Monday, February 05, 2007

The Butterfly Effect from Customer Service

The customer service posting on Hillel explained a central aspect of customer service delivery in academia. This is how I have interpreted Hillel for our purposes of relating well to one another. BTW, it works well outside of the campus too!!

“Do unto others as you would have them do

to your son, your daughter,

your mother or your father.”

This axiom can have major positive effects. Certainly on retention and enrollment but also on individuals, whole families and even the world. For those of us who went into education with the hope of changing the world and the lives of people for the better, customer service can be a major factor in meeting or mission It is what I see as the “butterfly effect” of customer service.

The butterfly effect suggest that the simple, slight flapping of delicate butterfly wings can change the course of history. The wings will create an almost unnoticeable but actual change in the air that can effects on the condition of the atmosphere which in turn can lead to a series of events that could lead to major change in weather like the creation of a tornado. So from simple, almost imperceptible actions, events, deeds or words, lives can change.

While consulting at Beckfield College in Florence KY a most perfect example of this theory occurred. Beckfield is a four-year career college with five programs that has a culture of believing in its students. The staff and faculty really provide levels of personal service that are outstanding.

A mother came to the College to meet with an admission’s representative She brought her daughter with her because she could not get, or maybe afford, a babysitter. The mother and daughter sat with the representative and talked about the Beckfield program and how it could change her life. The representative spent all the time the mother wanted and very personably and carefully explained the program, financial aid and how she believes the mother could succeed.. Every question was answered fully and with compassion. The mother it seemed needed a major change in her life but was somewhat unsure of herself. She would be the first in her family to go to college.

She met other people at Beckfield who all took the time to help her and respond to any concerns from paying for school to what if she needed extra help having been out of school for quite a while. By the time she had finished meeting with the admission’s representative, she had her answers and believed in herself again. She thanked the rep, completed an application and she and her daughter who had been sitting patiently and hearing everything, started to leave the building.

As they got to the end of the hall, the little girl turned around and ran back into the admission’s rep’s office. She ran into the office and stopped. She then reached into her hair where she took out a barrette and handed it to the admission’s rep. A small token but a huge one too.

The butterfly effect! The admission’s rep had followed Hillel and created what some might see as a small change in the air but it was a major shift for the world. Yes, the mother will likely attend Beckfield and she will probably graduate. Her daughter will also see college as a good place, somewhere she will go and Beckfield by the way will have first consideration I believe.

The mother’s family will change, for the better. If she goes into nursing, other families will also be changed and helped. The daughter will attend college. Her family will be better for it. And her children and so on. The good will spread geometrically and affect the future of the world itself. Maybe it could seem in small ways but as the mother and daughter touch others and they touch others and they… Well, you see the progression.

Oh by the way, the barrette the daughter gave the admission’s rep. It was a little butterfly.

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