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Improving Customer Service in Higher Education: Second Edition


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This Second Edition of our popular diagnostic, Improving Customer Service in Higher Education, includes additional free samples of some of the tools discussed -- including a sample policy and procedures audit and sample columns from Susan Leigh's chart for tracking and anticipating stresses and pressure points for students over the course of the academic calendar.

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Customer Service: Where is the Gap?

There is a growing recognition in higher education that improving customer service is a critical step to ensuring students’ momentum toward a degree and to improving student persistence.

Yet, surveying professionals at 79 post-secondary institutions, we found that over half would grade their school with a “C” or lower letter grade for customer service. Customer service expectations from both students and parents continue to increase, and it is increasingly critical to meet that demand with a strong commitment to developing a culture of service.

Meeting the demand for improved service does not have to entail sacrificing the rigor of your institution’s policies and procedures because the core standards of effective service have little to do with promoting “customer satisfaction.” Instead, what matters most is responsiveness, efficiency, clear communication, and conflict management.

We asked past and current presidents, vice presidents, and department heads in student services and enrollment management to speak to the major barriers to improving customer service — including the “silo” structure of support services, inefficient policies and procedures, and staff training needs — and how these barriers can best be addressed. We hope their advice will be useful to you.

Amit Mrig, President, Academic Impressions

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