GPC earns four customer service awards

By collecting four 2010 Chancellor's Customer Service Awards, Georgia Perimeter College expands its streak to three consecutive years of being recognized as a top customer service institution in Georgia.

"We get a lot of repeat winners," said Board of Regents Chancellor Erroll B. Davis. "This is not a politically correct process. We're not trying to spread these awards around. People won't get these awards because it's their turn. Our winners (are institutions and people who) 'get it.' They understand that customer service is not a job, it's a calling."

During the Board of Regents ceremony held last month in Atlanta, GPC earned the Customer Service Contact Center of the Year gold award for GPC's new Contact Center; a bronze Outstanding Customer Service Improvement Initiative Award for GPC's Dual Enrollment initiatives; the Customer Service Institution of the Year silver award; and GPC President Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli won the silver Customer Service Leadership award.

This year awards were given in seven categories with all 35 University System of Georgia member colleges and employees eligible in each category.

Last year GPC won the Customer Service Institution of the Year gold award.

In 2008, Tricoli won the gold Customer Service Leadership award, and in 2009, Tricoli earned the silver Customer Service Leadership award.

"I believe in celebrating these kinds of successes," said Gov. Sonny Perdue, who attended the ceremony. "Even parents know you get what you reward and celebrate on an ongoing basis."

In 2006, Perdue established the Governor's Office of Customer Service, designed to improve the quality of essential services to people in Georgia. Davis established the Chancellor's Customer Service Awards to complement Perdue's statewide initiative and monitor improvements in customer service by BOR member institutions.

"People around the state tell me what you have done," Perdue said.

"Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to be known as the customer service state. People remember how you made them feel. You have changed how we do business in Georgia."

To improve service to customers and eventually earn the 2010 gold award, GPC established the Contact Center, a call service that answers questions concerning all five GPC campuses.

"The center has 26 employees who were hired because of their experience and expertise in the call center and customer service professions," said Fran Mohr, director of the college's customer service department and the new Contact Center. "They received two weeks of initial training that provided an overview of GPC and its various student services departments."

The Contact Center opened in February and began answering the main department phone numbers for the Enrollment and Registrations Services departments. Since then, the center has expanded its support to include the Advising, Counseling and Retention Services and the GPC Online departments.

"Armed with their training, information found of eSAMS, GPC's frequently asked questions (AskGPC) and the college's Web site, the center's employees resolve over 90 percent of the inquiries they receive," she said. "It's impressive to hear their professional and caring support on the phone with students and it's exciting that their efforts led to a gold award in only seven months of the center's existence."

However, this gold award is a really a college-wide award, Mohr said.

"The center would not be successful without the tireless efforts and support of the entire college community," she said.

GPC's Dual Enrollment program offers high schools students a chance to take college courses for high school and college credit. The program's coordinators knew that an improvement in customer service would increase participation in the program though they did not know it could also earn them a bronze Outstanding Customer Service Improvement Initiative Award.

"We knew our enrollment numbers were low," said Jeff Meadors, Dual Enrollment coordinator on the Newton Campus. "We knew there were more eligible students who were not taking advantage of dual enrollment opportunities."

Meadors worked with the other coordinators to increase efficiency in enrolling and participation in the program.

"We redesigned the Web site, making it more user friendly," said Janet Orr, Dual Enrollment coordinator on the Dunwoody Campus. "We increased outreach and offered an online orientation for DE students. It's an honor to win the bronze award, considering how of all of the USG schools are concerned with improving access."

All of GPC's customer service initiatives were spearheaded by Tricoli.

"Both of these silver awards represent the hard work of GPC's faculty, staff and administrators," Tricoli said. "We're honored to be recognized by the University System of Georgia for the dedication that results in improving the quality of our services to students and the GPC communities. We'll continue to make customer service our main priority and continue to work to keep GPC one of the state's leaders in this area."

In addition to the Chancellor's Awards honors, GPC's Contact Center and Dr. Tricoli are nominees for the Governor's Customer Service awards to be given later this year.