Background Information on the Chart for a Customer Service Model for Higher Education in the Context of Other Systems

At NISOD in 2011, the two members of the 2012 presentation and two other colleagues presented “Can the Customer Service Model “Work” for Faculty?” In brief, the answer is “yes”—as a way for faculty members to look at customer service for higher education in the context of diverse businesses and services. To repeat one of the slides from that presentation:

To be part of the dialog on the future of education—to both understand and to be understood—faculty need to know:

          What people from fields other than education may mean when they talk about customers and customer service

          What education does that is different from other fields and why those differences in education are in their—and the nation’s—interest



Use the table below to find the kind of information you want:


If You Would Like This Information…

Then Use This Link

Chart that lets you compare easily how the customer service model works with storefront retail (the way many of us think about customer service) and 6 other systems, including higher education

All 7 systems together

          With the left column covering the Customers (Users, Clients, or Stakeholders) and Issues

          With the next 7 columns covering each of the 7 models

          With rows covering each Customer or Issue (The items in each row are color coded to show what is similar in that row and what is different in that row.)


A close look seems to show that higher education is not like most of the other six systems. Examples:

          Unlike the others, has multiple customers that no other system has—and all are at risk if Higher Education fails (Notice all the differences in the Higher Education column.)

          Unlike the others, has customers who must act but may lack both commitment and preparation

          Unlike most others, measures a) the user as part of the product and b) product/service itself and is therefore intransparent—to use a term from Dietrich Dörner—but does not have the resources of the other system that measure intransparent issues


Chart that lets you see the 3 systems that seem most like higher education—what those systems do make measurement

3 systems together that seem to be most like higher education – A close look seems to show that higher education faces greater challenges.


The chart includes callouts revealing some of those challenges.


Chart’s source for the data in the seven columns for how the customer service model works in each of the seven systems from store front retail to higher education

List of the presenters, their recommended resources, and their diverse work experience—with the presenters having a combined work experience of over seventy years (not counting our years in higher education) and having worked in those fields for a long enough time to understand:

          How these systems “work”

          How they succeed—and sometimes how they fail

Cognitive reason for placing this information in a chart

It is always difficult to look at detailed, complex, and interconnected data. Dietrich Dörner covers how to use analogy and plotting of data (such as in a chart) as a way to understand a complex system.


Examples of the view that the only customer of education is the student


Also source of the quotation used at the top of the:

§         Public High School chart: “there is only one real customer—the individual who chooses to pursue an education”

§         Higher Education chart: “If students aren't the customers of the university, who are?”

Quotations plus examples of the view that the only customer of education is the student








For information or problems with this link, please email using the email address below.

WCJC Department:

History – Dr. Bibus

Contact Information:

281.239.1577 or

Last Updated:

2012 – 06/04

WCJC Home: