IT Support Hub – the changing face of support in IT Services

By Caroline Hackman, Service Desk Manager, IT Services

Back in the early 1990’s, email was the new thing.  Not everyone had one and it was even a bit of a status symbol and IT Services adopted this technology to provide a new mechanism for customer support.  While IT Services have changed models, ITSM tools and restructured support teams over the years, the main channels by which the UCD community contact us are still the same as it was back then:  telephone and email.

We are all aware that there is now a reliance on IT that was unprecedented back then, particularly in the last 18 months when the move to online learning and working in UCD had to happen instantly.  With this came an even greater reliance on support to ensure that processes work and any glitches in service need to be resolved as soon as possible.

Over the last number of years, we’ve seen that emails  were starting to outnumber phone calls to our IT Helpdesk, accounting for 60% of our total contacts in 2020.  Email, while quick and easy to send, is not the best channel to offer support anymore. To better manage the increased volume, we needed to remove the support workflows that go through email and to do this we had to find a better, modern, more efficient way to handle the queries, support requests and  new service demands. 

It’s also important to note that the younger customer base in our community don’t really engage with us by telephone unless they really have to and while we had pinpointed individual aspects of our service that needed modernisation over the past number of years, we needed a cohesive approach to allow us to build a solid foundation for future growth.

We identified a number of modules that would allow us to achieve our goals of enhancing the customer experience, creating efficiencies within our support model, allowing us to allocate more time to the resolution of issues. As UCD is an institution for learning, we wanted to empower our community to  find the answers to their queries quickly and easily themselves, without feeling the need to contact us, therefore creating self-sufficiency.

To do this we needed a modern interface users could login to, using their UCD credentials and one that would allow us to customise and standardise the experiences for our community while ensuring accurate communication.  Customers now have the ability to review and see their open incidents, find their own answers and request services seamlessly, all from one location – an IT support hub.

We are in a fortunate position to currently partner with Fujitsu Ireland for managed services.  As part of our partnership, we were able to secure development work on our shared ITSM platform that would allow us to reach our goal. Our ITSM platform is ServiceNow.   The eagle eyed among you will spot these associations in the URL.

The IT Support Hub – – was built and to date we launched the 3 main features on July 7th:

  • Get Help: Login, create and view open incidents and see comments and conversations related to the open call.  This is now the direct replacement for the IT Helpdesk mailbox.  New accounts are processed overnight, so the portal is available to all users the day after they receive their new UCD Connect IT account. Login is through our secure SSO model with MFA authentication*  (* non-student accounts). If users who don’t have their Connect account yet, or cannot access it, they can still contact us through a slightly different form.
  • Request Something: Logging in also allows you to request new services. All relevant information needed to fulfill a request is gathered here, and this will speed up processing.Access to requests are based on role entitlements.
  • Knowledge Base: We have built a Knowledge Base of ever-growing user-friendly articles. Fast, easily searched and ordered by topic, the Knowledge Base is the focal point for all of our support content. We are updating it constantly. All “how to” support material will be migrated to the knowledge base from our website over the coming months. Our agents can attach KB articles directly to support incidents and users can rate and vote on how helpful they are.

And coming soon, our Virtual Agent, a not so chatty chatbot, but still able to answer your most commonly asked questions.  This will help us make decisions on the next phase of our process transformation.

Only a month in and we are already seeing the benefits. The introduction of the portal has freed up our frontline staff to concentrate on more complex issues, reducing call resolution times significantly. Start of term will be our next big test.

Not everything is there yet, and the model and processes will continue to evolve. Roll on phase 2!