Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just Ask Pogo About Customer Service in College

A faculty member of a client college I had presented a workshop at last year emailed today. Seems he was confused. He is getting fed up with the way students behave in class. He said he is tired of competing with cell phones; upset by students who just walk into or out of class when they feel like it and certainly bored and even appalled at times by the language, tone ands attitude some students use. He feels he should not allow these sorts of activities but is concern that would go against what the customer service attitudes being expressed by his department chair who fears a high drop out percentage. Fewer students could lead to a smaller budget? Those attitudes are expressed by supporting students who might complain the faculty member is being too hard or strict in class. The faculty member comes up for tenure soon and does not want any problems.

Okay, leaving the whole tenure process and results on teaching and student service aside because that is one of the largest problems in academia, what the faculty member described is a common misunderstanding. See, I can be quite temperate at times. But I must say that the faculty member and his chair just prove the Pogo cartoon once again.

If anyone believes that pandering to the worst instincts and behaviors of students is providing customer service they are not only wrong, but to quote Dr. House they are idiots. They are not providing good customer service anymore than a dentist who sees a bad tooth and leaves it in so as not to cause the patient pain from a root canal is.

Keep in kind that anyone who believes that the customer is always right is almost always wrong. QUIZES ANYONE? Students are not right. In fact it is because they are wrong -or maybe better word - flawed that they come to college. They attend higher education because they know they are not prepared to succeed in a career yet. They also realize they need to learn from books and from people if they are to get that job or grad school before a job to reach their goals in life. They pay money to be made stronger, smarter and less socially awkward. And due to false notions of customer service we fail them – sometimes in all three areas.

If we make courses easier because we believe they do not want to work that hard, that is not customer service. If we do not challenge them as much as we ought to create greater intellectual plasticity and ability preferring to hand out high grades that will reinforce their self-esteem, we have not served them well. And if we allow them to act in ways in our classes that will surely get them fired on a job we have failed. That is not customer service! That is in fact, major dis-service.

If anyone believes that letting students skip classes will be helpful to them in the world of work, it can only be an academic living in the tenured palace. There is not right to fail in life/ Faculty who allow students to walk in late or walk out when they want, talk on the phone, nap during class, be rude, use inappropriate language, be rude to the teacher, hand in homework when and if they please and so on are just preparing these students for failure in life. And they are preparing themselves to hate what they are doing as teachers.

“Uh Ms. Dennison, I came into the meeting late because I really needed a latte and I had to leave the meeting to talk to my bud who is having a rough time right now. Oh yuh, the analysis you need and told me to get to you today, well, I had stuff to do so I didn’t get it done yet but I may be able to get to after some things I need to do tonight. Okay?”

How long will that graduate of your college have that job I wonder?

By letting students act in inappropriate ways that will bite them in the future is so far from good customer service that it is appalling bad. College is not just to instruct on some facts, some processes. It is to teach some abilities to survive and thrive in the real world. Real customer service is telling students who walk in late “You just got fired from your job and class today. Arriving late and interrupting me and the class is unacceptable behavior which will not be tolerated here or in whatever field of work you wish to enter.”

“Cell phones are not permitted to be used in this class. It is disrespectful to me and your classmates when you go and talk during class and will not be accepted by your colleagues nor your bosses on a job. Shut them off. leave them off during this class.”

“Work is due when it is due. If it is not on time, there will be consequences here as there would be on the job you may eventually get.”

And so one. You get the idea. Taking positions such as these above is actually good customer/client service. Moreover, it is also providing good academic customer service to the other students who are trying to learn from you. They are as upset with interruptions, cell calls, talking, sleeping, etc as you are. Maybe even more so. They are not paying for you to let other students hinder their chances to learn and succeed.

Students are your clients who come to your school and your class to be made better and stronger just as any client with a problem, a challenge or a need comes to an expert. We expect the expert to tell us the truth and to tell us what needs to be done even if it is not necessarily what we ant to hear. Just as when I am a client of my doctor I expect the truth and courses of action with integrity even if I do not want to watch what I eat and exercise.

Would anyone feel he or she received good service if the doctor told us that we were engaged in unhealthy behaviors but just keep doing them. “Hey, I don’t want to upset you, you know bedside manner and all so yes keep drinking to excess, overeating fried and fatty foods topped with ice cream and candy, engaging in a sedentary lifestyle, sticking nickels in your nose, coming to class late unprepared and overtired, talking on the cell phone during meetings, cursing out your boss and just being a general pain in the butt is just fine. And oh yes, while your at it, you might consider smoking too. Keep it up”

Of course not. And we should not be doing anything even close to that in the name of customer service. We do not help students and we certainly do not help ourselves. Stop it and replace it with real service. Being a provider of good customer service does not mean doing what is harmful to the students now and for the future.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guns, Civility and Campus Safety

The recent horrible events at Northern Illinois have led to many people asking for a reprint of my 2006 article on campus safety, Making Your Campus Safer Starting Today: Objective Correlatives, Broken Windows and Customer Service: 10 Steps to Increase the Feeling and Reality of Security on Campus. I am disheartened have to respond and reprint it here. The horror at NIU is too vivid to think about. The ideas in my piece may help but the reality is we need to look at something much more basic. We can do all we can to respond to these incidents on campus. We can do all we can to make the campuses more secure as I discuss in the article. But until we address the core issue, we will not stop these slaughters or the daily killings on our streets that will lead to our campuses.

In my forthcoming book The Power of Retention I discuss how the same students and people who live off campus come to our campuses everyday. The same issues that are reported in the metro section of our thinning newspapers walk onto our campuses, through our halls and into our classrooms everyday. We cannot escape the issues of society. So we need to face them head on and demand that we do something about these issues. We have to be there showing students and others the way to create greater civility and safety on our campuses and society.

The first issue that needs to be addressed is at the core of all shootings – guns and us. It used to be that we would read about people on campus shooting their mouths off at one another. And we would sort of look the other way and keep shuffling along. Then we shot our academic mouths off over guns but well we had other things to do like get a job so we let the mouths fall silent. And now, we don’t talk about the core issues of guns and our indifference to them and the people they kill because, well, they are not us.

Let’s realize that the people who died at NIU, Virginia Tech, Columbine and elsewhere died because people shot their GUNS off, not their mouths. Guns killed the people. Without the guns, people would still be alive.

We do have an opportunity now to get people to focus on the core issues of guns and us. We are in an election year. Candidates want our votes. The college age vote is central to any candidate getting elected this year. I ask every one of us to challenge the candidates of ALL and ANY office on their stance of at least handguns and automatic weapons. The ones that kill people not animals. If the candidate hedges or says he is in favor of individuals other than law enforcement officials having handguns or automatic weapons – shoot your mouth off and do not vote for them.

You like to go hunting. Well, that's your thing and do it safely. But handguns and automatic weapons? Only for hunting people. And the current laws? The NIU killer got guns legally.

And about ourselves. Caring, respecting and valuing others is a basic customer service and the central issue to civility. If you do not feel upset when someone shoots another on or off campus, then don’t claim to care please. People are dying on campus yes and that is horrible. But there are people who are being killed daily in parts of our cities, suburban and rural areas everyday too. They are just as important as those on campus. Their deaths are as real as those of our colleagues. Their families mourn with as deep a grief as anyone on campus. Their bodies are as dead as any shot in a classroom. They are as important as any one on campus is and we should care.

We need to realize that being in college does not allow you or any of us to just be concerned about what happens on our campus but on all the campuses of life. Shoot your mouth off about the value of all people and then treat every one even people you may not yet know with dignity and value.

Here’s a simple start. I know some will say it is dumb and will not stop slaughters in the classroom. They are right. My 10 suggestions below will do a better job on that. But it will help make life better for an important person - you. You will actually have a chance to make the world better even if it is just one small, one miniscule piece at a time.

1 Shoot your mouth off over guns. Make gun control an issue for candidates

2. Smile at every person you walk by and say”hello”. Just a simple “hello”. You’ll be surprised and pleased at the result. Some people will smile and say hello back. Nice feeling to have your value recognized even by stranger. The stranger is you by the way; not the other person. You take the action. More of the value of saying hello is in the article below and how it can help keep a campus safer. But here I want to simply stress the value of recognizing another. Many people kill others because they do not believe any one cares or values them so they reciprocate by not valuing others. Peoples’ murders become just a means of making a statement. We can replace that statement with another through hello.

3. Follow Good Academic Service Culture Principle 8

8. Just because someone else did a dis-service

or harm does not relieve you of correcting the injury.

Hey, I don’t even go to NIU. Right. You did not pull the trigger of a gun but that does not relieve you of the responsibility to heal the wounds to civility, social and personal well being the actual bullets caused.

3. Start today and DO SOMETHING Most people who read this blog are faculty, administrators and staff in higher education. We are in a position to do something. We can influence students and others. We can be the leaders on building greater civility on our campuses and in our societies. Recall why you became involved in higher education. Part of that was likely to be involved in building a better world and culture. Here is an opportunity to do that. Start by smiling and greeting your students in class and the halls. Engage students with a smile and shoot your mouth off about guns and civility with them. Maybe not in class because that is not what the classroom is supposed to be about perhaps but perhaps in the cafeteria, the halls, everywhere students are. Go to them. Smile and say hello then engage them in discussion about the issues of guns and civility.

Be a change agent. And if I can help, let me know. I will do all I can to help out.

HERE IS THE REPRINT. Making Your Campus Safer Starting Today. Click here

If you'd like me to send you a copy of the 15 Principles of Good Academic Customer Service, just let me know. Be glad to do so. Just ask you share them with others. Click here

AcademicMAPS has been providing customer service, retention and research training and solutions to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them since 1999. Clients range from small rural schools to major urban universities and corporations. Its services range from campus customer service audits; workshops, training, presentations, institutional studies and surveys to research on customer service and retention. AcademicMAPS prides itself on its record of success for its clients and students who are aided through the firm’s services. 413.219.6939

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tap into the Social Networking Craze

Connect with Students Through Social Networking
By Jerry Allocca,
President of CORE Academics

As of October 2007, hundreds of millions of young people logon to social networking sites like, and every single day to connect with old friends, make new ones, discuss interests, share news, photos, videos, and get advice. This is where a great majority of your prospective and current students are. But how do you reach them?

Special my space Section Dedicated to Colleges & Universities

Did you know that has a special section dedicated specifically to colleges and universities to help students find the right school? And it’s FREE! Here’s the link. Go ahead and explore it: If your college or university is not using this free space to connect and promote yourself, you are missing the simplest and most available way to let potential and current students know you are at least aware of their networks. It is correct that students show great disdain if your school attempts to be one oif them by trying to write like a college student. But this spot on myspace is there for you to use. If you need some help with it, just give me a call and I'll be glad to help.

Statistics and Growth

The three social networking sites I mentioned above are all ranked in the top 10 of the most highly trafficked sites according to, the authority on the subject. As of the end of 2007, continues to get the most traffic out of all other social networking sites. However, things move fast in the Internet world. Their closest competitor,, is not far behind and growing at an incredible pace. From September 2006 to September 2007, facebook’s traffic ranking increased from 60th to 7th, according to Here are some highly important statistics for—currently ranked 6th on There were 106 million MySpace users as of September 2006. There were 200 million MySpace users as of September 2007. The site is currently growing at a rate of 230,000 new users per day! An average MySpace page is visited 30 times a day. And this is just There are others. Many others. And they are all growing, and becoming more and more important to the digital generation, every single day! And your students, current and potential are there. You should be.

What Can I Do On A Social Networking Site?

Most social networking sites enable users to communicate and collaborate in a number of different ways. You can search for friends with similar interests and get or give friend requests. You should always be building your friend list and staying in touch with friends. One way to communicate is through a community bulletin board organized by category and similar interest. Here you can listen to other people’s posts/messages, then reply with your own posts. You are a critical part of the site and your contribution to the site is what makes the experience truly interactive while keeping the content fresh and interesting. The site would have no content without other people’s contributions. People just like you! Another way to communicate is through private groups where you have a group of friends who want to privately share a common web page and message board. This becomes their private collaboration space online. You can instant message anyone in your friend list and communicate immediately. View/share photos, video clips, audio clips, and of course comment on these media items for others to see what you have to say--and then reply back to them. Take advantage of reading up-to-the-minute news stories and articles. Search classifieds or post free classified ads within the following categories: For Sale, Jobs, Housing, and more. You can also create events, public or private, to let people in your friend lists, and people in your friend’s friend lists, know about your upcoming events—as well as getting them (gladly!) on board to help organize the social gatherings. Create blogs to share your thoughts and listen to others. The amount of features and things you can do on social networking sites is burgeoning, but the keys are ease of communication and collaboration.

Niche Social Networking Sites
Suddenly, niche social networking sites are popping up. Do you like dogs? There’s now social networking for dogs: allows you to create a profile for your dog complete with photos, videos and more. You can even search for other dogs that have similar interests to yours. You can probably guess that if there is a dogster, then there must be a catster too. And you’re right! makes social networking for cats (and cat lovers) a reality. Pets not your thing? Perhaps you’re into, ummm, I don’t know, sneakers? Try for those obsessed with sneakers. Whatever you’re into, I’m sure there is a social networking site out there for others just like you. And if there isn’t, why not create one yourself?

In fact, if your college has a specialization in an area of study, you could create a networking site to promote it by hosting for those interested in that area. If you are a veterinarian school, shouldn't you be posting appropriately on both dogster and catster? If you have a loarge animal vet program maybe you should create and host cowster or some other site. If you want to know if a name is available, I'll even be glad to check it for you. Just send it to me and I'll let you know.

Where Is Your School?

It all comes down to this…social networking is growing at an incredibly fast pace among young people. The technology is free and available to anyone with an internet connection. This is where your prospective and current students are spending their time. This is where your school should be. This is where your admissions reps should be. This is where your financial aid reps should be. This is where YOU should be.
It takes more than just a cool website to connect with today's digital generation. You've got to tap into their social network. Listen to their thoughts. Join in the conversation. Be a part of their world.

If I can help you in any way, please do not hesitate. It will be my pleasure to help you myself.
This article was written by Jerry Allocca, President of CORE Academics, an award-winning internet solutions firm and the creator of the award and enrollment winning on-line admissions personalization application program Leadwise . CORE has been helping colleges and universities leverage new technologies to increase leads, enrollments and brands since 1998. Its Webeval college website evaluation system has been used by hundreds of schools to let them know their strengths, weaknesses and what they can do better. To get Jerry and CORE on your team, visit send an email to or call at 516-719-6235 ext 111.

The picture above of Dr. Raze Man is my facebook photo. It was created by Chris Sanna a great graphic designer who does excellent design work for colleges, business and real rappers. I recommend him most highly for any design work you may need.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Customer Service as Tree of Living Together

There is a website I go to on a quite regular basis. It helps boost my positive feelings about people and shows what we can do rather than what we cannot do. It also talks to viewers quite a bit about many of the issues discussed in customer service as a human and humane value through the videos it shows. This is

Today, as I was thinking on the topic of teamwork as a key ingredient to customer service success, my weekly notice from Karma Tube showed up. This week’s really says it all in a very moving way. The short video is from India’s program to tell everyone in their country that each one of them, and us, has talent, ability and value. This particular video is an interesting version of principles 8 and 15 of the 15 Principles of Good Academic Customer Service. (Click here to request a copy of the Principles.)

8. Just because someone else did a dis-service

or harm does not relieve you of correcting the injury.


15. Not everyone is capable of providing good customer service

That does not mean they do not have value somewhere.

In this case, the dis-service was caused by nature I would guess but you and those you forward this to will get the point. And the individual value of people is upheld in the video without regard to station in life or an organization like a college or university.

Here it is CLICK HERE Please share your thoughts on it by commenting and forwarding it to others.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Administrator's Bookshelf

Colleagues and I are starting a publishing and seminar company focused on helping us all do our work with less stress and greater happiness and success. Our first venture is a series of “how to” booklets for college administrators we are calling The Administrator’s Bookshelf. Designed to provide new and seasoned academic administrators in all levels of college operations with a sort of Cliff Notes on various aspects of college administration, the series provides quick, practical and applicable tips, insights, and best practices in 20-25 page booklets that are written in direct, uncomplicated language.

I see this as a direct extension of customer service to colleagues.I hope you will join in so we can all provide service to one another and make our jobs better and easier.

The inaugural book, Day 1, is to be a collection of short pieces and recollections of college administrators, directors, managers and faculty first days on the job. Many of us came to our demanding roles as academic administrators without formal management or administrative training. A wing and a prayer and on-the-job training often resulted in stress, confusion and even failure before we finally learned how to successfully navigate the demands of our positions. Our intention with The Administrator’s Bookshelf is to provide useful resources that can ease the strain for others. These articles will become the introductory edition and will provide a roadmap for topics the series will cover.

If you are interested in being considered as an author in this first volume, all you need to do is let me know you are interested and submit a brief article (up to 5 pages) about your first day(s) on the job as a college administrator, staff member or faculty. You may also want to consider writing one of the booklets on an area in which you are particularly accomplished or have some special hints, tips, or tricks of the trade that would make a difference for others.

In addition to the booklets, each topic will have accompanying webinar and an online forum for frank and honest discussion of the issues we all face. A wiki will provide in depth explanations, vital information, case studies, experiences, solutions and an implementation guide to ensure a thorough understanding and easy implementation of successful strategies in each topic area.

We hope you can see the possibilities of this project and that you will add your expertise to The Administrator’s Bookshelf. Please feel very free to invite colleagues to write as well. This is a co-operative venture for us all after all. (Authors will be compensated for their work in future volumes. Contact us for details.)

Neal Raisman

Marylin Newell

The Administrator’s Bookshelf