Students and visitors strolling into Central Hall will soon no longer see the smiling greeting of Billie Jo Harwood behind the front desk.
Starting around Nov. 1, the college switchboard is leaving for the new contact center in the basement level of Kendall Hall. In the new facility, all of the college’s external communications — email, phone, and chat — will have a central location, and Harwood will have assistant switchboard operators.
“I’m excited for the change,” Harwood said. “But I will miss ‘my students’ — all those I speak to on a normal basis.”
The key difference regarding the switchboard, Director of the Contact Center John Papciak said, is that now students will also be working alongside Harwood as switchboard operators.
“Billie Jo will move over, and students will also help,” Papciak said. “There will be more hands on deck to help with those operations.”
In the future, the college plans for the contact center to publish a toll-free 800 number for the campus.
“The idea is to slowly integrate multiple departments into the contact center,” said senior Luke Daigneault, a contact center employee. “The end goal is to basically have all the college departments on one phone number. Somebody calls it and can choose the department they want to call.”
Papciak said when people call the 800 number, they would hear a number of options and press a digit on their number pad to select where to be transferred. The changes, however, wouldn’t take place for at least a year’s time, he said.
“We have many phone lines at Hillsdale College that would need to be consolidated, but that is where we’re moving toward,” Papciak said.
Other future plans for the contact center include creating a live chat feature on the college’s website, Papciak said.
“We’re looking at being able to chat via text on our website with a prospective or a current student and then eventually down the road also maybe assisting marketing with social media endeavors, but that is very undefined at this point,” Papciak said.
The contact center is holding an open house for all of campus Thursday from 7 – 9 p.m. to celebrate its grand opening.