Nothing affects your office’s interactions with students more than the processes you put in place, how your staff is structured, and how they are trained.
Leaving a positive impression on students means being efficient, effective, and friendly. Here are three strategies you can employ today to help improve your customer service skills tomorrow.
Employ First Contact Resolution
The ideal student experience involves interacting with the business office as little as possible. That’s why it’s often best to adhere to the concept of First Contact Resolution – answering all of the student’s questions upfront and anticipating future questions so they don’t have to keep coming back.
Best practices include doing a quick account review every time a student interacts with your office, educating and reminding them of upcoming deadlines or other events, as well as simply asking if there’s anything else you can help them with while you have their attention. Taking care of problems now means more relief later down the line, for both your team and your students.
Empower Your Staff with the Right Tools
Of course, adhering to First Contact Resolution means ensuring your staff can actually provide the answers to student questions. The biggest part of the equation is ensuring that you have the right technology in place to obtain all necessary information about a student’s financial footprint in just a few clicks. You will also want to provide easy ways to send follow-up documents and resources.
Some universities have had success with implementing a help desk. If a student or parent asks a question the staff member doesn’t know, they can turn to someone like a supervisor who is immediately available with the knowledge and experience to deliver the answer.
Practice Makes Perfect
You can’t just sit someone down at a phone and expect them to provide excellent customer service. Get off on the right foot with a training program that provides them with the fundamentals. Role-playing, rehearsals, testing, and retraining can help better prepare them for the task ahead. Once they start taking calls, even the most seasoned staff members can benefit from learning from past experiences through QA programs, recorded calls, team huddles, and communication to/from leadership.
Get a Helping Hand When You Need It
There comes a point where you can only be so efficient, and you find you need extra bodies to lighten the burden on your staff. If you need additional help during the seasonal swings (particularly January and February), there are partners like ECSI who can take the overflow from your office that your staff can’t get to in a timely manner – or can provide help on a more permanent basis as an extension of your staff or a full outsourcing solution that essentially works as an offsite office.