August 12, 2013

Facing Challenging Times, University Ramps Up Customer Service

Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue brings Chicago ‘master communicator’ to campus to help faculty, staff provide “exceptional customer service”

By Grambling State University Media Bureau

Customer Service Consutlant Lisa Laude addresses the staff at Grambling State University

Customer Service Consutlant Lisa Laude addresses
the staff at Grambling State University.

Grambling, La. – In difficult times when money is tight, there are fewer jobs, more duties for those employed and there’s significant structural changes, customer service is key.

Chicago-based consultant, trainer and “master communicator” Lisa Laude’ told a group of Grambling State University administrators, faculty and staff that they, individually, will determine the university’s reputation every time they come in contact with someone, must realize they are “on stage” every time someone calls or walks in and that they shape the environment in which they work.

“You make or break the reputation of Grambling State University every time you come in contact with a parent or a student,” said Laude’, who has clients nationally and internationally. “Too often people think Grambling State is the president, or the administration. But Grambling State University is YOU.”

State funds have declined significantly in the last eight years with annual and mid-year budget cuts.  With so many cuts, so much combining of jobs and so many changes, Pogue decided that the university’s faculty and staff needed some ideas and training to prepare for the opening of school this fall. Working with Monica Bradley, associate vice president for human resources, the president put together “Opening the University with a GSU Welcome,” a half-day workshop focused on preparing to welcome back returning students and welcoming new students in the Black and Gold Room in the Favrot Student Union on campus.

 “When you come to work, you’re on stage,” added Laude’, who some participants described as a dynamic, engaging energizer. “When the customer walks in…you’ve got to give them 110 percent, and whatever it takes to make that happen you do.”

Rather than blame others and pointing fingers, Laude’ said it’s best to look inward. “You so often get what you bring,” she said. “Whatever you bring to the table is more than likely what you’ve going to get back. So if you don’t like what you’re getting, you have to ask yourself what are you giving.”

Pogue said “we don’t have a choice” whether to provide superb customer service. “We’ve been forced to deal with fewer and fewer state funds, fewer jobs but our students, parents and visitors don’t care about our challenges,” he said. “They expect service, they expect the best and we owe that to them.”

Pogue pointed out that some customer service is internal, and the entire university can do a better job working across departments, divisions and units. “We cannot afford to have this one not liking to work with that one and someone skipping a meeting because someone else is going to be there,” he said. “That’s nonsense. You don’t have to be someone’s best buddy and have them over for dinner, but you darn sure better do what’s necessary to serve our customers, especially our students.”

Laude’ helps businesses and other clients “create the culture that will bring success.” She said she was excited when she learned that the university had decided to invest in its employees and she saw it as a wonderful opportunity. “So often employees are asked to reach certain goals and not given resources to do that,” Laude’ explained, “and Grambling State has asked them to provide exceptional customer service and I’m here to help do that.”

Several faculty and staff said after the program that they will take new, improved approaches to registration and welcoming new and returning students in August. Terrence Bradford, assistant athletic director for business, said rather than send students away from his department because athletics has nothing to do with many student issues “I’ll give them some options, give them some alternatives.”

Colton Brown, who works as an electrical mechanical technician in the university’s mechanical engineering unit, said he walked away with the tools he needs to be successful, to be happy and to put on a good face as she provides the best customer service possible. “I have renewed enthusiasm to help our students be successful and to meet their needs,” he said after the workshop. “I really liked how Laude’ touched me. She really moved me from the place where I was when I came in to where I am now that we’ve ended.”

Brown said he’s taking one specific step immediately: He’s changing his outgoing voicemail message to include his name, to be more helpful and to be more informative.

Laude’ said she enjoyed the university visit and would love to return to continue the work she started. She said customer service is an ongoing effort, and one that should be measured. 

“Organizations that focus on that are successful, and other people talk about them – in a good way,” added Laude’. “They make it a part of their regular culture, and you can tell the difference. When you track it you can see how the investment has been worthwhile.”

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Media Contact:
Will Sutton



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