Monday, October 19, 2015

Building Retention One Hello at a Time

One thing we do when we audit a campus or do a workshop is see what the culture is like. It is also 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? Do people make one feel welcome and valued on campus? They certainly did at one college we recently audited. 

While doing a customer service audit 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. 
Saying hello is so easy and so important. Businesses are catching on to this. Just a litt;le while ago I went into a CVS and everyone who worked there that I came into the slightest cpontact with said hello and asked how I was. This is something that should be done on all campuses by everyone on them.  But is also seldom done. 
People pass one another with nary a nod of the head to one another and certainly not to students. Just walk your campus and see how many pople say hello to you. Even more, look at the people who work at the college as they p[ass by and see how they most usually do not have a smile on their faces.
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 and definite percentage growth in retention through simple greetings and inquiries as to how another person is. . 
Other simple ways to improve retention are found in the books The Power of Retention and From Admissions to Graduation, both by Dr. Neal Raisman. ORDER THEM BELOW NOW BY CLICKING ON THEM.

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