Just when Pepsi and Delta were wondering how they could move past their missteps of the previous week, in enters United Airlines to teach the public and next generation leaders how to appropriately respond to “an upsetting event.” Along with providing a “how-to” in a step-by-step viral video, United Airlines offered a new definition for the word “re-accommodate.” Through this singular event, United Airlines demonstrated that its motto “Fly the Friendly Skies” is just that, words on a page. In a world of increasing competition, United Airlines chose to put its own interests above the people they serve. While #NewUnitedAirlinesMotto provides opportunities for endless office laughter, the actions of the airlines provide a sobering lesson for every organization.
At the end of the day, every organization or institution is responsible for the people they serve. This not only includes customers or students, but also the team members who take the words that an organization stands for and translates them into actions every day. Students are not just a number placed in the FTE column of a spreadsheet. They are people who have ambitions, goals, challenges, and obstacles to navigate. Contemporary students come from all walks of life and look to organizations to help them get from point A to point B. They seek out institutions who best meet their needs at the time and get them to their destination safely.
Changes in flight plans, weather, and crew shifts can all cause delays during air travel. Passengers, especially frequent flyers, are all too familiar with the bumps that can occur along the way, it’s to be expected. However, it is an organization’s response to its customers when these unexpected delays occur that makes all the difference. The same is true for higher education institutions. Students expect less and less from their institutions because over the years they have been conditioned to believe they must figure it out on their own almost like it is a rite of passage. Effective institutions know that investing in individual student success is the only way to truly make a difference, not only for the students, but to make a positive difference in the institutions themselves.
Higher education institutions who design their processes and procedures from admissions to graduation with students’ best interests in mind have the most impact. While these institutions are faced with the same external pressures and fierce competition, they focus on the reason for their existence, serving students. When processes and procedures are designed around those you seek to serve, we all can avoid “re-accommodating” people who place their trust in us to help them achieve their goals, not disrupt them.
How does your institution seek to consistently accommodate students’ needs the first time?