Combining Customer Service and IACUC Administration

Do you think of customer service when you think of IACUC Administration? No? Well, maybe you should! I recently attended a fabulous session at PRIM&R’s 2018 IACUC Conference entitled “Incorporating Quality Customer Service into IACUC Administration”. We don’t often think of customer service as applying to regulatory compliance. But if instead of viewing regulatory compliance as enforcement, we view it as a service, we may begin to see compliance increase.

Good regulatory compliance, like customer service, should be about providing assistance to those customers in order to maintain compliance—in this model, the investigators, laboratory members, and even husbandry and veterinary staff can all be seen as customers. I think IACUC administrators can definitely use customer service techniques to improve regulatory compliance. Customer service includes many elements that can improve compliance and relationships with investigators, including thorough knowledge of your product, a friendly and patient attitude, efficient work, empathy, and good problem-solving.

Knowledge about your product—in this case regulations and animal care practices—are necessary in order to provide strong customer service. Continued training through webinars, peer-reviewed articles, conferences, and books is important in order to effectively communicate and interpret regulations to investigators and laboratory staff.

In addition to knowledge, effective communication begins and ends with a friendly and patient attitude. Part of being an IACUC administrator is dealing with the variety of issues and situations that arise each and every day. By giving each person your full and patient attention, you may be able to gain a better understanding of all the factors involved. Properly dealt with, complaints can become opportunities for knowledge and growth. An empathetic and patient attitude goes a long way!

Good customer service is also efficient. Many aspects of IACUC administration involve time – time away from faculty’s otherwise busy schedule. Quality assurance metrics can be used to examine processes such as protocol and amendment reviews and facility inspections. Once examined, processes can be made more efficient. Additionally, efficiency means quick responses to questions. Responding to inquiries from faculty and laboratory members quickly and accurately is important in maintaining relationships. Finally, good customer service means solving problems and being helpful in any way. A good IACUC administrator should never say “go somewhere else.” Often times, I have gone above and beyond to provide extra service to faculty members and I have never regretted it.

IACUC administration is about more than just regulatory compliance—it is about building relationships. Incorporating customer service techniques into IACUC administration can help to build relationships with faculty members and improve compliance and communication. And that, after all is the bottom line.

Elaine Joseph, PhD, is a Compliance Analyst at the University of Toledo. She currently manages the IACUC and IBC for the University of Toledo, as well as performing grant reviews. She has been in regulatory compliance for over 14 years. Prior to working in regulatory compliance, Dr. Joseph received her doctorate in Zoology from Miami University of Ohio.

Members of PRIM&R’s Blog Squad and other guest contributors are valued members of our community willing to share their insights. The views expressed in their posts do not necessarily reflect those of PRIM&R or its employees.

IACUC18 Conference Proceedings are now available for purchase. PRIM&R’s 2019 IACUC Conference (IACUC19), will take place April 1-3 in Bellevue, WA, in conjunction with the NWABR Regional IACUC Conference on April 4. We are currently accepting session proposals (until August 24, 2018) and poster abstracts (until October 5, 2018) for IACUC19.