How important is attitude when it comes to influencing teachers and others to make educational technology an intrinsic part of their work? In my opinion, it is very important. If you regard colleagues as potential consumers of a service, then customer service, which is another name for attitude, is paramount.
Two recent experiences reminded me of this, although one had nothing to do with education or technology. The other did, but the connection is irrelevant as it happens.
I was delighted to win a prize in a raffle -- delighted for two reasons. Firstly, I almost never win anything in raffles. Secondly, the prize was a piece of software I'd had my eye on for a while, but it's a little pricey. Or, to put it another way, I was not convinced that the benefits I'd get from using it would justify the cost.
Unfortunately, what happened next has rather soured the experience for me. The package took quite a while to come, as I understand that the company had to send it two or three times for some reason. When it did come, it wasn't delivered. What came through my letterbox instead was a card from the post office informing me that I'd have to come and pick the package up at the local sorting office because it had insufficient postage.
It was several days before I could get there, and then I had to pay 1.66 GBP, which equates to 2.36 USD at today's exchange rate. Not a fortune, but annoying, and doesn't give a good impression. But what was even more annoying was the "apology" I received when I emailed the company to say I'd had to pay the postage + a penalty for the privilege of taking delivery. This read as follows:
"I’m sorry for the problems you had with delivery."
Er, actually I didn't have problems with the delivery. I had a whole load of hassle and inconvenience. I had to spend an hour on a return journey to the local sorting office. I had to pay for parking. And then I had to pay the postage that you hadn't put on -- and a penalty which was twice as much as the original postage.
What annoys me about this is that it's the equivalent of those awful experiences that I think all of us have had, in one context or another. You complain to someone that you couldn't print something because there was no paper in the printer and no boxes of paper visible; or you couldn't buy a coffee because the vending machine was broken. And what you get is an apology that, in a very subtle way, puts the blame either wholly or partly on you.
"I'm sorry you had difficulty printing the document."
"I'm sorry you had difficulty obtaining a drink from the machine."
What's the payoff in compounding the situation by failing to just say sorry and then, outlandish as it may sound, take steps to put it right? If I'd have carried on like that when I was an ICT co-ordinator, nobody would have ever bothered to use the computer equipment. Who wants to be made to feel stupid or incompetent?
Contrast this with my experience this evening. My lady wife and I went to a pizza restaurant. It serves nice food, the service is good, and they are incredibly clean. Unfortunately, we discovered a hair on the plate. They could not have been more apologetic. They insisted that all we pay for was the starters and the drinks. The main courses and desserts were on the house.
Will we continue to go there? You bet. Will we make sure all our friends know how they handled the situation. Definitely.
It's like Seth Godin says in a book called "Small is the New Big." People are going to be having conversations about you, and your job is to try and make sure they are saying nice things rather than horrible things.
What are your colleagues saying about you and the educational technology in your school?
Photo attribution: I took this picture of a sign in one of the waiting rooms in Queen's Hospital, Romford, Essex, England.