Making a Difference
In the Lives of Students - Part 6 Student/Parent Service
Dr. Dennis Demuth
Making a difference in the lives of our students requires a concerted effort on the part of every staff person. When parents turn their children over to Victory, everyone associated with the school becomes a partner with the parent in teaching, training and nurturing the student. Each family comes with different expectations. It is up to each of us to meet these expectations the best we can. Our goal is to treat every student and parent like we would like to be treated. Matthew 7:12 says, “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.” (MSG)
The average cost to educate a student at Victory is $5,956. For parents to justify this expense there are certain expectations and perceived values that parents have about placing their children at Victory compared to other Christian schools and especially public school. Part of our task as staff is to enhance the perception of the value of being at VCS. This perceived value is made up of three components: quality, student/parent service and cost.
The Quality (Q) component of perceived value (PV) is all the characteristics and features of Victory Christian School that are different than any other school. For example: Charismatic, strong spiritual focus, Word of Faith, mission’s emphasis, student-led chapels, full range of academic courses, modern facilities, Spirit-filled staff, to name a few.
The student/parent service component, commonly known as customer service (CS) is all the acts performed for our students and their parents. In business 67% of the customers leave because of poor customer service. As Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart stated, “There is only one boss - the customer, and he can fire everybody in the company, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. “ Once we factor out the primary reasons for not enrolling - finances, moving, family issues, the remaining reasons (70%) are related to student/parent service. These include ways in which papers are graded, not returning phone calls, passing the buck, and not getting back to parents, lack of teacher preparation, and lack of professionalism. In most cases it is not one factor, rather the accumulation of a number of small negative items over a period of time.
It's a numbers game
Unfortunately, students and parents remember critical factors more than positive ones. You can blame it on the brain. Studies conducted by Dr. John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago have shown what he calls "the negativity bias" of the brain. Our brains are actually more sensitive and responsive to unpleasant news. That's why personal insults or criticism hit us harder and stay with us longer. It's why negative ads are more effective than positive ones—political or otherwise.
Not only do we have a built-in partiality toward negative information, but negatives increase disproportionately over positives. It's not a one-to-one ratio. In other words, one positive cannot offset one negative. When you tell your husband, "Thanks for giving the kids a bath, honey," and five minutes later say, "You forgot to take out the trash—again," the negative drowns out the positive. Our brain needs a higher number of positive entries to counterbalance this built-in negativity bias. And several small, frequent, positive acts pack more punch than one giant-size positive. The size of the positive doesn't count; quantity does. It's strictly a numbers game.
Messages Being Sent
What is the message we are sending by our actions? It is the accumulation of a number of smaller, irritating events that result in parents being dissatisfied and students not returning.
We asked our students, “What one thing about Victory makes it different from any other school you have attended?” The answer, “Our teachers love and care for us.” Parents: “They really care about our family.”
The bottom line question at the center of customer service is: How much value is this person placing on my commitment to this school?
When you really begin to CARE about students and their families, you are on the road to great customer service and parents not only will continue with our school, but they will send their other offspring. This year is our largest alumni enrollment at 58 students.