Students often rate their college experience by factors such as academics, dining, residence life and campus activities. According to dozens of comments on the Student Customer Service Satisfaction survey, Xavierites also view the services they receive from staff in areas such as Fiscal Services and Financial Aid as essential in creating a positive Xavier experience.
The survey question,“Overall Customer Service Experience with Xavier Faculty,” created interesting feedback. Of the 502 respondents, 220, or 44.5 percent, say they are satisfied with faculty service. However,78 optional comments refer to the offices of Fiscal Services and Financial Aid; many of those also lump together the two offices. Nevertheless, the offices do differ. Students interact with fiscal services in order to pay fees and make arrangements for payments, while students use the Financial Aid office to obtain financial assistance such as loans, work study, scholarships and grants. “Most of the staff that work in [those] offices are extremely rude and act as if they are miserable with their jobs,” said an anonymous junior, biology pre-medicine major. “They are the most hateful people that I have ever met; it’s like they have forgotten they are here to perform a service.”
According to the university website, http://www.xula.edu/financial-aid/documents/PoliciesAndProcedures.pdf, the functions of Financial Aid and Fiscal services are to provide information to secure the necessary financial resources to meet students educational goals and financial obligations to the University, while providing quality customer service. However, many students feel quite the opposite. “It is very difficult to get the information that is needed from Fiscal Services and the Financial Aid office,” said Natalie Faciane, a freshman biology engineering major. “They don’t respect the fact that we are becoming adults and need to know how to handle our own money.” There have also been complaints that these services are unprofessional. “One day when I entered Fiscal Services, before I asked a question, one of the staff members rolled her eyes at me as if my presence just irritated her,” said Destini Thomas, a sophomore sales and marketing major. “On a completely separate day, I went to the same office and a different staff member refused to service me until she completed a personal call on her cell phone.”
As a paying customer, students feel as though they deserve fair treatment and proficient service. “Staff in Fiscal Services and the Financial Aid office need to realize that students are their customers and the only reason they are employed,” said a posted comment from the student survey. “As a paying student, I expect my financial information to be up to date and accurate at all times and to be assisted when I need help.” How students feel about the way staff treats them certainly affects their experience at Xavier. “This lack of support definitely affects my college experience, it gives me a negative image of the school which is unfortunate because Xavier has so much to offer academically,” writes student. “The only thing I can positively say about these offices is that it prepares you for real world challenges.”
According to students, this negative perception of Xavier is affecting the school’s retention rates. “Students have left this university and transferred to other schools because of the treatment they have received from staff,” a student posted. “With other cheaper universities available, Xavier should improve its services and appreciate their students more.” The survey team’s request to meet with Edward Phillips, director of Fiscal Services, was not fulfilled. Financial aid was more receptive. “After conducting a town hall meeting this past October, I was able to address many of the challenges students were having in our office,” said Emily London Jones, director of the Financial Aid office. “When students complained about my staff, the staff that were reported were reprimanded.” London-Jones said she is doing everything possible to ensure that the office’s reputation is not permanently damaged.
“I have been here for three years and have noticed a lot of improvement, but we are nowhere near perfect,” she said. “In order to address many student’s problems, we have implemented a Twitter account so our students can reach us directly, updated a list of frequently, and created a phone bank that opens four of our lines to immediate communications.” Whenever students are having difficulty with financial aid staff, students are encouraged to approach London-Jones with their concerns. “I encourage all students to come to me when they face difficulty with staff and inform me who they are having the problem with so a change can be made,” she said.
Ralph Johnson, senior vice president of Administration, supervises every non-academic function at Xavier University, including Financial Aid, he commented on customer service. “I was not previously aware of staff in Financial Aid being rude to students, but after hearing this I am very concerned,” said Johnson. “I have spoken with this office and they understand the importance of customer service.” Though there has not been a resolution for this apparent disconnect between Financial Aid, Fiscal Services staff and students, Johnson has hopes for the future. “This is a growing relationship and there is room for improvement,” said Johnson.
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