LITS Customer Services named 2018 Customer Service Department of the year

A Stevie Award.

Emory University’s LITS Customer Services department has been recognized by the American Business Awards as the winner of the 2018 Customer Service Department of the Year. The American Business Awards ( are widely considered the premier business awards in the nation. Past Customer Service award recipients have included well-known and customer-focused companies and brands such as Hyatt, Carmax, Capital One, IHG, and Marriott, among others.

The awards ceremony will take place on June 11 in New York City and will be streamed worldwide.

According to James Leonard, director of LITS Customer Services, “It is only through hard work and dedication to our new way of doing business that we were able to accomplish this very exciting and significant milestone.”

Beginning in early 2017, the Customer Services department used a Six Sigma approach (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) toward solving its customer loyalty and satisfaction-related challenges.  Customer Services collaborated with Emory’s Goizueta Business School to verify that Net Promoter Score (NPS) was an appropriate and standardized benchmark for measuring customer loyalty and satisfaction.

The department’s first measurement of NPS indicated service-related challenges for the group to address. Through surveys conducted in partnership with Emory’s Office of Institutional Research, an analysis of the results uncovered key areas requiring urgent attention. These included professionalism, timeliness, expertise, and communication. Throughout 2017, Customer Services formed four employee-led project teams to improve in these areas:

  • Tools and Skills Review Team: Formed to evaluate the department’s expertise and efficient usage of service tools which resulted in (1) the implementation of a department-wide remote assistance utility, (2) a training program for the effective use of Emory’s issue tracking system, (3) certification for all employees in Service Management principles, and (4) technology-specific training where skills had significantly stagnated.
  • Customer Service Award Program: Developed a semi-annual reward system to recognize individuals within the Customer Services department exemplifying the highest standards of customer service.
  • Customer Care Team: Piloted a proactive approach to managing customer relationships resulting in a 29% reduction in the average lifespan of customer issues and a 36% improvement in the number of customer complaints received.
  • Marketing and Outreach Initiative: Focused on updating website information related to the department’s service offerings, creating and distributing informational materials across Emory’s campus, and holding leadership discussions with key stakeholders to more thoroughly understand customers’ needs and the suggested areas of improvement perceived by the community.

In late 2017, the department measured NPS again in an approach consistent with its first measurement.  The result was that the improvement programs were extremely successful. The department’s performance metrics, previously in territory occupied by the least customer-focused organizations and industries, were now squarely among its highest profile peers in higher education and within the benchmark ranges associated with industries most committed to the customer experience.

James Leonard, Director of Customer Services

The improved scores alone do not tell the full story. Resulting from the renewed focus on the customer experience, Customer Services entered into new agreements to provide premium technology consulting and support services at the highest levels of Emory University’s leadership, including the President’s Office and Board of Trustees and executive leadership at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute.

Customer Services is now trusted by the university’s business units to centrally provide other previously distributed services, including an Electronic Waste program and managing personally owned electronic devices used by students and faculty for interacting with Emory’s data and systems. Perhaps most astonishing is that these results were achieved with minimal additional funding and no additional headcount.

“I was so pleased to see the acknowledgement of the tremendous work that has occurred with the LITS Customer Services team, said Rich Mendola, Enterprise CIO and Sr. Vice Provost for Library Services and Digital Scholarship. “The transformation that took place was an excellent example of a full cycle quality improvement process, that was all the more impressive, given the self-directed nature of the effort.”

Mendola added, “The improvements in the team’s performance will have direct and tangible impacts on the leaders and staff they support, all of whom are essential in achieving Emory’s mission.”

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