Posted by: Gillian | September 16, 2011

Calling universities

As a member of the public, seeking answers from universities and colleges can often be a frustrating business.  Yesterday, training for right-first-time frontline customer service was the subject of Basar Ozerkayi’s interesting talk at the BILD meeting held in the friendly, highly customer-focused surroundings of the First Choice Homes conference room. (Thank you, Anne and team!) Working with Lancashire County Council at OneConnect Ltd, Basar has applied systems thinking to the council’s public telephone enquiries system and had dramatic effects on costs by promising what they can deliver in response to the first phone call and then delivering what they promise without needing the enquirer to make multiple further calls. That culture change  has required a robust, carefully targeted, short training system backed by human resource planning and evaluation systems. Listening to the case study, I thought of the UK university that recently sent me a customer satisfaction survey for an undergraduate course I did not take and the various universities in the UK and US I have phoned on behalf of others in the last month only to be told that they are not sure who handles such issues or someone is on holiday so I should ring back. There are some universities that have excellent frontline staff (I’ve always found Plymouth and East Anglia to be very good) but others are far from the ‘one call’ standard even when I know which Department is needed or even which person is most likely to be able to help. As the cuts that are taking place in Councils have helped drive the change in Lancashire, I wonder what the pressures in the education market will do to university enquiry systems?

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