Recently, I have done quite a number of pieces of training on School Customer Service in some schools in Nigeria and outside. And I've come to the realisation even more than ever before, that a lot of schools really need to improve their customer service if they must survive the changes that have hit us a people.
You know, all too often, we tend to view a school as a place where teaching and learning occur, and thereby undermining the other things that need to be in place in order for a school to function excellently and retain the students.
How about if we looked at it this way? That even the student enrollment at our school is very dependent on the quality of customer service we render to the parents to bring their children in, and also retain them?
As a school director, CEO, Principal, Headteacher, Head of School or School Administrator, I hope you'll find the following tips useful in improving your school's customer service.
Tip 1: All your staff are your school's customer service representatives.
I'm aware some schools still think that the customer service responsibility of their organisation rests and ends with the Front desk officer, admin team and the leadership or management team. How far from the reality! Please note that every employee in your organisation is representative of your customer service.
Parents come in contact with your gatemen before they even get to the Front Desk Officer, and the impression they get right from the gate tells a lot about your organisation. They may turn back right from your gate depending on what customer service experience they get there. So contrary to what a lot of people believe, the Front Desk Officer is not the first point of contact in your school; it all starts from your gate! I know some prospective parents who have been turned off completely from the gate because of a negative customer service experience.
It is therefore essential that you instil a customer service mindset to all your employees. I usually insist on all the staff participating in any customer service training I facilitate in any organisation.
Tip 2: Your employees are also your customers!
Apart from your employees being your customer service representatives, they are also all your customers even though they do not pay for your services in most cases. And I'm not talking about the staff who have their children in your school. I'm referring to ALL the staff, the workforce. They constitute your internal customers and should be treated right by the management and leadership. The way the leadership treats the employees ultimately impacts on the quality of customer service they give to your paying customers, the parents. The parents are external customers.
So, the internal customers treat your external customers according to how happy and satisfied they are, And this usually stems from how the organisation treats them. I share more about this in my Employee Retention Strategy training.
Tip 3: Get feedback from the customers.
I know we sometimes think the parents could be a handful, but we need feedback from them to know what their expectations from us are. Do not be afraid to send that survey to get their opinions and input on how to improve your services in the school.
Do not send in a survey just once; do it regularly and ensure to follow up on the information you get This will go a long way in assuring the parents that you are listening to them.
Tip 4: Attend to complaints promptly.
Very few things upset parents as much as delays in attending to their requests or complaints. It sends out the signals that they are not really important to you and that all the effort you put into getting them to enrol their children was just about getting them to pay you money, and nothing more.
It is not enough to offer excellent customer service to prospective parents before they enrol their children in your school. Great customer service should be an ongoing experience to retain them.
By all means, have designated people who attend to complaints and know who handles what, and make this known to all the staff, parents and students. Make it a policy that customers' emails are attended to within twenty-four hours. If you need to escalate an issue to another staff, promptly let the customer know about this instead of keeping silent and leaving them in the dark.
Tip 5: Always remember the customers' Emotional Bank Account (EBA).
Every human being likes to be made to feel important!
While a lot of us use the knowledge of a person's emotional bank account positively in our personal relationships, we often fail to realise that this same principle applies when we relate with our customers.
What is the sum total of their experience with you?
Is it positive?
Are they happy to do business with you over and over and over again?
Or are they waiting for the next opportunity to move to the next organisation because of the poor treatment they constantly receive from you?
Every interaction with you either makes positive depots in their emotional bank accounts or withdraws from it. The more positive deposits you make in your parents' and students' emotional bank accounts, the more likely you'll retain them as happy customers.
Conversely, the more withdrawals or negative experiences, the more likely you'll lose them as customers.
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Nancy Ekpezu is a seasoned administrator and education and management consultant. She works with you and your organisation to enable you have an effective administrative and management structure that allows your organisation or school run efficiently.
Book a session for a training on Customer Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply reach out to her via WhatsApp at +234-8035880367.