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Monday, January 23, 2012

Customer Service In School???

With all of the attention that's recently been devoted to high stakes tests, new learning standards, and complicated teacher evaluation instruments, a significant contributor to improving performance within schools has been neglected or shoved aside. What about the condition of the school's social and psychological environment? What about how people really feel while they inhabit the building for six or seven hours each school day? Doesn't it stand to reason that we all have a better chance of reaching our potential when we are secure, comfortable and accepted? I don't simply refer to our learners but the adults as well. Think of your own work climate, in whatever field or occupation it might be.

Take a moment and describe the context of your best day at work - you know, the time that everything was going so well that it didn't feel like work anymore. Did you reach that peak level of performance under near excruciating pressure exerted from those outside of your field of work? Did you achieve at extraordinary levels as you labored with fewer and fewer resources to support your efforts? Did you realize a high rate of success while people openly questioned and belittled your commitment? Did you arrive at the height of achievement alone, or with the help of cooperative colleagues? What factors contributed to your personal triumph that day at work?

No, I’m not idealistic or naive enough to suggest that if everyone is happy and engulfed in a warm and fuzzy atmosphere that work levels increase. Not at all. But I am confident that research on workplace environments supports the creation and maintenance of an organizational culture that is respectful, supportive, and constructive.

To that end, I am sharing the summary of a report that appeared in a book that has influenced my leadership ability Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzer. The authors reference a study conducted to identify behaviors that increase customer satisfaction in hospitals. The list that appears below does not contain anything that has to be purchased, nor does it require any skill that must be developed through extensive and expensive staff development. Yet, these behaviors collectively make a difference in satisfied customers (patients). Would anyone disagree that patients are more likely to recover faster when they feel satisfied?

Vital Behaviors leading to higher customer satisfaction in hospitals:

1. Smile,
2. Make eye contact,
3. Identify yourself,
4. Let people know what you're doing, and why,
5. End every interaction by asking, "Is there anything else you need?"

Makes you wonder what impact these same suggestions could evoke if they were sincerely and regularly promoted throughout school.

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