Sunday, April 24, 2011

Students and Narcissism 2 - A Challenge to Providing Academic Customer Servive

Part 1 of this article at

It is interesting that the narcissistic personality replaces socialized means to achieve the goal of success in college and actions on campus with personalized means but the students maintain the institutionalized goals of good grades for example.  The clash of a common goal but different expectations for use of institutionalized means yields a great deal of friction between students and the college and has generated much of the backlash against “the students we get here nowadays.” It also powers the attitude of many faculty that the university needs to recruit “better” students i.e. those that will conform to the college’s traditional and even proscribed institutionalized means to achieve the culture’s goals of good grades and a job.

It is furtheEdit Postsr interesting that the narcissistic student often does not achieve his goals as a result of the rejection or ignorance of the means. For example when it comes to dropping a course there is a definite prescribed means to follow to accomplish the goal of dropping.  There is usually an add-drop form to complete and file at the very least. At some schools, the student needs to get the signature of the faculty member teaching the course; a signature of an advisor and then even sign a waiver indicating he or she is aware of the potential consequences to schedule, graduation time and even financial aid from dropping the course. But the narcissistic student tends to accept the goals but reject the means making him what the sociologist Robert Merton called “an innovator “which is a deviant behavior leading to an anometic frustrating and unintended result. The student substitutes his own means for that of the college and simply does not go to class again.  The narcissist believes “without my presence, the class does not exist for me anymore so I have dropped it.” The result is that the student has not dropped the course in the eyes of the school; is charged for the course; and gets a failing grade.

This is not to say that the Me Generation student will accept the result which creates a real shock to his system and goals. He cannot understand how the school could have made such a mistake and will plead his case for the grade to be dropped as he believed he dropped the course.  “I did not go so the course ended. And I should not have to pay for the course if I were not there. And I do not accept the failing grade.”

This is an example of how and why there is so much conflict on campuses today. The Me Generation still clings to the cultural goals but not the means. They expect to have their personal, innovative approaches substitute for the cultural norms of behavior and how to accomplish things. There are two systems in conflict over the means to the end. This can also be seen in the clash of language that exists on campus.

Students believe that they are entitled to use whatever language and means they wish in a conversation with anyone. They do not recognize or accept  the social norms for example that place an individual such as perhaps someone in the financial aid, bursar or registrar office as have any level of superiority through position. They do not realize or accept that there is a decorum and conformity to language that is expected in an academic professional setting. And they are surprised when they are rebuffed for using vernacular or slang such as the “f-bomb” or other adjectives and adverbs common to their everyday relaxed peer group language.  Moreover, the recipient of the language is surprised when the language comes out and will almost always respond in an open or covert negative manner. Cursing and swearing are not considered institutionalized language in an academic setting. This clash of cultures also causes some definite clashes on campus.

The narcissist personality of segments of the Me Generation is a major source of conflict on campus but it is also a major source of self-conflict for students.  When students retain the goals (good grades, high GPA, graduation, a good job…) but reject the institutionalized means, norms and rules they are living a deviant existence that quite often leaves them frustrated. Rules, norms and socialized means provide order and stability. Take them away and there is a striving for the goals but without the means that may be needed to get to them; add/drop is such an example. Without the rules there is also lack of boundaries or solid sense of where one fits into a culture or in this case a university/college. This can lead to a lack of identity and feeling of place which is needed for an affective connection to the school and its society. This can lead to a sense of isolation within the larger college campus and society.

This is made even stronger by the reliance on technology for contacting and making “personal” associations with others and society. Technology and cyber-communication are now almost the equal to face-to-face communication. The Me Generation does not feel the need to actually be in the same room as another to be in a direct communication. A phone call is equal to a person-to-person in the sane space discussion. A text and return text is equal to a phone call. There is an ad on television that shows two people sitting together at a table and one texts the other rather than talking to break up with him. When he asks “you’re breaking up with me, she texts back that she is. There is no need to actually orally say the relationship is over; the texting is the oral communication’s equal. Emails are in a similar category and instant messaging, though used less than texting now, is the same as talking person-to-person.

Groups are formed on-line. Direct communication is a tweet or a texted message; maybe not even a phone call which permits at least some level of human contact. Technology allows the individual to be in cyber touch with others without ever having to actual touch or be touched.  But this may not be to the students’ benefit  or yield feelings of actually being, actually touching and being touched by a community which is a human need. In fact, the lack of human interaction and “touching” another in some manner is seen as a very harsh punishment as in solitary confinement or breaking someone down. 

This can be proven in a simple experiment.  Have a group of people all agree to ignore the next person who joins the group. To make no oral or actual contact as if the person is not there. When she says hello, no one responds. When she repeats it, no one responds. She is treated as if she is not there. Within a very short time, she will start to get quite upset and demand that she be recognized and included in the group. If the experiment goes on for any period of time she will get quite angry and very frustrated at not being recognized and becoming part of the group. People cannot tolerate lack of inclusion and the actual and/or psychological touch that comes with that. People have a need and rive to be part of a community and for many, technology provides a level of that involvement but it has its limits.

On-line courses are one of the strongest examples of how technology generates contact but without any actual human connection.  Students never see, hear or gain any human touch with the professor. They do not see, hear or communicate in person with any other members of the class. It is a static individual channel one to one to one contact through technology and cyber space. The student works in isolation broken only by a solitary email to another and then waiting for a response. The student is actually cut off from the others in the class by actual space working is his or her own room away from others.  The work is isolating and impersonal leading to feelings of loneliness in a cyber-crowd that exists only in the technology of on-line education and the belief of the student. It could be that the other students in the class exist but that is accepted on faith not knowledge.

Civic disengagement, the act of doing things in groups, being involved with others and society has dropped off according to Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone (2000).

During the first two-thirds of the century Americans took a more and more active role in the social and political life of their communities…we behaved in an increasingly trustworthy way toward one another. Then mysteriously and more or less simultaneously, we began to do all those things less often...
   More of our social connectedness is one short, special purpose and self-oriented…what sociologist Claude Fischer, Robert Jackson and their colleagues describe more hopefully as “personal communities.” (P183-84)

Combine the solitariness of the technological world students live in plus the lack of rules and boundaries to guide them due to an anometic approach to see their place in the world with a narcissistic personality that further isolates individuals and the result is civic disengagement and personal communities that do not have others in them except perhaps through technology.  Civil disengagement and personal worlds allow the narcissist personality, the self-focused student to substitute his rules and values for those of the academic community. This leads to even greater anomie and a sense of isolation. The narcissistic students live lonely self-contained, self-regulated lives on campus. They also lead lives that are in conflict with the larger academic society that actually controls most of the rules the students either reject or don’t know but either way, don’t care.

The result of their narcissist world of isolation and conflict with the academic world leads to conflicts and disappointments with some successes such as grades which are almost uniformly high. They end up overly focused on themselves, their values and wants while not feeling close to others or being part of a group with rules to follow. This in turn yields what the staff, faculty and administrators feel and see as inappropriate behavior and conflicts in offices and on campus.

Another result is the students feel detached from the school and one another. They live lives alone. Alone from actual groups and interactions with others. The result of this detachment is loneliness and depression.  In fact the narcissism of the current student bumping up against the experience of school with its realities alongside of having no or few real people to turn to for help (if the narcissist can admit he needs help) may be a major cause for the increases in depression that have been reported.

If this article had merit for you, you'll want to get a copy of the best-selling book on customer service in colleges The Power of Retention: More Customer Service for Higher Education by Dr. Neal Raisman, the article's author. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Students and Narcissism 1 - A Challenge to Providing Academic Customer Servive

Does this list of personality characteristics sound like any group of people you know?
  1. Feels grandiose and self- important (e.g., demands to be recognized as superior or at least equal without commensurate achieve-ments; my opinion is as good your “opinion”)
  2. Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited future success, fame, value  power or importance
  3. Convinced that he or she is unique and, being special and you should recognize and reward that specialness
  4. Requires excessive admiration, attention and affirmation
  5. Feels entitled. Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment.
  6. Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.
Perhaps many of the students in your college or university? 

If so, these are descriptors of a narcissistic personality which explains some of the reason why many students can be difficult to deal with. Simply put many if not most of today’s students bring a narcissistic personality with them onto campus and into the classroom. And the availability of technology just increases the feelings of self-importance since they can control numerous aspects of their world making them all feel as if they are kings and queens of the universes they create and control.

This is a generation of students bound not by age but by their use of technology and the focus on the self. This is a generation brought up in the Free to Be You and Me world in which anyone could be anything he or wants to be and I am just as important as you. It is the Me Generation. This is a generation of students that has been raised to believe there are no limits on their ability to achieve greatness and success. They believe they are equal to anyone else and maybe even a little better so their opinion is as good as anyone else’s even if the other person is the teacher. They are a somewhat coddled generation whose self-esteem has been nurtured to be even more important than actual achievement. They feel self-important to the point that they believe that their tweets of what they are doing are important and valuable to others. This has resulted in an overly high assessment of their abilities and worth. As a result they expect grades that may not reflect actual ability or attainment. They do not want high grades; they expect them and believe they deserve them.

It is a cadre of students that exists within” …two interlocking changes: the fall of social rules and the rise of the individual” (Twenge p.20) Twenge states in her book Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable then Ever Before (2006)
 …the responses of 15,234 American college students who completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory between 1987 and 2006. The trend was extremely clear: younger generations were significantly more narcissistic . The average college student in 2006 scored higher in narcissism than 65% of students just nineteen year before in 1987. In other words, the number of students high in narcissism rose two-thirds in the space of twenty-one years.  (P.69)

Without the social rules that determined academic decorum and structure, students do not believe they are less important than anyone else on campus and do not have to necessarily follow rules that they believe no longer exist or never knew. 

This of course sets up a potentially dangerous dynamic since the college still believes there are structures, rules, codes, traditions and decorum to govern the way students are to interact with members of the academic community. The community still believes in the rules; students don’t so boundaries are often crossed leading to aggravation and even anger in the community toward the students. It is after all very difficult to place oneself and follow a society’s rules, its norms of behavior when one does not see that there really are any but the ones they wish to adhere to or have carried with them from high school.  A very anometic situation is created when narcissism bumps against traditionalism and its own narcissistic tendencies in some faculty, staff and administrators.

Anomie is a feature of deviant behavior which is what we do find on campuses regularly as the students’ inflated sense of self and rejection of norms  bumps up against the residual academic social expectations of the campus society. Anomie  is created according to Emile Durkheim  who first devised the concept when a society is characterized by a state of normlessness created by an absence or diminution of standards or values. This occurs he believed when a society is going through upheaval such as an economic crisis but in this case the anomie was created by a longer period that created a generation marked by a lack of norms and personal limits of the current Me Generation. This cadre is coming onto campuses that evolved into societies of more individual freedom and openness from the boomer generation that currently dominates academia.

Anomie generates aggravation, frustration, anger and deviant behavior. It is created when there is a variance in the behavior of individuals in reference to the socialized goals such as success and the means to obtain those goals such as studying and acceptance the professor and campus community as superior to oneself.  The professor, staff and admini9strators have the same goals as the students but adhere to a more institutionalized system of means such as when there is a problem with going through the system to solve it rather than demanding correction or starting at the top to get resolution.  Me Generation students believe they are the equal of others on campus and thus can go to the Dean or even the president to get their problem solved thereby bypassing the institutionalized system and means to solve an issue.   For example, if a student feels he should have had a higher grade on an exam or essay, he will often skip going to the faculty member and go right to the department chair or dean to gain the goal of a higher grade. This creates an anometic situation for the student and the faculty member. The dean cannot change a grade so the student is frustrated and often angry. The faculty member is upset because the student did not go through the system and follow the means that she believes exist. And the dean is frustrated and upset because she is blamed by the student for not taking action. She is further exasperated because she has no way of solving the problem even if she wants to. She is also frustrated because the student did not follow the process and put her in an untenable situation. Everyone loses.

If this article had merit for you, you'll want to get a copy of the best-selling book on customer service in colleges The Power of Retention: More Customer Service for Higher Education by Dr. Neal Raisman, the article's author. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Attrition Pathways out of College

There are three major categories of initiators for students to leave schools all of which relate to whether or not a student believes he is she is getting a good financial, emotional and affective return on his investment. These initiators correlate directly with such feelings as whether or not the school is worth the investment of money/time, emotions and being part of it as seen major reasons for leaving college such as “it’s just not worth it”. Another initiator is related to a student feeling he or she is not valued by the school which is strong shown in the common statement “all they care about is my money”. A third comes out of a student believing his or her sense of importance is not returned by the school in its services as seen in the statement “I get poor service and help.” Another initiator comes in the area of being able to schedule courses and in particular having schedules changed in the last week or the week that classes start. The next most common initiator is financial problems not being able to cover the cost of school though we have found that if a student feels he or she is getting the full return on her investment she will find some way to pay for it. Other initiators include poor grades, a belief  the educational and/or quality of training is weak and finally actual personal reasons.

These initiators can be further divided into strong shocks, insults and accumulations. A strong shock is a jolt to a person that is enough in and of itself to make that individual decide to leave college. An obvious shock is failing grades in enough classes to make graduation seem an improbability, Another could be physical assault, death or illness in the family, finding out that a promised major does not exist or has happened in some for-profit schools that credits do not transfer or there are not jobs after graduation.

In their article “A Detection Model of College Withdrawal” on why some students drop out of universities and college Timothy J. Plaskac et al (2011) posit the idea of shocks, events or actions so strong as to cause a jolt to a student enough to make him or her drop out of school as a major contributors to the decision to leave school. Though they do not define a shock they list examples that they found as a causes for their study group to say they might leave college. Their list includes “theft, assault, becoming pregnant, an unexpected bad grade, roommate conflicts, lost financial aid, illness, death in the family, clinical depression, close friend left school, addiction, conflict with a faculty member… as jolts that have significant role in the decision to leave college. (P7) These are major events in the life of the student.

These we believe can be divided into four categories of strong shocks.

1.      Physical shocks -assault, pregnancy, illness, addiction..)
2.      Self-value shocks - unexpected bad grade, conflict with faculty member or roommate
3.      Life shocks- death in the family, marriage, lost job paying for school, came into a large sum of money, received a job offer…and
4.      Service shocks - lost financial aid, large increase in tuition and fees.

The category of shock is flexible depending on how the shock affects the individual and how it affects his or her sense of self. For example what could be a physical shock such as an assault or robbery could affect an individual as a shock to the self-value the individual holds for him or herself. An assault could lower one’s self-esteem for example rather than cause a person to be fearful of the environment an almost certain cause of a student dropping out of school.  A shock to one person may also not be a jolt to the system for another.  A large increase in tuition and fees for a person who feels that the college is worth the cost because it will lead to a valid return on investment might not find the increase all that much of a jolt while another who does not see the value to the education and training leading to a job goal could find that increase to be a sufficient enough shock to quit school.

A strong shock such as class cancellations in the week before classes’ start will many time be enough for a student to drop out or at least step out. This is a particularly strong shock for communing and adult students because in most every case a student has determined his or her life around the original schedule. She has registered, been told the schedule she chose is hers and built her life schedule around it. She has for example, gotten her work schedule adjusted so she can attend classes and lined up baby sitters for the hours of the classes. Then in the last week or even worse, the days before that start of the semester, the college lets her know that due to low enrollment a class has been cancelled. This is a shock. All her plans have been disrupted. Her life has been disrupted. If she cannot or has problems re-arranging her schedule, the shock remains strong and she drops out or at least stops out which easily can become a drop. If she is able to re-arrange her life to accommodate the school the shock can become an insult but it has started her on the pathway out.

An insult is also a jolt but to the ego primarily and often comes in the form of poor service that leaves an issue unresolved or poorly handled. For example if a student tries to get help for an exam but is rebuffed by the faculty member, or an administrator refuses to help solve a problem with another employee of the school leaving the student with an unresolved issue. Or it could be a student’s registration and courses are lost and the student has to start all over just before classes start or have started.  These are felt as personal rejections or insults. A single insult in and of itself might not be enough top cause a student to drop out but if they accumulate, they can become sufficient quickly to lead to attrition increases.

Both shocks and insults are fungible within category depending on the individual though shocks tend to be strong enough to be consistent for all individuals. But what might be a strong shock for some such as a physical change such as pregnancy or illness in an individual might just be a challenge for one which will not initiate a drop while for another a weaker shock such as a broken limb might be enough to initiate a drop. An illness in the family could cause some students to leave while others will or can shake it off and maintain their studies. The strength of a shock or insult thus must be seen in relation to the strength of the individual as well as the narcissism and/or marginalism of the student.

The accumulative category is just what it says it is. Enough instances of poor service, rejection, mild insults, lack of assistance, lost paperwork, disappointments etc. occur to exceed an individual’s threshold and he or she drops out.  One too many times, a student is ignored while standing at a counter, has to stand in lines, the food is cold, mushy and judges expensive, can’t find a parking spot, is not greeted with a smile and offer of assistance, emails or voice mails are not returned, appointment times not kept and so on. These experiences build and initiate students to leave for one of the reasons listed above.

Strong shocks
Realizing can’t graduate GPA, academic progress, failing a course, won’t get a job, school misled about major or credits, pregnancy, feeling unsafe, not worth it, college does not care, last minute course schedule change, illness, loss of financial support…
Moderate shock
Reduction in FA, weak grades, argument with faculty or staff, lost job, change in family situation, roommate problems, car repairs for commuter, rebuff in personal situation, can’t get course needed, last week schedule changes, argument with staff or faculty member, lost paperwork
Moderate shocks could also be a strong shock depending on individual personality and situation
Everyday insult –not necessarily an insult as such but poor service that can feel like an affront
The shuffle, lack of call return, paperwork not done, non-responsiveness, looks, rebuff, poor signage, missed appointment, poor reception, having to wait to see someone, lines, poor web navigation, lack of help when needed, poor phone use, no response to emails, problems not resolved, made to feel unimportant, lack of give a a name get a name, lack of greetings, feeling of not belonging,  tests not graded timely…

Pathways Out of College

The three categories of initiators create pathways out of the school and increase in strength during certain periods on campus or off.  The first week of classes is a notoriously significant time for the creation of a pathway out as students are new to the school, have high expectations and low real affective relationship. Students do not know their way around physically such as finding their way from classes to the dorm, the dorm to various administrative buildings and can easily get lost on campus since most colleges and universities have terrible on-campus signage. As a result, they are often late to class. These are definite accumulators.

They may also find that books required for the courses are not available or sold out. In any case they will almost always exceed cost expectations. Financial aid often comes in late for many students and then when nit does arrive, it is less than the estimators calculated. Commuters will become involved in the almost assured search for a parking spot and have to be late to class; take too long to find a space and miss class or just give up and go home. Dorm students will meet their new roommates and find they are not compatible and the RA’s and housing officers may not have anywhere to move them. These first week occurrences may seem like old hat to seasoned students but to new first term freshmen they almost always become insults; not accumulators. They will lead to a student determining in the first weeks that this will not be worth my time/money, emotions and wanting to belong and unless something happens that student will drop out.

In fact, it is almost as if the school were challenging new students to get lost on campus and learn your way around to prove you belong here.  Sort of a rite de passage that has replaced freshman hazing in which students need to pass to be considered appropriate college material. This is a situation that schools should change immediately to decrease attrition. Students should not have to prove they deserve to be there. If they have been selected for admission, they do deserve to be there and the school should do all it can to remove the first weeks’ accumulators and insults. 

If this article makes sense to you
you will want to get my new book
The Power of Retention
: More Customer Service for Higher Education
by clicking here

N.Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through workshops,research training and customer service solutions such as campus service audits to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them
We increase your success


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Academic Not Retail Customer Service

Colleges and universities are quite unique professional service providers that do not respond well to retail customer service notions. And they should not. Retail customer service is about providing veneers of service at the point of sale for a tangible product. In fact, retail customer service is all about the brief point of sale moment which runs from “may I help you” to “cash or charge and come again” and handing the customer a purchased item. And even if the piece of clothing a clerk helped a customer buy is the wrong size, the consequence of that poor service is not significant. The item can usually be returned or a badly cooked meal sent back for another and the employees.

Even  the combined retail-service situations of a restaurant or a vacation is a limited, time bound occurrence even if it may have more than one encounter. A customer comes to a restaurant for a meal or to a hotel for a limited stay. The customer may encounter more than one point of sale/service provider; for example, a maître d, waiter and busboy or bellhop and front desk personnel and perhaps even a person in a cartoon character outfit but these interactions are very limited both in time and singularity of experience even if a person may come to the hotel again in the future. And none of the encounters will have a lifetime effect on the customer.

The academic community is also significantly different than a store. To being with, most members of the college do not even accept the idea that students are customers. Inevitably, while working with a school, we will be told that “Students are not customers.”

That statement came out loud and clear while working with a publically-assisted university that was experiencing an average 52% attrition rate each year for six years. Fifty-two percent!!! Each year the university was losing 52% of its student body which meant that it was losing over $6 million a year. Not good any time but in the current downturn in the economy and the underfunding of colleges and universities losing that much revenue could be a financial disaster. While I was discussing academic customer service, I referred to students as customers. A faculty member jumped to his feet and yelled out the statement. “Students are not customers.” There was some applause.

“Okay. If they are not customers or clients of the college, what are they?” I asked.

The professor thought for a moment and retorted that “they are students.”

“Ahhh. Then students are students?” That brought my philosophy courses into play. “Isn’t that an absolute tautology? Defining a term by the term? If so, isn’t that also a logical error that does not define what students are. “So I asked for a better definition.

“Students are people who come to the university to learn from us.”

“Okay. Are there any conditions placed on them to be able to do so?”

“Yes. We must be accepted to the university first.”

“Do they then get to come here for free?”

“Paying does not make them customers. Their tuition does not even pay for half of the actual costs.”
“Just because they may not pay all the cost does not take away the fact that they are spending money for something, for services, even if they don’t pay for all of it. They…”

“They pay some money to gain an education. They are here to learn from us. That makes them students not customers” another audience member chimed in.

“So your contention is they are paying for an education and that is the definition of a student not a customer? But isn’t that the definition of a customer someone who pays for goods or services”

“Purpose controls the interaction not the exchange of dollars. It is the why of their coming to college; not the how. Since they come to college to learn, they are students not customers.”

“So if they come to learn they are students?”

“But is that really why they come to college? To learn?  Do they come to college to learn as an end in itself? I don’t think so. And I don’t think that’s why you went to college either. Sure, for you learning was a part of it but I think there was another reason too.”

“That’s ridiculous. I came to college to study literature because I love literature and not for any other reason.”

“No. That’s not wholly true and you know it. Sure you came to study lit, be an English major just like I did. But you could have done that anywhere without having to do it in a classroom. Nothing stopped you from reading all you wanted outside of college. But you went to college because you wanted to not just study literature; you wanted to get a job so you could do so. You came to college to become a faculty member and that’s a job. You went to college to get a job.”

“The goal of becoming a faculty member was secondary. I do that just so I can have time to study literature. If I didn’t have to teach, I would be even happier.”

“Let’s not go there because you can only say that because you have as job and likely because you’re tenured. If you didn’t have a job you wouldn’t have the time or luxury to say you don’t even want one. “

“That’s insulting.”

“Perhaps and if it is I apologize but it is true. Just ask an adjunct or unemployed PhD looking for a job. They’ll tell you that it is about getting a position, a salary. That’s what they are after. I mean haven’t we all heard “I went to college for ten years and I can’t get a job.” Not, “I went to college for ten years and thrilled I have all the time I want to just enjoy what I learned. Thank goodness I did not get those degrees so I could try to get a teaching position.”

And the truth is that you went to college as did all of us including me to become something. For us it was a faculty member and we did this not just once but three times to get the BA, MA and PhD in our case. And when you were in school, you took courses because you had to not because you wanted to learn some of that required stuff. And while you were a student, you grumbled too as do our current students about the costs and whether or not you were getting your money’s worth or were just wasting time with a third year of Spanish, a calculus or humanities course perhaps. You thought you’d be better off if you could take more courses in your major.

We chose grad school by where we had the best chance to study with someone well known so we could invest our time and money to learn and get a job. But if that prof was at Podunck U we would have found someone else because people do not get jobs from Podunck. Not good ones at least. Because grad school needs to pay off. Needs to give us a good return on our investment like a tenure-track position in a good school.

Is there anyone here who isn't identifying with any of this? Who didn’t care whether or not college led to a job? And before you jump up and claim ME, know that my follow-up question is “Okay, then will you give up your job and all that comes with it so you can just go and study and learn for the love of it? And if you say yes, I will have a resignation letter for you to sign and we’ll hand it in together so you can live your dream.” 

Dramatic grumbling from some followed. Those who agreed with me did not move for they knew that academic vengeance can be quite painful.

I continued. “And that is a consumerist attitude. I pay this to gain that. The pay may be money, time, hoop jumping or whatever but it is an exchange of value for a potential value in the case of college. And people who engage in that consumer action are customers and clients no matter if you call them students or something else.

We did it. Others before us did it and our current students do it and that makes them customers of our services. The only ones who did not have to do it were the ones wealthy enough to be able to not worry about a job or an income and I am not seeing many of them here. 

So let’s just accept the reality and do all we can to treat our customer appropriately. That doesn’t mean pander to them at all either. It means helping them to their goals such as learning and training they will need to graduate get a job, become a productive person and citizen. That’s finally what they pay us for after all. That’s why they submit to the required courses. Because they have to as a vocational necessity and because they may prepare them to succeed better in career and life. 

And if along the way, they like us, gain a good, disciplined broad education – so much the better for them. They also want respect, recognition and to feel valued and that is also what every customer wants in every service or business.”

If this article makes sense to you
you will want to get my new book
The Power of Retention
: More Customer Service for Higher Education
by clicking here

N.Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through workshops,research training and customer service solutions such as campus service audits to colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as to businesses that seek to work with them
We increase your success

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Neal is a pleasure to work with – his depth of knowledge and engaging, approachable style creates a strong connection with attendees. He goes beyond the typical, “show up, talk, and leave” experience that some professional speakers use. He “walks the talk” with his passion for customer service. We exchanged multiple emails prior to the event, with his focus being on meeting our needs, understanding our organization and creating a customized presentation. Neal also attended and actively participated in our evening-before team-building event, forging positive relationships with attendees – truly getting to know them. Personable, knowledgeable, down-to-earth and inspiring…. " Jean Wolfe, Training Manager, Davenport University

“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

“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, Faculty Member, Lincoln Technical Institute

“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, Canada