Consumer Culture in Online Education

Customer service. We know it when we see it. It can make or break a relationship with the client, and for every complaint you hear there are several which you don’t hear. These adages of the business and marketing world don’t apply to education right?

Wrong.

Today, education has become a marketplace. No longer are students or families limited to the one teacher, or even to one school. They have choices.  And that means that education entities public and private need to be mindful of their customer service in unprecedented ways.

To the educational purist, this can seem counter intuitive. Educators are not generally trained to be concerned with client desires and preferences, only objective outcomes. Are students really deciding our fate?

The answer is a resounding YES

That said, take heart. Students are not getting free reign yet. They need to graduate, or acceptance to college, or pre-requisites. That said they can and will look for the most enjoyable or productive option to which they have access.

So, here are some customer service applications for the online educator:

1) Communicate like a newspaper: who, what, why, where and when should be part of your instructions at every turn. Do not assume students know, because if they get lost-you might lose them.

2) Be proactive. Check in. Don’t wait for assignments to come in to talk with your students.

3) Be friendly and engaging. Create community space in discussion boards, blogs wiki’s and other collaborations so that students view you as a person.

4) Take home videos and accept video assignments. Let them see your personality and get to know theirs.

5) Know how to get support. If things go wrong as they sometimes will, know how to connect a kid with knowledgeable technical people who can help quickly.

6) Engage former students in mentoring new students and prospective students.

7) Wear your swag in the community and let people know who you are and what you do. It encourages brand recognition.

8) Be positive.