Customer Service Series For Everson Consulting

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A six-article series written for NASFAA in the student loan industry, with principles that apply to all customer service professionals, regardless of industry

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Customer Service Series For Everson Consulting

  1. 1. customer service what’s the big deal?CUSTOMER SERVICE. TWO SIMPLE where. They’re captive customers— company with five employees in onewords hold a lot of meaning. Taken you’ve got their applications, their tiny room can compete with a muchliterally, the phrase merely means money, and the answers to their ques- larger company, provided the small“serving the customer,” and that can tions, so does it matter what kind of company has the right technology—andbe accomplished without so much as a experience they have in your office? good customer service. If both Company“hello,” “thank you,” or even eye con- You know they have to come back. A and Company B offer the same prod-tact. Combining the definitions of “cus- It might not matter, to a point. But uct at the same price, where will youtomer” and “service” from Funk & you still face competition. And the fact shop? Most likely, you will shop whereWagnalls Dictionary, one gets: “The that they may “have to” come back may you are treated as though you are themanner in which one who buys some- make your next interaction with them most important person in the world—thing is waited upon or served.” all the more stressful. which you are, at that point in the cus-Intrinsically, however, customer service tomer service experience. The compa-implies satisfying customers and provid- nies and organizations that outshineing them with a positive, memorable A New Trend Toward everyone else in customer service earnexperience. That means a lot more than Customer Service satisfied, loyal customers.any dictionary definition. In the financial aid field, how often As society moves beyond the industrialdo you focus your efforts on customer age, new technologies are leveling the Your Competitionservice? After all, by the time students playing field for businesses and organi-are in your office, they don’t really have zations. With that shift comes a refocus For financial aid professionals, the com-much choice—they can’t “shop” else- on customer service. Nowadays, a petition you have to outshine includes VOL. 15, NO. 1, 2004 19 NASFAA’s Student Aid TRANSCRIPT
  2. 2. your co-workers, other schools, and ing the interview process who excel in students and their parents are discrimi-other organizations inside and outside customer service. We will also look at nating shoppers. They know what feelsyour industry. Not too tall an order, huh? ways to work with current team mem- right; they know what brings them back. bers who may not be willing or able toYour co-workers. Nearly every office, be a Millie.company, or department has one—you Creating Loyal Customersknow, “that jerk in accounting,” or “that Other schools. Students are looking forpain-in-the-neck at the front desk.” three things in a school: a reasonable As I travel across the country meetingThese are employees who may perform cost, a worthwhile education, and a with financial aid professionals, I amthe technical aspects of their jobs quality experience. No matter how rea- struck by several points:exceedingly well, but lack interpersonal sonable the tuition, or how valuable the • The enormity of your responsibility.skills. Their negative approach colors potential degree, if a student is uncom- You literally control the pursethe way everyone—customers, co- fortable or unhappy at the school, he or strings on your campus.workers, and supervisors— interacts she may leave before graduating. • The challenges you face each day,with them. There’s a popular television Granted, if students want to go to your but especially during your peak time,ad with the tagline: “Don’t be that guy.” school, they have to deal with you. By when everyone’s expectations areBetter yet, don’t be that person. If stu- the time students receive their financial heightened.dents dread visiting the financial aid aid funds, you’ve got them for that • Your incredible opportunity to helpoffice because they might get stuck with term. Hopefully it won’t be their last your school create loyal customers.you and are grateful when they get to with you.deal with someone else in your office, Financial aid professionals can’t do Never forget that your job is important.chances are it is because you don’t pro- much about tuition or curricula, but By helping students finance their col-vide good customer service, even if you they can certainly help or hurt students’ lege education, you are helping peoplegive the students what they “need.” Be school experiences. A caring, supportive achieve their dreams. Success can comethe employee that everyone enjoys atmosphere in the financial aid and from realizing that, and enjoying yourworking with, not the one that everyone other administrative offices can go a role.tries to avoid. long way in making a student feel good During my undergraduate years at about his or her educational choice. As This is the first in a series of upcom-the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the job market continues to tighten and ing articles examining the many facets ofone person stood out as the epitome of tuitions continue to rise, the determin- customer service relevant to the finan-customer service. Sadly, she didn’t work ing factor in school choice may ulti- cial aid professional—understanding thein financial aid; that would have been mately be customer service. customer’s viewpoint, dealing with thetoo perfect for this series. Instead, Think about it: Does your financial difficult customer, building customer“Millie” worked in the student union. aid office create the kind of experience loyalty, and stress management for theShe was the cashier who had a smile for where your graduates return to say financial aid professional. Hopefully, iteveryone, and an infectious laugh that hello, looking for Millie? I sure hope so. will also help some of you put passionlifted the room. Everyone knew and Remember, they come back with their back in your job.respected her. I now look back on the memories, but they also bring their fam- To make this series as personalMillies at UWEC and realize they are a ilies, their friends, and their checkbooks. and pertinent as possible, I ask youmajor reason for my loyalty. When we Alumni give money, money builds to look for examples of outstandingreturned to the campus for homecom- buildings, buildings house classrooms, customer service in your life over theing each year, we all headed to the stu- classrooms are filled with students, and next few months. Determine what peo-dent union to say hello to Millie. As we students—well, they need financial aid. ple are doing around you to create thataged, Millie remained young—at heart. memorable customer service experi-She was always upbeat, always positive, Other companies and businesses. While ence. Please forward the most memo-always laughing and having fun sitting your school might not be in direct com- rable positive moments to me aton her stool at the cash register in the petition with the local grocery store or teverson@glhec.org, so we can buildBlugold Room. bank, these institutions can and do them into our series. The year we returned to find influence each other. If a student getsMillie had passed away, homecoming terrific customer service at the bankchanged. But the memories pull us only to be treated poorly in your office, Terry Everson is vice president for training,back. That is customer loyalty, not just by contrast that experience will reflect and Laura Gallagher is marketingcustomer satisfaction. Who are the on your office. Students might excuse communications specialist, for corporateMillies in your life? And are you the mediocre service once or twice, but not communications, at Great LakesMillie to your students? if they’re consistently treated better at Educational Loan Services, Inc. They may In a future article in this series, we Store X or Bank Y than they are at be reached at teverson@glhec.org orwill introduce ways to spot people dur- your school’s financial aid office. Your lgallagher@glhec.org, respectively. NASFAA’s Student Aid TRANSCRIPT 20 VOL. 15, NO. 1, 2004
  3. 3. steps to customer loyalty: your secret to success EVERY DAY, WE EXPERIENCE THE GOOD AND THE BAD OF CUSTOMERThis is the second article in service. We deliver service, we receive service. Think about your recent cus- tomer service experiences, as a receiver. The bad jumps out and lingers for weeks.Transcript’s series on customer Recently I experienced a case study in bad customer service. I purchased a light fixture and prepaid the bill because I understand that small businesses always face a cash-flow issue. When I picked up the fixture two weeks later,service in the student aid office. the store had posted “20 percent off” signs all over the place. I had paid the full price for the first fixture and was considering two or three additional ones to complement the new one in the dining room. When the clerk brought out the fixture, I had to ask about the discount. Besides putting me off with her look and attitude, she explained that I “proba- bly got a break” on the first fixture so I “should be happy” with the price I had paid. When I later checked the receipt, I discovered no price break whatsoev- er. Zip, zero, zilch. Price: fair. Quality: very nice. Customer service: miserable. No loyalty here—I bought the rest of my lighting elsewhere. Probably, so will everyone else I tell. Who Are Our Customers ? To talk customer service, we first must define who our customers are. It sounds easy enough. For instance your customers may include: • Current students • Faculty at the school • Students’ parents • Staff members • Former students (alumni) • Prospective students VO L . 1 5 , N O. 2 , 2 0 0 4 9 NA S FA A’s S tu d en t A i d T R A N S C R I P T
  4. 4. Each population is unique, but they share several common Customer Satisfaction vs. Loyaltyneeds. They are all looking for a “professional” environ-ment, with service that is timely, thorough, respectful, and Years ago, we were just happy to get our needs met,courteous. These expectations don’t seem unrealistic consid- regardless of the delivery method. But things started chang-ering the dollars involved. Next to a home, an education is ing in the 1970s. Driven by the auto industry and the hi g h -probably the most expensive “product” we will ever pur- tech evolution, the notion of “quality” started to appear in ads,chase. then prices started to fall, and finally customer service became a strategic selling focus. Your competition may have been aThe Competition leader in this push. Three elements—quality, price and service—are the cor-Before we go any further, l e t ’stalk about your organization. nerstones needed to create customer loyalty, according to aWho is your major competition? Is it the school down the classic Harvard Business Review article (Jan./Feb. 1993).street? Is it the lender with all the branches across the city?Is it the guarantor you always go up against for new and Customer Service Triangleexisting business? The answer to these questions is yes and no. Of course,these groups compete for your business. Surprisingly, how- price qualityever, your real competition comes from the neighborhoodconvenience store, the street vendor who always has a smile, servicethe national chain that prides itself on creating “wow” cus-tomer service experiences. These are the folks you have to For a long time, “customer satisfaction” was the goal. Ascompete against every day when it comes to customer serv- long as your “product” fell within acceptable range for theice. They keep raising the bar for everyone, including you. three cornerstones, the customer would be satisfied. Then a Consider this: On a recent flight from Chicago to few rebels decided that they could enhance one of the cor-Orlando, the flight nerstones and blow away the competition, providing theyattendant handed me According to Professor Jon Anton of kept the other two within a reasonable range.a business card from Purdue University’s Center forthe pilot with the fol-lowing hand-written Customer-Driven Quality, the most WalMart: Focus on price.note on the back: commonly cited reasons thatMr.Everson, customers leave a vendor are: Lexus: Focus on q u a l i t y. Thanks for flying p e rcent for betterwith us today and for allyour flights on UAL. 68% customer service Nordstrom: Focus on s e rv i c e.I personally appreciateyour business and look 13% for better price More recently, the concept of customer satisfaction has evolved into customer loyalty—that is, the qualities thatforward to serving you keep you in high regard with your customers, and keep theagain. 9% for better quality customers coming back to you. Why should you even worry Gary Rogeliner, about customer loyalty for your organization? MarketCaptain, 1/13/04 7% for other reasons research confirms that it costs six times more money to attract new customers than it does to retain your existing American Association of InsuranceThis knocked my socks Services Annual Conference, April 1997 customer base. And loyal customers tend to promote youroff. I will keep that card organization through one of the most potent forms of adver-for years to come. (Oh, These numbers prove one very important tising: word-of-mouth.by the way, Captain point. Once in the fold, customers are yours Loyalty! We see it all over the place. School bumperRogeliner is also your to keep or lose: it is up to you. stickers shout out school pride. My former boss even carriescompetition.) a coffee cup with the inscription, “My kid and my money go Lest we forget, your co-workers are also your competi- to the University of Minnesota.” Oh, by the way, he too is ation. If I come into your office and “Sally” makes the finan- Gopher alum.cial aid experience personal, positive, and professional, she Loyalty goes hand in hand with personal pride. I am araises the bar for everyone else in the office. Remember University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire “Blugold” and darnedMillie from our first article, who was the staff member that proud of it. Both my kids are Blugolds. My grandkids? Tooalums always sought out year after year during homecoming soon to tell. But our most recent alumni publication intro-week? The bar she raised is still up there even though she duced a new program to attract out-of-state students whosehas been gone for 10 years. parents are alumni. Loyalty works! NA S FA A’s S tu d en t A i d T R A N S C R I P T 10 VO L . 1 5 , N O. 2 , 2 0 0 4
  5. 5. How strong is this loyalty effect? Think about it—are Too often we present the options from our side of thethere any products, services, or vendors that have your loy- fence—how it will make our job easier. But the customer doesalty? My guess is that by now you return to them by a not (and should not) care about our side of the fence.We needdeeply ingrained habit, but it did not just happen: they to scrap the old adage of “meet me in the middle on this one.”earned your loyalty. We need to be squarely on the customer’s side of the fence.Five Steps to Customer Loyalty Step 4. The customer is now asking, “Okay, so what do I have to do to get this benefit?” When the customer starts ask-In every customer service opportunity there are five basic steps ing what has to be done, the door is open. It is time for youwhen you have the chance to strengthen customer loyalty. to walk through. But be sure to present the action from the customer’s side of the fence.Step 1. The customer thinks, “I am important and want to berespected.” There is no logic and reason to this first step. It is Step 5. Wrap-up. In most customer service situations, this100 percent emotion. Our challenge is to put our own “I am phase is sorely overlooked. You are so happy to be done withimportant” attitude aside and be willing to open ourselves the person, especially a challenging customer, that you justto the wants and needs of the customer. And at that want them to leave the office. You may miss a real “wow”moment, who is the most important person in the world in opportunity. When you wrap up your interaction, you sum-the eyes of the customer? We need to drop our self-focus marize the agreed-to action steps that everyone involvedand put the customer on the pedestal. The best of the best in needs to take. Review what you will do, what they will do, andcustomer service do this naturally and have no problem by when. Close the interaction with a sincere thank you. Evenabdicating personal power for the good of the customer. if they complained, acted out, or had an “attitude,” thank them for bringing the situation to your attention.Without thatStep 2. The customer then thinks, “Consider my viewpoint.” knowledge, you couldn’t have helped them. Be honest andThis may is an extension of Step 1, but it also addresses the sincere when thanking them. They really did you a favor byreality that each person is an individual and we need to be being open about their concerns.willing to personalize the customer service we provide. Eachperson has unique wants and needs. We must be first willing Excelling at Customer Serviceto listen to the customer, then ask informed and helpfulquestions in such a way that we show that we are willing to Loyalty returns customers to you, brings in new customers,treat that person with respect and dignity. and often makes future customer service easier as people Early in a customer service interaction, you may face begin to expect a positive reaction and are thus moreheightened negative emotion. The person may just be look- relaxed from the start. To be strong in customer service,ing for someone to pick on.Treat this situation as an oppor- remember the Customer Service Triangle and do what ittunity to open yourself up and be the one who can create a takes to excel on the side of service.loyal customer, instead of reacting to negative emotionswith negative emotions. The next article in this series will deal with the challenge of negative emotion in the customer service interaction. We will introduce a com-Step 3. The customer thinks,“What’s in it for me?” Basically, mon-sense model that should help you remain in control, even in theall of us are selfish. Once we reach this point in the interac- face of unrealistic or demanding customers. Believe it or not, they can be fun to serv e — h o n e s t !tion, the customer is weighing the value of what we have to About the authors:offer against what he or she needs to do to receive this ben- Te rry Everson is vice president for training, and Laura Gallagher is theefit. If we can show the customer that the benefit is worth marketing communications specialist, for corporate communications atthe necessary actions, we have a far better chance of moving Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. They may be reached at tever -to the next stage. son@glhec.org or lgallagher@glhec.org, respectively.did you know? The NASFAA Web site has everything you need to conduct a financial aid night presentation. The guide and accompanying slideshow are available at www.NASFAA.org/FinancialAidNight.asp. The NASFAA Web site also includes basic information on state-sponsored savings and prepaid tuition p rograms. Check it out at www.NASFAA.org/prepaid.asp. VO L . 1 5 , N O. 2 , 2 0 0 4 11 NA S FA A’s S tu den t A i d T R A N S C R I P T
  6. 6. Everybody’s Got Them: Tough Customers The first two installments of our customer service series focused on traditional customer service issues—how to provide quality products at a fair cost through exceptional customer service. All along, we assumed that the customers we were dealing with were willing, cooperative, mature partners in the financial aid process. But guess what? Some customers aren’t so nice. In fact, some of them can be downright nasty, casting a pall over the entire financial aid experience. Here are a few ideas on how to handle your Tough Customers.AS I TRAVEL THE STUDENT-LOAN TRAINING CIRCUIT, the Direct Lending community, please remember this ad-attending state, regional, and national conferences to ex- age: You need them more than they need you. One of theamine customer service offerings, the one topic that con- key concepts we teach in the Great Lakes Customer Ser-sistently arises is “dealing with the difficult person.” I call vice Training model states: “The customer isn’t alwaysthem “Tough Customers.” The Tough Customer comes in right, but hopefully this customer will remain our cus-all shapes and sizes, and can hail from any age group, tomer.”race, or gender. However, they do exhibit some remark- Consider this theory: It costs considerably more to goably consistent tendencies. In this article, we will discover out and attract new customers than it does to retain, ser-how to diagnose the situation, how to put a name to the vice, and delight the ones you already have. This may be abehavior, and how to apply the “Three Ps” of customer tough pill to swallow, especially if you are naturally com-service to a Tough Customer. petitive and enter every encounter with an “I must win” But first we need to spend some time studying the attitude. Then you realize you are in a classic “no-win”Tough Customer. We also need to look in the mirror and situation. You use all the tools of customer service—lis-admit—horror of horrors—that we may actually be con- tening, empathizing, understanding—and all the while thetributing to the Tough Customer situation. Tough Customer is tap dancing on your forehead. The Tough Customer is winning big time and knows it.Who Is the Tough Customer? But are they really winning?The Tough Customer can ruin your otherwise peaceful day The Tough Customer in Actionwith a nasty look, a bad attitude, a mean word, or inappro-priate behavior. Why is it that people who walk into your If you assume the role of interested observer, you can putoffice—people who need your service—can treat you with much of this Tough Customer behavior into perspective.such disrespect? Whether you find yourself working for We have all seen the Tough Customer in action. Hard as itan institution, lender, servicer, guarantor, or as a part of is to admit, sometimes we even fall into the role ourselves. VOL. 15, NO. 3, 2004 26 NASFAA’s Student Aid TRANSCRIPT
  7. 7. When I travel, I often get to play the role of interested his welcome and unfortunately I was seated next him forobserver, as there are Tough Customers all over the air- the entire flight. The most telling comment came from oneports. Airline travel seems to attract Tough Customer be- of the lucky 19 who got a seat. He asked the flight atten-havior. Trust me, when a Tough Customer unloads on an dant to thank the rest of us for our patience and apolo-unsuspecting airline staffer, it makes all the other travel- gized for the inconvenience. He was rushing home thaters embarrassed, uncomfortable, and concerned for the cus- night to be with his sick daughter. All I could do wastomer-service person. smile; all was right with the world. I began the initial draft for this article while trappedon the tarmac at the De- The Few, thetroit airport in a small Tough…commuter plane. Wewere held up for more To better understand thethan two hours because Tough Customer, let’sthe connecting flight was take a look at some sig-late, and airline officials nificant numbers. In mychose to delay our depar- customer service train-ture so that the other ing programs I oftentravelers could make it to conduct informal sur-Dayton that same night. veys of the participantsUnfortunately, there to determine how manywere 26 connecting pas- customers fall into eachsengers and only 19 seats of one of three catego-left on our plane. For two ries:hours airline officials ☺ = 75%debated ways to rectify = 20%the situation. = 5% Most passengerstook the opportunity to Your numbers may varydoze, read, or watch the with your job duties, thediscussions through the time of the year, or sim-windows. But the resi- ply the phase of thedent Tough Customer fi- moon.nally started bellowing. The breakdown is re-“How perfect for this ar- vealing. Ninety-five per-ticle,” I thought. He was cent of customers areloud, young, totally self- either in a good or neu-absorbed, and he wanted tral mood when they startto be heard. the customer-service ex- The flight attendant perience. And that otherdid a great job with this guy. She listened to his comments, five percent? Not all unhappy customers are certifiablestayed calm, and ignored his inappropriate comments about Tough Customers. Of the five percent who are unhappy,her and the airline as he ranted to his buddies over his cell only about one in five is a hardened Tough Customer. For-phone. The attendant followed the Three Ps of customer tunately for the financial aid professional, the other fourservice. Specifically: can be made happy through good customer service. It takesShe remained Positive, work but it can be done. That leaves just one in 100 trulyShe treated everyone in a Personal manner, and difficult customers.She was Professional at all times. Now the more difficult question: What about the other When we finally departed, everyone was relieved, but half of the equation? That’s you. Remember our 75/20/5no one more than me. The Tough Customer had worn out breakdown? Well, guess what? If you are unwilling or VOL. 15, NO. 3, 2004 27 NASFAA’s Student Aid TRANSCRIPT
  8. 8. unable to abide by the Three Ps, you might personally be from an emotional gut-level. For example, this might hap-responsible for driving a large percentage of your custom- pen when a student walks in and demeans a staff memberers to the dark side. because someone made a mistake on the student’s paper- work—scolding, like a parent. The staff member thenTwo Tough-Customer Categories responds with anger and emotion, taking on the child role.The Tough Customer usually falls into two general cat-egories of inappropriate behavior—“parent” or “child”— Customers Assuming a “Child” Role: The other extremewhich can be understood through a communication model is just as dysfunctional in a customer-service setting.developed by psychologist Eric Berne in the 1950s. His What is your normal reaction when a Tough CustomerTransactional Analysis model, taught in every Introduc- exhibits child behavior, such as whining, blaming oth-tion to Psychology class through the early 1970s, said that ers, crying, or throwing tantrums? Admit it—you wantwhen interacting, people tend to fall to tell them to grow up and stopinto one of three ego states: parent, acting like a child. Your tendencyadult, or child. Briefly, the parent to act out the parent role is in-role tends to speak from values and The customer-service creased. Sadly, these parenting re-judgments, the adult role from logic actions are often so ingrained, weand reasoning, and the child role person must always get hooked into responding to thefrom emotions. customer with corresponding inap- As a trained counselor, I had stay in the “adult” propriate behavior. It may only bealways found this model always too a condescending look or demean-simple, so I shoved it into my men- role... Don’t get ing sigh, but it all has the same ef-tal “junk drawer.” Now the K.I.S.S. fect. For example, have you everapproach (Keep it Simple, Stupid) seen this in your office? A studentis gaining traction, and I find it is pulled into childlike walks in whining about a problemtime to resurrect Transactional with his or her aid. The staff mem-Analysis and apply it to customer emotional responses ber sighs, then “retaliates” by point-service. ing out the errors the student made Here is how it works. In any or parent-like on the FAFSA. The result isn’tcustomer-service setting there are pretty.two players, you and the customer. judgmental reactions.The customer comes to you with Responding as an Adultbehavior that fits nicely into the par-ent, adult, or child category. Your So what can you do? Here’s whereresponse can be from the parent, child, or adult category the fun begins. The customer-service person must alwaysas well. In fact, people can even shift roles during an in- stay in the “adult” role—rational, logical, and friendly.teraction. Effective customer service, however, responds Don’t get pulled into child-like emotional responses orfrom the adult role (logical, reasonable), regardless of the parent-like judgmental reactions. Even when the Toughrole presented by the customer. Customer plays all their cards, use the Three P’s to stay clear.Customers Assuming a “Parent” Role: If the Tough Cus- I equate it to this scenario: You are a five-pound basstomer exhibits condescending, critical, sarcastic, or de- swimming in a lake during a bass tournament. There aremeaning behavior, or attempts to establish him or herself many opportunities to get hooked, but for your own good,as someone who should be feared or respected, the cus- let the bait slide on by.tomer is playing out the parent role. The Tough Customer is—intentionally or unintention- These customers have a tendency to talk down to you; ally—baiting you. Just smile sincerely and let the Toughthey need to let you know how important they are. When Customer know you are there to help. If you try to fightdealing with a Tough Customer in parent mode, our natu- back, you are taking the bait and you are going to lose—ral tendency is to revert back to child behavior—reacting putting the Tough Customer back in charge. VOL. 15, NO. 3, 2004 28 NASFAA’s Student Aid TRANSCRIPT
  9. 9. If you use the Transactional Analysis model, dealing Now, some final good news: When faced with this onewith a Tough Customer almost becomes fun because he percent, you don’t have to take them personally! Give itor she can become so wound up or irrational, while you your best shot and know that you used the Three Ps andremain in control of yourself and the situation. you stayed in the “adult” role. If it doesn’t work, recog- nize that maybe nothing could satisfy this customer.It Works! (Most of the Time…) When you see a colleague facing this type of person— doing all the right things but still feeling terrible after theNow, for the good news and bad news. The good news: interaction—take a moment to congratulate that colleagueUsing these techniques, you can turn 99 percent of the on a good effort. Ninety-nine out of 100 percent is darned good.customers to your side. They may not leave as your bo- You can even take it one step further. When you aresom buddy, but at least they know you care and you handled out and about—in a restaurant, in an airport—and youthem in a positive manner. witness a customer-service representative doing all the Bad news: You may not be able to turn that final one right things, regardless of outcome, acknowledge theirpercent. Despite your best customer-service efforts, de- efforts. They were simply facing that one percent.spite the best training, despite your desire to make every- By Terry Everson, vice president for training, and Lauraone a satisfied customer, there are some who pride Gallagher, marketing communications specialist, forthemselves on being the worst of the worst. Their job is to Corporate Communications at Great Lakes Educationalmake everyone around them miserable and no matter what Loan Services, Inc. They may be reached atyou say, or how you say it, they will remain miserable. teverson@glhec.org or lgallagher@glhec.org, respectively.These folks seriously want to remain this way and noth- Please send us your examples of outstanding—or unbeliev-ing you can do in a short customer-service interaction is ably bad—customer service. We will build them into ourgoing to change them. So be it. upcoming articles. VOL. 15, NO. 3, 2004 29 NASFAA’s Student Aid TRANSCRIPT
  10. 10. 76748_pg24-27 3/2/05 8:18 AM Page 24 we need to delight taking customer service to the By Terry Everson and Laura Gallagher Hello folks—here we are again, talk- highest ing about customer service and what it takes to create memorable customer service moments. The first article in this six-part series introduced the importance of customer service in the student aid field. Remarkably, after that article was published, some read- level ers responded asking whether students are really “customers.” Well, not only are they customers, but so are their par- ents, their co-signers, your co-workers, your faculty, your vendors, and guar- antors/servicers. Add to that list any- one else who you interact with on a daily basis, and the importance of cus- tomer service should be apparent. In the second article, we stressed the importance of creating loyal cus- tomers. These are the customers that 24 STUDENT AID TRANSCRIPT
  11. 11. 76748_pg24-27 3/2/05 8:18 AM Page 25 use your “product”—in the case of my house in Madison, Wisconsin, or asked that I give him a call at his new financial aid, the services you provide one in the Tucson, Arizona, or Spokane, job to let him know the bag had been to students and families—and literal- Washington, the store’s processes, look repaired to my satisfaction. That was ly become walking testimonials for the and feel, and product selection are pret- five years ago, but he still came to mind value, quality, and the related customer ty much the same. But Judy is not stan- recently when I gave that same bag to service associated with the “product.” dardized. Judy isn’t found in every a new high school golfer. Loyal customers will stay with store. Judy is found at my store. you even if there is an occasional Just last week, I walked into the store “Bill Murray” Thinks Ahead small glitch in the customer service to pick up some hay fever medication. The Walt Disney Company has long experience. As I walked past the cosmetics section, been recognized for creating memo- In the third and most recent article, I heard a friendly voice ask if I would rable guest experiences. They train their we acknowledged that difficult like to try a sample of Antonio staff to look for memorable customer customers exist and must be dealt with Banderas’ new men’s cologne, “AB.” service opportunities. I can recall one in a positive manner. We pointed out Judy has a huge smile, a kind word for particular personal event that exempli- that in some cases, your behavior may all customers, and an infectious laugh fies this “A” attitude. be a contributing factor to some that warms the entire store. She seemed When our family assembled for the of those challenging customer service so proud of this new cologne, I umpteenth “Kodak Moment” in front situations. humored her with a trial “splash on,” of the 50-foot silver golf tee at one of Today we want to discuss how to take and found I had to have it. Not because Disney’s golf courses, a groundskeep- your customer service to the “Wow!” it smelled good—I really didn’t like it er—who looked a lot like Bill Murray level—that is, how to create memorable that much. And not because it came in the movie “Caddyshack”— customer service. In any customer serv- with a free AB golf hat. The last thing approached us as we stood on his per- ice situation, you can do a decent job I need was another golf hat. I had to fectly mowed lawn. I knew we were in and receive a “C” grade. Keeping with have it because Judy just created a trouble. To my surprise, instead of the academic theme, an even better job memorable customer service shooing us away, he asked if he could that exceeds the average performance moment—a personal connection take the family picture so that I could will earn you a “B.” The greater chal- between me, the product, the process, be included. We would have a photo of lenge is how to earn an “A” in customer and the store. the whole family, dad included! Since service. Today I’d like to describe the When I sheepishly walked into my that time, I’ve volunteered to take hun- steps to creating a memorable customer condo, cologne in one hand, AB hat in dreds of pictures for people all over the service experience. another, my wife looked up from her world, giving them a chance to include book and smiled when she saw the the entire family in the family album. Creating Memorable Customer Walgreen’s bag. “I see you met Judy,” Why? Because it meant so much to me Service she said. “Isn’t she the most wonder- to receive the same kind of offer. Think about the last time someone sim- ful clerk?” ply blew your socks off with incredi- “The S’sence of Customer Service” ble customer service. My guess is that Eric’s Extra Mile What makes these memorable customer it didn’t cost the organization anything Then there is Eric at my golf shop. Eric service experiences? In researching, more than it would have cost them for faithfully fed my golf habit for years, experiencing, and observing them, I’ve “C” service. Memorable customer serv- but he also sold me the “golf bag from coined the phrase “The ‘S’sence of ice is about the people who do the job; hell.” It broke four times. Each time, Customer Service.” Here is some of that the people that bring smiles to our Eric worked with me and the supplier “S”sence: faces. It is not simply a process that to ensure that I was a happy camper. has been re-engineered or continually On the fifth collapse, Eric laughed as Smiles Abound improved. Let’s look at three shining I lugged it into the store. The good Student aid can be a dehumanizing examples of people who give memo- news, he said, was that he would again process, involving with a combination rable customer service: Judy, Eric, and send the bag out for repairs. The bad of sensitive, sometimes complex finan- “Bill Murray.” news was he was leaving the store later cial information; intimidating paper- that week to take a new job in the cell work; and the educational hopes and Judy’s Smile phone industry. dreams of a family among other things. First there is Judy. Judy works for a It was then that he hit me with a Definitions that apply in other settings, national drug store chain, Walgreens. memorable customer service moment. such as dependency, family, and assets, Whether you are in the Walgreens near He gave me his new business card and don’t always apply the same way in NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT FINANCIAL AID ADMINISTRATORS 25
  12. 12. 76748_pg26 2/16/05 7:56 AM Page 26 student aid. Your customers may come customers were as organized and There is enough mystery into your office mad, confused, or con- informed about student aid policy as cerned about paying for college. Your you are, but guess what? They aren’t. in the student aid process smile—the “Judy” smile—creates an You are the expert. Student aid is just without adding to it with environment where students and fam- one of hundreds of new experiences ilies feel welcome. They know that you they are dealing with as they navigate poorly marked directions. are there for them at that moment, you through the higher education process. care about their circumstances, and you They will appreciate you treating them Walk to, and then are willing to help them understand. according to the three P’s—in a through, your work area. Help is at hand. Positive, Personal, Professional man- ner—giving simple, clear, practical Can new students Signage Is a Must instructions that will help them accom- navigate it without a Have you ever tried to find your way plish their goals. And when you think in a city that has poor signage? It is dis- about it, this will help you accomplish special understanding of concerting. There is enough mystery in your goals as well. the student aid process without adding “college-speak”? to it with poorly marked directions. Sales Opportunities at Every Walk to, and then through, your work Juncture en out a processing problem on cam- area. Can new students navigate it with- Judy did it. Eric did it. My Bill Murray pus or with a guarantor. Other times it out a special understanding of “college- look-alike did it. Top shelf customer may mean sending a quick note to speak”? (Just what is a “bursar”?) Are service staff look for opportunities to someone who had to drop out, encour- directions and offices well labeled? (If cross-sell their organization, their aging them to recognize that a dream I have financial aid, where do I go to department and their product. The postponed may not be a dream ended. pay my bill? Do I have to stand in a offices of financial aid, the registrar, the When you receive this type of service, special “financial aid” line at the book- bursar, admissions, and student servic- you feel a sense of appreciation and joy. store?) Are the waiting areas user- es all contribute to a series of independ- When you give this level of service, friendly and self-explanatory, prevent- ent, yet very interrelated events. Look your self-pride and occasional recog- ing students and families from wasting for ways to ensure that everyone at all nition from the customer will earn you time in the wrong place? Do the stu- critical touch points—within your office your daily “A” grade. dents know where they are at any given and throughout the campus—works for These key points will help you and moment, to whom they are talking, and the good of the student and sells the full your office staff be better prepared to where they go next? value of your institution. Instead of deliver those Memorable Customer looking for ways to make the financial Service moments to your varied cus- Secrets to Cleanliness aid office look better at the expense of tomer groups: students, parents, co- Your mom probably told you cleanli- other offices and departments, work workers, and business partners. ness is next to godliness. I don’t know with those other departments to ensure With the “S”sence of service now about that, but a pleasant, welcoming that you are all focused on creating a firmly affixed in your office plan, we office space creates an air of comfort complete, positive customer service are ready to find ways to mentally pre- and relaxation and has a calming effect experience for the student. pare for each day. The next installment on your customers. A flower here, a in this series will deal with the issue of magazine there, a humorous quote or a Snapshots at the Seventh Hole stress, stress management, relaxation fun picture can help. But bear in mind The “best of the best” at customer serv- techniques, and tools that you and your the types of messages your décor may ice look for ways to go the extra yard, staff can use to refresh your mind, your send. Some staff post cartoons or exceed the customers’ expectations, body, your spirit. quotes that actually make fun of the stu- reach out with a kind gesture or offer dents—the very people they serve. a kind word, and be a bright spot in the Terry Everson is vice president for What kind of message do you think that day. In student aid, this may mean not training, and Laura Gallagher is the sends? Remember, you need them more only answering the questions students marketing communications specialist than they need you. ask, but anticipating the ones they’ll for corporate communications at Great need to know three stages down the Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. Simple Instructions line. Sometimes it is as simple as pick- They may be reached at teverson@ Please remember, you are the subject ing up the phone and clearing the way glhec.org or lgallagher@glhec.org, matter expert. You may wish that all for a student who is trying to straight- respectively. 26 STUDENT AID TRANSCRIPT
  13. 13. 77788_44_47 7/25/05 3:17 PM Page 44 T Stress for Success By Terry Everson and Laura Gallagher
  14. 14. 77788_44_47 7/25/05 3:17 PM Page 45T he first four articles in our customer service series focused on understand- ing why customers do what they do, and finding ways to adapt to their needs. This installment addresses the natural reaction to all of these chal- lenges: stress. In his 1960’s rock classic, War, Edwin Starr asks: “War! What is it good direction. They can range from the jerks who blow through the neighborhood stop sign to the clown who tries to check out 47 items in the “10 or less” lane at the local grocery store. Stressors may be the tough co-worker, the broken photocopi- er, the family computer that eats your data, or the confused incoming fresh- man with condescending, angry parents ■ ■ ■ cynical a sense of inner emptiness morbid fear of death What Is Stress Good For? All of these symptoms seem to imply that stress really is good for “absolute- ly nothing.” We’d like to challenge that thought, however. We believe that for?” His rhetorical response was in tow. Not sabertooth tigers, but they’re stress, when managed in a healthy man- “Absolutely NOTHING!” also stressors nonetheless. ner, can be a real plus in our lives. I’d like to twist that question a bit and Anyone who ever played competitive ask, “Stress: What is it good for?” Well The Effects of Stress games or sports knows when the pres- it turns out that stress is good for some- How do you know if stress is having a sure is on. Whether it is softball, bowl- thing, despite the bad rap its received negative affect on you? Here are five ing, croquet in the yard, poker with over the years. Stress can add value to general stress-symptom categories: friends, or ice hockey at the rink, our your office, and when channeled prop- stress responses kick in to help us pre- erly, can create positive results. PHYSICAL pare for the challenge. ■ frequent backaches The same holds true for you in your What Is Stress? ■ fatigue office setting. That heightened aware- First, let’s first spend a few minutes ■ indigestion ness, that sharpened vision, that sense better understanding the origins of ■ grinding teeth of urgency—all are driven by the good stress and its impact on our daily lives. ■ accident prone kind of stress. Let’s call it eustress. We’ll use an example familiar to many ■ chest pains Websters New Millennium™ Dictionary readers: golf. Consider the young golf ■ drinking too much caffeine of English defines eustress as “stress that pro from Florida who also spends his ■ smoking is deemed healthful or giving one a sense free time sky diving, extreme skiing, ■ tension in the back and shoulders of fulfillment.” Do a Google search on and sheer cliff mountain climbing. ■ prone to illness eutress and you will find articles actu- Asked when stress and fear most affect- ally praising the value of stress in our ed him, he replied without hesitation, MENTAL lives. The secret is managing the stress “On the first tee every time I play golf.” ■ easily confused to remain positive. Stress is very personal and relative. ■ lethargic Eustress kicks in when the end-of-the- In a recent Golfline.com article, Neil ■ negative self image month report is due and you are three Morrison compared the stress that play- ■ few friends or hobbies days behind in your work. It kicks in ers face on the green to the early cave- ■ forgetful when the staff has to ramp up for the man “fight or flight” response. Of course, upcoming semester, or a major disburse- it’s been sometime since any of us went EMOTIONAL ment needs to get out by 8 p.m. tonight. nose-to-nose with Mr. Sabertooth Tiger, ■ anxious Eustress sharpens, it energizes, it stim- but I’ll bet some of your most difficult ■ unhappy most of the time ulates, and it creates the office rush. students can produce the same fight or ■ constantly worrying So why do we think of stress as neg- flight reaction in you. Do you run to the ■ irritable ative? Left unchecked, or unmanaged, back office to avoid the impending ■ easily frustrated even the good stress—your eustress— doom, or do you stoke up the engines can evolve into the bad stuff: distress. and get ready for the upcoming conflict? SOCIAL When distress takes over, the varied What goes through our minds and ■ feeling isolated, lonely symptoms like those listed under our bodies during a fight-or-flight reaction? ■ little contact with friends five categories begin to appear. Some of the major changes include ■ poor relations with coworkers Needless to say, distress is not good. dilated pupils, sweaty palms, pounding ■ distrusting heart muscles, numb or trembling legs, ■ using people only for selfish gains What Causes Stress? and rapid breathing. All of this can take Stressors come in all shapes and sizes. place when the campus problem child SPIRITUAL When I work with financial aid profes- just comes into the office. ■ feeling like a martyr sionals, I find it interesting how similar Stress inducers can come from every ■ unforgiving the office stressors are across the coun- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT FINANCIAL AID ADMINISTRATORS 45
  15. 15. 77788_44_47 7/25/05 3:17 PM Page 46 try. Personal stressors may vary with You may want to hold onto them— house, create a filing system with each individual, however, so getting a stressors can become so familiar, they pockets for each month’s receipts, clear picture of the nature of your stres- are like lifelong family members—but compile a central phone and sors can help put everything into per- they need to be jettisoned to alleviate address directory, post a family spective. Try using the matrix below to and prevent the stress-related symp- dry-erase calendar—these all are capture your personal stressors. toms in our five categories. easily accomplished. To really do this right, you should ■ Drink water—lots of it: Water first devote an entire evening to creat- Managing Stress helps your body operate at optimal ing a “stressor list.” (For those of us That leaves us with Box 1. Once you levels. Reduce or eliminate who aren’t list makers, this in itself have completed Box 1, your real work caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. could be a stressor.) This list should begins. This is where you need to focus You may not be the life of the include the things that cause you stress your efforts for minimizing the nega- party, but you sure will feel better symptoms. tive effects of stress. There must be every morning. Once you have completed your list, thousands of stress management tech- ■ Get a pet: Dogs, cats, iguanas, you will need to do some serious soul niques out there, from exercising to parakeets, hamsters all provide the searching; the next step may be the dietary changes, from organizational chance to love, and be loved, most important. Using the matrix pro- skills to “journaling,” and everything unconditionally. vided, categorize each of your stressors in between. The following are a few we ■ Communicate: Find a friend, a into one of the four boxes. find especially helpful. family member, or perhaps a coun- Box 1: Stressors that are important and ■ Sleep: Try to establish a set sleep selor who will listen to you about you have some control over them routine and keep it your stressors and possibly offer Box 2: Stressors that are important but ■ Breathe/meditate: The calming a different perspective on your you have no control over them effect of meditation and controlled situation. Box 3: Stressors that are unimportant breathing can have a huge impact ■ Reach out: Taking a moment to but you have control over them on your responses to stress. assist a neighbor, do volunteer Box 4: Stressors that are unimportant ■ Exercise: In addition to general work, or just help a stranger can and you do not have control over them health benefits, aerobic exercise reduce stress and increase your Be honest. Is it a big deal that the triggers endorphins in your brain, sense of personal well-being. driver in front of you is going three generating positive feelings. You A great Web site dealing with stress miles an hour under the posted speed don’t need a gym or expensive is www.stresstips.com. This site con- limit, won’t pull over even though you equipment to exercise. A 30-minute tains a wealth of information and, best have flipped them off (with your lights, walk at lunchtime or a brisk walk of all, it is free. of course), and only allows you to pass in the evening before or after din- As our lives become more stressful at seven miles over the posted speed ner is a great start. Make your goal and our family, friends, children, part- limit? Will you really capture that one “SMART”—Specific, Measurable, ners, and co-workers experience simi- important car-length at the next light? Achievable, a Reach, and Time- lar pressures, we need to recognize When you finish completing the focused—and you are on your way. when stress is a positive motivator, and matrix, look at the stressors in Box 4 ■ Be nice to yourself: Try positive when it is “good for absolutely noth- and let them go. They’re unimportant self-talk. Give yourself credit, even ing.” When stress arises from some- and you have no control over them. The if others won’t. thing unimportant or out of your con- same holds true for all of those stres- ■ Try to become more organized: trol, find a safe place to let it go. Find sors in Boxes 2 and 3—not important Always put your keys on the same that safe place for you. and you control them or, important but hook, keep a couple of extra pairs Stress is all around us, but Smokey you can’t control them. Let them go. of reading glasses around the Bear was right: Only you… STRESS MATRIX LIST EACH OF YOUR PERSONAL STRESSORS WITHIN THE APPROPRIATE CATEGORY. Terry Everson is vice president for BOX 1: IMPORTANT AND YOU HAVE SOME CONTROL BOX 3: UNIMPORTANT BUT YOU HAVE training, and Laura Gallagher is the SOME CONTROL marketing communications specialist for corporate communications at Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc. BOX 2: IMPORTANT BUT YOU HAVE NO CONTROL BOX 4: UNIMPORTANT AND YOU HAVE NO CONTROL They may be reached at teverson@ glhec.org or lgallagher@glhec.org, respectively. 46 STUDENT AID TRANSCRIPT | VOL 16 | NO 2 | 2005
  16. 16. 78660.50-55 11/2/05 10:21 AM Page 50 50 STUDENT AID TRANSCRIPT
  17. 17. 78660.50-55 11/2/05 10:21 AM Page 51 CUSTOMER SERVICE It’s the People and the Process By Terry Everson and Laura Gallagher uring this six-article ner that create an output, result, or your dream home on a prime piece of D series, we have focused deliverable. Examples of processes real estate. It will be a funky little on the human aspect of within the student aid environment prairie-style home, much in the image customer service. But include: of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. You one critical piece • Information dissemination meet with the builder, he meets with remains. According to • Application the architect, everything is finalized, W. Edwards Deming— • Verification and documentation and construction begins. who is often credited with being the • Loan processing Soon you discover your builder is a father of Statistical Process Control • Due diligence free spirit and prides himself on keep- (SPC) and with turning around Japan’s • Awarding funds ing everything in his head, with little manufacturing industry in the 1950s • Appeals formal documentation. Nothing is writ- and 1960s—85% of problems in the • Audits ten down. Still, you don’t worry. All work environment are caused by the • Reporting the subcontractors are dedicated, hard- process that people are working with- To be an effective process manager, working and take great pride in their in—not the people. Staff do not nor- you must first ensure that your process- respective crafts. Sounds like your mally come to work each day trying to es are well-documented and under con- financial aid office, right? Let’s see make errors. trol, with little variability. To illustrate what happens. What is a process? From a manufac- this point, let’s leave the financial aid Once the utilities are installed and turing and utility standpoint, a process sphere for a moment and use an exam- the foundation is poured, the rough car- is a series of interrelated activities con- ple from everyday life. penters arrive. They follow the lead of ducted in a regular and successive man- Suppose you have decided to build the builder and believe they have a NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT FINANCIAL AID ADMINISTRATORS 51
  18. 18. 78660.50-55 11/2/05 10:21 AM Page 53 clear understanding of the final prod- (SMEs), when they instead often end ator ends up in the master bedroom of uct. As they begin construction, they up as the single point of failure (SPOF). your new home. decide to make a few changes in an This type of inefficiency can quick- So what is a team to do? What is a effort to improve the final product. ly turn into chaos when the boss comes leader to do? They decide that a second story will be back from a training session on improv- a nice touch and a large garage will ing department productivity and You’re Part of a Process make storage much easier. They also decides that some of the processes need The first step toward improving cus- decide that by turning the floor plan to be upgraded. If the boss forgets to tomer service is realizing that you are around a bit they can capture valuable discuss these changes with the regis- not an isolated entity within your organ- solar heat and save on utility costs. trar, bursar, student services staff, and ization. Changes made by one office The only problem is, the plumber admissions team, then the financial aid affect other offices. We need to stop wasn’t told of the changes. He installs staff members are making the changes thinking of our team as a solitary unit the soaking tub in the middle of the in a vacuum. This is how the refriger- that we control, but rather as a series kitchen and the stove finds its way into of interconnected processes. Even with- the master bath. in the aid office, changes in one area The electrician also is in the dark can have a negative impact on other about the changes, so he overlooks wiring for the second floor. These are What is a team financial aid processes. When your process feeds into another team, or they two big problems, wouldn’t you say? feed into your team, cooperation and Now remember, all these people take great pride in their work. They even to do? What is collaboration become critical. pride themselves on “continuous Understanding Process improvement” by looking for ways to meet and exceed the customers’ a leader to do? Management There is a wealth of information on the expectations. Here is some of what’s Internet relating to process manage- going wrong: ment. A Google search on the phrase • Because of a lack of documentation, everyone is doing their own thing, and end up either complementing the efforts of others or causing severe Keep Your Process Management hardships. • As changes are made in the name of Tools Handy continuous improvement, one team looks great, the other team looks There are many valuable tools to help you achieve your process manage- foolish, and ultimately the construc- ment goals. Be sure the following tools are in your tool box: tion process is a mess. • Gantt Charts depict a project schedule at a glance, identifying the key Now let’s draw some parallels in the phases in a project life cycle and their sequence and time requirements. aid office. Many offices are currently • Affinity Diagrams organize random ideas into similar groups and helps working within processes that are not create visual groupings of like ideas under a header or theme. well-documented. The way things are • Control/Run Charts plot variable activity over a specific period, mak- now done is eerily similar to the ing it easier to visualize what is happening in a process. processes used 5-10 years ago. When • Fishbone Charts show, in diagram form, relationships between causal asked why something is done in a par- factors and their resulting effects. ticular manner, the common response • Scatter Diagrams show how process variables are related. They can be among aid office staff is “We’ve always used to discover and document possible cause-and-effect relationships. done it that way.” • Pareto Charts use a simple bar-graph format to rank the cause, source, Worse yet, certain staff members types, or reasons for problems and/or opportunities. have become “resident experts” who believe their value within the team All of these tools will help you document your processes, the critical first increases when they are the only one step in any improvement initiative. who can accomplish a certain task. These type of employees often believe themselves to be subject matter experts NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT FINANCIAL AID ADMINISTRATORS 53
  19. 19. 78660.50-55 11/2/05 10:21 AM Page 55 As an old training Rarely is there a single, simple adage advises, “If it cause-and-effect relationship; to isn’t nailed down, get good ideas, be sure to include all of your staff. take it. If it is nailed 6. Create action steps assigning tar- down, adapt it!” get responsibilities and target dates. Be sure to get everyone actively Find the process involved in the planning and imple- management tools mentation process. Involvement increases commitment. that best meet 7. Create a master plan to ensure that your needs. everyone knows their responsibil- ities and deadline dates, and under- stands the interrelationship be- “process management” generated more tween all activities. This will raise than 17 million hits. As an old training consciousness and increase ac- adage advises, “If it isn’t nailed down, countability. take it. If it is nailed down, adapt it!” 8. Follow through to bring your plan Find the process management tools that to completion. Unless it is man- best meet your needs. aged well, the best-laid plan can One of the best tools for speeding up fall into disrepair without consis- your learning curve and implementa- tent attention. tion cycle is a publication from GOAL QPC titled “The Memory Jogger II.” It Customer Service and You is a wonderful compilation of data col- In the six articles of this series, we hope lection and process management tools. we have planted many seeds for growth Possibly the best starting tool is Process in your approach to customer service. Mapping, which can be used on inter- Perhaps the best summary for this and intra-department processes. It series is an example that brings home details which employee does what, and the critical nature of customer service. in what sequence, thereby providing a As we were finishing this article, as if working snapshot of key processes on cue, a shipment arrived in the office There are eight key steps in GOAL with the following message stamped QPC’s Process Mapping tool: across the box: Remember, the next 1. Select a process that needs to be inspector in the process is the customer! improved. Your staff can be espe- Enough said. cially helpful in choosing the right We are constantly being evaluated by one. Start with a process that is eas- our customers, our co-workers, our ily defined and has produced its employers, and our employees. Even share of speed bumps for the team. our business partners and community 2. Assemble a team. Sometimes it leaders are watching. Be sure your staff helps to bring in someone from and processes “wow” your customers. another team to serve as a sound- That’s customer service. ing board and an “unbiased” observer. Terry Everson is senior vice president 3. Map out the present application. of training and sales for Student Loan Pictures and images are worth a Xpress. Laura Gallagher is the mar- thousand words. List in detail who keting communications specialist for does what tasks, and in what order. corporate communications at Great 4. Define the day-to-day problem Lakes Educational Loan Services, areas that slow down customer Inc. They may be reached at service delivery. terry.everson@slxpress.com or 5. Brainstorm to find solutions. lgallagher@glhec.org, respectively. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STUDENT FINANCIAL AID ADMINISTRATORS 55

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