Tell me what you do at work.
I sit at the Help Desk, which is at the front of our office in Room 1211 of the Digital Computer Lab building. As people walk in, I greet them and ask them what they need help with. The way the Help Desk is set up, there’s a monitor so I can see who’s available to help with walk-ins. We accept walk-ins from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Phone support is available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Do you assist with any computer questions?
I can answer some questions. I can’t do anything on the really technical side of things. I started working here as an extra help employee 14 years ago. I was brought in to do password resets. Now I’ve been doing that for 14 years and I think I’m pretty good at it. (laughs) Over the years, I’ve learned to do a lot of other things too. Essentially, if it’s a CITES service, I’ll have knowledge of how it works and how to help people.
What else are you responsible for?
Another way clients contact the Help Desk is through e-mail; we use a ticketing system. E-mails come in and sit in the queue. I evenly distribute the tickets to the students in the room. The tickets are similar to work orders and our students help customers solve each issue.
Do you assign specific people to certain tasks?
Most times, I read them first to make sure it’s a problem we can help with. Nine times out of 10, I’ll randomly choose who’s available to help. But if someone comes in and has a specific problem and I know someone in the room who has expertise in that area, I’ll let that person assist. The students sit at work stations in the Help Desk office. The students come and go throughout the day and we try to schedule a maximum of 10 students per shift during the day. There also are two other full timers at the Help Desk during the day working as Supervisors on Duty. The supervisors and I work closely together to monitor the students’ attendance, help answer questions and keep them on task with the workflow – answer phones, log onto chat, accept cases from our ticketing system and assist walk-ins. I also have a supervisor shift but continue to sit up front during that shift.
What are some of the common things people will contact you about?
It’s always passwords. That’s the No. 1 issue we are contacted for. Resetting passwords and helping people understand what the different passwords do. For the most part, you can create one CITES password for all the different programs. It is confusing to some people because there was a time when your passwords had to be different.
What other issues does the Help Desk help with?
We get a lot of people asking for help with viruses. We provide free antivirus software, which is usually passed out at my desk. I talk to a lot of people about that. We also do a lot of laptop support and I help set up appointments for that. We also can help clients establish wireless access. If it’s a hardware issue, that’s not something we can help with.
How many people are in your office?
Right now we schedule up to 10 people to be on the Help Desk at one time. I’m one of eight full-time staff. At any time there are 11 staff members, including supervisors.
How many student workers are there?
Right now we have 40 students. That’s another thing I do. I schedule and conduct interviews and hire students.
Do you like working here?
I do. I’m a people person. I like the interaction with the people. The coolest part of the job is when someone walks in and they’re frustrated and need help and I can turn around to a whole section of people who can help solve their problem. I understand I’m more like a receptionist, but I don’t have any issues with that. I sometimes joke around about being a Walmart greeter. When we moved to where we are now, people would walk in and see my face and know they’re in the right place.
Have you worked anywhere else?
Prior to coming here my background had been in hospitality. I worked as a desk clerk at (local) hotels. I really liked that a lot. I feel that I’m really good at organizing and planning things.
Tell me about an unusual day at the office.
People will often ask me for directions, but this experience showed me how important my job can be.
A young man came to the Help Desk and asked if I knew how to get to the Dean of Students Office. He was acting strangely and we soon established that he didn’t feel well, so I called 911. The dispatcher asked whether he had any history of heart problems. It turned out that when he was a child he had open heart surgery. It just changed everything. In this job, you get very good at being perceptive of other people’s needs. So paramedics came and took him away on a stretcher. I e-mailed him a couple days later. It turns out, he had an acute anxiety attack. Shortly after that, our boss signed us all up to take Red Cross training.
TERRI BINGAMAN FAST FACTS
CITES customer service specialist Terri Bingaman lives with her family in Sadorus. Her husband, Ken, works at the UI as a building service worker. Her children – Meghan, 15, and Michael, 17 – attend Unity High School.
Favorite restaurants: Dos Reales with co-workers; Ribeye with Ken.
Favorite books: Robert Parker’s Spenser mystery series.
Favorite shows: “House”; also likes the Biography Channel.