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Phone Service Initiative
Includes Toll Free Number

At a time when phone menus and non-personal customer service are becoming more prevalent, and aggravating, Sam Houston State University is taking steps in a different direction.

James F. Gaertner, SHSU president, has announced the installation of a new toll free telephone line (1.866.BEARKAT) and a plan to stress professional and personal service at all levels of the university.

"Our interactions over the phone serve as a primary point of contact for the university's many constituents," said Gaertner. "As part of our marketing and increased visibility initiative, we want to use this medium to its fullest capacity in presenting a positive image to all of our stakeholders. The university operator team is stepping forward to lead the way."

Betty Brewer, computer services quality control specialist and phone service expert, will be available to help SHSU departments evaluate their current modes of service and to provide help and training if necessary.

"In a proactive way, we want to encourage all departments to view and use their phones and phone services as a marketing tool for their specific areas," said Brewer. "The key to phone effectiveness in all departments is the same as at the university operator team level--professional and personal service whenever possible and effective use of telephone technology for peak and critical times."

Brewer has already been working with the financial aid and admissions staffs.

"Phone technology plays a critical role in how we manage our calls," said Brewer. "Not every department has the same phone service demands, but all need to be aware of full and careful utilization and management of our voice mailboxes, call forwarding functions, etc."

Over the summer Nancy Sears, assistant director of computer services, and Brewer will be working to connect a pre-recorded promotional message about the university for any caller who might be placed on hold for a brief period of time. For questions relating to assistance available from computer services and the university operator team, contact Sears at extension 41049 or Brewer at extension 43777.

Paula Vernick, assistant to the president, said that the re-introduction of a toll free number is part of a larger marketing initiative.

"1.866.BEARKAT is an effort to remove any barriers to accessing information about SHSU and its services and programs," said Vernick. "It is now available during normal business hours and will be answered and directed personally by our professional university operator team."

The targeted use of the toll free 1.866.BEARKAT line (1.866.232.7528) will include publishing it in specified Texas market telephone books and any recruiting, promotional, marketing and advertising materials for the institution. Contact Vernick at extension 41018 with questions regarding the publishing or usage of the toll free line.

"We are encouraging everyone on campus to evaluate their current phone management system and let us help you implement some simple, but effective methods so that every person who calls Sam Houston State University has a pleasant experience worth sharing with others," said Vernick.

"The value of that first impression over the phone cannot be overstated. It does impact decisions made every day whether or not to make Sam Houston State University the first choice in enrollment, employment, in donation or other important opportunity. We are asking all departments to join us in this initiative."

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
May 9, 2002
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