Membership Spotlight: Alexandra Booth
You’ve recently been announced as winner of the ACUHO-I New Professional Award 2018. Tell us more about the process and the work you’ve been involved in since working at Manchester Metropolitan University.
I was nominated by my peers, for successfully implementing a number of initiatives, which have enhanced the customer experience and delivered measured improvement in a number of key areas. Most notably, I was responsible for delivering significant improvements in average response times to complaints, and reducing the number of formal and informal complaints received since the 15-16 academic year.
I have also developed and implemented a standard compensation calculator, which allows a fairer and more consistent approach to be applied to students who are reimbursed for the loss of a service or provision.
Prior to my appointment in 2016, complaints had primarily been managed by e-mail and letter. I recognised that there were some improvements we could make to the process and set about rectifying this by visiting customers to talk gauge feedback. In addition, I established regular ‘drop in sessions’ within the halls, where students could discuss issues or complaints outside of normal working hours. These initiatives have really enhanced the customer experience and put student wellbeing at the heart of the service.
Tell us about your role within the Student Living Team? What does a day at work look like for you in your role?
I provide administrative support and supervise the Student Living Customer Services team, supporting their development and encouraging them to complete Customer visits and ‘drop in sessions’. I have taken the time to develop close working relationships with Hall Managers, Business Support, Property Services and the Finance Team, recognising that with well-established relationships, we are able to support and challenge when necessary to ensure that incidents are resolved quickly and efficiently with minimal inconvenience to the customer.
My average work day regularly involves speaking to customers about their concerns, investigating complaints with Hall teams or other departments, arranging for the damage charges to be issued, continuingly reviewing processes and implementing solutions. I also provide relevant training to staff or inducting new and temporary members of the team.
As the winner of the ACUHO-I New Professional Award, you were invited to attend the ACUHO-I Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, tell us about your experience.
The Study tour enabled me to network with international colleagues, developing my knowledge and gave me the opportunity to visit a variety of institutions in Colorado. At the ACUHO-I conference, I attended sessions to enhance my personal development, such as how to transform emotional intelligence into practical intellect, incorporating resilience and grit into supervision and an emerging mid-level managers forum. All of these have helped me strengthen my skills in strategy, communication and serving as a dynamic leader. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, which will prove to be invaluable to me and the Student Living Team.
What were the main things you’ve taken away from the Conference that you will hope to implement back here at Manchester Metropolitan University?
Sustainability! Universities are focusing more and more on sustainability within residences, implementing initiatives to reduce the depletion of natural resources and promoting sustainably responsible behaviour through education and events. Some ways in which Universities have improved their sustainability includes: intelligent landscaping on campus, which sees more native plants being used to reduce irrigation requirements, installing bio-digesters to treat compost on site, applying zero waste policies across campuses, installing electrochromic windows in large dining halls and social spaces and installing on site greenhouses, then using the produce in dining centres.
I was also impressed with the inventive ways in which campuses have utilised their outdoor space. For example, Colorado State University transformed one of their green areas into an Amphitheatre and made the seating from natural materials. I would love to see something similar at Manchester Met- and we’d make it work…despite the weather!
Tell us about a project you’ve been really proud of being involved in/leading on.
I am particularly proud of implementing a more consistent damage recording and charging process. This has improved the customer experience, streamlined processes for a number of departments and reduced the number of damage charge disputes received. The Student Living Team recently received the award for Best Moving in Experience from the National Student Housing Survey, something that the whole team is very proud to be a part of!
Alex is Customer Services Coordinator for Student Living at Manchester Metropolitan University, responsible for supervising a small team, Alex strives to offer the best Customer Service experience to current and prospective students. Prior to Alex’s promotion to the role in 2016, she worked for the University as a Customer Services Administrator for a year. Alex’s focus and ambition is to help make Student Living the best that it can be.