Colleges whose leaders make the effort to combine service-oriented departments into one center tend to provide stronger service interactions across campus, as this infographic shows.
It’s not an easy lift: putting entire departments that students need to visit throughout their time in college together into a single “one-stop” location, where employees are cross-trained so that anyone can at least triage a student’s question or problem. Apparently, such efforts impact the interactions students have with staff not only in that office but in other departments as well. This correlation is evident in findings from the recent Student Voice survey on service interactions with nonacademic offices.
Student Voice explores higher education from the perspective of students, providing unique insights on their attitudes and opinions. Kaplan provides funding and insights to support Inside Higher Ed’s coverage of student polling data from College Pulse. Inside Higher Ed maintains editorial independence and full discretion over its coverage.
Conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse with support from Kaplan, the survey of 2,239 college undergrads (including spring 2022 graduates) found, for example, a connection between having access to a multipurpose office and how happy students believe staff are over all at the institution. Thirty-five percent of students at colleges with a one-stop shop for services (n=815) say that staff across campus seem very happy to be doing the work that they do. That’s compared to 14 percent of students whose colleges do not have a one-stop (n=552, with the remaining respondents being uncertain if such an office exists on campus).
Positive experiences students might have with an office include being treated kindly by staff, getting a quick reply to a question or having an issue resolved. But the aim of providing good service is also broader than that.
“Customer service is more than a philosophy; it is a term of action,” says Joshua Sine, who spent 15 years as a higher ed administrator and is now vice president of higher education strategy at Qualtrics, an experience management software company.
Investing in a one-stop office demonstrates to students, staff and faculty a willingness to use resources to “alleviate the historic friction points and bottlenecks that have plagued higher education for generations,” he adds.
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The process of equipping staff to serve any student from a single office does more than make that location a positive place for students. In Sine’s experience, opening a one-stop “breeds a service-centered culture on campus that will translate into higher student satisfaction and turn students into brand ambassadors.”
Following are some highlights from the Student Voice survey, with responses split by those who have access to a one-stop and those who do not.
More insights from the Student Voice survey can be found in this article, with eight actions for clarifying student service expectations and improving service.