Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Become a Super Service Hero:A Real Life and Real Time Customer Service Example of How to Do It!

There are times during a workshop when a trainer wonders if his or her work is going to lead to something or this is just a brochure. Yuh, a brochure. That's an event that allows the college or business to say well we did it. We had someone in to do some training so I guess we're all done. The same as when a school decides to tackle an issue like campus safety of diversity by printing a tri-fold brochure and make it available in some rack off is some dark corner.

These are both offshoots of the mission statement. The one that is printed in the catalog and forgotten about once it is printed.
"I mean, you’re not going to hold us to those high fallutin’ Seven Steps to Salvation mission statements about really caring about student learning, encouraging lifelong learning; providing close interaction among faculty, staff and students, to instill in its students an appreciation for the human condition, appreciate diversity in all forms, making student success than center of all we do…blah, blah, blah".

I mean, these are just for PR, advertising, pleasing trustees and accreditors and those sorts of purposes. Oh yes, well that’s true. Sometimes we use the mission as a reason why we can’t do something without any recourse to what it actually says.

Anyhow, sometimes when I am performing a workshop and urging people to embrace the techniques and ideas because I really believe what I am saying and besides as an ex-stand up comedian and president I still need an audience, I wonder if I am having any effect. Yes, I do make a living helping colleges, universities and businesses improve retention of students and customer service. But that’s not why I do all the traveling and work. I do it because I really believe what I say or write and I still feel I am a teacher. Now I try to teach whole institutions.Thus it is important that I feel I am making a change; having an effect.

So…well anyhow, here is an email I received from Shelby Wallace, my contact at a great and important school,
Norwich University, where I did a workshop a couple weeks back. Most importantly, this is how it should be done. The author of the email did it perfectly and is an example for us all.In so doing, she became a customer service super hero. Here's how she did and how you can do it too. Please feel free to use this as a how-to for your colleagues and others.

Dear Shelby,

I would like to relate a first-hand incident that occurred last Thursday night, May 21, 2009, just one day after I heard Dr. Neil Raisman speak on Customer Service and Retention at the Staff In-service Day.

Both his main session and the 9:30 AM breakout sessions I attended made me more acutely aware of our students circumstances and how I do my job as one of the Assistant Bursar’s at the University can have a significant impact on our students at NU.

Our family decided that night, due to the extreme heat, I would stop at the Northfield Village Pizza on my way home to Barre and pick up a pizza “to go” for dinner. I arrived at the Pizza place to pick-up my order and while I waited, another employee of Norwich University… came in and sat down at the counter just two seats from me. He struck up a conversation with one of the wait-staff(whom he knew) and then asked her “What are you doing tomorrow?” She said, “I have to go to JACKMAN”. Well, the look on her face and the way in which she said those words, INSTANTLY made my ears perk up. He then asked her where in Jackman and she told him the Bursar’s Office.
I knew I could not just ignore what was happening and decided to take action. …turned to me as he knew where I was employed and I immediately turned to the waitress and said “My name is Loriann Lajeunesse and I work in the Bursar’s Office; what is your name and would you please explain your situation as I may be able to help.” She told me her name and she explained to me her frustration with summer school and the difficulty in securing a loan to pay for her classes which were to begin on Tuesday, May 26.

I asked her for her contact information including email and cell phone and told her I would do my best to look into this tomorrow morning as soon as I got to the office. She thanked me. The expression on her face conveyed to me she was more optimistic than when the conversation began 10 minutes earlier.

In closing, the next day turned out very successful for this student. After I made a few phone calls to VSAC (her lender), the student and her dad I was able to secure funding for her first session of summer school.

She was very grateful and I really felt like I was able to put to good use the information given just one day before from Dr. Raisman’s sessions.

Thank you.


Loriann B. Lajeunesse
Norwich University

Congrats to Loriann for doing it right and helping that student. Not only did she assist the student and her family, she cemented the ties between her and probably a dozen others with the good name and image of the University. Remember, a good deed will be repeated over and over so the value of providing good customer service travels and lives on. So when people are sitting around and trading collegiate battle stories, the student and her family, friends and acquaintances will chime in with “well, that might have been the case at your school, but at Norwich, they have people like Loriann Lajeunesse who really know how to make students feel welcome and valued.”

This is the way to do it. This is the core of good academic customer service. And yes Loriann was in one of my workshops but I am willing to bet that she would have done what she did even if she hadn’t. Good people do good things. Let’s hope her example will inspire others.




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“We had hoped we’d improve our retention by 3% but with the help of Dr. Raisman, we increased it by 5%.”Rachel Albert, Provost, University of Maine-Farmington

“Neal led a retreat that initiated customer service and retention as a real focus for us and gave us a clear plan. Then he followed up with presentations and workshops that kicked us all into high gear. We recommend with no reservations; just success.”
Susan Mesheau, Executive Director U First: Integrated Recruitment & Retention University of New Brunswick

“Thank you so much for the wonderful workshop at Lincoln Technical Institute. It served to re-center ideas in a great way. I perceived it to be a morale booster, breath of fresh air, and a burst of passion.” Shelly S, Lincoln Technical Institute

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