Service to Students is Valuable

This past Saturday, I set out on a mission. I needed new running shoes in order to really start training for this half marathon coming up. The last time I purchased them, admittedly, was back in August 2008 before I ran the Chicago Marathon. and since I am beginning to train for my first half marathon with my brother, I was in dire need of new shoes. Now, some of you may be thinking, what does this have to do with the student affairs field and being a new professional? Well I am about to share how you can relate my experience to your current role in serving students, bear with me.

Shopping for new running shoes is not an easy task; I went to six different stores looking for the perfect fit and comfort level. When I walked into the fourth store, I was greeted by a young man that asked me if I needed any help. This store was not a store that specialized in running shoes, but I was looking for a reasonably priced pair and thought it was worth a shot. When I explained to the sales associate that I had very little pronation when running and thus needed a pair of shoes that offered little to no extra stability, he gave me a blank stare and told me “it seems like you know what you are looking for, but I don’t know which of those shoes would fit your needs. The associate said, “If you care to look around, I would love to try to help you so that if someone asks me about this in the future, I can help them out” he said. This statement made an impression on me.

This sales associate had no idea what I was talking about, but was willing to try to help me by going the extra mile. He was able to learn more about what I was talking about, in order to provide excellent customer service to the next person that asked a similar question in taking a few extra minutes to hear my needs. I wondered how many times have we, as professionals, worked with a student that needed help, when we had a similar reaction to the sales associate. Sometimes, it is as easy as referring them to an office that can help, and sometimes, we have to refer them because we don’t have specific training. However, how often do we take time to “walk with that student,” just in case another student has the same concern? This employee challenged me to think about those times that I may not have had an answer to a student or when I was completely baffled by what was being asked. We are all generalists, whom always wear different hats in student affairs. I know that next time I don’t know the answer; I will stay with that student to challenge myself so that I can proved better service to the next student that has the same question. Take a second to think about the service you provide to a student and how valuable a few extra minutes with a student can make an impression.

Joe Volin

Student Affairs - the First Years

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