Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach: Perfecting Customer Relationship Building in a School Environment

A four-feet-something tot lugging a schoolbag would probably be the last image to pop up in your mind when you hear the word “customer”. But the DAV Public School, New Panvel, has proved some of the greatest truisms of management right. The customer is king – and when it comes to customers, size doesn’t matter. Keep your customer happy, and keep measuring your customer’s happiness. Agreed – these are the basics of customer relationship, and it has almost become infra dig to spew these clichés in the management milieu. What makes the DAV Public School story exceptional is the fact that the school dared to redefine certain concepts long taken for granted.

In a country where education is still largely defined as a one-way flow of learning from teacher to student, the DAV School portrays itself not only as a source of learning but also as a learning organization – an entity that grows through learning. What’s more, the school considers tacit knowledge obtained from customers as the biggest resource for creating a learning organization. The entire gamut of processes from student enrollment to student retention and progression is regarded as an exercise in Customer Relationship Building. For the school management, customer satisfaction data is a crucial metric. While the school actively collects this data through structured questionnaires administered to students and parents, much of this information also comes through informal interactions during parent-teacher meetings, student assessments etc. The school has a systematized complaint management system where the parents can convey their complaints to the teachers, Principal or even the Regional Director through meetings, telephone calls, suggestion box, emails etc. Every complaint is registered, and satisfactory closure of grievances is a mandatory part of the school’s Quality Procedure. Of course, the school manages to traverse the narrow line from customer satisfaction to customer delight through special initiatives – seminars for parents; excursions, talent shows and awards for students and even an annual Grandparents’ Day! The DAV school follows the ISO standards and has won several quality awards and recognitions.

Moral of the story (and I can think of many):
Listen to your customer or perish – no matter what business you are in.
Every organization is a learning organization.
Management concepts like customer relationship building need not just remain mere jargon – and it doesn’t always take a Fortune 500 giant to put them into practice.

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2 Comments on “Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach: Perfecting Customer Relationship Building in a School Environment”

  1. Lakshmy Says:

    One more moral: It is ok to regard education as a business! For long, the B-word was almost taboo in Indian education circles and one kept hearing laments about how schools were being turned into commercial organizations. This fear of anything remotely “business-like” has been an issue with most non-profits too. Of course this is not to say that schools should focus on maximizing their profits and academic “results” at the cost of quality of education, values and everything else. But then, the world’s most successful and admired businesses do not work that way. The factors that truly define a business are clear vision and goals, strategic acumen and of course, customer focus – and these are equally pertinent to for-profit and non-profit organizations. While India is known for its high standards of academic excellence, Indian schools have been criticized for their narrow, uni-dimensional approach to education. With the spotlight finally on the customers – the students – and their needs, hope more schools will focus on listening to the customer and providing a well-rounded education.

  2. Ritu Shukla Says:

    The problem with Indian education system is that it fails to view the child as a child.The business of education is becoming too serious.The child is viewed as a miniature adult, a potential bread earner .The pressure on the young minds to excel is immense.Parents, teachers,constantly reminding the young student of his vocation later in life.As if the goal in life is only to earn a living!What about the child’s emotional development ,the development of his ability to feel ,the ability to empathise with his immediate surroundings ?The fact remains that the present education system is churning out mechanically individuals who are motivated by only one thing, that is, their greed to possess more and more material wealth.Sadly, the school managements all over are catering to the needs of the secondary customer,the parents, forgetting conveniently that little child who is getting completely squashed under the weight of so called KNOWLEDGE! Here, the real customer is falling prey to the whims and aspirations of his own people .This is a sincere appeal to the curriculum framers and the parents to let the children remain children before they turn into real adults-please don’t kill their childhood!


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