Enquiry Handling Management in SSiD

Enquiry handling options

The Student Enquiries team in SSiD (Student Service Information Desk) handles hundreds of thousands of general student related enquiries a year – many on behalf of colleagues elsewhere in the University. When we are unable to fully answer an enquiry we refer or signpost to other information sources, self-help resources and specialist services. We are committed to make sure that if we do direct a student someone else it is the right place.

Our enquiry handling approach is based on the following principles:

  • Answer the majority of face to face enquiries first time, every time.
  • Making information as accessible as possible to the enquirer through dissemination and explication.
  • Direct enquiries appropriately and consistently to information sources self-help resources and specialists elsewhere in the University.
  • Make the best use of various information systems to support the enquiry handling processes including the internet and knowledge-bases.

Enquiry Handling Choices

We successfully resolve about 85% of enquiries. The increasingly complex nature of student questions means that we have to signpost or refer some enquiries to staff with more appropriate expertise. 

a) Gatekeeping

If the student already has the answer e.g. they have been instructed on what to do via email by colleagues then we reinforce the message or help them to understand or take the action that has been requested.

b) Answer the Enquiry.

If we have the answer readily to hand, it is a straight-forward enquiry and something we are fairly familiar with we can answer the question fully and with reference to no one else.

c) Signpost to information source

It may be that the answer will require the customer to consider a great deal of information. In these instances we signpost people to an appropriate resource. This may include something like signposting to a web page or self-service.

d) Refer to a specialist

We refer an enquiry to a specialist when we know part of the answer but not all, if we are unsure, or if we do not have the authority to decide or provide information. In these cases we explain the situation to the specialist and introduce or re-introduce the customer to the specialist.

Filtering Enquiries

When processing general enquiries we use systems and procedures that help us gate-keep, answer, signpost and refer as effectively as possible.

  • We have developed an comprehensive web presence where students can find answers to many enquiries themselves.
  • Our Frequently Asked Questions database “Ask Sheffield” focuses on the key questions student have asked over the years.
  • These FAQs pages are linked to our general contact pages so they can self-direct or self-refer to one of the many student focused services in University.
  • The SSiD contact page links to our email service which presents the enquirer with a series of categorised web forms which help them structure their enquiry in a way that help us effectively manage their enquiry.

by Scott Castle
1 Novemer 2011
updated 28 February 2017