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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the district conferences and will work to address them, along with other common inquiries that come about during this initiative, in this section.

(LAST UPDATED: 12/12/17)

How does administration plan to improve customer service (responsiveness to questions)?

We in administration will work just as diligently and with as much dedication to the value of responsiveness as we are asking from everyone! We strive to be as responsive as possible, knowing that sometimes answers take time to research and respond to with accuracy, alignment if needed, and thoughtfulness. But we appreciate that we need to be held to the same level of accountability that we are requesting. If you find us not doing so, we invite that feedback to come to the appropriate person and/or their supervisor, and we will work to correct it!

Customer service training from the top down (CED, agent, etc.) to have everyone in the office as a unit – how will this be improved?

Over the next 12 months, we will be developing small modules on each of the main components of the Customer Experience Initiative. Each module will be focused, and we will roll out one at a time so everyone in the organization can be focused and working on the same topic at the same time, so that we move forward together. Those modules will be developed by the Extension Org Development unit and disseminated out through districts and/or department Extension leaders. This way, over time, we are all moving forward together.

Are we expected to be on-call 24/7?

Not at all! We do not expect 24/7 service. The nature of “work” for almost all industries has changed with the advent of smart phones. However, that doesn’t mean 24/7 work. Each person must learn to set the boundaries that work for them. For employees who are required to clock in/clock out, other employees must respect that person’s work timeframes and not call upon them in their non-work hours except for truly time sensitive needs! For those who don’t clock in and out, we want you to set your timerames to work regular hours as much as you can (e.g. 40), knowing that these jobs are big ones and that time certainly extends to what it takes to get the job done. Keeping your energy high, your stress low and your life balanced is the expectation.

How can COSS employees be expected to travel for work but not be paid for their travel time?

COSS employees can and should be paid for their travel time if it falls within the rules set out by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most travel time is compensable, but it does take some analysis to know when and how much of it is or is not.

How will this impact or change our EPAT?

Customer service/experience has been identified as an “institutional goal” by the UNC General Administration that oversees all UNC system schools. As such, these items will be incorporated into the evaluations of all employees. We are working to identify exactly what that looks like on each of the different forms that different employee groups use, but yes, this topic will be on the evaluations moving forward.

Will Extension be developing bilingual materials for all areas?

As a first step, NC State Extension has set aside $25,000 to translate the most frequently used materials into Spanish. We are also assessing other languages needed, as well as ongoing strategy for addressing this important need.

What steps are we taking to retain employees and fill open positions quickly to maintain trust?

To fill open county-based positions quickly, NC State Extension implemented our revamped “staffing model,” which identified the base and add-on positions. If any vacancy opens up in any of those identified positions, we are able to move as quickly as the county is able to move forward. To retain employees, we are working on looking at the variables in work that help people stay at any job: pay, job satisfaction, manager training, continuing education, better work-life management, great leadership, etc. We have also made some key counter-offers over the past three or four years to help retain employees where we can. We will always strive to do more. NC State campus faculty vacancies and positions and N.C. A&T county and campus vacancies and positions all move at a different rate with many other factors to consider.

How can we accurately communicate our brand/goal in the community?

The most direct answer is to review the Referencing Extension section of the N.C. Cooperative Extension brand site. You’ll find a sample elevator pitch, along with required statements and guidance on communicating about Extension. On a related note, we’re hiring a new Extension marketing communications specialist at NC State, whose primary role will be to work with our programs and county centers to develop local comm. plans and help create resources and stories that elevate our brand. This position will be on board in early 2018 (January or February).

What social media policies exist to govern Extension social media pages? Can these be developed to guide branding and consistent messaging in this area?

All NC State employees and programs, including NC State Extension efforts, should adhere to the university’s social media resources section, which includes best practices, account registration, list of official accounts and detailed guidance on social media use. View the full NC State social media policy.

View N.C. A&T State University social media guidelines and best practices here.

We’ve hired a new social media specialist for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who will start in December 2017. They will manage our state social channels and help develop and implement updated social media resources for employees that help drive our overall strategic communications plan.

More to come soon!