BYU operator: Service with an invisible smile

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    By JENNY RICKS

    The telephone number, 422-INFO, also known as BYU-Info, is something most BYU students have committed to memory and use often. BYU-Info answers a variety of student questions every day.

    Student campus operators, who are required to have a positive attitude, customer service skills, courtesy and patience, are the voices on the other end of the line. Operators go through about 16 hours of training, including classroom instruction and on-the-job training with an experienced operator.

    “They are so nice and totally helpful,” said Jessica Pinnock, a sophomore majoring in art history. “Lots of other service numbers you call are not as courteous and sometimes rude.”

    Some may wonder how operators find answers to callers’ questions so quickly. Louise Hatch, senior supervisor for the Campus Operator Service Desk for the Office of Information Technology, said answers to a wide variety of questions are found quickly in what is called the Operator Telephone Information System.

    The system includes student, faculty, staff and department directories, as well as other directory information including sports schedules, hours for various campus offices and Devotional and fireside schedules. Area codes, international dialing codes, time zones and BYU events are also included.

    Questions campus operators receive on a daily basis vary from, “Why is the flag at half-staff today?” to, “What time does the Bookstore close?”

    Some questions are asked more frequently than others. Hatch said the questions asked most often include those dealing with student information, health care, registration, faculty phone numbers, financial aid and admissions. While BYU-Info does give out campus phone numbers, it does not provide phone numbers for off-campus businesses.

    On average, each operator receives about 70 calls per hour on weekdays and 45 on Saturdays, Hatch said. During busier time periods, operators take about 150 calls per hour. In fact, campus operators handled just fewer than 2 million calls last year.

    Hatch said individuals calling during busy time periods are limited to three requests, and added that operators will continue to help answering a caller’s questions during slower time periods. The busiest time of year is at the beginning of each semester and during reading days and finals.

    Hatch also said operators receive a lot of calls prior to football and basketball games and after the first snowstorm of the season when some students call in wondering if classes are canceled.

    Marissa Wells, a freshman majoring in international relations, was previously unaware of BYU-Info but said it sounded like a good service.

    “Just this weekend I was trying to find out when the Bookstore closed so I searched online,” she said. “I think I need to memorize that number because calling would have been easier.”

    Campus Information is open Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m., and is also open on all major holidays.

    “We are open because people need our services,” Hatch said. “We provide service to on-campus residents, and we have offices that remain open during Christmas, New Year’s and Thanksgiving.”

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