Clearing - A Tale of Two Cities (part 1 of 2)

2nd Nov, 2015
Read time: 2 minutes

By Terry Gray, Account Manager (Education)

Last year I attended IG15 at the Oxford Belfry. This was our first UCISA event as a corporate member and it was a hugely enjoyable day which was well organized and had some great speakers. For me, this was an opportunity to catch up with existing customers and meet new people, but what I found particularly refreshing was the relaxed way in which the delegates were talking to suppliers.
Some of the delegates reminded me of common mistakes that suppliers make when dealing with Higher Education institutions.

  1. Higher Education is not a sector.
  2. Institutions are technically in competition with each other.
  3. Institutions all approach problems in different ways.
  4. Solutions have to match the requirements, not the other way around.

Nothing demonstrates these points better than Clearing. With over 40 Higher Education institutions using Netcall, I have numerous conversations about Clearing every year. The fact that it has a universal name suggests that it is the same everywhere. I know that this is not the case.
When talking to a client for the first time, I establish what it is they want to achieve and work back from there. No organization should have to compromise on their requirements because it makes deployment easier or is more commercially viable.

At Netcall, our entire portfolio is owned, developed, deployed and supported in-house. This, coupled with an agile development methodology means that we can rapidly adapt to our clients' needs.

For this series of blog posts I will be looking at the Clearing challenges recently faced by two different universities and how their solutions differed.

Case Study
When meeting a client for the first time, it is usual for me to introduce Netcall. However, in this particular case, the person I was meeting had already spoken to peers within UCISA and searched the Jisc forums and newsgroups for feedback on Netcall. As a result the client already knew about us and how our clients value our working relationship.

Their requirements included:

  • A fully resilient system
  • Skype for Business compatible
  • Deployed in their own virtual environment
  • Unlimited agent and supervisor licensing
  • Proven in other Higher Education (HE) institutions
  • Real-time reporting
  • A system that could potentially be used all year round, not just for Clearing.

Working with any university to deliver a Clearing solution is a huge responsibility and one we have delivered many times. As with many projects, the requirements changed slightly as the end users became more familiar with the capabilities of our Liberty™ platform.

One addition that proved very popular was asking the caller to enter their UCAS number during the initial greeting. This was presented to call handlers to give them a head start on the call which reduced handling time and demonstrates how the smallest of changes can positively affect both the call handler's and student's experience.

The solution was deployed in precisely the way the customer envisaged. The project delivery team worked tirelessly to ensure that Clearing was completed without incident and the end users were delighted with the system. The real-time reporting and comprehensive statistics have provided a wealth of data which has never been available before and will be invaluable for planning Clearing next year.

In the next part of this blog we'll discuss a very different and exciting Clearing project.

If you would like to discuss your requirements for Clearing 2016 then please fill in you details to the right and we will give you a call.

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