Who is Your Client?

I’ve noticed that in higher ed, the word “client” refers to anyone except the school’s target audience. It’s usually a department head, an administrator or a project lead — essentially, anyone internally associated with the school. In an agency setting, that would make sense. You answer to the people who hire you because they pay your bills. In higher ed, though, students pay the bills, not your colleague in the next office. Internal personnel are your team members. They should help you (and you them) create the best experience for your true clients. Now, I’ve simplified things down to students here, but there will be others- donors, alumni, etc.- but you get the idea.

All employees at your school serve the greater ideals of the institution which, in turn, should ultimately revolve around the needs and wants of it’s various audiences. As such, an internal request must be measured against the established frameworks of the institution’s long term strategy. To say yes to every request will not only dilute the strategy and bottleneck any forward progress (because there will never be enough time and people to handle all requests), it’ll ultimately confuse and frustrate your true clients.

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