Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Customer Service, Retention and Thomas Malthus

Good customer service increases enrollment and retention arithmetically while bad customer relations decreases both enrollment and retention geometrically. This inevitably leads to catastrophic events as Thomas Malthus, a population economist (1766-1834) predicted in his Essay on Population. Malthus explained that strife between countries and people occurs because agriculture increases arithmetically, one plan by one plant ionm one season while population increases geometrically over time. Though he was discussing why wars and strife occur and could easily have included college attrition rates.

Colleges gain enrollment one student and then one more and then one more We retain them the same way, one by one. Students stay if they are individually pleased with the treatment they receive and their learning. The decision is an individual one made by each student.

But, colleges lose students in a geometric progression. An angry or upset student tells another student, and another, and another tells a friend, family member, and they repeat it to others whenever the college is mentioned. It is the Rule of Six. When a person is upset, he or she will tell at least six other people. They tell at least four others and so on until we have one heck of a lovely pyramid that looks like a Ponzi scheme gone bad. What was one upset student quickly multiplies geomterically and the image of the college is hurt and enrollment is affacted negatively.

And what do students complain about? Why Students Leave and What You Can Do Today to Retain Them The way they are treated. Insensitive staff, uncaring administrators, long lines, getting the run around, poor communication, bad information, lack of assistance, inadequate student space, parking, uncaring faculty.

Malthus recognized the destructive force of weather as a major negative effect on population. In colleges, he would have investigated bad customer service. And he would have found that bad service is not just a wind the blows no good, it is a hurricane force disaster.

We know weather can create major disasters if we are not prepared for them. We all want to know what the storm will be like so we can be ready. We work hard to be aware of bad weather knowing full well that we have no control over it. We want to know even though there is nothing we can do to stop a hurricane, tornado, high winds, flooding, snow.

Yet, when it comes to customer service, a major cause of enrollment and retention disaster, most colleges really don't know where the ill winds are coming from. Or for that matter, they are not aware if their customer service will lead to sunshine and warm feelings toward the college.

Do you know whether the customer service provided your student and potential students is helping or hurting you?

You should. Maybe you should find out.

Your students will thank you for it with increased enrollment and retention.

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