Oklahoma State University uses Waitwhile to streamline student services
Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
OSU Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) is one of nine satellite campuses connected to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK. Unlike the Stillwater campus, OSU-OKC has an open enrollment policy (sometimes called open admission).
While some degree programs have selective criteria and certain circumstances will not allow a student to attend, nearly every applicant to OSU-OKC is accepted. That policy, coupled with the school’s location in the state’s largest city, means the student body is more diverse than the typical university, including first-time college students, adult learners, and high school students taking college-level courses.
Because the students come from multiple backgrounds and have such varying needs, providing them with prompt, actionable information is critical to helping them achieve their educational and life goals.
Prior to COVID-19 protocols, the school was able to provide services using an “open lobby” system without having to schedule appointments in advance. Students simply came to the service desks and were seen on a first come, first served basis, based on staff availability.
When the school reopened to on-campus activity, the open lobby system was deemed unsafe as it required people to wait inside until a staff member was available to see them.
Initially, the school built its sign-in system on an existing CRM platform, but the platform proved cumbersome for both students and staff. It lacked automation, relied heavily on manual entry, lacked real-time updates, was not responsive to scheduling changes, and could not adjust to new data on its own. It was functional but nowhere near optimal.
Matthew, the school’s business analyst for new technology, had heard that another campus was using Waitwhile for appointment scheduling and queue management, so he decided to see if it could help the school manage service appointments safely and efficiently. While he was hopeful Waitwhile could deliver, he was concerned about cost.
“Using Waitwhile…is a big thing for us and for the industry,” Matthew said. “I had to look at it from a business standpoint. We were surprised at how cost-effective it was for us.”
Matthew was also concerned about implementing a new technology system because he wasn’t sure how well it would integrate with the University’s existing platforms. But Waitwhile’s support team was able to provide speedy assistance and ease his mind.
“We were surprised by how fast and responsive the Waitwhile support team was once we went live,” Matthew said. “We were either able to get an answer quickly or look at the existing knowledge base and get an answer. We appreciated that the team was able to work with us and put something together that worked for our specific use case. The Waitwhile team was quick to adapt to what we wanted and able to give us what we needed as opposed to saying, ‘here‘s the technology – now you guys go figure it out.’”
Allow customers to book services and automate calendar management.
Keep an open line of communication with students through SMS or email.
Let students wait from anywhere.
Optimize operations by seeing when you’re busiest and which services are most in-demand.
“We seek out technology that can relieve pain and allows us to increase humanity. Waitwhile is serving this mission to support our larger vision of ‘1 customer, 1 view’ via increased performance, data for continuous improvement, and allowing our customer to ‘own’ their journey with us.”
Dar Yasseri MS, CHE, CHIA
Vice President Student Experience, OSU-OKC
The school implemented Waitwhile for two of its service divisions. The Disability Services and Diversity Office started using Waitwhile for appointment bookings and the Academic Advisement Office began using the waitlist feature to handle both walk-in and on-demand services.
So far, reactions from both students and staff have been extremely positive. The Disability Services and Diversity team has found that students prefer booking appointments online on their own time without being limited by school business hours. Having the contactless self-service check-in has eliminated the need for students to touch the public log-in computer and they no longer need to wait in line with others before talking to staff.
Disability Services and Diversity Director Emily Cheng said, “We love Waitwhile! It saves so much time in eliminating back and forth emails on availability. It is so much easier to use and empowers students to book appointments independently. Staff feel empowered in being able to set their own booking times and the Director doesn’t have to manage it.”
The Academic Advisement Team have also found the Waitwhile system easy to learn and user friendly. Both staff and students are now able to communicate via SMS which is incredibly helpful.
The adoption of Waitwhile has helped OSU-OKC provide the kind of on-demand service that its students need. One team member said, “We’ve had very positive anecdotal feedback that students like Waitwhile much better than booking appointments over the phone or via email. Our students agreed that scheduling an appointment online via Waitwhile was easy and fast.”
“Waitwhile is more dynamic than our old system and we’re excited to have it! Advisors feel that Waitwhile has made the walk-in and on demand services more efficient.”
Academic Advisement Director, OSU-OKC
In addition to improving daily operations, both offices are now able to track appointment data for the first time, bringing a new understanding of peak demand hours and the ability to see trends in the types of problems students are seeking help with. This, in turn, is helping the teams improve their service offerings.
Appointment planning and queue management are central to Waitwhile’s service offering. But as OSU-OKC has discovered, Waitwhile also empowers organizations by giving them easy-to-understand data where no data existed before – with no data scientists required. Waitwhile provides a smarter, more efficient service system that goes beyond customer wait times, empowering businesses to re-examine their operations strategy.