Is your department overwhelmed by the same old questions? askBEN for help

Fire Victims

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Photo Credit: Steven Minicola

Too often, staff members in many Penn departments are forced to waste precious time answering routine questions when they could be accomplishing more productive tasks.
Want to unlock the gridlock? Come to a free presentation on Wednesday, Feb. 9, to see if a new online device called askBEN might be the key.

Student Registration and Financial Services (SRFS) staff found themselves in a similar situation, answering questions such as “How much is tuition?” over and over again, leaving them little time to address more complex issues.

They found relief in askBEN, a 24/7 question-and-answer online tool that provides answers to questions about financial aid and registration.

In place since September 2009, askBEN has worked so well for SRFS that Penn’s Office of Research Services began looking to adapt askBEN to its specific needs, enabling Penn to obtain an enterprise license that reduces the cost for other offices to use the service.

To illustrate how askBEN may help their University colleagues, SRFS set up the Feb. 9 informational session at the Sheraton University City, 3549 Chestnut St., with vendor Intelli-Response.

A Penn-specific presentation will start at 9:30 a.m., followed by a working lunch at noon. An afternoon session is open to neighboring colleges and universities, but Penn staff may also attend.

“In 2008, before askBEN, nearly 73 percent of our visitors connected to us by telephone,” says Michelle Brown-Nevers, associate vice president at SRFS. “In 2010, askBEN allowed SRFS to respond to 57 percent more inquiries and shifted the volume of inquiries to 40 percent askBEN, 43 percent telephone, 10 percent emails and 6.5 percent in-person.”

With askBEN, visitors receive “one right answer” to their questions, rather than scrolling through a list of possible responses.

askBEN provides consistent answers without the lengthy wait times inherent in phone or email queries,” Brown-Nevers says. “We find it eliminates users’ frustration in navigating a large website. Also, with askBEN, we’re never closed – a great benefit for students around the globe.”

To learn more about askBEN or to sign up for the Feb. 9 informational session, contact Maria DeOliveria at


Originally published on January 27, 2011