Brooklyn Heights Carl and Student

Last week, we discussed how center owner Carl Giordano (Brooklyn Heights–Boerum Hill, NY) crafts a productive and effective learning environment by being especially mindful of the needs of each individual student. Now, we’ll touch on another dimension of Carl’s approach to customer service, sharing his tips for setting and managing student and parent expectations as to the quality of service they can expect as Mathnasium customers.

As they work on boosting their math skills, Carl wants his students to feel empowered. He makes it a point to touch base with each student regularly to be sure each one is getting the most out of his or her sessions and so that each knows that they’re entitled to a great learning experience as Mathnasium students/customers. “Some kids are shy. I’d like to think that their experience at Mathnasium, besides improving their math skills, does a huge job for their confidence.”

This can involve reminding shyer students to proactively seek out assistance from Instructors—letting them know that they deserve help when they’re struggling and that they shouldn’t be shy about asking for help. “An older student felt like she wasn’t getting enough attention,” Carl recalls. “It was on a very busy night. I apologized and investigated the situation. I spoke to the Instructor she was working with and it was one of those cases where the Instructor working with her was pulled away for a few minutes to give a second opinion on something that was going on at another desk. Unfortunately, in those few minutes, the student was really struggling.”

To remedy the situation, Carl had a brief one-on-one conversation with the student. “When she told me how she felt, I pulled her aside and reminded her that in situations like this, the first thing she should do is let the Instructor know immediately by raising her hand and saying excuse me. I also told her, ‘You’re the client. If [after asking for help] you ever feel like you’re not getting the attention you deserve, you come straight to me or the Center Director.’ This one-on-one helped us see things eye to eye; it was good for her to hear straight from the center owner that we’re all here for her. It’s the kind of interaction that goes a long way in terms of diffusing these types of situations and keeping the quality of our instruction high.

Brooklyn heights kids“I want the kids to be more assertive,” he continues. “I want them to know that we’re here for them and if they don’t think they’re getting the service they deserve to come to us.”

Indeed, Carl wants his students to remain consistently aware that everything that they’re doing at Mathnasium is for their benefit—even times when they have to forgo a little fun and games for some extra studying. Generally speaking, “we do have lots of games that we use as a reward or as an incentive for students to keep up with their work,” he explains. “We’ll pull three or four kids together that have not had a chance to take a break from the binder from a while and play a math-related board game—of which we have many!” Carl tells us that there are times—particularly during test season—where kids often don’t get to play the games they need to play. Again, those one-on-one talks come in handy when kids are disappointed. “I’ve had a few heart-to-hearts with these kids. I look at the calendar with them and show them how many days we have until the tests. I want them to understand that at this time, we have to focus more and take a little bit of a break from games. I definitely try to manage their expectations and help them understand priorities—that we have to step away from the games for a little while unless we can use the games in an educational situation [in a way that directly correlates with the skills they have to master].” Communicating with students in this way lets them know that their time and their needs are respected and that Mathnasium is a place full of people who want them to shine.

Carl is a real stickler for regular, meaningful customer interactions, and he wants all parents that come to his center to be aware of this. While all parents receive a friendly hello when they come in, (Carl has even trained his Instructors to give parents brief two- to three-minute updates on their child’s progress when time permits), considering the hustle and bustle of teaching hours, he does set some expectations as to which times are best for more substantial conversations.

Brooklyn heights int 1“First of all, I want parents to know that we do have an open-door policy and they are free to contact me anytime they want, whether by phone or by email” he tells us. “I’m happy to have a good conversation with them about how their kids are doing or put together [an in depth] email. However, mornings are by far the best time to touch base.” A reminder about office hours is clearly communicated in the information handed out with the Parent Pack. It’s also included in the reminder emails Carl sends to parents every few months to remind them of center policies.

Parents proactively seek out information about their kids’ progress, to which Carl responds in a timely fashion. “They regularly get feedback from me,” Carl tells us. “Parents know I’m very responsive. I’ve responded to parents even when they email at 1 am,” he tells us. “I’m awake anyway, and I want to set their minds at ease.”

Carl makes sure that he communicates with parents in this manner at least once a month, “even if it’s just a quick email or voicemail, just to touch base. At the end of the month, when I sit down and start charging people’s credit cards, what I do is go through my spreadsheet [of parents], and in scanning that list, I get a sense of those I haven’t spoken with in a while, and I’ll reach out to those parents. Usually I’ll send an email with the child’s name in the subject line. Something informal [but personalized] that shows them that I’m on top of the child’s learning plan and letting them know I’m here if they want more information. They just want to know I’m here and am on top of things.”

Because parents and students are satisfied with the level of service they receive at Mathnasium of Brooklyn Heights—as well as the progress students make at the center—they’re quick to refer others in search of quality math education. As a result, Carl can attribute 50% of his new leads to referrals. “The way I see it, in this business, you have two clients—the student and the parent—and you need to be sure that both have a good experience,” he concludes. “Students need to know how important their success is to us, and parents need to know that we’re on top of managing their kids’ math education. Paying attention to the needs of both, letting them know that I’m always available, and going the extra mile when I can—all of these are critical to keeping the student enrolled.”