We give incoming freshman a back-to-school list so they pick up the right office supplies that makes learning and studying easier. Shouldn’t the same be true for bursars? The first few weeks of a new semester always brings predictable and not-so-predictable challenges for the business office.
We’ve outlined some essential items that should be included on every bursar’s back-to-school checklist to ensure the semester is off to a great start and that their teams are being set up for ongoing success throughout the year.
- Set a team meeting
Set clear directions to avoid misunderstandings and prevent errors with an in-person group dialogue. Gather your staff and don’t be shy about inviting members from other departments your office works closely with, too. It’s a chance to get everyone on the same page together at once. Review pertinent changes, goals, and expectations. Think of questions your team may ask and prepare thoughtful responses to avoid on-the-spot explanations and subsequent confusion.
- Draft frequently asked questions
From understanding billing and repayment to navigating essential paperwork, the questions your officers receive run the gamut. Some may think drafting responses to basic questions like Why is there a computer fee? is an unnecessary means to turn employees robotic, but you’re actually making their work lives simpler.
Things change rapidly at the start of the academic year. Having one document that you update in real-time ensures your staff always has access to the most up-to-date information. Scripts also ensure consistency in the information relayed from caller to caller.
- Re-evaluate your technologies
If you haven’t taken the time to evaluate your student records, ticketing, accounting, or call routing systems in a while, then be sure to do so. While the start of the semester may not be a good time to discuss upgrades or new platforms, it is a busy time that lets you assess your technology needs to accommodate peak student and staff activity.
- Look for student pain points and drivers of delinquency
If there’s anything you can do at the start of the semester to prevent delinquency woes later on, you should do it. Look for bottlenecks in your services and commonly misunderstood topics. A little digging could reveal opportunities to build a self-serve portal, update your IVR, or improve student communications and deliverability to prevent some of these inquiries in the first place.
Because higher education is so cyclical, it’s easy to fall into the same habits and stick to your same work life ebb and flow. However, recalibrating processes with your team can make the rest of your year run smoother. Plus, your changes can have far-reaching improvements in your employees’ success and your students’ satisfaction.