I work in an academic institution so I am more or less familiar with all of its systems, procedures and culture. Schools, colleges and universities are service oriented organizations. In effect, customer service will always be one of its selling points. Aside from providing quality education, customer service is our lifeblood. One simple mistake of an employee always equate to the inefficiency of the entire institution. The “front liners” or those employees, who have direct interaction with the clients, become responsible to the initial impressions generated by the clients.
I have studied both in private and public academic institutions. I have my own share of experiences with cranky and unkind employees in both worlds. As a student, I learned to tolerate and handle them. I also felt the need to remain respectful because they are elder people. But at the back of mind, I know that shouting and raising your eyebrows to your clients will never be right. I may sound too much but at the end of the day, our clients are always responsible for feeding every food in our stomach.
Inefficiency can be observed in different ways. Encountering unfriendly employees is not always the case. Another face of inefficiency is observed when the institution fails to answer the need of a client. A classic example is a personal experience which made me draw more realizations about customer service in schools.
I was tasked by my boss to inquire details of a doctoral program to this reputable professional school. The school released brief details such as the objectives, duration and contact person of the program in a newspaper ad. Since the program leads to a doctoral degree, its target clients are professionals, executives and those with advanced positions. Needless to say, the program was made for highly respected people, who are excelling in their respected fields.
I initially browsed the school’s website to look for specific details about the program. The curriculum, key output, tuition fee rates and other related information. The website apparently have no information about the program. The name of the program doesn’t even exist in their website. This situation depicted a modern classic example of inefficiency.
Websites exist to provide relevant information about the school to its students, employees and more importantly, the target market. Websites are powerful tools if its capability are utilized. It can successfully draw potential clients if only all the vital information are provided. In the case of schools, the curriculum, enrollment dates, tuition and other fees, modes of payment, grading system are key information that clients need.
The school targets professionals and executives in this particular program. Most likely, these people don’t have the luxury of time to call and visit the school to secure pertinent details about the program. These people are most of the time confined in meetings and their internet capable electronic devices. Information readily provided through their website would be very useful to their primary target market. Unfortunately, the school failed to realize this potent fact.
The target market is not interested on your mission and vision, line up of employees, history and other unnecessary information about the school. The target market needs information about the program. The situation makes no difference in dining at a fancy restaurant. If you are a vegetarian, you will directly look for the vegetable entrees of the menu. The meat and other section of the menu pays no interest to the vegetarian.
I extended my means to secure details about the program by calling the responsible office. I was properly accommodated in that less than a minute phone call. The personnel assured me that they will email a brochure and other details of the program..soon. Two days after the phone call, my inbox is still waiting for the email. Modern day inefficiency.
I phoned them yesterday and I was able to speak to the Program Director. The same promise was made. He promised that he will email my request as soon as we finish our conversation.
Another day passed and my inbox is still waiting…
I hope the Program Director and even other school personnel realize the implication of their actions. I am a prospective client. I am a prospective enrollee. I am a prospective income. I am a prospective lifeblood to the school.
P.S. I am about to finish this blog entry but I am not losing hope. I checked my email before I hit the publish button. My inbox says “no new mail.” Should I phone him again? Or should I send an email? I will not make another follow up because it’s their RESPONSIBILITY. I am a client so it’s not my responsibility to remind them of their inefficiency.