April 15, 2012 by Brad Currie
Over spring break I managed to experience some interesting customer service situations that made me reflect back on the way schools serve its stakeholders, in particular students. There are four examples I will touch upon in this blog post that also parallel what we should see in our schools. In each situation my family was impacted in both negative and positive ways. A Honda dealership, Chilis restaurant, Home Depot and an Apple store all provided interesting experiences that had me reflect on how we should treat people who enter our schools.
Let’s take the Honda dealership in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. My wife and I were very interested in purchasing a Honda because we always heard such great things about their product. We walk into the showroom and pass by the receptionist and some salesman sitting at their desks. For about twenty minutes we looked at a car that we were very interested in and wanted to test drive. Wouldn’t you know that not once did an employee approach us to say “we will be with you in a few minutes” or “how can I help you?” This was very troubling to me and thus we walk out and headed to a nearby Honda dealership in nearby Somerset County. The point to be taken here is that we as educators need to make it a top priority to ensure our schools are always inviting and provide assistance to our stakeholders in a timely fashion. This will go a long way in showing people that we are truly committed to educating children.
A few days later we ordered takeout from a nearby Chilis restaurant. The person on the phone was very nice and took our order with no problem. A half hour later my wife returned with dinner only to find missing items that were ordered. This was not the first time and therefore I called to let the manager know how bothered I was with this constant issue of not getting what we ordered. The manger was very polite, apologized and sent us a gift certificate for a free family meal. The moral of the story here is that when mistakes are made in the school setting we must fess up and make things right. School stakeholders will appreciate the sincerity and know that we have their best interests at heart.
During that same time period my family visited the unbelievable Apple Store and a local Home Depot. We had no problems with the Apple Store. My iPad 2 did not function correctly and after a few failed attempts at resolving the issue they simply gave me a new one and we were on our way in a very short time period. The experience at the Home Depot was both assuring and aggravating. Everyone at the store was helpful and pleasant, but upon returning home with the product that was purchased I came across some major issues. I called up the store, told them the problem and they replaced the below par product. Point taken here is that schools, just like businesses should do whatever it takes to make the client happy and provide them with top of the line service.
School staff should always put their best foot forward and provide customer service that is helpful and uneventful. Stakeholder engagement is crucial if we are to provide an atmosphere where our reputation is five star and trust is always evident. Inviting people into schools and showing them that they are welcomed will always lead to a place that is truly community based and doing what’s best for kids. Being helpful, providing guidance and continually informing stakeholders will always put a school “a leg ahead” of others. The situations described in this blog post are both engaging and relevant, and provide a glimpse on what customer service and first impressions mean to a positive relationship with customers and stakeholders.