When you think about getting support for a product or service, you normally think of the experience as an unpleasant one. Something you paid for is not working and you need help. It happens in all areas of life: travel, shopping, and for college students, homework. With an exponential increase in the number of students using digital products in the classroom, the challenge for ed tech companies is how to provide the highest level of support for students using digital products. Think about it. There is an 8 week period twice a year when most of the college (and education in general) population is starting their semester and needs help accessing their digital products.

For years we have tried everything to manage the volume of students needing help. Over the years we continue to measure customer satisfaction as well. I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the results. The average student contacts us with homework due in the next few hours and is having trouble accessing their homework. Think about where their satisfaction is at the time they reach out to us. Their work is due shortly, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of students waiting for help in front of them, they paid a good deal of money to purchase the product, and, by the way, it is HOMEWORK. I would guess that everyone’s satisfaction rating is starting at very dissatisfied. We know this and continue to find innovative ways to ensure that the places where students get tripped up are addressed in our product design and self-help.

We ask our support teams to sit in the spot of the student and understand the pressure that they are under at that point in time. We also share with them a document that I once saw in an instructor’s office. Here’s what it says…


…the most important person on the campus. Without students there would be no need for the institution.

…not a cold enrollment statistic but a flesh and blood human being with feelings and emotions like our own.

…not someone to be tolerated so that we can do our thing. They are our thing.

…not dependent on us. Rather, we are dependent on them.

…not an irritation of our work, but the purpose of it. We are not doing them a favor by serving them. They are doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.

We ask that every support professional to take this to heart and treat every customer as if they are the only person in the world that matters. I guess it is working as our satisfaction ratings are excellent. Normally I could see being able to neutralize a very dissatisfied customer, but we are turning the experience around. At Cengage Learning, we truly believe that the experience you have is not just about our products, but about the people our customers engage with every day.

Cengage Learning - how satisfied were you with today's tech support experience?


David Geppert is Senior Vice President of Customer Engagement at Cengage Learning.