In part one of this series, I talked about asking your customers, the students, for feedback on the level of service you were providing. In part two, I’ll give some ideas to help you improve your customer service levels.
How do you get started improving the service you provide? Follow these steps:
- Define your standards: your employees and directors should all understand the expectations for how your students want to be treated. Is there a specific amount of time that someone should be waiting on hold? Is there a number of days that a student should expect to be called back in? Is there a greeting and closing that your institution wants as part of each student interaction? You need to decide what a student’s experience at your company should be based on feedback from your student s and input from your employees. Once that is decided…
- Train everybody: great student service doesn’t happen overnight magically. It isn’t a ground up grass roots movement that your front desk staff decide on doing one day. Great customer service comes from a cultural change within an organization. It requires a dedication to treating students in a specific way. Not all employees learn how to provide great service. Not all employees are capable of providing the type of service you may expect them to provide. They need training and retraining. They need reminders. They need to understand the difference between great and good service. Great customer service starts when management makes a decision to provide great service to students and employees. If you treat your employees well and train them well, they will provide the right type of service to your students.
- Reward it!: Don’t punish employees that provide bad customer service. Being the headhunter waiting in the shadows for what you perceive as a bad interaction and then axing that person breeds fear and resentment within your organization. Employees filled with fear and doubt will provide worse service. Instead, when you have employees that provide great service to students, reward them for it. Have prizes for employees with the most positive customer reviews. Thank your employees in a public forum (full staff meeting) when you overhear an interaction that is especially noteworthy. If you have employees not embracing the culture change, provide additional training. Only in extreme circumstances should you fire someone for consistently providing bad service. It may happen, but positive reinforcement is a better avenue.
When the service that your college provides meets the standards that you’ve set, keep it up! Providing great service is a life long journey that requires institutional dedication. It should be part of new employee training so that standards don’t drop when turnover happens. Surveying students should be done in regular intervals. Appoint a student service ambassador in charge of monitoring service levels and tracking student feedback. Great service requires a full time commitment, and that commitment will pay dividends in retaining students, increasing employee morale with less turnover, and creating a more positive impression of your institution that advertising or pricing could never achieve.
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If you need assistance surveying your students or want to discuss how to improve your customer service, please contact the Higher Education Assistance Group.