Education | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 8

When You Can’t Say “Yes to the Address” - 2/7/23


I was interviewing a frontline staff person for one of our local government clients recently as part of our CSS Training Development Process.  They described their customers and the difficult situations that they face, their tougher conversations with customers. This individual supports local events, so there’s a lot of planning involved.  Read more

How to Fix Other People’s Problems - 1/31/23


I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone - let’s call her Katie. There had been poor communication between different Read more

What to do When You’re in the Middle - 1/24/23


Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being Read more

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? - 1/17/23


Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most Read more

Decide Who’s Driving the Bus - 1/10/23


I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus? I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a Read more

Student Retention Solution – The Four Cornerstones of Retention-based Research

Posted on in Business Advice, Education 1 Comment

Western Illinois University wants to retain more of its students. Particularly for first year students, a WGEM.com article notes that “More than a third of Western Illinois University’s freshman last year didn’t come back for their sophomore year.” So their answer is that they implemented a new mentoring program – Building Connections. This program taps into faculty and staff to volunteer to mentor incoming Freshmen.

Now whether the program is highly successful or not depends on many things; consider these questions. What’s in it long-term for the “volunteer” staff to fully participate? How well-trained are the staff? Do the students even want a faculty/staff mentor? About what will they be mentored?

But the most important question is “What’s the root cause of the problem?” The article notes that “over half of last year’s Freshman were first generation college students,” but that’s a fact, not necessarily a root cause. I hope that WIU is really digging into research to identify what are the core characteristics of those who do not return v. those who do. The research needs to be based on their historical data, the perceptions of their incoming Freshmen, their current students, and those that left. These are the Four Cornerstones of Retention-based Research.

In other words, I hope they use data to point them toward the right solutions.

When you’re dealing with retention issues, you most likely have a myriad of data on customers who were retained and those who weren’t. Use that as the starting to point to get at the true root cause.

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

Interested in our Education Industry services? See more at http://cssamerica.com/cssed.htm


Making Student Retention a Real Focus

Posted on in Business Advice, Education 1 Comment

Vincent Tinto, a Syracuse University professor, recently wrote a paper on Taking Student Retention Seriously. In the paper, he laments that most colleges/universities don’t take effective approaches to improving student retention. They too often think of a new program, a new activity, and a new offering to increase retention. Unfortunately, many of these new ideas result in “student experiences [which] are increasingly segmented into smaller and smaller pieces; their relationships with faculty, staff, and each other becoming more narrow and specialized; their learning further partitioned into smaller disconnected segments.”

So what does Tinto recommend? He suggests the need to create these 5 conditions which are supportive of Student Retention:

  • When students are expected to succeed, they are more likely to succeed. Success leads to retention.
  • When students are provided clear and consistent communications about requirements and advising on how to progress toward their goals, they are more likely to succeed.
  • When students receive “academic, social and personal support,” they are more likely to stay.
  • When students are involved “as valued members of the institution,” they are more likely to stay.
  • When students are in “settings that foster learning,” they are more likely to succeed and stay.

Tinto focuses on getting at the root cause of issues before defining the required action plans. But many organizations – when faced with customer or employee (or student) retention issues – often jump from symptom-to-solution. They offer the next great idea du jour…and hope it works.

Try to avoid jumping from symptom-to-solution. If you’re having student/customer/employee retention issues, get to the root cause first.

Find what makes students stick with you.

Check out our Education Industry Services: http://cssamerica.com/cssed.htm


Of Napoleon and University Retention…

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

Apparently Napoleon and today’s higher education system have something in common…really.

According to Associate Provost for Curriculum Gregory Heileman from the University of New Mexico in the article ASUNM talks retention rates, “Student retention and graduation rates are similar to Napoleon’s march from Paris to Moscow in 1812. It started out with 400,000 soldiers but ended with only 10,000 soldiers.”

The point is – many students come in, but comparatively few graduate. Based on enrollment data from 2005-11, only 45% of students who had first enrolled in 2005 had graduated by 2011.

To resolve this, UNM plans to modify courses that have high failure rates to enable all students to “choose the pace of the course.” This teeters on the brink of lowering standards (or at least expectations) to make sure people keep moving through the system, but UNM assures that they “won’t let you move forward without knowing a concept.”

What else is interesting in the article is that the #1 cause of student loss if the cost of the education, but the main tactic being employed to address this is offering more extended pay plans.

It seems like UNM has decided not to focus on ways to build value but is instead trying to remove the near-term causes of pain (i.e., failing a class or having a higher short-term tuition payment). While these might concepts work to a point, they primarily support the philosophy of making things easier for the student as opposed to making the experience better or facilitating the student’s academic growth.

So let’s broaden this topic to ask a key question – What would you do if your customers were leaving because of an issue with a product or because of the product’s cost?

Would you look to build value or just extend payment terms? Would you look to make the experience better for the customer or remove their hassles? These are tough questions because a university which understands its role fully realizes it needs to grow the person (their willingness to take on challenges, be responsible, and hold themselves accountable) as it helps to build the student’s knowledge and abilities. Most other businesses aren’t trying to effect core changes in the makeup of their customers – such as making them more responsible or accountable.

So this is the approach that UNM is taking. What do you think of it?

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/