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Goodbye Campus Operators...
Hello Information Specialists

by D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
posted July 15, 1998

There are few things more frustrating than being stuck with automated voice mail, listening to menus and pushing buttons when all you want is a real person to talk to. Not a problem at Berkeley.

Call 642-6000, as 12,000 people do each day, and an actual human being will answer your question.

And with the June 26 installation of a new, $78,000 computer-based phone system , nearly twice as many callers will receive that human touch.

"The campus's four operators, equipped with powerful computers, sophisticated telephone consoles and custom software, have become information specialists, handling more calls directly instead of transferring them around campus for answers," said Yvonne Thompson, supervisor for CNS-Operator Services.

With the old system, each operator had only six incoming lines with which to handle the 1,600 calls they received each hour. Answering caller inquiries was cumbersome as operators searched Infocal, old campus directories, post-it notes and cheat sheets for information, said Thompson.

"With our new computers, we can search names based on 'sounds like' spellings, use hot keys for quick transfers and access daily-updated directory listings on our database, increasing the amount of calls we can process," said Thompson.

With the ability to update the database every 24 hours, Thompson encourages campus employees to send phone number, address and email changes to telecommunications as soon as possible. Changes can be emailed to or faxed to 643-8245.

"Our information is only as good as what is provided to us," said Thompson.

Shedding some of their anony-mity, operators will have their own phone extensions and begin identifying themselves by name when answering calls. Training and development classes are also part of the new program.

"As the voice of UC Berkeley, we are committed to improving our customer service and linking the campus to the world with cutting-edge telecommunications technology," said Thompson.

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