Monday, February 14, 2011

The Vision Thing in Customer Service

In order to change the culture of a college community, it is necessary to have a common consensus on the customer service vision for the campus.  Everyone must have the same concept of what customer service is. They must have a vision that overrides their personal definitions and concerns and encompass one that everyone can understand and embrace. A vision is not a set of lofty statements such as students are our business our only business that one might find in a seven steps to salvation  mission statement; meant to be read not enacted. A vision must be a practical guide to see how things work and should work on campus.

A vision is like corrective lenses on someone who is nearsighted and can only see their office and work. Most everyone can see after all but not everyone sees the same. There are differences of perspective and angle, of ability and cognitive function and some people really do have such bad eyesight that they need to have corrective lenses out in font of their eyes or they will walk all over students who get in their path. They just do not see them. So think of the college’s vision statement as a set of eyeglasses to get everyone focused the same and on the same object and purpose. 

I do not mind seeing the customer service vision statement as a corrective set of lenses either because most campuses do not see students correctly and some don’t see them clearly at all. Students may be ruder than in the past but that is not who they are finally and that must be seen.In fact, there are some schools that wear blinders to keep students out of their research and self-centered vision of the world.

The vision needs to start from an understanding of who our customers are. Students primarily,. There are more than one set of customers on a campus of course. There is the entire caste system and everyone in that academic caste system is a customer of one another but for this vision formation we will focus on students, the primary customer.

And yes, I know there are people out there who hate the idea of student as customers and the college as a business but all I can sy by now is “get over it.” It is true and a fact. Colleges are businesses and here it is once and for all. We are businesses whose budget depends on selling the University (recruitment) to its customers (students and parents) by sales (admissions) and collecting revenue (tuition) by billing (bursar) based on the college's brand (reputation), products (courses, programs, degrees), services (advising, FA..) and creating a connection with the customer (client services) by employees (faculty, staff, administrators) (some in unions) who receive salaries and benefits, delivering product (learning opportunity) fulfilling customer need (degree and career/Grad school). Get the message?

So what should the vision contain? Six elements.  

1.       Providing a positive return on student investment;
2.       Making students feel welcome and valuable in the classroom and on campus;
3.       Providing the care, concern and services needed to retain students in a college or   
         university…from making a school into Cheers University… to scheduling and advising to  
         classroom decorum and assistance… to all the services that can yield success for students
        and showing them you want them to be there
4.       Doing all this with a smile and pleased attitude that one can help students succeed and stay in school
5.       The Hillel thing –Do unto students as you would want done for your son, your daughter, your mother or your father
6.       Following the 15 Principles of Good Academic Customer Service. (want a copy. Just click here and ask)

More on these in the next posting. 

N.Raisman & Associates has been providing customer service, retention, enrollment 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. N.Raisman & Associates prides itself on its record of success for its clients and students who are aided through the firm’s services. 
413.219.6939 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              413.219.6939      

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