Amplifying Advising Services: Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
There’s a new standard being set for teaching, discovery and innovation, and it’s happening right here at ASU. At Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, rigorous undergraduate and graduate programs equip 2,700 undergraduate students to share the latest in educational theories, research and technologies with the world. The college provides training for teacher certification in grades K-8, as well as grades 7-12.
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College was among ASU’s early adopters of Salesforce. In 2013, the department launched its Knowledge Base with a series of articles written for its undergraduate audience. The college then began training for case management in fall 2014 and officially launched the program with academic advisors in spring 2015.
Since implementation, the college’s advisors have managed three main types of cases:
- Daily email inquiries submitted through email@example.com.
- Student registration cases through a provost-sponsored retention project that tracks returning freshman via Salesforce (launched summer 2015).
- ASU freshmen cases generated through a nationwide connections survey (e.g., changing a major, inquiries from the residential community, etc.).
Initially, the primary goal has been to manage student inquiries more quickly and efficiently, with a target of responding to a case within 24 hours and resolving a case within 48 hours. Thus far, the department is within close range of its goal, with an average overall response time of 2.6 days since May 2015.
One of the key benefits of Salesforce that the department has seen since the case management launch has been an improved response to students who send messages to the college not knowing who their advisor is.
“Since cases are visible in Salesforce and I can watch them as a manager, I’m able to create more accountability within my department in responding to email inquiries,” says Aaron Garriss, advising manager for Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “In the past, emails may have languished in the wrong inbox as students sometimes don’t know who to ask for assistance. Now I can see when a student inquiry has been sent to the wrong advisor or service email account in an efficient manner. I can also monitor information being disseminated to make sure it’s accurate.”
Though the number of cases handled within Salesforce has increased significantly since launch, there is still one major hurdle: the only way to take full advantage of the monitoring features is if students email the department through the tool.
“Right now, we’re only getting five or six inquiries per day in Salesforce,” explains Garriss. “The vast majority of students still email their advisor directly.
The rationale behind this tendency is the lower student-to-advisor ratio, compared with larger colleges.
“We want our students to know who their advisor is and create a rapport with them,” says Garriss. “In our current model, that means most students will email their assigned advisors directly.”
Given this behavior, the teachers’ college realized it needed to further evolve its objectives in order to utilize Salesforce more effectively. As a result, one of the other main areas of focus has become helping students resolve issues outside the realm of academic advising by leveraging Salesforce contacts in other departments.
“When students ask about an issue related to financial aid, admissions, the registrar or the student health center, for example, our advisors create a case within Salesforce and send it directly to that department,” explains Garriss. “We’ve been able to actively resolve issues outside of our purview without having to physically refer students.”
Though more than 90 percent of the inquiries that originate from students are specific to the teachers’ college, on occasions where they need outside help, the department has historically found student confusion over where to go or whom to ask for assistance. By utilizing Salesforce, Garriss hopes to alleviate these communication issues.
“Our goal is that through the course of an advising interaction, whether it’s through email, over the phone or in person, the advisors can create a case, send it off and students will be contacted proactively by that department within 24 hours,” he says.
This approach isn’t meant to prevent students from creating their own cases in the My ASU Service Center; rather, it’s an opportunity to meet the needs of students who may not be as familiar with resolving issues through the website.
“For our college, resolving students’ issues by creating cases on their behalf is a way we can have the biggest impact in improving student service,” Garriss says.
If there is one area where the teachers’ college could have dedicated more time in the early stages of implementation, it would be in creating a more in-depth training process.
“The interface is confusing when you first interact with it,” says Garriss. “We did a couple of mock trainings, but I think if we’d had a bit more of an elongated training process with advisors, it would have been helpful.”
In particular, he believes the front desk staff could benefit from more interaction with the tool, which Garriss hopes will, in turn, benefit their constituents.
“Our front desk staff is just like an information desk,” says Garriss. “Students come in with questions that are all over the map. A lot of the questions can be answered, but some require additional information or support from another department or unit at ASU. Enabling the front desk staff to create a case and submit it to the relevant department would be very beneficial.”
In the meantime, students can still look forward to faster response times and better service, allowing them to focus on learning through the college’s innovative programs.