, secure and efficient is critical to these activities.  The previous on-premises contact centre not only required ongoing upgrades and management overhead; it had been customised to an unhelpful level of complexity which was causing problems.

During their university experience, Current Students go through a full lifecycle of activities and engagement, including orientation, subject selection, studying, examination, career planning and graduation.  Enquiries can relate to any of these areas or could be for administrative functions like lost student cards, requests for documentation, academic consideration, IT support, student loans, deferrals or student wellbeing concerns.

Future Students is the other main audience for UOW – ensuring enrolments from prospective students is a key success measure at UOW.  Enquiries can be about issues such as enrolment enquiries, course content and structure, entry requirements, accommodation options, visa applications and English language requirements.

In addition to the student population, UOW regularly handles calls from members of the community who are trying to contact staff, provide feedback, arrange tours or who have other general enquiries about the University. 

The University’s challenge is to provide high quality personalised service and a single point of resolution where contact centre staff are working remotely or distributed across different campuses. UOW deployed technology that allowed them to address the problems/questions of students and future students and meet their expectations in terms of the various ways they would like to make contact.  

The solution

At UOW, there are different teams in place to deal with enquiries from current students, future students and the community.

Both the current and future student contact centre teams have their own dedicated inbound number (1300) and can also be contacted via the switchboard number using an IVR (interactive Voice Response). UOW also uses email (inbound and outbound) to respond to queries and monitors social media for any issues that need to be resolved.

To support its student engagement strategy, UOW engaged Kytec to deploy and manage the Webex Contact Centre, by Cisco, which is a fully scalable, multi-channel cloud solution

A simple, clickable telephone directory allows contact centre staff to communicate with each other, managers or subject matter experts to facilitate the resolution of an issue in one place. Kytec also trained UOW contact centre staff so they could get the best value from all the available features.

In terms of key performance measures, UOW was tracking call abandon rates, time to connect to staff and call length. However, due to the variety of complex call types and the fact that calls can expand into multiple queries, call length has been removed as a key performance measure. Therefore, the ultimate objective is to provide high quality service and answer all enquiries to the highest level of satisfaction with issue resolution being the key success measure. Staff idle times are monitored to diagnose other problems such as issues that require a large amount of ‘off call’ time to follow up or resolve.

To assist with any issues that may come up, a Webex chat group or ‘space’ has been set up between the UOW contact centre staff, the UOW IT team and Kytec to be able to resolve issues quickly and efficiently.

A Successful Implementation

Like many other organisations, UOW and Kytec had to adapt quickly to the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic caused, resulting in the workforce working remotely with limited face to face contact.  Webex was used to coordinate requirements gathering, implementation and training for the implementation. 

The successful implementation of the Student Service Webex Contact Centre solution was seamless. From deployment through to ongoing support and training, UOW has been consistently happy with Kytec and the customised system that has been delivered.  It is being successfully used with increased performance and ease.

“I’ve done a lot of system roll outs over my career and I’ve never seen such a smooth implementation”, Manager Service Operations, University of Wollongong.

Insights for others

The Webex contact centre platform is critical for the successful operation of the University as it is the primary point of engagement between the University and its students. During the process of deploying and operating their new contact centre infrastructure, UOW gained significant knowledge and insights which can be used to provide valuable information to others considering a similar project:

  1. Before designing the technical solution, fully understand the type of inquiries that need to be handled, how agents work and what systems and features they need to work effectively.
  2. Define the aspirational solution and be sure that your selected vendor can deliver these features now or has a roadmap to deliver these features.  Rolling out a solution in a phased approach has the benefit of reduced risk and allows for adjustments to be made.
  3. Recruitment of contact centre staff and creating a customer focused culture is critical as this is what ultimately drives quality outcomes as well as the more traditional quantitative performance measures.
  4. Good communication between the inbound team and other teams that are sending out communications such as email is important as outbound communications drive inbound communications. The inbound team needs to be resourced and enabled.