UC-Davis Stays A Step Ahead
Retaining customers at a large institution like the University of California-Davis requires a mix of customer service and cutting-edge technology.
By Carol Brzozowski
One of the most distinctive aspects of the University of California-Davis' Repro Graphics department is that it commands 85 percent of the university's market share—even though there's no mandate that campus departments utilize the operation.
"Most in-plant operations in other academic environments require departments go to that in-plant for printing," contends Ed Dunn, design services and business development manager. "We like to believe we are doing something right."
Across the country, campus in-plant operations are cognizant that they are competing with the private sector. They know they have to find some way to distinguish themselves.
"The tie-breaker has to do with the level of customer service," says Dunn. "From an internal standpoint, it has to do with the intimacy from which we are able to operate with the university, really having an understanding of and wanting to support the individual departments so they can focus on their area of expertise."
Director Will Watson, who came to the operation almost a year ago from Kinko's, observes that regardless of how long employees have worked at Repro Graphics, they are flexible and can accept change.
He also notes an intimacy at the operation different from other types of customer service-based organizations.
"There is a lot of first-name interaction and a lot of understanding by many employees of specific departments," he says. "They have spent a lot of time getting to know what happens in each department and how we can more effectively serve them."
Set in the heart of California's Central Valley, the agricultural heart of the state, UC-Davis calls itself "one of the last small-town universities." Its 30,065 students and 8,307 full- and part-time faculty members enjoy the area's Mediterranean climate, where temperatures rarely dip below freezing or above 100 degrees.