Being a higher ed administrator – particularly an administrator working in technology – you might naturally assume that you are in the business of supplying basic customer services to the people you serve.
And, mostly, that is a fair assessment.
However, a more accurate portrayal of what higher ed CIOs, CTOs, and CDOs provide might be more cogently defined as constituent services: that is, enabling levels of service that not only address basic requests and needs from your areas of responsibility, but further encourage leaders to become fully engaged advocates for their charges, proactively acting for the good of the group or individual under your leadership.
In government, this most often takes the form of an elected official facilitating requests from their constituents: seeking an approval for a project, filling a pothole, or expediting a passport request.
In higher ed, successful CIOs do much the same. The job isn’t just much fixing problems (though that is critical) or setting strategic vision (even more critical) – it’s providing the framework through which the people and areas you are responsible for can execute their jobs.
Supplying exceptional infrastructure and equipment. Providing reliable solutions in an efficient and timely manner. Creating responsive systems to track and fulfil requests.
Being transparent and informative in a fluid and plastic environment of shared governance and shared responsibilities.
The gap between Customer Service and Constituent Service may seem like a difference without a distinction.
However, one entails action, whereas the other can be – and too often is – entirely passive.
Great leaders are advocates for the people they serve.
You’re not in Customer Service. You’re in Constituent Services.