Athens, Ga. – Two University of Georgia departments were recognized recently for outstanding customer service by the University System of Georgia.
As part of Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.’s Customer Service Awards program, the UGA Police Department received a silver award in the Team category for its overall commitment to public safety and customer service, and the Bursar’s Office captured a silver award in the Outstanding Customer Service Improvement Initiative category for an electronic payment system implemented this year.
The presentations were made in a special ceremony held at the chancellor’s office in Atlanta.Accompanying UGA staff members from the Police Department and the Bursar’s Office were UGA President Michael F. Adams and Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Tim Burgess, who serves as UGA’s customer service champion.
“I was pleased to join President Adams in congratulating our winners at the ceremony in Atlanta,” said Burgess. “I am continually impressed by the initiative and teamwork of our staff members who work to improve our processes and enhance the quality of service we provide to the campus community.”
Both departments report to Burgess.
The Bursar’s Office is responsible for the collection and custodianship of payments for tuition, fees and other related expenses from students. Fourteen staff members work in the office and process approximately 220,000 transactions worth more than $280 million annually.
After searching for more efficient and innovative e-commerce methods of payment, staff from the Bursar’s Office positioned UGA to become the first university in the nation to offer Secure Vault Payment in 2009.SVP is a process by which students and parents make payments directly to UGA from their bank accounts with no personal banking information divulged and no fees charged.In the first year of implementation, UGA’s SVP program processed more than 485 payments, totaling $305,638.79.
“While the benefits to the payer are obvious, the advantages for the university are significant,” said Lisa McCleary, UGA’s bursar.”With SVP, we are able to have immediate authorization of the transaction and receive guaranteed payment within 24 hours. In addition, we are not responsible for receiving or protecting any data, which relieves us of liability.The transactions are low cost, and future plans are to accept international transactions.”
McCleary added, “This payment method has the ability to revolutionize the way payments are accepted by the university, with many more applications for UGA departments that engage in eCommerce.Use of SVP could result in increased efficiencies and sales volumes as online customers become more comfortable with this secure payment option.”
The Chancellor’s Customer Service award is one of numerous recognitions recently presented to the UGA Police Department.Staffed with 78 sworn offers who serve 45,000 students, faculty, staff and visitors, the department operates beyond the perceived security guard image, much like that of a municipal police department.Along with traffic patrols and criminal investigations, the department staffs special events, such as UGA football games and concerts, and provides numerous educational programs, including cycle/scooter safety, theft prevention and personal safety for women. Almost 5,300 students participated in 87 safety programs last year.
“‘Help is on the way’ means an event has just occurred and the proper authorities have been contacted to gain control of the scene and aid victims,” said UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson. “But for the University of Georgia Police Department, ‘help is on the way’ is our culture and runs through every facet of the police department. Whether our officers have an educational role or an enforcement role, we operate as one unit to provide a safe and secure environment, with a commitment to being courteous, helpful, accessible, responsive, compassionate and knowledgeable during any event or situation.”
Williamson was quick to credit the caliber of officers who staff the police department.”We have many individuals who have doctorate, graduate and undergraduate degrees; yet, they are committed to police work, this department and this community, so they remain on our force. Those who do decide to leave go on to state and federal law enforcement agencies, such as the GBI, FBI, DEA and Secret Service. I am confident it is our staff who allows us to be considered one of the top university police agencies in the country.”
The UGA Police Department has received other recognitions recently.Individual officers from the department received the local “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” in 2009 and 2010, which is presented by the Athens Rotary Club.In addition, the department was a finalist in the 2009 Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police award for a plan to offer service in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, and has received numerous recognitions for its Bomb Disposal Team as well as its Underage Alcohol Consumption Prevention program.
“Just as valuable to us is the positive feedback we receive from those we serve,” said Williamson.”We constantly hear from parents, student, staff and visitors complimenting us for exceeding expectations.We’ve even had violators thank us for the courteous service we rendered during an incident.”
In response to Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s launch of the state’s ‘s Customer Service Improvement Initiative, Davis has asked the more than 40,000 faculty and staff employed by Georgia’s 35 public colleges and universities to provide faster, friendlier, more efficient service to customers, which includes more than 283,000 students. The Customer Service Awards recognize USG divisions that have responded to this challenge.
For further information about the Chancellor’s Award Program, see www.customerfocus.usg.edu/
For further information about the Bursar’s Office, see www.bursar.uga.edu
For further information about the police department, see www.police.uga.edu