Monday, May 20, 2013

Websites Hide Presidents from Customers

Websites hide presidents. 

We have gone to 100 college and university websites
chosen at random and only eleven of them let the viewer find the president’s email address. Why is that? Why can’t a web visitor get in touch with the president of the college?

Answer is easy. Because the president does not want them to.

He or she does not want to hear from students and parents. The presidents just must think they are too busy to be bothered by students – by their primary customers. This is simply wrong.

People actually believe presidents are important. Here I am talking about students and the parents who think presidents are important. We already know that too many college presidents think they are very important. Too important to deal with students and their issues?

The president is the person that many people think they need to contact when they are having a problem. A problem getting something solved at a college or university? Hard to believe! Shuffle anyone?

The customers want to be able to take their issue to where they believe it can get taken care of so the websites make sure they cannot get to the president but not providing information on how to contact him or her.

The websites may have a president’s page but there is not link there to be able to email to the president and tell her how inspiring her message was. Only two of the presidents’ pages had a live email link to the president. Interestingly enough when we tried the two links, one bounced saying the email address did not exist.

When we went to the college and university directories the president’s name and address were not there. (Campus directories are another issue. Finding the directories and the difficulty of using many of them when located made the almost useless at times.) When we put the word president in the search boxes, we got all sorts of listings about the president but not one brought up how to contact him or her.

Customers often want to be able to talk to the person in charge when there is a problem and we make sure they cannot do that unless they go to the president’s office in person. And when they finally do get there, they are more upset than they would have been if they could have emailed. This finally takes more of the president’s time if she sees the student. If she does not it really creates and angry student and bad customer service.

There are two ways to solve this problem. One is to list the email address on the site. Realizing that many presidents are actually busy we recommend that a separate mailbox be set up for students and parents to email the president. That way the emails can be isolated when the hundreds of pointless emails the president gets every day from people on campus who want him or her to know they are doing their job.  If the mailbox is separated from the daily work box, it would be possible to assign an assistant to answer the emails that come in. This would be a good use of an assistant. The students and parents would be served and the president would still not have to deal with the emails. Of course it would be better if the president answered her own emails but I do realize that there are definitely days when that cannot be done.

The second way to take care of emails from students and parents would be to actually have people take care of issues so they don’t rise up to the presidential level. This is the better idea. Make sure people are trained in good academic customer service, know their area of work and are empowered to take care of issues. Give people the training they need to deal with students successfully so their problems are resolved at the lowest level possible. Then have them to do their jobs. Trust them to do what is right once they have been trained in what and how to do what is right. This would cut down very drastically on the need for students or parents to want to contact the president other to say that his or her web page is great.

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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