I often hear colleagues talking about 'our customers' and 'customer service', but who ARE our customers, yours and mine?
Thinking of the University as a whole, it might be easiest to start with the obvious ones: undergraduate and postgraduate students who want us to educate them and prepare them for their chosen destination. That's a reasonable start, but our customers include a MUCH wider range of people and organisations than just our students.
A Customer is anyone who wants or needs something from you.
That may sound like a very broad definition, but let me put that in context:
The parents and grandparents of our students want to be sure that their children are going to get an excellent education, have a good experience while at university and that their investment is good value.
Our research partners want to be sure that we are capable of carrying out excellent research and that we will deliver appropriate results within the budgets and timescales set. Employers want us to create educated, qualified, job-ready graduates who will add value to their organisations as soon as they are employed. Funding bodies want us to to be deserving of the money they give us, delivering proven results in education and research. The public expects us to use their money wisely and to push the boundaries of research for the betterment of mankind.
Those are our external customers, but we also have internal customers, all of whom expect and deserve a high level of service and support. Our managers need us to do our jobs efficiently and to quickly report problems so that they can be addressed before they escalate; colleagues need us to perform our functions well and to support them when they want something else from us.
You need me to do the best I can for you and I need you to do the same for me.
So again I ask, who are your customers?
Until next time.