SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 38

Many individuals related to higher education
believe that the student is a customer as it relates
to their experiences. Guilbault (2018) shares that
higher education provides a service with students
and that is why the student should be considered
the customer. Sax (2004) agrees with Guilbault's
idea that the student should be considered the
customer since the student is the individual ultimately
financially responsible for their experience and since
exchanging money for service typically makes the
person a customer then the student should be seen
as a customer.
Once the individual decides to utilize the service or
product, they become the customer as they will be
utilizing the services offered by the organization. In
this case, once a student determines which institution
to attend and applies, they become actual customers
since the university provides them a large variety of
services such as program offerings, housing, dining,
parking, recreation, involvement, and many others.
With these services, students become customers
and consumers of the products and services that are
provided to them.
In some cases, at higher education institutions,
different departments give different considerations if
the student should be considered a customer. Wueste
& Fishman (2009) share that areas within higher
education that provide business functions to students
would often agree with the idea that students should
be considered customers. These areas may see more
of a need to utilize a traditional customer service
practice. However, " when it comes to the education
of students, however, the goals, functions, practices
and relationships are different from what one finds
in commercial undertakings " (Wueste and Fishman,
2009, p. 3) which is likely since educator's goals are to
help students increase their knowledge base. Since
educators hope to ensure an educational experience
for students but students also feel like customers
with other areas at the institution, students have a
difficult time differentiating their role as the customer.
(Wueste & Fishman, 2009)
Research also indicates that providing good customer
service in a higher education setting goes beyond
38
getting the student to sign up to live on campus or
helping them find the right room assignment. It is the
little things that make a bigger difference and making
sure follow-up is completed on time (Ray, Foreman,
Haney, Stroup & Waller, 2008, p. 48). As it relates
to the idea of the student as a customer within the
student housing area of student affairs, it is important
to remember as the customer the student is looking
at all aspects of their experience.
However, students value their educational
experiences as they help them prepare professionally
and personally for life after graduation. For this
reason, higher education institutes and their
consumers must understand the educational
approach to service that takes place in some aspects
of the higher education experience for students.
Watjatrakul (2014) believes the student and instructor
relationship can be damaged if the student is
considered a customer; therefore, it is important to
provide an educational approach to service in higher
education.
In education, students may not always be right.
Students must learn and take ownership of their
actions thus where the educational approach to
service comes into practice. Similar to Guilbault, Boyd
(2012) shares that, during these situations, providing
educational opportunities to students may outweigh
the importance of providing good customer service.
Ultimately, the educational experience the student
receives during these situations will also help them
grow and develop as individuals. The educational
experience may potentially have an impact on the
institution in a positive way when the student realizes
that they were helped indirectly.
Student housing departments consist of several
different areas that provide interaction and support
to students. These areas may include the residential
learning team that lives within the communities,
the billing and assignments teams, and the facilities
area who maintain the buildings. Because of the
variety of different areas within student housing, it is
not unheard of that each area may play a different
role such as " sales force, problem solver, complaint
handler, and market manager " during interactions

SEAHO Report - Winter 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SEAHO Report - Winter 2023

Contents
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 1
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - Contents
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 3
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 4
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 5
SEAHO Report - Winter 2023 - 6
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