Customer Service Initiative
August 22 , 2006
I am pleased to endorse the Customer Service Initiative as articulated by Governor Perdue and Chancellor Davis and do so enthusiastically. The initiative must be implemented throughout the campus and by every member of the Bainbridge College community. In reality, we do so many things right and well that it isn’t much of a stretch to comply with the request from the Governor and the Chancellor to mark this month as Customer Service Month. We need to take this opportunity to examine our current practices and to focus attention on those areas in which we need improvement, and we need to continue the Customer Service Initiative in the months ahead.
Although we frequently apply customer service principles instinctively, the initiative challenges us to be more aware of what we do, to view things anew and focus directly on our efforts. As dedicated individuals working in an educational setting, we know that education is the key and its value is beyond measure. You instinctively know what Chancellor Davis reminded us of during his visit here: “Education isn’t expensive. Ignorance is.” Ignorance stays entrenched for many because of the barriers faced by the first-generation college student. What seems normal to us in higher education may overwhelm or completely discourage the newcomer. We’ve always done it this way — they haven’t. Obstacles like costs and properly completing all paperwork can overwhelm and prevent people from achieving a post-secondary education.
Now we have a different vocabulary with which to view the situation. And that can be a good thing. Even when we refer to students as customers, they are still students, and we are still about the business of educating them. That remains our primary objective. We continue our work of creating a more educated Georgia. Our focus on customer service will help us do that job better.
By our enhancing the experience so that students find Bainbridge College more user-friendly, we will diminish that affective filter that blocks learning and turns people away – mentally and physically. As students move more easily, and positively, through the business of being educated – whether it be phoning, registering, paying fees, buying supplies, or making appointments – they will more likely continue to pursue their goals and less likely to give up. An enhanced experience should lead to higher retention and graduation rates. It will empower BC students to achieve the truth we know and work for: Education is the key to success.
What this initiative will require of us is more awareness of what we must do better personally, in our offices, divisions and across the campus. It will require us to address customer’s needs. Bainbridge College is already dedicated to providing high quality educational programs and services. Our intention is to meet the needs of our students – our customers - in an effective and timely manner. The Customer Service Improvement Plan is based on ideas, suggestions, and feedback from our “customers” (internal and external) and best practices research. We identified our customers as students, faculty and staff (internal) and parents, potential students, businesses and industries, and community members (external). This plan is a living document, which, like all of us living things, will undergo changes to ensure optimum benefit for all. Two principles drive the process for developing our plan: Customers Know What They Want and Customers’ Needs are Paramount. We must not assume we know what customers want and need, so we are soliciting responses through several means, including conversations in which we listen to what customers think about the types and quality of our services. Based on feedback from our customers, the College community will respond to their ideas for improving how we deliver programs and services.
As you embark on your part of the Customer Service Initiative, focus on what a wise person once said, People may forget what you said but they never forget how you made them feel. That feeling of belonging and being valued empowers individuals to achieve.
Thank you for all that you do and continue to do for our students. My thanks also to Gean Hendrix and his committee for a job well done!
Thomas A. Wilkerson