Providing students and educators with reliable, exceptional IT help desk support is becoming increasingly important in the higher education community. Around five years ago, Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) set out to find a new help desk service provider for their students, faculty, and staff after their previous provider since 2002 was sold to a new company — leading to degraded service and a dramatic increase in cost. “We were facing a six-figure increase with zero flexibility and degraded service, and I had no time to implement a new system,” explains Neal Sturm, Vice President, and Chief Information Officer, FDU. “I immediately went to Dan Miller at Edge and asked for assistance in building an RFP. We were looking for a long-term relationship with a provider who could offer high-quality support to our students, faculty, and staff. Once we were down to two companies in the RFP process, one being BlackBeltHelp, Edge introduced me to BlackBeltHelp’s leadership team, which was very helpful in making an informed decision.”
BlackBeltHelp is the top AI-powered Contact-Center-as-a-Service provider for students, faculty, and staff in higher education, and is one of the providers offered through EdgeMarket, Edge’s technology, software, and services purchasing co-op. EdgeMarket enables participants to work directly with vendors and accelerate purchasing via a validated contract mechanism. “In looking for a partner who offers superior help desk support, Edge collaborated closely with our members and EdgeMarket participants to craft and award an RFP,” says Dan Miller, Associate Vice President, EdgeMarket. “BlackBeltHelp’s reputation for excellence in 24×7 service for a wide range of applications makes them an ideal partner for EdgeMarket participants looking to lighten the help desk support load on internal teams. Working with them will enable IT staff to focus more on strategic, value-add initiatives, and less on transactional tasks like help desk tickets.”
Offering Seamless Support
In 2022, FDU awarded 24×7 & Blackboard® Help Desk Support RFP to BlackBeltHelp where users can receive support at all hours of the day. The University will also leverage the Simplify Platform to assist users with features such as simplify advisor, chatbot, SMS nudging, and self-help. “We wanted to find a company where the people will provide the same level of support as our own team members,” says Sturm. “The end users need to see the help desk team as if they are your own, not an outsourced company. We achieved this with BlackBeltHelp. They are our Tier 1 Help Desk and IT support and can help with proprietary applications, password changes, or any technology-related issues our users might encounter.”
BlackBeltHelp currently serves over 200 higher education clients, including Cornell University, UCLA, Pasadena City College, and Community College of Baltimore County. Help desk services provided by the organization have historically reduced average time-to-answer to less than 60 seconds, while reducing operational costs by up to 40%. Once the launch date was determined, Sturm says the BlackBeltHelp’s implementation team met with him and his team every single week to monitor progress, gain institutional knowledge, and understand the procedures necessary to ensure a seamless support experience for FDU users.
“We were looking for a long-term relationship with a provider who could offer high-quality support to our students, faculty, and staff. Once we were down to two companies in the RFP process, one being BlackBeltHelp, Edge introduced me to BlackBeltHelp’s leadership team, which was very helpful in making an informed decision.”
– Neal Sturm
Vice President and Chief Information Officer,
Fairleigh Dickinson University
“BlackBeltHelp is not a software solution, it’s a people solution,” says Sturm. “In our case, we used their ticketing system which was Salesforce based, for the first year. We are now using our system which is TopDesk, a full ITSM, and that connects to their Salesforce through an application developed by their team which they call Simplify. We selected a model of six U.S.-based dedicated team members, plus international-based shared resources for overflow and evening hours. This service is their core competency and they take care of the hiring, training, and management of the staff.”
For institutions considering outsourcing Tier 1 Help Desk functions, Sturm recommends partnering with Edge and EdgeMarket. “Work with the Edge team to develop, release, and review a comprehensive RFP that includes all the functions and tools you would like to see in use. As part of your due diligence, I would also recommend talking to references directly to better understand how their solutions and services can support your team and overall organization.”
Edge members and other institutions interested in leveraging the EdgeMarket purchasing consortium for access to streamlined technology purchasing and preferred pricing can find more information at njedge.net/solutions-overview/consortium-buying-eprocurement/.