The Student as a Consumer

On August 1, 2007, I was appointed as President of Butler County Community College. Immediately afterwards, I was interviewed by media outlets and spoke to internal and external College stakeholders.

During those conversations, I boasted about BC3 being a “student-centered” institution. Upon further reflection, I pondered, “what do I mean by a student-centered college?”

I am proud to say we’ve answered that very questions. Our 2010-2015 Strategic Plan has an initiative that concentrates entirely on Student Centeredness. Among ways we focus on our student in the Plan include: increasing access to more online classes and programs, providing various activities and clubs and even looking into student housing.

Recently, a new point of emphasis has emerged at BC3: how do we treat potential or even current students outside of the classroom? In other words, before we get to the point of worrying about being a “student-centered” institution, what are we doing to ensure a “customer” becoming a “student” and sticks around through graduation?

Faculty, correctly so, worry about implications that could be associated with customer service. Classroom content, grading and academic freedom all belong in the classroom. But an emphasis on the customer has everything to do with what takes place outside of the classroom. After surveying our staff members, issues such as phone etiquette, campus signage, directions, payment options, registration and even transcript requests emerged. Through professional development sessions with Mickey Baines of Fourth Dimension Partners leading the trainings, we are addressing the customer service issue.

As an example, something as simple as walking a newcomer to our campus to a particular building rather than giving directions sends a wonderful, intentional message. Even developing a standard way of transferring a phone call from one department to the next can lead to a positive reception from the caller (as opposed to getting transferred with no resolution).

Our staff appreciate the topic and are working hard to improve. I am pleased to say that our Professional Affairs Committee has even endorsed the topic as a professional development opportunity for our faculty.

My seven years as President has been rewarding. During that time, I understand the need for the College to improve on our successes. I am pleased that the BC3 campus community has embraced the need to improve service to our customers. And in the process, we become an even better institution of higher learning.

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