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TED Talk: Customer Service (little things do matter)

Customer Service (little things do matter)

Are the little things we do worth it? YES! If a butterfly flaps its wings in the ID card office, does it really create a hurricane on commencement day? Most likely not, but the little things do matter! Let’s explore the results of customer service on our guests and on ourselves. It has huge impact, creates partners, and best of all…. It’s free! In this NACCU video, we watch a short TED talk on the subject and then have a conversation about what truly impactful customer service means.

The Professional Development Committee has created a series of discussions based on TED Talks.  Each session begins with viewing a short TED Talk, followed by discussion. 


Michael Ramella, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Michael Ramella is the Director of Auxiliary Services at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.  With a background as a District Manager in contract food service, he has spent his career on the front lines of customer service and continually looks for improvement.  When he’s not doing that, Michael is a father of a college freshman, a high school junior, and one year old Labrador who often wants him around more than the kids do.

Jorrun Liston:  Welcome Everyone!  We are recording this and will post to naccuTV.

Jorrun Liston:  Please feel free to turn on your camera and share your ideas.

Michael Ramella, Facilitator:    What are some examples of companies that provide amazing customer service?  How do they do it?   Is it relatable to what we do?

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:    Discover Card > a human answers the phone!

Dawn Thomas:  Amazon Experience – always seems less risky because they believe the customer

Jessica Bender:  Starbucks – get to know you by name and your drink

Lynn Ernsting:  Your comment of “turning a transaction into an experience” makes me think of Disney

Meghan Rosenberg:  Honestly our public safety department does an amazing job!  They try to make every interaction with students educational and positive.  They go out of their way to provide the best service for all our community members – even when they are not treated with much respect themselves

Abe Cereno:  Google. You can to talk to Alexa 24×7

Shannon Zapf:  Instacart

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  Oh – Chick-Fil-A!  It’s their pleasure!

Jessica Bender:  Target pick up – I swear they are in the parking lot with my order within seconds of pulling up

Crystal Bazarnic:  You said Alexa, so mine is trying to talk to you. LOL

Michael Ramella, Facilitator:  How do we instill in our teams that the “shoes” are just as (maybe more so) important that the “dog”?

Jessica Bender:  Important to constantly acknowledge staff accomplishments

Dawn Thomas:  The small things build trust

Jessica Bender:  thank you notes or even a simple comment or word of thanks

Diane Harrison, NDSU:  We are first point of physical contact so we make a huge difference on their journey.

Bankim Patel:  Stand by with them when an exception is being made.

Wendy McCrory:  Be specific with the acknowledgement – “I appreciate your ability to fully serve customers by telling them about campus cash”

Wendy McCrory:  delete the neg emails! keep the positive

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  Oh, that reminds me – I take all the positive feedback we get each month and put it together and email out to the team and copy our leadership.

Jen McDonald:  great idea Kim

Michael Ramella, Facilitator:  Who are the “Lex Luther’s” on campus that can foil our quest at providing great service?

Wendy McCrory:  accounting

Wendy McCrory:  sorry Janice :  )

Jen McDonald:  The “not my job” people

Alicia Barnes:  Any form of miscommunication

Monica Seko:  Financial Aid, Admissions, Athletics

Janice Weston:  Hey Wendy!  That hurts.  LOL

Diane Harrison, NDSU:  People that give miss information

Abe Cereno:  IT

Jessica Bender:  Yes @jen McDonald – so, agree

Meghan Rosenberg:  Anyone that just gives what they think might be the answer instead of taking the time to find out the answer

Jessica Bender:  Everyone I work with knows a “wild goose chase” is one of my biggest pet peeves…

Monica Seko:  Being a yes man, but then expecting me to make the miracle happen because I have the knowledge

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  Never say you don’t know or turn folks away.  It’s not our fault but it is our problem (at that moment).

Jessica Bender:  Yes @kim Pfeffer….so annoying

Sheryl Puckett:  Exactly, Monica and Kim

Lynn Ernsting:  The “finger pointers” who receive reports of issues and just point the finger elsewhere rather than actually looking into the issue, asking questions, etc.

Monica Seko:  So true @Lynn

Michael Ramella, Facilitator:  While in person, we can greet with a smile and make people feel welcome.  How do we do that best in a virtual environment?  What marketing tips can we share collectively?

Dawn Thomas:  I have not been on a campus in a long time, but we utilized a “Secret Shopper” type program to identify and correct these kind of problems (I was in housing). I picked different students each month and had them approach my desk with different problems at different times of day. Great teachable opportunity, and the students liked to be picked to do it.

Jorrun Liston:  Please raise your hand (click the Reactions button at the bottom to find the Raise Hand button) if you’d like to unmute and share.  The chat is great – keep going!

Jen McDonald:  Camera turned on

Meghan Rosenberg:  We do a lot of videos to try and guide them through the process and layout exactly what we do and what we can do for them etc.

Courtney Petrizzi:  As far as phones, smile when you answer the phone. They can hear the smile!

Dawn Thomas:  Agree Courtney

Jorrun Liston:  Yes Courtney!  And smile behind that mask too!

Jessica Bender:  I was just typing that Courtney – :  )

Sheryl Puckett:  Courtney, yes, I have even heard of having a mirror on your desk so that you can see your expressions and making sure to remind you to smile

Monica Seko:  We have been creating an inviting/warming environment by decorating our office for different times of the year. Received well by students, faculty, and staff.

Jen McDonald:  I like that idea

Lynn Ernsting:  Being responsive in a timely manner can also show an eagerness to help

Jen McDonald:  agreed

Jorrun Liston:  Remember to smile at yourself sometime during the day too!

Courtney Petrizzi:  That’s the best feedback we receive, Lynn. A lot of “wow! thanks for getting back to me so fast”.

Jen McDonald:  Snowflakes

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  Warm Winter Wishes.

Abe Cereno:  Wear a welcome funny sport shirt on Friday fun day.

Deborah Nightingale:  auto replies and timeframe to get back them work well

Crystal Bazarnic:  Getting an email back from someone you’ve helped that says “Wow, that was fast!” is its own reward. 😊

Abe Cereno:  🤣

Dawn Thomas:  Very Disney, Kim!

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  Yes, Very Disney 😁

Deborah Nightingale:  Become a destination rather than a necessity

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  YES Deb!!

Dawn Thomas:  Great fun facilitation!

Meghan Rosenberg:       This was great thank you!!!

Lynn Ernsting:  Thank you, Michael, for such a great video and conversation!

Bankim Patel:  Thank you.

Amy Slaughter:  Great TED talk and Q&A. Thank you!

Monica Seko:  Thank you!!

Jessica Bender:  Thank you!

Deborah Nightingale:  Thank you very much

Elizabeth Sampson:  Thank you!

Janice Weston:  Thank you Michael.  Great presentation!

Munny Malik:  Thank you!!!

Diane Harrison, NDSU:  Thanks much 😊

Courtney Petrizzi:  Thank you, Michael! This was fantastic!

Kim Pfeffer [she|her]:  Thank You All!

Andra Cummings:  Thank you. Great message.

Abe Cereno:  Two-thumbs up, thank you.

Lauri MacLeod – University of Waterloo:    Thank you! Great session

As the only association that specializes in the campus identification and transaction industry serving the national and international campus card community, NACCU is dedicated to high quality educational programs, resources, services, and tools. The NACCU community offers its members networking, partnerships, leveraging technology, problem-solving, insight sharing, and professional development.

NACCU membership is open to all colleges, universities, secondary institutions and companies that are involved with the campus card market. Learn more and join the community at 


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