Achieving Service Excellence with New York Life

Thanks to our partnership with the New York Life Foundation, Higher Achievement had the opportunity to apply lessons from corporate customer service to our nonprofit work between national and affiliate offices.  Experienced New York Life Trainer, Tamra Billinghurst-Black facilitated this 90-minute training on January 28th. Tamra discussed customer service excellence in action from the New York Life perspective and also with her volunteer experiences from a Boys and Girls Club in Ohio.  National office staff regularly interact with internal “customers,” – the affiliate staff in each of our cities, and external “customers” – our scholars and families, mentors, donors, foundations, and other supporters.  We know our ultimate customers are our scholars, but the National office must understand the affiliate perspective to reach our scholars with excellence.

During our training, we discussed moments of truth. According to Albrecht and Bradford [1], “a moment of truth is that precise instant when the customer comes into contact, or lack of expected contact, with any aspect of your business and, on the basis of that contact, forms an opinion about the quality of your product.” During this discussion, we mapped out the moments of truth from the affiliate perspective as they come in contact with the National team: considering a job opportunity, interviewing, training, and more. In small groups, we identified the critical moments where affiliates interact with National and strategized on how to provide a stronger customer service experience.

We are grateful for New York Life’s continued support of our scholars and Higher Achievement program, particularly in the areas of high school placement and alumni tracking and engagement with significate financial and volunteer support. After completing a multi-year, multi-million dollar grant, the Foundation recently renewed for another three years for a total of $1.75 million with strong board membership from Julie Herwig, who leads New York Life’s government affairs department, and ongoing advice from Marlyn Torres, Senior Program Officer for the New York Life Foundation.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”  Mahatma Gandhi

[1] Albrecht, Karl, and Lawrence J. Bradford. The Service Advantage: How to Identify and Fulfill Customer Needs. Homewood, IL: Dow Jones-Irwin, 1990.