This week I am moving into a new office space. For the record, this will be my 12th office in the 28 years I have worked at UB. While packing my files I came across the program for the 1997 AECT (Association for Educational Communications and Technology) Conference. At this conference I did one of my first presentations on the web called “Customer Service and the WWW”. Remember when we used the term WWW?

The primary takeaway from this presentation was how the web could be used to improve customer service. Thinking about the web in a customer service paradigm has been lost in recent years. While I understand the focus on marketing, customer service still matters. In fact in this age of social media, customer service and customer satisfaction matter even more.

I spent a good portion of this talk on why treating students as “customers” with a focus on customer service is important to higher education. Many people in academia bristle at this notion because this is how businesses think and higher ed is not a business. But I disagree. We have an obligation to provide quality service.

Marketing, branding, and messaging should never get in the way of the user experience and quality service. And quality service is one of the best ways to market your institution.