Leveling Up in Higher Ed: How FormAssembly Helps UC Merced Facilitate Dynamic Check-In Processes
The Form Advocates
Case Study Snapshot
At UC Merced, the use of FormAssembly has evolved from its original purposes as a standard questionnaire web form approach to:
- A more dynamic, stimulating, user-friendly, and simplified check-in system approach
- The development of a full-fledged FormAssembly data management application, which enables staff and student workers to process and manage their own caseloads
FormAssembly has provided a way for internal teams, departments, and student service professionals to level up in terms of how they handle requests and appointments. By making changes to the overall form process, staff at UC Merced have been able to expand access to important student data without needing hundreds of extra Salesforce licenses for staff. This has contributed to an advanced queuing system that provides an enhanced student booking experience.
About UC Merced
- Opened in 2005 as another campus in the expansive University of California system
- Became the first new American research university opened in the 21st century
- Models economic growth, stimulus, and design throughout the region
- The Enrollment Management Systems team serves thousands of students and hundreds of staff members
– first implemented Salesforce
– began development for the queuing system
departments with active FormAssembly developments
Limited Time and Space for Student Queuing
At UC Merced, the Student First Center has limited physical space to serve students who make appointment requests. The office is staffed by only three team members, and physical space for handling lines and conversations is limited. These limitations created a bottleneck in terms of time and resources when students needed to speak with someone to handle requests related to the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Admissions.
Additionally, the Business Systems team took notice of how much other departments were relying on technical and analytics support to handle basic day-to-day operations.
“Our philosophy is, if departments/teams need to rely on us for them to do their jobs (modify forms), the form design approach has been developed wrong,” Steve shared.
After identifying this particular pain point, Steve and the team got to work on a solution that provided flexibility, user-friendliness, and speed for departments across campus that needed accurate data in real time.
“Our philosophy is, if departments / teams need to rely on us for them to do their jobs (modify forms), the form design approach has been developed wrong.”
Salesforce Configurations and Enhanced User Experiences
To help departments and office teams have more control over their own internal processes, Steve and the team developed a Salesforce Department Configuration object for any department using FormAssembly forms. With this system, campus employees can change, update, and modify specific information on their own forms at any time without additional support. By using this new user-friendly process, departments can:
- Open and close access to individual forms at certain times of the year
- Make daily changes to event locations
- Provide daily or weekly advising support hours based on availability
- Promote and advertise upcoming events or deadlines
This allows each department to effectively reach hundreds, if not thousands, of students on a daily basis by managing their own unique FormAssembly forms. This process also reduces stress for busy technology teams who may not be able to manage the minutiae of day-to-day operations.
In addition to providing better access for campus staff, the school’s FormAssembly processes also provide a more on-brand experience for students. By using a common look, feel, and theme, the forms reassure students that they’re in the right place to make requests. Additionally, form creators have taken special measures to boost response rates through best practices. These include:
- Effective navigation throughout each form field and page
- Shortened text with minimal wording to help reduce confusion
- An easy-to-use touch and click design that streamlines the experience across devices
- Using an image-based approach that changes the traditional web form experience to one that’s more interactive and engaging
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and changing environment in virtual education, UC Merced also hopes to implement FormAssembly as a way to sustain better asset management. The current process involves a system of manual requests and spreadsheets, which could be improved in the near future with Salesforce-connected form requests.
This process also reduces stress for busy technology teams who may not be able to manage the minutiae of day-to-day operations.
An engaging, visual booking system is supported on the backend by FormAssembly and Salesforce.
UC Merced’s primary FormAssembly use case began with the development of an advanced sign-in process for making appointments with members of the student services team. The new, modern, and clean approach allows students to:
- Request new appointments with advisors and staff members
- Check in for existing appointments at a predetermined time
- Register as a walk-in at various offices locations
Not only does this reduce stress for staff members who manage visits and caseloads, but it saves time for students who either walk to different offices or drive from off campus. Using the pre-booking feature allows staff to improve communication and log visits as well.
An integrated texting feature is also triggered after a student submits the form, and their appointment time becomes available. This eliminates the need to wait around for an existing appointment and helps commuting students make better travel arrangements when coming to campus.
“We’re using FormAssembly forms to get students into these appointments. Now, these appointments can be scheduled a month out at a time. Students are picking and choosing when they want, and staff know that they can increase the amount of appointments that they offer during high-traffic times,” Carlton shared.
An annual check-in form for teachers and educators
Nick is currently working on a new form that will be used once per year, or when needed. This form will allow teachers to update their annual professional development opportunities. It will include a unique link that prefills the form with personal data directly from Salesforce. This project allows OES to implement an in-house solution as a way to meet an external need that partner organizations have in the education industry.
“That’s one of the things about FormAssembly—the agility that [we] have to build out a form instead of scoping with external vendors. [We] can have a look at it in house and make a quick decision whether it’s possible with FormAssembly,” Nick said.
Due to the success of UC Merced’s queuing system built with FormAssembly, development staff members receive regular requests from other departments that want to get on board. As new offices pop up throughout campus, there’s always an opportunity to use better data and web form processes to improve the student experience.