Real, Live Customer Service?

In the age of the Internet, consumers are being conditioned now more than ever to create and manage transactions online and through virtual phone calls. Whether booking a hotel, car reservation, or campus visit, the push to self-serve transactions is ubiquitous in every industry. As a result, much of "live" customer support is dying a slow death as a result.

My experience lately - especially with big box brands - is that the quality of live phone and on- site receptionist service is getting worse. Staffers in those positions seem less capable and competent than in the past. And, they seem to be severely lacking in basic customer relation skills, such as friendliness, apathy, and focus.

Whether or not your school or college heavily uses online transactions to support clients, I encourage all organizations to take a hard look at how effective your live support is at the moment. If your brand promise includes small classes and personal attention, you had better make sure you are demonstrating this in the service process. In other words, walk the walk, don't just talk the talk. It may be the one key ingredient to differentiate your school in a sea of sameness in the landscape of bad service.  The staff member that answers the phone or greets the visitor is the president or head of school at that moment in time.  There is no interaction that is more important.