New Initiative Aims to Provide Exceptional Customer Service

participants at Highlands' Power of Service training

Photo: Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
Highlands employees Loretta Duran, left, a library associate, Leo García, campus tour coordinator, and Stephanie Santillanes, annual giving officer, share their table’s ideas about good customer service at the Power of Service program kickoff Sept. 28.

Las Vegas, New Mexico – A new initiative at New Mexico Highlands University aims to provide exceptional customer service to students.

Highlands launched its campuswide Power of Service program Sept. 28 with a “How May I Help You?” kickoff event and three-hour customer service training offered in two sessions.

“In my view, we provide a very high level of customer service at Highlands, but we can always do better,” Highlands President Sam Minner said. “To me it boils down to the golden rule of service: treating people the way you want to be treated. I am very happy we are doing this service initiative and am confident that our outcomes, which are already good, will get even better.”

Human Resources Director Denise Montoya said good customer service is critical to an organization’s success.

“Exceptional customer service is about much more than friendliness and responsiveness,” said Montoya, who co-chairs the Power of Service initiative. “It’s about having the knowledge and access to resources that help those we serve.”

Montoya said the university’s customers include students, local and statewide communities, alumni, staff, faculty and more.

“We built the Power of Service program with the idea of wowing the customer and making a lasting positive impression. The idea originated with the university’s Board of Regents and President Sam Minner,” Montoya said.

Montoya said the Power of Service program is based on feedback from Highlands staff members who completed a survey asking them what kind of knowledge would enhance the customer service they provide.

“It’s exciting that a cross-section of staff volunteered to lead this effort with me. It’s called the Power of Service Champion Team, and includes Laird Thornton, Kimberly Blea, Tina Clayton, Mary Cole, Renee García, April Kent, Carol Linder, Patricia Lopez, Adele Ludi, Emily Montoya, Josephine Sena, Juli Salman, and Cathy Santistevan,” Montoya said.

Laird Thornton is the president of the Staff Senate at Highlands and co-chairs the Power of Service initiative.

“The staff at Highlands is very interested in additional professional development,” said Thornton, who is a network engineer in Information Technology Services.  “Power of Service is a real opportunity for staff to broaden their skill set. We think Power of Service will also help create a more positive and cohesive work environment for the campus community as a whole.”

Thornton said the strength of the Power of Service Team is that various departments came together to share their unique insights and perspectives.

A series of upcoming monthly staff training in the remainder of 2017 and in 2018 include topics like empowering students to navigate resources at Highlands, maximizing the use of technology to increase efficiency, and using best practices for phone etiquette when making referrals.

“All the training sessions will be shared with the university’s statewide centers using Zoom, a real-time online meeting platform that users can access from anywhere. I encourage staff to contact me with feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future Power of Service trainings,” Thornton said.

Montoya said Highlands will administer a survey to students designed to create a baseline for customer service and will survey students again to gauge progress.