Case Study – City, University of London

The Student Centre at City is dedicated to supporting students and ensuring their success. Our team acts as the first port of call to receive friendly, professional and efficient advice and guidance. There are over 21,000 students at City, University of London; last year the Student Centre handled in excess of 56,000 enquiries which were a combination of in-person visits, telephone calls and enquiries by email.

Our Achievements So Far

The Student Centre first teamed up with The WOW! Awards in January 2011 and has since used the scheme as a way to reward employees for providing excellent customer service and to encourage them to always go the extra mile for our students. So far we have received over 500 nominations and around 200 certificates and have worked to consistently improve on our achievements; in 2012 we won the national award at The WOW! Gala Ceremony in the category of “Services to Students” and that year one of our Student Advisers was a finalist in the category of “Most Inspiring Frontliner”; in 2013 our Head of the Student Services was shortlisted for the “Leadership Award” and another of our Student Advisers was shortlisted for the “Front of House Award”; in 2014 our Senior International Student Adviser was shortlisted for the “Most Inspiring Frontliner” award and one of our Student Advisers won the national “Front of House Award”.

Embedding the Scheme

Working in the University’s Student Centre involves a lot of interaction with students, staff members and the general public. We strive to WOW! all our customers who are then very pleased to learn that there is an official way to say thank you for the outstanding service they have received, and which they regularly make use of.

Every new member of staff receives extensive training on customer service expectations, is informed about The WOW! Awards scheme and has their personal stock of WOW! cards printed out when they join the Student Centre. This helps them to understand that the scheme is an important part of their role and that everyone is expected to embrace it. Staff members have become quite competitive in receiving nominations and certificates, as the former are shared with the whole team, and the latter are given out during staff meetings by the Head of Student Services and then proudly displayed next to the entrance to the Student Centre.

Ozer, a Student Adviser who joined the Student Centre in March 2015, said:

“Before I started at City, University of London, I hadn’t heard of The WOW! Awards in any of my previous work environments. Therefore, it came as a pleasant surprise to me that I would now be working in a work environment that recognises and rewards great customer service. It gives me an even greater incentive to deliver exceptional service when I know that my efforts are always recognised, both by my fellow colleagues and my customers.”

Shared Learning

Sharing best practice is an important part of the great customer service we provide in the Student Centre, therefore in 2013 we designed a Student Centre Workshop which is being delivered monthly to members of staff from other departments at City. A large part of this workshop focuses on the customer service we deliver, and we take the opportunity in these sessions to explain The WOW! Awards and their impact on our motivation. Usually colleagues express a lot of interest in the scheme and wish to join as well, as they can see that our passion permeates through every aspect of our work – something that The WOW! Awards really encourages and fosters within the team. Such has been the level of interest from other University departments that from June this year we have renewed our membership to cover the entire institution so that every department can now benefit from this motivating and rewarding scheme.

Daily Recognition

In the Student Centre we receive WOW! nominations every day; some of them are very detailed descriptions of how the problem was handled and resolved. Here is an example of one such nomination:

“This was the third time I went in to the Student Centre, hoping this time my issue with student finance could be resolved. It was quite a complicated issue and had to be dealt with patience and understanding. Lucy took her time to listen and comprehend what I was explaining. How it affected me. She went beyond what I thought would be expected from the Student Centre, getting to the root of the problem. I really appreciated her empathy. She was never hesitant of making all those phone calls and emails, including asking other customers for help to resolve my issue. I can’t thank her enough and even though the issue is ongoing, I can honestly say I can walk in to the Student Centre comfortably knowing she’ll always be ready to hand for us students. Dealing with finances can be quite stressful and she has made this a lot easier for me. So, I would really like to thank Lucy for really stretching herself to get the job done, all with a smile on her face.”

To sum up, being rewarded for what we do in our daily job is extremely motivating and engaging for all staff members. It instils the ‘can-do’ attitude and promotes healthy competitiveness within the team. The customers also appreciate having a recognised way of saying thank you to the hardworking members of the Student Centre team, who never cease striving to meet and exceed their expectations.

Lucy Tomaka, Student Advisor