Our Core Competences
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’.
Developing our Core Competences
These are the questions I think we should reflect upon to get a greater understanding each of our information service’s core competences with a view to develop them for the challenges of the future.
- How proactive should we be in seeking out where organisation knowledge is held and perhaps hidden?
- How do we make tacit organisational knowledge explicit?
- Who do we need to liaise or negotiate with to access this organisational knowledge?
- How do we access, hold and share organisational knowledge in SSiD?
- How do we disseminate the information we are presented with, decode it and present it to staff and students as usable information?
- What skills do we need to develop to effectively uncover, disseminate and distribute organisational knowledge?
- How can we expect students to understand some of more opaque procedures when some of us still don’t understand them ourselves?
- What level of cooperation, collaboration and co-creation with colleagues do we need to engage with to release useful information to students?
- How do we respond to the changing information needs of students?
- Are key operating procedures documented, available and accessible to staff?
- Do staff refer to procedures/knowledgebase when delivering services?
- What are the different systems we use to record and retrieve information?
- Does the process of recording and retrieving information improve the information quality?
- What systems do we use to help record, store and share information?
- How effectively do we use information to respond to enquiry handling?
- When information issues arise that are not covered by existing policies or procedures, how do we handle them?
- What is content and how is it different from information?
- What are the stages of the content life cycle?
- How do we manage the content life cycle?
- How do we ensure the effective reuse of content?
- How do we make content appropriate and effective for specific channels?
- How we repurpose paper publications content for the web, information sheets, posters, social media, emails, etc.?
- Why are sending information?
- Who needs what information?
- What information needs to flow in and out?
- When is the information needed?
- How will the information be formatted?
- Who will be responsible for transmitting the message?
- Who will be responsible for providing the information?
- How do we ensure there is effective feedback to confirm that the message was received and understood?
- How do we make sure that existing customers are clear about what they can expect of us?
- How do we make sure customers are aware of the options available to them?
- How can make high quality customer service consistent?
- What areas of service delivery do we regularly monitor?
- How do we use the service level agreement, customer care policy and customer performance standards to reflect on their service delivery?
- Do customers understand how they can access ours what they should expect?
- How do we empower staff to take retrospective action in terms of service recovery?
- How should staff respond to negative feedback they receive?
- How can we empower staff to make sure service recovery takes place?
- How do we make decisions about which items of feedback to act on?
- How do we information students about improvements based on their feedback?
- How do we feedback comments from student about services provided by colleagues?
- Do we have an accurate understanding of customers’ expectations?
- Do our customers perceive our products/services as meeting or exceeding their expectations?
- Are there specific standards in place to meet customer expectations?
- Do our products/services meet or exceed the standards?
- Is the information communicated to our customers about our products/services accurate?
- Do we understand the cycle of service for each service we provide?
- How do we identify and diagnose existing problems?
- How do we test changes that we think will solve problems?
- What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
- How do we standardise those changes?
- How do we measure improvement to service?
- How will we know improvement is a result of the changes we have made?
- What are we trying to accomplish?