August 13, 2012
A caller needs help from ASU, she has a small black snake in her back yard and she doesn’t know what to do. She’s afraid her puppy will get bitten.
ASU has a snake collection, and a snake curator, but he is out of the office. So, Doris Monroe calls the Arizona Reptile Center and they offer to help.
Such calls are all in a day’s work for the staff at ASU Information, ASU’s Campus Call Center.
Sitting on the second floor of the Computing Commons on the Tempe campus, staff members Diana Romberg, Colton Testamarck, Sandy Minné, Doris Monroe and Monica Allison, plus several trained student workers, answer the phones in shifts from 6 a.m. to 10 p. m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a. m. to 8 p. m. Fridays, and 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. Saturdays and Sundays.
It’s an office where you don’t want to be short-handed on a busy day.
On a recent morning shift, Romberg, Testamarck and a student worker were holding down the fort. Romberg was trying to get away for lunch but there were seven calls in the queue. And the phone kept ringing.
(Actually, most of the ASU Information staff have their phone’s ringers turned on low. Instead they wear headsets and watch the screen for incoming calls. “It would make you crazy if all the phones rang all day,” Testamarck said.)
It’s a very fast-paced job, and the staff soon memorize all the key extensions such as undergraduate admissions, the Graduate College, financial aid, and the computing help desk.
The callers are referred to as “guests,” Romberg said, and all transfers are “warm,” meaning that she and the other staff make sure there is someone to talk to before the callers are transferred.
The call volume fluctuates according to the season, Testamarck said, “and we’re starting to ramp up.”
ASU Information, which was established in February of this year at the request of ASU President Michael Crow, receives between 900 and 1,500 calls per day during the week. ASU is a large part of the community and easy access to general information is necessary. In addition to establishing the call center, as of the beginning of August, ASU’s updated home page includes a user-friendly “Contact ASU” link. The new link is designed to provide helpful information to anyone interested in ASU. The webpage includes the ASU Call Center phone numbers; a technology, financial aid, and human resources support phone number, submit a ticket, and live chat; and a directory that helps staff, faculty, and the community search for people at ASU.
Monroe said. “We try to help people find a certain place on campus. We have a pretty good system and we help each other.”
In addition to the calls on transcripts, class schedules, scholarships and admissions, the center gets calls from people with a variety of other requests: Could an ASU faculty member identify a plant in a homeowner’s yard? Would ASU students like to attend a “harmonic convergence in Sedona?
The gentleman from the harmonic convergence in Sedona sent Minné a thank-you card for her efforts in finding the right place to route his call.
“On the bottom of the card he added, ‘Sending good vibes your way.’ Even though I’m not a follower of this type of thing that he is into his card meant a lot to me,” she said.
One of Monroe’s first calls for non-ASU information was from “a gentleman who wanted the name of the organization the helps people quit smoking. I told him I didn’t know but give me a minute and I would find out. I Googled it and found The ASHLine @ 1-800-55-66-222.”
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Monroe stayed over on her own time to help a 90-year-old Gold Canyon resident find out where her great-grandson from Montana would be playing in a baseball game.
The great-grandmother thought it was “the field where the Rockies used to practice,” so Monroe set to work making calls. Turned out it was Packard Stadium, Monroe said. And then the 90-year-old wanted to know how to drive from Gold Canyon to ASU without getting on the freeway.
The woman made it to see her great-grandson play, and thanked Monroe profusely the next day. “She thanked me over and over on how much she appreciated all that I’d done to help her. That was a good feeling. I tried to locate the information so she wouldn’t have to be disappointed.”
Monroe also recently scored a hit for a grandmother
, who wanted to send flowers to her only granddaughter, a new Polytechnic campus staff member, for her birthday. Monroe called University Housing and learned where to send the flowers, “and Doris made it happen,” said Minné.
Minné is no stranger to providing ASU information. She started her ASU career by answering ASU’s main phone number when Telephone Services was located on the lower level of Old Main. Minné stated there are many improvements in the new call center, all transfers are warm and guests are not transferred to voice mail. This was not always possible when she worked in Old Main.
ASU Information may be reached at 1-(855) 278-6060 or (480) 965-2100. On the ASU home page, www.asu.edu, their numbers are listed under “Contact ASU” at the top of the page and the very bottom of the page on the right side.
Go ahead and call. Make their day.