I read and responded to a few great blogs today. They were from different authors. They consisted of differing sides of the same cube. Sometimes I think customer service is a dice game, but with one of the Snub Square Antiprisms you find in a role-playing game. There are so many facets and yet it is the same object no matter how it is shaken and thrown.
One great blog was from a student. It brought me right back to my college days, wondering why I was still being treated as a impudent petulant high school student for asking questions which were important to me. I was a paying customer, and thought I should be treated better. It dawns on me decades (or so) later, a few reasons.
- My infamous reputation for being petulant and impudent…what can I say. It doesn’t change the fact that high school students are often chastised for simply asking questions of teachers, and college students are treated similarly for a similarly poor reason.
- Your money isn’t respected…that is, I perceive that so many employees of college offices know that you are playing with the house’s money, not your own. This does not make you a customer in their eyes, it makes you another debtor and therefore accountable to them. This is especially true if you are in debt-guaranteed by the government, and attending a State school.
- You get lost in the shuffle…with so many cards in the deck, and many of them near duplicates of one another, it is hard to tell where the card you got a peak at went, before you realize that its been taken off the table entirely. Three Card Monty. If you get sent from one office to another enough times, who would you complain too anyway, if you’re not too tired to care by then?
- You won’t complain anyway…this applies to so many marketplaces. Let’s say that the help desk and the service windows at any of the University offices consider themselves a marketplace-I assure you they don’t- the majority of people won’t complain. This may take us full circle. Since you were trained in school that the people who run the school are authorities, lunch lady and janitor included (fine professions I assure you), you will consider all the employees of the University as authorities as well.
- It’s all gift wrapped…as a service to you, not for you. There is a difference. Most of these departments sell themselves as a service to you. It is an added bonus that you have all this help being offered, Even the finance offered is disguised as aid. What if it were called finance, mortgage, or loans and trust. Would you think they were doing you a favor.
I’m not interested in how much you pay for your education, just that you pay. This makes you a customer. I suggested a few things:
- Make sure you are spending your own money as much as possible…this poor customer service will have a bigger price on it if it is money you have already earned and spent than if it is money you have borrowed and not paid back yet.
- Adjust your expect/accept ratio…expect that the service will be less than favorable, and don’t accept it. Currently most students expect that their problems will be solved with compassion and a lollipop (see high school training again) and then accept it as normal when they are treated poorly.
- Learn your college…become very knowledgeable about which department provides which service so you can visit the accountable person the first time, and not become the one-eyed-Jack in the discard pile by the end of the day. Know the numbers and emails of service department heads as well..