Chant 411: taking service excellence to the next levelby Russell Alston
April Sager, program coordinator for CHANT411, wants you to think of her as the Olivia Pope of Coastal Carolina University.
Like the character on the hit ABC show “Scandal,” Sager and her team of 15 “information gladiators” are adept and eager to try and solve whatever problems may come their way.
Take the mother who contacted CHANT411, panicking that her student’s immunization records wouldn’t reach Student Health Services before the deadline for fall registration. When she wasn't able to contact the health services office, she decided to call Chant 411. Sager sent a member of her team to check out the situation. “Sure enough, they were swamped,” Sager says. “The Health Services staff were busting their butts.”
CHANT411 then called the customer back, ready with a solution to her problem.
“We gave her another fax number, and we scooped up the form and delivered it ourselves,” she says. ”We delivered the records, then called her back to let her know.”
That’s what CHANT411 was created to do according to Sager—go above and beyond in providing service excellence for anyone who needs assistance navigating the university system.
CHANT411 is the brainchild of CCU President David DeCenzo.
“This program evolved from the original ‘concierge’ idea that was announced back in January,” says DeCenzo.
In February, Sager joined the CCU staff to build the new program from the ground up. She held several focus groups with students to gain feedback on how the program could best serve CCU. The name of the program was changed from CHANTcierge to CHANT411. Then Sager then went looking for her crew of “gladiators in bowties.”
The students she recruited are learning to be expert problem solvers. “They are performing servant leadership,” she says. “They are here for everyone, they go above and beyond and are excited by the challenge.” She requires everyone she hires to read Peter Kyne’s “The Go-Getter,” a novel that encourages tenacity in the face of various obstacles.
In addition to her official staff, Sager enjoys her own backup crew of warriors who support CHANT411 behind the scenes.
Porter Medley, CCU director of conference services, is Sager’s direct supervisor. “Porter has been so supportive,” she says. “He really understands what the ‘Feel the Teal’ initiative is about.”
Stacie Bowie, CCU chief financial officer, is described as “the absolute reason why we have been as successful as we have been.” Bowie provided the initial support and resources for CHANT411 in the form of budgets for the office. “We would not be here without her,” says Sager.
And there’s President DeCenzo, who “has given me the autonomy to do what I need to,” says Sager. “He also provides the vision for CHANT411.” Sager delivers monthly reports to the president.
Sager and DeCenzo encourage the faculty and staff to use CHANT411 also.
“The CHANT411 Program is a new resource available for all of us if we encounter a question we can’t answer,” says DeCenzo. “They will find the appropriate information, seek out the answer and provide follow-up. With the motto of ‘Here When You Need Us,’ CHANT411 is a central point of contact for students, families, faculty, staff and visitors who want a question answered or need guidance navigating the University system.”
“I’m confident it’s going to take off with the faculty and staff,” says Sager. “People are going to love the resource. We are the resource experts, not the information experts. We connect you with the resource, and then we’ll follow up to make sure you got the information.”
Sager says she has two goals. ”As a personal mission, in addition to increasing student retention, I want CCU to be a model for service excellence, and have other colleges and universities take notice of what we’re doing here.”
For now, CHANT411’s offices are located in Sands Hall, next to the post office. Their new offices will eventually be located in the Lib Jackson Student Center.
Until then, expect to see CHANT411 making sure that all students, faculty and staff know they are “here when you need us.”
“Coming to work every day is a joy,” Sager says. “I have one of the coolest jobs on campus. C’mon, can you argue with that? I get to create a new service designed to help people.”