Information Service Core Competencies
A core competence is “a bundle of skills and technologies rather than a single discrete skill or technology.” (Hamel and Prahalad)
From my observation the Student Services Information Desk (SSiD) has a specific set of core competencies that deliver additional value to students and their supporters which are difficult to imitate. These are described below.
Knowledge management challenges us to uncover or decode organisational knowledge. We need to access knowledge that is embedded and sometimes hidden in the University knowledge-bases and with key external partners. We need to explicate, disseminate and redesign this knowledge so that it is usable by students to achieve their objectives.
Information management challenges us to ask how we can make the best use of the information resources available to us to address the information needs of our students. We need to consider how we understand, collect, structure, store and share information with students and staff.
Content Management helps us understand how we source, store and shape all sorts of content (text, image, decoration, or other elements that contribute to comprehension) for various media (web, paper publications, podcasts, videos, animation, social media, etc.).
Communications management challenges us to consider how we shape and target our messages and the manage the channels we use to deliver them; which are the most efficient, effective and successful channels or combination of channels for the type of messages we are trying to send and how do we know we have been successful.
SSiD has a proven track record in terms of service delivery with extremely high student satisfaction ratings in the HEI sector. Therefore, I would argue, the main challenge is our own complacency. We need to find new standards against which we can challenge ourselves to deliver services to a level that is world class across service sectors.
We are uniquely positioned on the front line to hear what students really say on a day to day basis. We get to hear their feedback when they experience our service rather than in the deferred, peer pressured, laboratory environment of a focus group. We hear it first and loudest. Furthermore we have well established processes for collecting, analysing, reviewing and acting on student feedback. Because much of the feedback is positive, the challenge is find new ways or new questions to elicit, more critical student feedback that we can act on.
The challenge we must pose ourselves, despite high satisfaction levels, is to continue to close the gaps in service quality.
SSiD responds to student needs, on the front line, on a day to day, minute by minute basis. These needs are increasingly fluid and fueled by changing perceived requirements, demands and assumptions. In future we need to be increasingly skilled at reviewing our service to understand, engage and manage these perceptions and expectations.
The challenge in the area of is to embed service improvement as a continuous process not merely an exercise to undertake when something goes wrong or is identified as ‘broken’.