It's All in the Smile

Hello #EMChat! My name is Eddie Wright and I am excited for my first blog post on this site! To learn more about me, check out my bio on the “Us” page. I hope today’s post sparks some thoughts in your mind. Leave a comment to respond to some of the questions posed, to share some random thoughts that are running through your head or to disagree completely with what I think. I look forward to the conversations!

MCPA, the Maryland state division of ACPA hosts a support staff conference each year in March. As I sit here wrestling with ideas for a presentation proposal, my mind wanders to #EMChat and I keep thinking about how I can tie the two topics together. Customer Service is the answer.

In my position at Mount St. Mary’s University, I oversee all on campus recruitment and have learned the value of investing in a quality customer experience. Sometimes people are uncomfortable talking about prospective students and their families as customers, but for this example, it is an appropriate comparison. Visitors come to your campus just as a customer goes to a specialized store. They are looking for something special, something specific and often they do not know what that something is until they find it. They will go from store to store (campus to campus) to view different models, prices and values. At the  end of the shopping trip most will make a decision and you are left hoping that your product (your institution) provided that special something.

The something special has to be something defined by you that your visitors can clearly articulate after their experience concludes. When families walk into our admissions office, one of the first things we do is take their picture and while they are on tour we print it out and give them a nice picture frame. We have also enhanced our welcome area with nice snacks and many K-cup options. At the Mount, we pride ourselves on personal connections, so our daily tours usually have only one or two families on them. If it is a larger group, we arrange more more guides.

A smiling, grandmother-like figure welcoming visitors to your office or large motion-sensitive video displays are examples of making a first impression with your visitors. The interactions visitors have with members of your campus community, both planned and spontaneous, can create a strong emotional connection (either positive or negative) that will not leave your visitors’ minds. Giving out a special candy or a unique giveaway can continue that lasting impression. Whatever you choose to do, make sure there is a special meaning behind it for your campus. Something wildly unique is fun and will set you apart but it also has to fit in with your campus atmosphere.

What do you do to make your visitors feel special? Does your institution have a customer service policy? Do your students and their families receive the same level of service as they did when they were being recruited? Are you interested in hearing more about service tips and techniques?