My University Listens, Does Yours?

Image from Melvin Gaal via Flickr

I’m currently enroled in the Bachelor of Professional Arts: Communication Studies Major at Athabasca University. For those of you that don’t know, Athabasca University is a leading institution in online and distance education.  I am taking my studies completely online.

Right now I’m taking a Corporate Communications course.  This course has a lot of reading.  The other day I was trying to read an e-book in the digital reading room and I received a message that there were no more copies available to view and to try later.  As you can imagine I was frustrated as my time is limited and I was taking a distance course and fully expected access to the resources when needed.

So in my geeky way, I posted my frustration on Twitter.

The next morning, I received a tweet from the Athabasca University Student Union’s account.  Over the next few days, I received 5 e-mails from Athabasca University staff.  The e-mails showed concern for the issue and provided work-arounds, should the issue happen again.  Fortunately, it hasn’t.

What did Athabasca University do right?

  • I’m not sure if the original issue was picked up by the student’s union or if other staff picked up the tweet.  But the bottom line was they were listening for chatter related to their institution.
  • They were not passive in their listening. They followed up on the issue.  I wasn’t really expecting a response (although I was hoping for one).  I didn’t receive just one response, but many.
  • By having more than one individual contact me, I really felt that they were ensuring that my issue was resolved.  I felt that Athabasca University cared.

What could Athabasca University do better?

  • The first response should have been from the official Athabasca University account.  In fact, I never received any tweets from that account.
  • While the e-mail threads demonstrated to me that Athabasca University was concerned about satisfaction, those coming across my tweet or following my tweets, would get the impression that my issue fell on deaf ears. Obviously, some conversations need to be private, but it would be a good idea for Athabasca University to respond publically if the originating issue was made publically.

I am very happy with the outcome of this and appreciate Athabasca University’s attentiveness to this matter.

If you manage your college or university’s social media accounts, make sure you listen and respond publically (where appropriate).

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