Help Desk Evaluation and Assessment
The initial point of contact for Dartmouth’s networked environment is the Help Desk, the source of computing assistance for Computing Services’ three primary consistencies (faculty, students, and administrative staff). Computing Services encourages users to “enter” the system through this single point of contact either through walk in, e-mail, or telephone. Questions are resolved at this level or escalated to the appropriate specialist within Computing Services. Visibility and integration into the Dartmouth community will be enhanced in upcoming years as the Help Desk moves to the first floor of our new library. The current, and future, importance of the Help Desk to the College and Computing Services influenced the decision to focus our evaluation efforts on this integral component of computing support.
Dartmouth’s Computing Services and the Office of Evaluation and Research will jointly undertake the assessment effort. We will be conducting the research through the fall of 1997 and writing up our initial assessment report in the early months of 1998.
The evaluation will examine the Help-Desk encounter from two sides, the user and the computing consultant, collecting and correlating information to create a multi-faceted picture of the Help Desk’s interaction with their constituency.
Each initial contact will be reported on by the Help Desk consultant, including name of the user, data and time of contact, type of presenting problem, suggested actions to resolve the problem, whether the consultant believes the problem was solved to the user’s satisfaction, and a general assessment of the user’s computing knowledge. This approach elaborates on the “transactional log data analysis” as described in McClure & Lopata.
These forms will be collected by the evaluation team, which will randomly select users from the faculty, student, and administrative categories to be contacted with a brief, semi-structured phone interview about their Help Desk Experience. During the phone interview, the user will be asked about both the perceived helpfulness and courtesy of the consultant. Interviews will take place in a timely fashion so as to maximize the user’s memory of the event.
The above procedure collects data about the encounter as filtered through the user and the consultant. We will collect additional information on the Help Desk services through randomly-timed telephone calls and e-mails from pseudo users. These pseudo users will engage the Help Desk with a particular problem, and will record the sequence of questions asked by the consultant as the problem is resolved. Courtesy, as well as other customer service factors, will be rated by the pseudo users.