December 2, 2011

Precisely because change is a constant, the foundations have to be extra strong.

- Peter Drucker, Management Challenges for the 21st Century

NU Contact Center Delivers Better “Customer” Experience

As MindPrime guest speaker Bill Quiseng noted during his visit to Northwood University just over two weeks ago, 70% of a firm’s brand is driven by employee interaction with its existing and potential customers. One way that Northwood has worked to improve its engagement with and service to both current and prospective students, parents, and the general public is through its continuously improving Contact Center.

In 2008, Northwood had over 10 toll free lines used to support student recruitment and enrollment efforts. These lines were answered by different Northwood personnel–varying by department –including secretaries, advisors, recruiters, and student workers. During this same timeframe, Northwood began to develop a consistent branding strategy but because of the multiple 800 lines and the different personnel involved it was difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of any new campaign and information was not captured or coded consistently. 

In the spring of 2009 a team of Northwood employees that included representatives from IT, marketing, and enrollment visited call centers at leading industry companies and institutions such as EDS, Amway, Beaumont Hospital, and Hewlett Packard to learn and study best practices. Concurrently, our central Adult Degree Program (ADP) staff explored new strategies and tactics to better support all satellite locations. 

With the strategic marketing goal of supporting our entire institution, the Contact Center team conducted an in depth evaluation and analysis of multiple call center options and ultimately determined that the ADP resources in our Midland, Michigan location were best suited to this end. In turn, the Contact Center’s vision of “Five-Star Customer Service” has guided and directed all of the corresponding decisions regarding technology, supervision, staff, training and the roll out of endeavors such as our student ambassador program.

Today, 28 months later, Northwood’s four-person Contact Center: 

  • Provides support to all institutional enrollment operations in eight states and online.
  • Manages the outbound calling segment of the undergraduate and graduate student ambassadors program in Michigan.
  • Provides support for advancement, academics and other departments throughout the institution.
  • Documents all call information in our CRM system.
  • Generates weekly metrics that help gauge planning and analysis.

Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, our Contact Center team will focus on expanding its “Five-Star Customer Service” by incorporating additional improvements, including:

  • A system to simplify mass e-mails to student, prospects, and other stakeholders.
  • An online chat system for fielding questions.
  • Maximization of existing technology such as our RecruiterTM software system.
  • Staff expansion for the purpose of effectively managing the growth of its divisional business.

IACBE Assessment Update - Part II

As reported in last week’s message, an important element of our accreditation efforts with the International Assembly of Collegiate Business Education (IACBE) entails comprehensive testing for all of our graduates. The examination for graduating seniors at the BBA level, which started on November 21st and will end on December 4th, concentrates on the Business Core Curriculum common to all majors. In turn, MBA graduate testing will take place between December 5th and 11th and will focus on the business acumen components of the DeVos Graduate School curriculum.

The exams cover the following topics that map to many of the business acumen competencies:


  • Business Ethics
  • Business Finance
  • Business Integration/Strategic Management
  • Business Leadership
  • Economics
  • Global Dimensions of Business
  • Information Management Systems
  • Legal Environment of Business
  • Management (Operations/Production Management, Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior)
  • Marketing
  • Quantitative Techniques/Statistics

Both tests are vital to our current and future efforts; not only for accreditation purposes but for the fulfillment of our mission itself. If Northwood is to continue educating the future leaders of a global free market society it is imperative that we validate and confirm the curricula and pedagogy we have in place to do just this. It is essential, therefore, that all of our students, faculty, and, staff understand the importance of this effort and work in concert to complete these examinations in a thorough and timely fashion.

I look forward to updating you in the future about further developments within both our Contact Center and our IACBE accreditation efforts.

Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640
989.837.4203 (phone)
989.832.9590 (fax)