Customer service has always been a priority for me. Maybe the many days of customer orientation training I attended as a 16-year-old summer employee at Busch Gardens left a forever impression on me. Years later, I realize that customer service has been a core value for me in all of the units or departments I have worked in or led.
When I was a brand new employee in William & Mary’s IT division, my role included technology training for the campus and organizational development for the IT team. So amidst the Dreamweaver, MS Excel and MS Access workshops I was teaching, I was asked to develop a customer service training program for all employees in the IT division. At the time, we had a brand new CIO (he had recruited me away from the HR Office at William & Mary) and he understood that the best IT organizations in higher ed focused on exceptional customer service. To prepare, I did a lot of reading about customer service—The Pursuit of Wow (Tom Peters), Nuts! (Kevin and Jackie Freiberg), and Even Monkeys Fall From Trees (Doug Lipp) are some of my favorites.
Frankly, I always knew in my gut that relationships are the basis for exceptional customer service. So I’ve always used myself and the people on my team to manage customer relationships; but we do it the old fashioned way—without an enterprise CRM. We are responsive, we are committed to excellent work, and we deliver what we promise, on time.
A year ago, I worked in higher and I was not looking for a job. In fact, I had always assumed I wouldn’t find an organization that would allow me to work with a team that shared my values as much as the Creative Services team at William & Mary. Last August, as I was considering an offer from mStoner, I did a values check. I realized that customer service was also a cornerstone for the team here. After all, I had partnered with mStoner for two large communication projects as a William & Mary employee. During both engagements, the mStoner team made me feel as if my university was their only client. The mStoner team was responsive and collaborative and always interested in the goals and challenges of our work together. I think about that a lot now as I work with many clients in all kinds of institutions. I still focus on customer service every day as I direct my full attention to honoring the commitments we make to all of our clients.
A lot of people ask me what it’s like. They want to understand how the role of a consultant is better, or easier, or different than working on a college campus. (Actually, I have more to say about that than this blog post can handle.)
One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about my first year at mStoner is working with many different kinds of institutions. I like the fact that mStoner works exclusively with higher education and that our work is enriched by variety. We are fortunate to tackle the challenges that come from large community colleges and mid-size state universities and very small private schools tucked away in beautiful places. We care about the work we do for faith-based institutions and independent schools and multi-campus urban universities. What I value professionally is valued by my employer. When my name goes on a proposal to a prospective client, I know that we’ll deliver on the promise.
It’s a match! We both believe in exceptional customer service. I’m grateful for that.