Zuhair ZaidiMercury Staff
POSTEDJanuary 28, 2019
New messaging program allows students to talk to management real-time
In response to a rising number of student suggestions and complaints regarding dining on campus, UTD Dining Services created a messaging portal to allow students to anonymously provide feedback on all matters related to dining on campus.
The portal will allow students to suggest improvements or complain about issues they’ve faced at Dining Services outlets on campus. The app will put them in contact with one of Dining Services’ managers.
Steven Goodwin, the resident district manager for Chartwells, UTD’s food service provider, said the initiative provides Chartwells and Dining Services a source of inspiration and motivation for improvements that can be made on campus.
“We really want to have a pulse for what students really want and need in the moment,” Goodwin said. “Our managers can have access to that information and be able to get someone out there to address the need within a couple of minutes.”
The messaging program, which operates on a platform called Chatback, allows students to engage by texting their question, comment or concern to 972-808-5028. The service will then return an automated message to the student that will let them know that a Dining Services manager will respond to their concern within 24 hours.
Director of Food and Retail Carrie Chutes said the program was created in response to suggestions and complaints about Dining Services and Chartwells that were made on other platforms such as Reddit.
“We just don’t want people to feel that they never have the opportunity to get in touch,” Chutes said. “This program is a way to make it a fail-safe proof that they have someone to get in touch with immediately.”
Rani Chavez, the marketing director for Chartwells, said the app will allow students to have a more customized and safe experience with regard to dining on campus.
“We encourage students to come see a chef or manager if they have any specified allergens they want us to know,” Chavez said. “Our team is more than happy to work with students on their specific meal plan and be able to cater to them in a suitable way.”
Students can attend Food Service Advisory Committee meetings to directly engage with Dining Services personnel. The next meeting will be held Jan. 29 at 12 p.m. in SSA 14.244.
Electrical engineering sophomore Ali Muhsin said the creation of a messaging platform was a necessary improvement.
“Honestly, with such a large audience to cater to, maintaining a certain level of standard at dining halls and retail locations is definitely difficult to manage for both the university and students,” Muhsin said. “Having a program like this where students are free to voice themselves is essential to maintaining and improving the standard UTD holds itself to.”