Monday, June 04, 2012

Check Out the Campus Culture to Improve Service and Hospitality

One thing we do when we audit a campus or do a workshop is see what the culture is like. It is one of the first things we do before a workshop or a presentation on academic customer service and hospitality. Is the current set of attitudes and how people treat one another impeding the development of a customer service culture on campus? It certainly did at one college we recently audited.

While on the campuses, I would act as if I were lost or confused (confused is something I can play well since I often feel it is a common state of consciousness for me) to see the reaction of employees as they passed me in the halls. The hoped for results would be that employees would stop and ask if they might help me.  The outcomes were not as positive as one might wish. Granted there were not as many people in the halls as might have been during more populated terms at B campus and L campus.  M campus was in full session.

At B campus, I entered six of the buildings and encountered at least one employee in every one. All but one woman in the Adams building either ignored me or looked at me and kept walking by.  Only the woman in Adams asked if I were in need of help.

At M campus, I was passed by five employees. One faculty member whose name I recall as George stopped as I was looking around as if lost and asked if he could help me. After he directed me to the admissions office and I was walking about the halls again, he saw me and asked if he could be of additional assistance.

At L campus, I was passed by six employees and finally assisted by a young man from the bookstore.

There were then 17 employees who did not provide me any service and three who did; one twice. This became a subject of the presentation I gave to the entire college.which I introduced with the story of Dean Schaar and Gordon Gee. That's the one about how to say hello to people and make them know you care. I then went on to show how to make sure that we all say hello to students and ask how they are as we pass them. 

This is unfortunately too common on too many campuses. People just do not know to greet one another and certainly not how to stop and ask someone if he or she is in need of some help.  You can assess this just by walking through the halls of your own school. Though I do not suggest doing this as a habit, a bad one, just smile at people without saying hello. See how many smile back or say hello. Of course you shouldn't count the ones who know who you are. That's cheating and we don't want that. Do we? Then, act as if you are confused or lost. See if anyone stops to help. Keep a count of those who just rush by versus those who stop to help to get your school's helpful culture batting average.

You may find that there may be a need for more specific small group training for employees in extending themselves and greeting students. The structure of the large group presentation limits the specific person-to-person training though at this college we did review the processes and manner to be employed. And we asked people to use it and supervisors to keep track of who did and did not say hello properly. Of course we asked employees to keep track of their supervisors too.

It'll be interesting to compare the older hello average to a new one if people actually do say hello to one another and proffer assistance. Bet it'll be higher than any batting average of a so-called baseball star. And he gets $millions. Forget that last point, You'll get millions of good feelings. They may not buy a Ferrari buy your Honda will feel like one after a day of smiling and being smiled at.

UMass Dartmouth invited Dr. Neal Raisman to campus to present on "Service Excellence in Higher Ed"  as a catalyst event used to kick off a service excellence program.  Dr. Neal Raisman presents a very powerful but simple message about the impact that customer service can have on retention and the overall success of the university.  Participants embraced his philosophy as was noted with heads nods and hallway conversations after the session.  Not only did he have data to back up what he was saying, but Dr. Raisman spoke of specific examples based on his own personal experience working at a college as  Dean and President.  Our Leadership Team welcomed the "8 Rules of Customer Service", showing their eagerness to go to the next step in rolling Raisman's message out.  We could not have been more pleased with his eye-opening presentation. Sheila Whitaker UMass-Dartmouth

The University of Toledo was able to really get its customer excellence focused after Dr. Raisman and his team performed a full campus service excellence audit of the University. Dr. Raisman’s team came on campus for a week and identified every area we could improve and where we are doing well. The extensive and detailed report will form a blueprint for greater customer service excellence at the University that will make us an even better place for students to attend, study and succeed. Thank you, Dr. Raisman, for doing a great job. We unreservedly recommend his customer service audits to any school looking to improve customer service, retention and graduation rates.    Iaon Duca, University of Toledo

The report generated from the full campus customer service audit that N.Raisman & Associates did for our college provided information from an external reviewer that raised awareness toward customer service and front end processes.  From this audit and report, Broward College has included in its strategic plan strategies that include process mapping.  Since financial aid was designed as the department with the most customer service challenges that department has undergone process mapping related to how these process serve or do not serve students optimally.  It has been transformational and has prompted a process remap of how aid is processed for new and continuing students.                            Angelia Millender, Broward College (FL)

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