As Account Manager for our connect2 customers, I enjoy working closely with universities and colleges up and down the country and wanted to share some of the insights I've gained over the last 12 months. There are around 50 institutions using connect2 to manage resource access and tracking in their various departments, and talking to our customers builds an understanding of the challenges and pressures that come with working in today’s higher education system.
You may already be familiar with some of the trends I’ve seen:
- My overall impression having visited many customer operations this year and spent time ‘behind the counter’ is – they are busy! Many times I’ve seen a queue of eager students waiting for the shutter to go up and collect their equipment for a photoshoot or recording session, often followed by a constant flow of collections and returns throughout the day. It’s absolutely essential therefore to have the information at hand needed to run a busy frontline operation and a quick method to checkout, track, and check in equipment. If you’re already a connect2 customer, watch this space for how connect2 will soon go a step further in this respect!
- Use of space is a major issue, with a higher utilisation of teaching and study rooms, studios and labs being a key priority. Hearing the problem ‘there’s never enough space’ is certainly a recurring theme! This can be said from within equipment stores, across departments, to the university as a whole. Many of our customers already use connect2 to offer students a method to identify and book available rooms and studios online, and we’ve some exciting new developments in this area coming along in 2016.
- Utilisation of equipment – this is about ensuring appropriate usage, and not simply increasing it. It’s great to promote awareness of resources and encourage students to make use of them. However, if students have access to equipment that is more specialised than they require (like using a full spec DSLR for basic photography), is this helping them achieve what they need? Also, equipment can easily be misused or damaged when in inexperienced hands. It may be a simple case of looking at permissions levels in more detail, or building training programmes around attributing new borrowing permissions. This will also help the university maximise their investment in more specialised items of kit.
- Providing information to students – I’m always struck by how valuable a service technicians provide to students. As students collect their kit they’re offered advice on how best to use the equipment, how they might want to consider setting it up, and programs they might want to use to edit their results. This is such an important focus for technicians. We’re always looking for new ways to reduce admin-heavy processes so they can focus on this interaction which really pays off in student performance.
Media store operation at Middlesex University, as seen at last summer's connect2 user group
It’s been really interesting to hear about the challenges that our customers face and how connect2 helps manage and reduce the impact of them. This kind of input is pivotal when we’re working on the development roadmap for connect2, so keep it coming!
As always, meeting and exceeding student expectations is high on the list of our customers’ priorities and efficient systems and processes is one of many ways to do this. Connect2 has always offered students the convenience of browsing and booking equipment online, but in 2015 we took this a step further with a major re-design and modernisation of the user interface. Students, and internet users in general have developed high expectations of the usability of websites and online systems, so we’ve worked to ensure connect2 meets these expectations.
Social media has enabled us to gather feedback from both students and staff on the redesign – and we’re delighted by how well it’s been received!
“We have just had a massive update to our booking system, we love it”
“Gotta be honest connect2 now looks very snazzy”
“Swish new connect2 site up and running…nice”
As one of our customers said to me, “if you’ve got a system in place it’s got to be easy for students to use or else you might as well not have one at all”. We’re happy to have provided this with connect2!
I look forward to continuing to work with our academic customers in the new year. If you’d like to learn more about connect2 or Lorensbergs give me a call - we’d love to hear from you.
All the best for 2016
Tel: 01992 415505