Customer Service in Higher Education: Finding a Middle Ground

Ricky L. Boyd, University of South Carolina

In the business world, customer service is a prized commodity as it directly impacts the bottom line. Given the struggling economy, traditional higher education institutions are dealing with decreased revenues and searching for ways to do more with less. One way for colleges and universities to accomplish this objective is to place a renewed focus on meeting or exceeding the expectations and needs of their customers, namely their students. One could argue that the meteoric rise in student enrollment at for-profit institutions is a wake-up call to traditional colleges and universities and an indicator that students are seeking education opportunities in outlets that meet their customer service needs. But what does customer service in a traditional higher education environment look like? The purpose of this paper is to explain the pros and cons of treating students as customers and to suggest ways of infusing customer-service principles into academia whether or not one is comfortable identifying students as customers.

Customer Service in Higher Education

What should customer service in higher education settings look like? Turban, Lee, King, and Chung (2002) posit, “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction—that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer’s expectation” (p. 87). Customer service is performed in most of our educational institutions today and there are even departments dedicated to providing student services. However, real customer service must involve more than a department or a handful of individuals. Providing a true service-centered environment is everyone’s job. That emphasis must start at the top and the inspiration for delivering has to be more than lip service. Some would argue that higher education has focused less on the process of good customer service and more on the final product of producing educated graduates. If students fulfill all of the course requirements set before them, the institution awards them a diploma in recognition of their accomplishment. Colleges and universities have not been as concerned about whether students felt satisfied while completing their degree requirements. Institutions tend to emphasize instead that students need to work hard while at college to complete their degrees. Emery, Kramer and Tian (2001) said, “Students may not be excited about the hard work in the short run, but in the long run, the students will be very appreciative of the quality education that prepared them for the real world” (p. 8). But, should the end product of a diploma be the only concern of higher education institutions? We will now explore both the pros and cons of treating students as a customer.

The Pros to Treating Students as Customers

Just as taking good care of customers typically results in increased profitability for businesses, higher education institutions that seek to attract and retain their customers (i.e. students) would be well served to also treat their customers well. The advantages of this approach include increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Taking care of customers should lead to increased retention, which is an increasingly important revenue source for higher education institutions. The bottom line is institutions of higher education need students to survive and thrive. Commenting about the relationship of students and higher education, Bejou (2005) stated, “The longer these ongoing transactions are satisfactory to both parties, the longer the relationship will endure, to the benefit of everyone” (p. 1).

To better serve students, Ewers (2010) suggested that institutions have employees attend customer service training sessions to learn the basics of customer service. Yet many in academia find this a hard pill to swallow. Regarding the benefits of good customer-student relationships, Emery et al. (2001) remarked, “Student-customer satisfaction directly correlates to larger enrollments: Happy student stay in school, so retention rates remain high; happy students tell their high-school friends, so recruitment numbers are higher ….” (p. 2). More students mean more tuition revenue. Bejou (2005) spoke about buyer’s satisfaction—given that students pay for their education—by saying, “If the quality of the initial encounter is good, and the ongoing relationship is strong, satisfaction and loyalty remain high” (p. 46). Vaill (2008) further pointed out, “Education is clearly a service, not a product … in higher education; they have to be mindful of, responsive to the characteristics, needs, and expectations of the student” (p. 1).

The Cons to Treating Students as Customers

To counter the students-are-customers paradigm, Demetriou (2008) argued, “Satisfaction is not an appropriate gauge of quality in higher education. In business, the customer is always right; however, in education the student is not always right” (¶ 4). She argued that an important part of college involves students learning from their mistakes and facing the consequences of their actions. There are dangers to colleges and universities competing for customers. Vaill (2008) went on to say, “Higher education has to be careful not to think of the student as a customer in the conventional sense assumed by a profit-oriented business” (p. 1). Businesses compete for customers. Schools of higher learning, on the other hand, should work hard to attract the best students. Institutions need to be careful that as they “compete” for students, they do not mislead prospective students about what life on campus will be like.

Clearly there is a need for a middle ground in the discussion about customer service as it relates to students in higher education.

The Middle Ground

Regardless whether one calls students “customers” or not, there are some basic tenets of the customer-service paradigm that could and should be utilized in higher education settings. Demetriou (2008) noted, “The quality of service we provide to students is important” (¶ 9). Thus, there are some specific tips that academic advisers and other institutional officials can follow to provide quality service:

  1. Treat students with dignity and respect. This is a basic human necessity and right.
  2. Give students clear directions on how to solve their problems and issues. Students should not be given the runaround. Students are at college to study and learn, not go on a wild goose chase all over campus trying to find the answers to simple questions.
  3. Be responsive to students and their parents. “If you tell a parent you will call them back today, then call them back today” (Ewers, 2010, p. 2). Being true to your word means a lot to students and their families.
  4. Give timely answers to students’ questions and regular feedback on their progress.

Bejou (2005) suggested adopting customer relationship management (CRM) as a way of establishing and maintaining the relationship between the student and the higher education institution. CRM comes from research on interpersonal relationships. Bejou (2005) believed when CRM is applied to the school’s organizational structure, it could help administrators to more effectively allocate funds or resources to enhance the school’s recruitment, retention, progression, and enrollment management of students. Wallace (2010) compiled “15 Principles for Complete Customer Service.” Higher education could take some of these principles and reformat them as a way to reach a middle ground in the discussion about students as customers and develop a CRM plan. Here are the higher-education versions of seven of Wallace’s (2010, ¶ 7) fifteen principles for customer service:

  1. The success of the institution is dependent upon providing high-quality service to students. Students affect the bottom line.
  2. Employees need to be reminded that every single one of them, regardless of their level of interaction with students, is in the business of serving students. Everything is woven together in the institution, and students deserve to receive assistance to meet their legitimate needs.
  3. When it comes to experiencing service satisfaction, perception is reality in the minds of every student. It is important to understand the student in order to deliver service in a manner that is perceived to be satisfying to the student.
  4. Each student is unique, thus it is important to understand the unique qualities of each student in order to provide service that meets their individual needs.
  5. Employees should follow a variation of the Golden Rule by treating students the way that they would want their son or daughter to be treated.
  6. It is hard to recover from a mistake, so when it comes to service to students every effort should be made to do it right the first time.
  7. There is a need to solicit feedback from students at all times and then listen, especially when it hurts. How else can a high level of service be measured?

The other eight principles do not translate as easily to higher education. Bejou and Wallace both studied customer service but from different perspectives. Bejou regarded the organization as a whole and considered what employees can do to treat students like customers. He also looked at personal effort and creativity within the organization to provide customer service (Bejou, 2005). Wallace addressed the total concept of customer service, not just the organization. Wallace suggested that individuals think outside the box to provide customer service (Wallace, 2010).

Conclusion

Regardless of our level of comfort when referring to students as customers, the bottom line is that there are principles from the customer service literature that higher education institutions can adopt to empower students to be successful. Instead of getting caught up in the semantics of what to call students, the focus should deliberately shift to helping students make the most of their experiences on our college campuses. By infusing principles from the customer service literature, institutions of higher education can help retain and graduate their students.

References

Bejou, D. (2005, March/April). Treating students like customers. Biz Ed Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.aacsb.edu/publications/Archives/marapr05-toc.asp

Demetriou, C. (2008). Arguments against applying a customer-service paradigm. The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal, 10(3). Retrieved from http://www.psu.edu/dus/mentor

Emery, C., Kramer, T., & Tian, R. (2001). Customers vs. products: Adopting an effective approach to business students. Quality Assurance in Education, 9(2), 110–115. Retrieved from http://www.bus.lsu.edu/accounting/faculty/lcrumbley/customersVSproducts.htm

Ewers, J. (2010, April 2). Using good customer service in higher education marketplace. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://diverseeducation.com/blogpost/238/

Turban, E., Lee, J., King, D., and Chung, H. (2002). Electronic commerce: A managerial perspective (International Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall International.

Vaill, P. (2008).  Beware the idea of the student as a customer: A dissenting view. Retrieved from http://www.people.vcu.edu/~rsleeth/NotCustomers.html

Wallace, K. (2010). 15 principles for complete customer service. Customer Service Manager. Retrieved from http://www.customerservicemanager.com/15-principles-for-complete-customer-service.htm

About the Author(s)

Ricky L. Boyd, University of South Carolina

Ricky L. Boyd is a graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. He is also director of the Shaw Air Force Base Program at the University of South Carolina Sumter. He can be reached at boydrl@uscsumter.edu.

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  1. user gravatar
    Chelsea Touhy

    I strongly agree with the cons to treating students as customers because schools should be working hard to attract prospective students but it must be done in a way that they are accurately representing their institution so the student can decide if that college or university is the right place for them. By misleading students about what live on campus will be like, it will only take them a short amount of time to realize that it’s not the right place for them and consequently that student will likely withdraw from that institution or in other words, they will lose that customer’s business.
    The academic tips that advisers and other institutional officials can follow to provide quality service is a perfect list of actions that give an understanding to how a peer advisor should operate – I believe the key to understanding this idea is right in the title of a “peer-advisor.” As you are advising other students in this higher-education setting, it should be remembered that you are their peer and many of the problems they are facing, you may have already dealt with or could even deal with in the future. Treating the advisee with dignity and respect should go without being said and in addition you should give them timely and accurate advice – by doing this successfully, the student will be happy with the service and coming back the next time they are in need.

  2. user gravatar
    Rachel Danto

    I found the articles opinions on students being treated as customers very interesting. I agree that there are many similarities between a student and a customer, with both having the end goal of getting something (in our case a diploma). A point I don’t think the article covered is that as students we are not always good customers. While the article covered the fact that we’re paying for something that is not necessarily a success (possibility of bad grades etc.) it did not address the fact that sometimes students will for example skip a class. I think that is one large difference between students and customers, as students if we skip a class we are technically paying for something we’re not receiving. However a general customer would never do that. I agree with the article that teachers can not treat students strictly as customers because this is an educational system that requires you to work hard, not just pay the money. I think the “middle ground” points, especially those about respecting the student are most important.

    • user gravatar
      Rachel Danto

      Sorry my comment cut off…i was just going to say on top of that, that i find this article useful for peer advising due to the fact that we will sometimes have to give students answers they dont want to hear. However if we do so respectfully, then we have completed our task. It is not possible to appease each person.

  3. user gravatar
    Jasmine A

    The presentation of viewing higher education students as a customer is a view point that holds a great amount of validity. However, this idea should be taken in strides. Higher education Universities demand a significant amount of finacial obligation and assistance and should be concerned with the education and success of its’ constituents. This does not directly correlate with the service industry in the matter that the students’ are not necessarily always right. In this analyzation one should also consider that the work that the students’ put into the institution and ones’ work the better the outcome. This artile has shaped and intriguing point and has adequately displayed the need for a balance between the University and its’ customers. I highly agree that a middle ground which is more customer service needs to be reached. This is relevant to the services that are paid for including food, information services and internet access.

  4. user gravatar
    Samantha Gillis

    Before reading this article I had never really thought of students as customers but now I definitely see the connection. School is expensive and students and their families are paying for a service. In return for their money students expect a quality education, resources and experience. In order to keep students happy at their institution universities have to make sure they are offering students what they want and expect. I think this is important for Universities to keep in mind. Just as a person wouldn’t eat at a restaurant where they felt they were undervalued or not given their money’s worth students won’t want to attend a school where they don’t get what they feel they should. I can see why some might be uncomfortable with calling students customers. As it is mentioned many businesses are for-profit and therefore looking to make the most money possible. The primary purpose of a university should be to educate students not make a profit.

    I thought an interesting distinction was made by Demetriou, “In business, the customer is always right; however, in education the student is not always right.” Another difference between traditional customers and student “customers” is that students can’t expect to just pay and receive. They must work for what they want even if it doesn’t happen the way they want it (see: 8 a.m. classes). Students aren’t customers in the way that cruise ship passengers are customers. While I think there are some distinctions to be made as to what type of customers students are I do think it is a good and important analogy for universities to keep in mind. It reminds them that they are there to serve students and if they don’t students will stop coming. A university flourishes the same way a business does; through positive reviews and word of mouth.

  5. user gravatar
    Brian Kembel

    This article is about the idea of treating students as customers in an advising sense. I personally think it is a wonderful idea to treat students in between students and customers. In the past many colleges have not treated their students as customers and in the process, “students may not be excited about the hard work in the short run”. I think as a whole, the current generation needs to feel satisfied in both the short run and in the long run to get the whole college experience. I think a good distinction between treating students as customers and treating them as regular students is that students are not always right. I foresee a huge problem if every student is treated like they should be right in every instance. The whole idea of higher education is the learning process from someone smarter than you. If that is taken away, the whole system of higher education will be lost. The article provides a great middle ground to treating college as a business. Each of the seven points at the end are a great way to provide students with a satisfying experience. From a student’s perspective, I would love to be treated by all of these rules as often as possible. From a peer adviser perspective, I see these guidelines as the perfect way to enhance my peer advising mentality when advising students.

  6. user gravatar
    Pritha Ray

    “In the business world, customer service is a prized commodity as it directly impacts the bottom line. Given the struggling economy, traditional higher education institutions are dealing with decreased revenues and searching for ways to do more with less.” More and more, people are accepting the idea that applying, being accepted and attending college is a business transaction. While that may or may not be true, I’ve always found that to be an incredibly cynical outlook. While there are many aspects to the college process that reflect that of business world transactions, I’m not sure I like the idea that “students” are thought of as “customers”. The ideas under “The middle ground” are common sense to me. It’s pointed out in number 1 that it is a basic human right. While these points are all obviously valid for success, I feel like these are all courtesies that should b extended to peers, colleagues, staff, students, and basically all of decent society.

    Even mentioned above in the con section is the idea that “the customer is always right”. With college prices spiking, many students accept this ideology of being “customers” instead of students. I personally believe that this is a very dangerous way to think. Just last month, a Lehigh student sued the university for 1.3 million dollars. She did this because she received a C in the class that she needed to pass to graduate. She was denied her license. I think this stems from the idea that students should be treated as customers. Students are not always right. It is up to us as students to be wrong and make mistakes and to learn from faculty, advisers, and peers, especially peer advisers.

    I like to think that I treat the students who come in while I’m advising the way I would want to be treated if I was being advised; as someone with some kind of issue big or small and looking for someone to help.

  7. user gravatar
    Pritha Ray

    “In the business world, customer service is a prized commodity as it directly impacts the bottom line. Given the struggling economy, traditional higher education institutions are dealing with decreased revenues and searching for ways to do more with less.” More and more, people are accepting the idea that applying, being accepted and attending college is a business transaction. While that may or may not be true, I’ve always found that to be an incredibly cynical outlook. While there are many aspects to the college process that reflect that of business world transactions, I’m not sure I like the idea that “students” are thought of as “customers”. The ideas under “The middle ground” are common sense to me. It’s pointed out in number 1 that it is a basic human right. While these points are all obviously valid for success, I feel like these are all courtesies that should b extended to peers, colleagues, staff, students, and basically all of decent society.

    Even mentioned above in the con section is the idea that “the customer is always right”. With college prices spiking, many students accept this ideology of being “customers” instead of students. I

  8. user gravatar
    Valerie Foster

    After reading this article, I whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment that these days, college students should be treated like customers. With the amount of money we spend on a higher education, we as students should receive just that. A higher education. However, the analogy of a student being only a customer should not be taken literally. I really agree with the sentiment in the article that society should stop focusing on what the definition of a student actually means and focus on helping the college student population reach their full potential. College is a time of self discovery, and with any transformation, students are put under a lot of stress. The customer theory remains true. Like college students, customers undergo a discovery when they see something that they would like to buy. Sometimes, with added pressure from a sales person, this adds a certain amount of stress on the potential customer. However, the sales person provides the resources that the customer needs to succeed in order to buy the product. This relates back to college students. We are at often times stressed in our transformation, thus the University that we attend should provide resources for us in order to deal with our stress to succeed in our given field.

    This article relates very much so to my role as both a student and a peer advisor. When advising students in the office, I almost treat them like customers by listening to what they have to say and really trying to find the best solution possible for them. Even if that involves going out of my way to contact outside resources to really help the student succeed. As a student, I respect the same in return whenever I go out to actively seek help. In treating the student like a customer, the college will draw in more ‘potential’ customers if they actively and positively give out aid to students to help them achieve their full potential.

  9. user gravatar
    Diana Weinstein

    “Just as taking good care of customers typically results in increased profitability for businesses, higher education institutions that seek to attract and retain their customers (i.e. students) would be well served to also treat their customers well.” I had never really before thought of students in college as customers; however, now looking at students this way, I can see how this statement is very true. Treating students like customers and making sure they are being provided with everything they need while in school; personal advice, suggestions for academics, suggestions for careers, finding a job after graduation, etc., would most likely make students more confident with themselves and would probably mean that, later in life, these students would try to give back to that university they attended, further benefiting future students there.

    Paying such a large sum of money for an education should be reason enough to have access to different kinds of services on campus to help students throughout their collegiate career. Having a university so invested in students and having a university so dedicated to student satisfaction means that more and more students would want to attend this university, which would greatly benefit the school, not only in terms of finances, but also in terms of the school’s reputation. I feel that there are far more pros to treating students as customers than there are cons.

  10. user gravatar
    Karen P

    I find it interesting that Universities think that if students fulfill all of the course requirements set before them, they deserve a diploma, without caring whether students felt satisfied with their education. Yes, students need to work hard, but they should be given guidance along the way. That’s why they are paying thousands of dollars to be taught what would be much more difficult to learn on their own. Essentially, students are customers because they pay for a good or service, being education. They deserve to be treated with respect, just as any other customer in a store would be. This is, however, completely different from walking into a store and expecting a salesperson to wait on them. Teachers act as guides and provide information to these students in a way that they could not and should not be able to get anywhere else. I do not think it is necessary to have teacher employees attend customer service training sessions to learn the basics of customer service because it is likely that they would feel looked down on, as not being an educator, but merely a salesperson trying to sell the information in the subject they are teaching to their students. If they feel like they aren’t appreciated, then they have little motivation to teach in the best way that they can. The article brings up a good point that students are not always right, like a customer is said to be. If a student is always right, then they would get perfect scores all the time and it would be pointless for them to be at college to better themselves. You need to find the happy medium between effectively teaching, motivating students, and for them to feel that they are being rewarded.

  11. user gravatar
    Jessica Gibbon

    The rise in student enrollment in non-profit organizations is a wake up call and indicator that children are seeking educational opportunities in outlets to meet customer service needs. Right off the bat I agree with this statement, this year I have volunteered my time in more areas than one. I did this to benefit both myself with hands on experiences as well as those that I volunteer for. In traditional higher educational situation I believe that considering students to be customers would have more positive outcomes than negative. To quote the above passage, “Student-customer satisfaction correlates to larger enrollment numbers and happy students.” That is a clear win-win situation for both the student and the university. The phrase, “The customer is always right,” would not however work in higher education; but in reality it does not always apply in a typical business situation either. There are times at everyone’s place of employment when the customer is simply wrong. In these cases the next move of the employee is to stay polite and work with the customer to come up with a solution to benefit both the business and the customer.
    Similarly if the university, faculty, or employee is always viewing the student as a customer that must be kept satisfied while simultaneously working at a solution to their problem, this can only be a good thing. As both a student and a peer advisor i am in a position to see this form both sides. As a student I would hope to be treated respectfully and progressively by all higher ups that I may seek out for advise and I would attempt to show all of my peers the same customer service based respect in return. I am a firm believer of the idea that emitting positive energy will allow positive energy to flow back to you, this seems to be the idea behind treating students like customers. The positivity, politeness, and constant aim or satisfaction will only help the University grow in number and in reputation.

  12. user gravatar
    Alyssa Cote

    I definitely agree with Ricky L. Boyd when he says that many universities treat their students like customers. My College Writing class actually talked about this during my freshman year when we read an article on the same subject. As a UMass Student, I feel as though paying tuition in exchange for a degree does certainly seem like a business transaction. However, it is extremely important to find a middle ground like Boyd discusses in his article, “Customer Service in Higher Education: Finding A Middle Ground.”
    Customers rely on businesses to stay true to their word; for example, when a pizza company says “30 minutes or less and it’s free”, the customer expects that the company will not protest or make excuses if they are late. Likewise, universities should keep their promises, and Ricky L. Boyd agrees stating “being true to your word means a lot to students and their families.” Furthermore, business strive to be the best and often beat one another out in order to get rid of competition. Boyd argues that colleges cannot act like a business in this sense, and that this is part of finding a middle ground between being a business and an institution of education. In conclusion, Boyd argues that universities are free to participate in business-like transactions as long as they are still caring for their students and not becoming a total corporate institution.

  13. user gravatar
    Katelyn Burke

    I agree that students are customers and should receive top notch customer service. We apply and come to college in hopes of building a better and brighter future for ourselves. We all run into problems along the way that we seek to find answers to and resolve the problem. Most of the time we need a campus resource to help us with those problems. I agree that regardless of a staff members level of interaction with students that each member of the college community plays a roll in helping students. If everyone works together on helping each individual student as best as they can to advance them smoothly through college then customer service will be highly respected. If the customer service is sufficient at an institution more students will apply to higher education, thus bringing in more revenue. The more revenue a university brings in the happier the university. The happier the university, the better the customer service will be and finally the more satisfied the customer (student).

    This article relates specifically to my role as a peer adviser. We serve as a service for students to come talk to to find answers to questions and for help on the journey through their academic career. If we as peer advisers consistently put our best foot forward in helping each student we are helping to keep UMass’ customer service reputation up. One of Wallace’s principles for customer service that I find to be particularly important is to understand that each student is unique and has their own unique experiences that require special attention from us. We need to listen attentively and pay full attention to our “customers” in order to provide the most efficient customer service. If we can keep our customers happy we can keep our university happy as well.

  14. user gravatar
    Carolyn T

    This article on treating students as customers discusses the many ways that students of an educational institution can be seen as customers and how this should be handled. In many customer service situation, the main goal is to in the end have a highly satisfied customer that would refer the product or service to someone else. This being the goal of many educational institutions is why students can also be seen as customers. The article also goes to lengths to explain how there is a middle ground in this view, because students are in school to learn and not always be pleased. The main argument is that college employees should be working hard to give the students a high quality of service that will give them a high success rate. Along with giving students tools for success, employees also need to remember that their job is to serve their students and they should be assisting the students with their needs.

    I support the major viewpoint of this article that the students of a college should be treated with high customer service standards. The benefits of this are for both the college and the student, because the college can have a higher retention/graduation rate and the experience of the student will be much benefited. When the student is treated with optimal customer service, they can have a much more fulfilling college experience that will better help them in assisting their goals.

  15. user gravatar
    Brianna Rice

    It always puts me on edge to hear students being referred to as “customers.” Even after fully digesting the article and playing the devil’s advocate in my head, I cannot put myself on merely a pro or con side. While I do not like the concept that students are customers, I truly believe that is how the system works. Young adults go to college to (besides other things such as participate in sports, and simply gain the experience) get a degree. This degree that will then, hopefully, provide them with a job. But my concern then is, are students really focused on the consumption of education, or is the fixation rather on just getting by? I find myself as a student, less concerned about the actual knowledge I gain from a lecture or a class, and more focused on getting the “A.” As a paying “customer” isn’t the end product more important than what gets them there?

    However, if the fact is that students are customers, I definitely agree with some of the beneficial ways to improve student/customer care. The tip that states “each student is unique, thus it is important to understand the unique qualities of each student in order to provide service that meets their individual needs” may be hard at a place such as Umass, or in large lecture halls, but I think it is a very fundamental step in getting students engaged in the material. For example, in a small classroom where the students can voice their opinions more openly, I think it is important that the teacher reaches out to the class, collecting valuable information such as whether or not they are visual leaners etc. This is also important to realize as a peer advisor, and act out accordingly. Treating all peers and students how they need and should to be treated.

  16. user gravatar
    Lauren G.

    As a peer advisor, I think it is interesting to think of students who come in for help as “customers.” I also agree that we should treat students as customers, however, I do not agree with the following: “Some would argue that higher education has focused less on the process of good customer service and more on the final product of producing educated graduates. If students fulfill all of the course requirements set before them, the institution awards them a diploma in recognition of their accomplishment. Colleges and universities have not been as concerned about whether students felt satisfied while completing their degree requirements.” I believe, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst there is a lot of focus on the process of good customer service. We have peer advisors in all the colleges, and even in many of the majors. We are not only trained to motivate students to do well in school, but we are also trained on the resources on campus in which students can go to if they want to get more involved, or more help finding an internship. Many alumni say they did not get the opportunity to work with peer advisors, or advisors in general, so I believe (at UMass at least) that we are making progress moving from only making sure students complete their requirements, to making sure students feel happy, safe, and involved on campus.

    I also agree with the statement: “Taking care of customers should lead to increased retention, which is an increasingly important revenue source for higher education institutions.” If we do a good job in the advising office, students are more likely to come back for future advice, and refer their friends. It is important that students know there are other students who are trained to help and that they will not let them down.

  17. user gravatar
    Brittany L.

    I support the article and its suggestions for several reasons. While it is important to provide the students with satisfaction and loyalty, it is equally important that the students are learning from their mistakes and face the consequences of their actions. It is true that the students are not always right. Although it is not always fun to hear, students need to be aware of this, as opposed to being misled about what is expected of them. This is not to say that students should not be supported or assisted in their college experience. Students need a support system, especially in a time in their lives where there is tremendous change. It is important that students feel a sense of trust with their instructors and administrators since this is strongly linked to their success in the college or university. Without this bond, students feel detached and alone, which sometimes causes them to believe their issues are bigger than they are.
    In order to insure that students are satisfied and remain in the college or university they are enrolled in, there needs to be a middle ground. This article articulates this well. One of the most important points this article made was that every student is different in the way they receive assistance. Something that may work for one student may not work for another, and this is essential in giving students the best possible service. Another important point was listening to the feedback of the students. Without listening, there can be no improvement and the service can eventually become useless. By offering students this type of service along with respect and courtesy, the institution can provide the best possible experience for the students.

  18. user gravatar
    Sherry

    You hit the issue square on. I tell my staff that student experiences outside the classroom are as much a part of their learning as experiences inside the classroom. Their learning continues as they interact with all the institution’s employees at every level. They watch and observe how we do our jobs and this guides them in how they develop their professional behaviors.

 



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