In my five years in the campus card industry, I have noticed that the focus has shifted more and more to two main components: technology and security. Rightfully so, as these are the key components that make up any successful identification program: some type of credential–the technology–and the objective of that credential–security.
As important as these components are, however, it is equally important to remember why we are in this business. Yes, for some it may be to design the newest and greatest biometric software or identity solution, but ultimately we are in it for the benefit of our customers. In the world of campus cards, our customers use our products for everything from identification to access and from a debit card to a soda can opener. Regardless of the use, however, they expect the card to work without fail every time.
Recently, I have found myself asking why customer service is important in our field. Students need us more than we need them, right? Does it matter if I treat my customers poorly? They are still going to need their ID, and it isn’t like they can do it without me. Or can they?
Soon there will be those who do not remember having to turn a mechanical key to open a door. For those us who remember, imagine which is more troublesome for the customer: fumbling with that key or swiping a magnetic stripe that fails. At least with the key the customer can still gain access to the room. Poor customer service, much like a faulty magnetic stripe, will make the customer long for the day when all they had to do was put a key in the lock.
Let’s be honest, our ID credential is not the only one in our customer’s wallet. I probably have ten ID cards in my wallet from various organizations so there is no question of who I am. Our customers also have multiple debit cards, separate keys and some even have a real can open for their soda. So why do they need us?
That is where customer service comes in. We all believe that our ultimate goal is to make life easier for our customers, but believe it or not we often have to sell that idea to them. Customer service is essential in our business because, yes the customer can get the same results from other services. Sure, we can all agree that we should provide quality customer service because it is the right thing to do. I too am a firm believer in the Golden Rule. But it’s more than that; we are all in the business of sales. We have to sell the idea that our product is worth the customer’s time.
So what does the customer want from us?
Honestly, not much. Primarily, they want their credential to work. They don’t want to interact with us on a regular basis. When they do lose their card, they want the interaction with our office to be as quick and efficient as possible.
The truth is that it does not take much to keep a customer satisfied. In fact, if a customer doesn’t remember who or where we are, then we’re doing a fantastic job. Our job is very much behind the scenes, just like many others on a busy college campus. Our customers want to use our product without ever having to think about it. When they come into our offices, they want to be able to leave without incident. It’s simple really. As long as the credential works and we aren’t rude, we can stay in the game.
But what if we want to get ahead of the game?
The field of identification and security is moving quickly in pursuit of the latest and greatest technology. To grow a card program we have to stay on top of technology, but to do so we must sell our customers on the benefits. More selling means increasing or improving our level of service. Now we must go beyond keeping the customer satisfied and actually make them happy.
As we strive to grow our card programs, it is vital that we not lose focus on what is best for the customer in the pursuit of the newest or coolest technology. Advances in technology for the sole purpose of advancing technology are often lost on the end user. Yes, facial recognition is awesome, but when that system fails to open the door, the customer is going to once again wish for that mechanical key.