A workshop entitled "Customer Service in the Context of Best Practice University" was held at City Campus, Multi-Purpose Hall on Friday, April 16, 2015. Led by Dr. Appianda Arthur, Director, Business Development Center, the workshop was attended by Senior Members of the university. Dr. Arthur was supported by Mr. Charles Kwening, Deputy Director.
During the presentation, Dr. Arthur indicated that a university becomes a best practice university not only because it has the most qualified faculty or the most dedicated staff but how members of the university community relate to the University’s customers and the larger public--the University’s customers being the students, their parents, guardians and the larger public. He defined a best practice university as one that consistently shows results superior to those achieved by similar universities and is used by others as a benchmark.
He stressed that effectiveness and consistency in service to customers call for a customer service policy for the university. Such a policy clarifies the university's promise of service rendered its customers.
Dr. Appianda Arthur emphasized that Regent University College exists because of its customers & stakeholders. That the University exists so the students, who are the primary customers, may succeed as the University services their needs. Every activity of members of the Regent community, therefore, must be student-focused where customer service discipline is integrated into the culture and activities of the university.
This student-focused approach, he emphasized, means the customers of Regent University College (student, parents) for example, ultimately help determine whether the University is a best practice university or not because no matter what the university does, it is the customers who determine whether the efforts are worthwhile.
We are Regent University, he stressed. We are, at the same time, its true and only ambassadors. As ambassadors of the University, we do not have our own message. Our message is that of the Founder and the University Council. It is a message that all of us need to transmit to current and prospective students, parents, and guardians as well as to the public at large.
“Do we understand the higher education needs of our customers, he asked? What do they say they need? What are their concerns? What do we think their concerns and needs are? How do we deliver these needs and address the concerns”?
Commenting on the challenged posed by organizational complexity, he said, "Organizational complexity occurs when an organization becomes too large and complex to consistently address the needs and concerns of its customers. When an organization reaches this, "ceiling of organizational complexity," its central message could get lost. Regent University is not at that point yet. But it is important for us to keep the challenges that organizational complexity poses in mind, as we grow as a university".
Dr. Arthur listed some basic customer service skills that every member of the Regent family can master, that will drastically improve their interactions with their customers. These include: patience, attentiveness, ability to use positive language, a calming presence, persuasion skills, closing ability, knowledge of the university and time management skills.
He indicated that an ideal customer service in a university context must focus on the real needs and concerns of the students where an offer of a first class service is to be given to every student; where every student is treated as a “preferred” or “elite” customer.
In closing, Dr. Appianda Arthur indicated that Regent University College is not in competition with other universities, but do compete against the poverty of the mind. However, competition is appropriate when Regent University College seeks to be a best practice university and seeks to gain market share of potential students. In the process, we should value all our students, continually trying to meet their expectations, needs and concerns.