Managing the September rush in Student Client Services

Student Client Services is composed of a team of student-centred information specialists, supporting the York community with registrarial, financial and informational services delivered online, in person and by phone.

This September, more than 24,000 people visited Student Client Services at its location in the Bennett Centre for Student Services on York’s Keele campus. The in person operation served more than 9,000 clients with an average transaction time of five minutes and 30 seconds compared to 6 minutes and 52 seconds in 2007, while staff in the call centre responded to more than 9,000 inquiries. Student Financial Services provided an on site Ontario Student Assistance Progtam (OSAP) adviser to assist clients with their loan documents.

Left:  The mobile Outreach team on location outside the Curtis Lecture Halls. The team travelled around the Keele campus in Mobile Outreach Offices contained in specially signed golf carts. They  appeared at four strategic locations on the Keele campus. 

“We wanted to welcome new and current students with the best service possible so we instituted changes to manage the September rush,” said Debbie Hansen, director of client services, adding that Student Client Services is committed to continually working to enhance the student experience by improving student services, helping to engage students in the York community and through enhanced administrative support.

Some of the enhancements to service included offering extended hours of operation, a practice which the area has continued. Student Client Services now remains open until 6:30pm on Wednesdays. The extended hours accommodate part-time and mature students, and those whose work and family responsibilities make it difficult to get to campus earlier in the day.

Hours for Student Client Services are:

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday – 8:45am to 5:30pm
  • Wednesdays – 8:45am to 6:30pm
  • Fridays – 8:45am to 4pm

With approximately 16,000 people coming to the Student Client Services reception area, 10 new temporary staff were hired and trained to support full-time reception staff, keep the lines moving smoothly and monitor traffic. To improve their visibility to students, the team was outfitted with York T-shirts, baseball caps, lanyards and name tags. 

Above: The Student Client Services Team sporting their new September Rush uniforms

In addition to reception monitoring and assistance, staff prepared enrolment letters and registered mail on the spot. At another desk, payments and transcripts were processed quickly and efficiently. Feedback indicates that students really noticed improved wait-times over last year.

While clients waited to see one of the in-person service representatives, a variety of Sudoku puzzles, crosswords and YorkU magazines kept them occupied. The eight self-serve computers were kept busy while others checked out the LCD panel – displaying videos and current information about important dates and deadlines. 

Right: The Outreach team outside Vari Hall. The cart, signage and T-shirted staff were a hit with new and current students alike.

From Sept. 3 to 5, 8 & 9, Student Client Services initiated its second outreach campaign to help with community way-finding and increase awareness of services. Staff were set up with wireless laptops, campus maps, Navig8 postcards and academic office contact lists. Mobile Outreach Offices – specially signed golf carts – appeared at four strategic locations around the Keele campus. They were identified by 18-foot York “Questions?” banners and offered a full range of services, including: 

  • a vocal and enthusiastic welcome to campus by staff who provided information about York campus life, including York Fest 2008, Navig8, Student Portal and other initiatives;
  • directions to the Loan Zone OSAP distribution location and general directional information to classrooms and offices;
  • introductions to AppointmentQuest and the Financial Document Tracker;
  • fielding questions about the Registrar’s Office and online Student Financial Services;
  • providing information on the location and hours of operation for services in the Bennett Centre for Student Services; and
  • offering students the ability to check class schedules and academic office information.

There were a total of 2096 inquiries for the five-day period, up an impressive 33 per cent from the pilot campaign which ran for six days in 2007. Although the team supplied mainly directional information, the outreach posts gave our students a comfortable and welcoming place to stop and ask questions on their first few days of classes. Students, staff and faculty on campus seemed to be pleased by this added service and feedback comments included “so helpful”, “excellent”, “positive”, “fun”, “great” and “makes a difference”.

“Overall we are very pleased with the results of our initiatives to manage a huge number of students over the first few weeks of classes," said Hansen. "Students expressed their satisfaction with the simplified, faster service delivery. We will be reviewing our statistics and comments from clients and will work to improve our delivery again next year."