Are students customers of schools “buying” career planning information so they can make great choices and live happily ever after? Of course they are. Students, parents, teachers, support staff, the community, society….EVERYONE really is a potential customer for a school. So why is their customer service so poor???
I think we really need to look at the customer service aspect of schools. My bias is, and has been for the 35 years or so I have worked with youth, that generally speaking, our schools do a terrible job when it comes to serving their customers. If I was a customer shopping for inspirational and creative ways to tap into what my gifts are and how I can manifest them in this world, why would I shop at a school? If I wanted to really examine personal and professional relationships and the skills and nuances required to become excellent at them, which department in the school would I find those? If I wanted to access “salespersons” who were truly dedicated to empowering me to make the best purchases of decision-making, risk-taking, skills and opportunities, would I be talking to teachers?
As an Educator, I feel qualified enough to say these things, as much as it saddens me to do so. So what’s the answer? There of course isn’t one easy answer, and us career development dudes and dudettes will continue to work with schools and develop programs, systems, structures, models, and god knows what else, in an effort to help students plan their career paths more effectively. In the end, as long as we continue to rely on “science” to try and determine human behaviour, which is really what most of our career development programs tend to do (stemming from Frank Parsons himself, the first person to do career planning in this way back in Boston in 1905), we will continue to miss the mark. And our customers will be unhappy.
Everything….absolutely everything…is about customer service…Simon & Garfunkel knew it. Now you do too!