Amazing Customer Service In Academia!
Delivering extraordinary customer service is not hard. It doesn’t take any amazing skill or talent. It’s very similar to playing great defense in basketball. Both take a high level of commitment, desire, communication and buy-in from everyone on the team as well as every level of the organization.
The only reason a company or organization would deliver lousy customer service is the same reason the New York Knicks play lousy defense. Not enough people on the team care; from the top on down.
Just recently, I came across extraordinary customer service in academia! Yes, you heard that right; the ivy-covered, sheltered-from-reality world of academia. You and your company now have no excuse.
My daughter Emily will soon be completing her junior year of high school and has started her college search. I suggested to Emily that she check out High Point University: a small liberal arts college in High Point, North Carolina. She agreed and we signed up for a campus tour.
I suggested it because I happen to know the new President, Dr. Nido Qubein. Dr. Qubein is not an academic. He is a highly successful businessman, entrepreneur, speaker, and author with a high-energy, can-do, no excuses attitude. I figured if anyone could create a unique, cutting-edge atmosphere on a college campus, this was the guy.
Dr. Qubein became president of High Point University three years ago. What he inherited was not pretty: a failing institution that was bleeding money and losing students. What he has done in the last three years is nothing short of remarkable.
- He raised over $100 million in the last 2 years.
- He made the decision that everyone at High Point would understand that students are customers.
- He told his professors that their biggest responsibility was to be in the classroom, be accessible and educate students.
Everyone who works for the university is friendly, accessible and gives you the impression there’s no task too tough to handle. Dr. Qubein wants every student to have an extraordinary experience in a fun atmosphere. Let me take you through our tour in order for you to really appreciate it.
First Emily, Linda (my wife) and I pulled into the visitor parking lot. Now each parking space has an electronic sign. We found our space and the sign read “Welcome Emily Greshes.” Remember, it’s those small unique touches that people remember.
Next we walked into the admissions building where up on the wall was another electronic sign welcoming all the students who were there for the 2PM tour. Each student was greeted by a separate admissions counselor. Pretty amazing since there were about 10 to 15 students there for tours. She briefed us on the university, told us what would happen on the tour, answered our questions and then turned us over to our tour guide. Our tour guide took us around campus in a golf cart, with two other students and their parents.
What we saw was amazing…
The grounds were perfectly groomed with beautiful flowers everywhere. While the university is 80 years old, there isn’t a single building (dorms included) that isn’t either brand new or completely renovated.
Class sizes are no more than 20 students per class. The entire campus is wireless. The new School of Business building was designed to be exactly like the Harvard School of Business. The dorms look like hotels. A freshman girls dorm had two, three and four bedroom apartments with a kitchen, dining area, common area and bathroom. The bedrooms were singles and each apartment accommodated 2 people per bathroom. The dorms had lounges on each floor with flat-screen televisions, leather recliners and games like foosball.
Now for more of those unique small touches…
In today’s crazy world, I’m sure many of you (like me) worry about security on campus, especially those of you with daughters. At High Point U, the campus police are right in the middle of campus next to the Student Union. If you get back to campus late one night and can’t find a parking spot near your dorm all you need to do is drive over to the campus police; they will take your keys; valet park your car for free and shuttle you to your dorm.
There is an ice cream truck that drives around campus dispensing free ice cream. We met the driver: he’s the Student Body President! They’re lucky my son Michael doesn’t go to school there or that truck would be out of business. There are also outdoor kiosks on campus that will dispense hot coffee, hot chocolate, and breakfast snacks for FREE to any student who is rushing to class and didn’t have time for breakfast.
The new Student Union has an outdoor pool with a hot tub (Emily was sold). Since High Point is the furniture capital there are leather recliners all over campus. Linda was so impressed she asked Dr. Qubein if she could apply for admission.
Needless to say, enrollment is soaring and better yet, so is retention. And just in case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, the price represents one of the best values in America for a private school.
It’s amazing what an organization can do when everyone is on the same page and is committed to the same thing! If it can be done in the stodgy, resistant-to-change halls of academia, it can be done anywhere.