college parentThis week I was on several college and university campuses as the first week of school was getting under way for the year. It was hard not to miss the many parents that were wistfully watching their young son or daughter get settled in their living residences and start to learn their way around the campus for their classes. Watching these parents carrying sheets, pillows, printers, computers, and other items to help get their precious child set up into a next stage in life’s progression was telling. Because while most efforts by the college or university campus is focused on the student experience these first few days, it really is an opportunity by the school for a larger focus to also be on the “parent experience” and good customer service.

One of the complaints I heard that was indicative of the ignorance of this big stake in the whole experience of off to college was “I wanted to send some of my son’s things in advance so we wouldn’t have to try and lug everything in the car at once, but the school said there was no where they could store anything. For the price I am paying to send him here, you would think they would be able to make things easier on us.”

Another complaint I heard time and time again involved the parking situation while unloading the student’s belongings. Signage threatening to ticket if a spot was used for more than 15 minutes or security driving around telling everyone to keep moving, became a sore point of contention among parents. Where were they suppose to park and not have to haul items down two blocks? The school knows everyone will be trying to move in this week, why isn’t there a process in place to make it easier?

Yes, it is the student who is going to be attending school, but today more and more parents are heavily involved in the whole college process. From the day the parents brought home their little bundle of joy and had the car window screen pulled down to protect the newborn from the sun, they have been coddling and protecting this child all his life. Why would it stop on a dime now?

Parents are concerned about what is my child going to be eating, how will she get her clothes washed, is the campus safe, how will he get to all his classes scattered across campus – the more the college answers these questions and shows parents they care as much about their precious cargo as the parents are feeling, will get a leap up on the competition. It is about good customer service. It is about the parent’s experience.