Sunday, July 17, 2011

Making Customer Service Come to Life in Education

I can remember working at Osco Drug as a teen in a time when Customer Service was extremely important. It was a matter of esteem to have your voice announce the "Thank you" over the intercom to designate that you had the customer service call covered, whether it be a phone call or a question in one of the store aisles. Every time a call came over the intercom, it was a race to be the one to answer the call. If you didn't know the answer to the customer's question, it was also customary to find out or find someone who might know. Helping a customer locate an item meant walking the customer to the item on the shelf. If there was a price check, any questionable signage in price went in favor of the customer.

That same great customer service experience continued for me as I began my career in banking. At the teller windows, it was customary to greet the customer, refer to the customer by name (Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Doe). The transaction was verbally detailed to the customer as it was processed, and a "thank you, have a nice day" was given as the transaction was completed. The drive-up window tellers commanded the same service. As soon as a vehicle pulled up to the tubes, it was customary for a teller to greet the customer and let the customer know that someone will be with him/her as soon as possible. When grabbing a transaction from the tube, the teller followed the same service routine as the window tellers.

Incidentally, customer service has been important to me throughout my life. As a customer, if I get good customer service, I feel good. If I get bad or apathetic service, it makes me want to teach a customer service workshop for that business. I also try to subtly lead the employee into good customer service. The results of good customer service are

  • customer feels good/happy
  • customer loyalty
  • employee feels good/happy

It's funny to think that as customers we all know what we expect for good customer service, but as employees do we give that good service that we expect? It seems so common sense.

How does this all apply to Education? That same customer service does apply to Education. How? Educators create the same feelings of satisfaction with regards to students and parents. A culture of good customer service begins at the top. Employers/administrators must treat their employees with respect - respected employees are good employees. Teachers/employees must be trained in what good service looks like. The goals of good customer service in Education remain the same. We want the students to feel good about their education. We want parents to be happy with their students' progress and achievement. We want both students and parents to be loyal to the academic mission and vision of the school. It's common knowledge that if someone has a good experience, that person will tell a few friends. We want our students and parents to be able to brag about the academic experiences at our schools.

Good Education customer service:

  • smile and greet students (by name if possible) as they enter the building and/or walk down the hall
  • smile and greet students by name as they enter your room
  • be knowledgable about your content
  • be knowledgable about pedagogy
  • be knowledgable about student interest - know your students
  • be professional and respectful to students/parents
  • respond to questions promptly
  • listen to students and parents
  • if you don't know the answer, find out and/or show the students/parents where to find the answer
  • respond to phone calls and email messages promptly
  • hold the students to high expectations that are realistic
  • clearly communicate expectations
  • make learning resources easily available to students and parents
  • clearly and promptly communicate concerns to students and parents
  • provide feedback in a timely manner
  • make sure staff is trained
  • make yourself available to students and parents
  • know that the impact of your teaching may not be realized until much later
  • avoid letting negative people bring you or the people around you down - battle them with kindness, respect, and procedure

While this is a good start, I welcome you to add more Education customer service tips in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. Superb! As a customer, it feels great to be treated well by these agents. And they should really treat their clients well because they represent the company. It would be better if students are being taught about this. so when time comes that they will run their own business, they know exactly what to do.