higher education | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

From Anaheim Schools to All Our Ears – Purpose and Strategy

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

Blog 9-11-14I’ve been hearing the word “Purpose” a lot lately. It’s being used to address a person or organization’s mission and how that mission is above and beyond the function being performed.

“Purpose” in the world of education has a very clear meaning to Superintendent Michael B. Matsuda of the Anaheim Union High School District. In a recent Orange County Breeze article, the Superintendent welcomed the students and families into the new school year, but he did it in a different way – strategically, yet personally.

When people think about strategy, they think about planning, tactics, timetables, and milestones. But what that strategy should start with is the Vision, Mission, or Goal – in this Superintendent’s case, the strategy starts with a discussion of Purpose. He notes that “we must align all stakeholders under the common goal of graduating our students college and career ready with purpose.” He links those educational purposes then to community purposes: “A quality education for every child will benefit them through job readiness, a better economy, higher property values, and lower crime rates.”

He then gets into tactics, talking about feeder districts and higher education stakeholders. He talks personally about needed actions for staff and parents, and he discusses fiscal matters. He ends by closing the loop on whom the Purpose is for – the students.

The key lesson learned from Anaheim for K-12 schools and other school districts is this: Before launching the next great initiative, before getting too strategic, and DEFINITELY before getting too tactical, do two things. First, be clear on the Purpose and how that Purpose is about the experience of the student and preparing the student for the future. Second, be intentional about identifying all the stakeholders in the process and educating them on how living that Purpose relies on them and – ultimately – impacts them.

Be clear on the Purpose to best align all actions and stakeholders toward a common future.

Did you like this post? Here are other Education-related posts:


Student Success Starts with Knowing Them

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

Blog 4-23-14Phillips Community College in Arkansas won an award recently for Student Success – increasing its graduation and 4-year college transfer performance.

With the plethora of best practices and concepts, programs and pathways, you might think that the Student Success was driven by these proven strategies…but you’d be incorrect.

According to the article PCCUA recognized for student success, the starting point was understanding the student. Who are they? What is their background? What’s the lens through which they see college life and experience PCCUA? Apparently, many students come from generational poverty, and the faculty and staff do not.

This basic fact gets at a core problem with many organizations in the education industry and other industries as well these days. There are leaders, faculty, or staff that know a product, they know a topic, they know a program. But delivering that knowledge effectively often requires that they know the person to whom they deliver. We can’t assume that all students receive and process information in the same way, that they all want the same learning environment and examples.

Sometimes to best impart knowledge, we have to – first – know the student.

Survey your students. Ask them questions. Learn about their past. Then learn what most effectively guides them to a future of possibilities.

Student Success starts with knowing them.

Did you like this post? Here are other Student Success-related posts:


Student Success and Relationship Management

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

Isn’t Student Success, in the end, about getting a degree? If so, then why are some Universities and Community Colleges focused on relationship management? Account representatives are for professional sports organizations. But higher ed? Nah…

Well in the article TTU recommits to student success, Tennessee Tech University is noting the link between Student Success and relationship management. According to TTU’s Retention Services director, “The university is adding as many as a dozen professional advisers this spring. When the class of 2018 attends summer orientation, those advisers will help them register for their first semester and on, throughout their academic careers. One of the keys to retention is that students are going to feel more confident if they build a relationship with someone and have a clear path to their goal early in their college experience. That builds security and it shows that Tech really cares that you succeed here.”

This is about a University that has asked itself what drives Student Retention and Success? Part of the answer was having dedicated resources that are focused on getting to know students and develop relationships over time with those students so that needs are met, issues are addressed, goals are achieved, and progress toward success is made.

Educational organizations cannot create Student Success with a speech or by wishing that it happen. There must be a relationship development process designed that is an integral part of the strategy and includes dedicated resources. Relationship Management strategies in any organization typically include four key phases:

  • Getting to Know the Student – Preferences, retention drivers, satisfaction, involvement levels, etc.
  • Communicating with the Student – Setting up year-round Touch Point Plans to develop and nurture relationships with clients.
  • Retaining the Student – Applying your knowledge of their retention drivers to address what would make them remain and succeed…or leave.
  • Growing with the Student – Identifying and acting on ways to grow your relationship with them and continue it post-graduation.

Create a Student Success strategy that incorporates dedicated resources and relationship management.

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