Introducing our services: JiscMail helpdesk

Netskills is known for its training, but that’s not all we do. This is the second in a series of posts where you get a chance to know more about the services we support and the people behind them.

Lisa and Dan from the JiscMail helpdesk

Lisa and Dan from the JiscMail helpdesk

Over a year ago, we took over the helpdesk of JiscMail, a national academic mailing list service.

It’s run by our very own Lisa Vincent (Operations Manager) and Dan Etherington (Helpline Administrator).

Lisa agreed to give us a peek behind the scenes at the helpdesk and talk a little bit about herself, too.

If your service was an animal, what would it be?

A butterfly. I particularly like the idea of the butterfly effect. The butterfly effect could be one message posted to a single JiscMail list distributed to thousands of people across the world and the effect that has.

Butterflies are also unique, agile and silent.

What does your working day consist of?

I always start with a quick check on helpline enquiries; what kind of things have come in overnight, if there is anything that looks like it needs urgent attention. And if anything has, I’ll deal with that first.  Then I make a cuppa and work on my current projects. At the moment it’s a combination of: 1) reviewing and updating pages on the website 2) writing training for customers and 3) assisting Dan when he needs help with some of his more complex queries.

Some of the more complex queries I get involved in are around customer complaints, disputes on lists, giving advice to list owners when problems arise and when the service policies have been breached.

Every week I review service enquiries, monitor social media stats and look at how these have changed in recent weeks (compared with historical data) and discuss with Dan the longer queries he’s had to deal with and explore ways to try and answer them quicker.

When you’re not behind the help desk, what do you do?

I like making things. I’m currently making a patchwork blanket (it was on hold because my sewing machine pedal broke). I also like to bake and have a list of things I’d like to bake this year. I did decide to do ‘February = Fondant Fancies’ but I haven’t started yet. And I have an allotment, but it’s still too cold to start planting – my greenhouse needs a bit of a tidy up.

What’s the most common question you get asked?

Have you got 5 mins?

What’s your favourite distraction during the day?

Coffee time chats with the team.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee, black, no sugar (I’m sweet enough)

What sort of state do you keep your desk in?

The right hand side near my phone is often clear and tidy, but the left side, above my drawers often has a folder on it, open with a few pages strewn across it.  I have a blue plastic cat and a green budgie on my desk too.

What’s your proudest achievement in the past year with JiscMail?

Delivering online training to customers – it was well received and I was glad I’d prioritised it.

What will JiscMail look like in three years?

The service is growing. We have more lists and more subscribers than EVER before. That shows people still want this kind of communication tool across education and research.

What’s your claim to fame?

I appeared on the Alan Titchmarsh show three years ago! Paul Hollywood said he’d never had a cake with parsnip in before and that my parsnip ginger and lime cake “really worked”.  On the same day I also met Gok Wan, Phil Davis, Jenny Bond, Matthew Kelly, Anna Ryder Richardson, Mark Wright Eric Knowles – it was all quite surreal.