Improve Yield by Creating an Engaging and Personalized Enrollment Experience!
At your university or college, who typically owns the student enrollment experience? Is it the Marketing/Communications department, is it the Admissions department, or is it unclear who owns the student experience?
Many colleges and universities break up their departments, which can create silos. As an unintended consequence of these silos, your student enrollment process may suffer.
If you are able to align your communications and admissions departments around the idea of delighting prospective students with your enrollment experience, you should be able to grow your enrollments even in these turbulent times, without growing your budget and costs.
This article shows you how you can improve your enrollment experience and increase enrollments without increasing your budget.
How Can Your College Adapt to Gen Z and Millenials’ Changing Preferences?
Millennials and Gen Zers crave authentic brand experiences: something tangible and tactile. They prefer experiential marketing.
Gen Z and younger Millennials select certain businesses because of their authenticity and can stay because of the experience the business delivers.
Improve Yield By Enhancing Your Experience
Enhancing your experience should take some of the pressure off of your Marketing or Communications team to drive more applicants. Your college may be able to finally crack the code to get more enrollments and improve tuition revenue by getting more of your inquiries or applicants to say yes to your college over another college.
By focusing on a more meaningful student enrollment experience, your college will be able to drastically drive up yield, increase referrals, and build an enduring legacy, supported by tuition revenue.
Creating a Baseline
As a first step, your school should consider doing a marketing and enrollment audit. This can help to find possible areas of friction in your enrollment process and then the next step is a to create a Student Journey Map. Learn more about student journey maps? Also, consider doing a secret shop of your enrollment process and of a few of your top competitors. These activities will help you answer these questions:
- Can your Counselors or Advisors clearly able to articulate why someone should enroll at your college? And, what makes your college special?
- Are your Enrollment Advisors following up with prospective students enough?
- Are your marketing messages and enrollment communications aligned?
- Where are there friction points in the enrollment process?
Coining Our Own Term: Prospective Student Experience (PSX)
You’ve heard the term Customer Experience (CX) used across countless industries from sales to hospitality. This customer-centric approach focuses on the interaction and reception of an experience by the target audience.
For Higher Ed, we can harness the same CX approach, but we will coin our own industry term: Prospective Student Experience (PSX).
Professor Goutam Challagalla, Professor of Marketing and Strategy at the Institute for Management Development (IMD), breaks down the concept of Customer Experience into two questions:
- How do I feel?
- How hard is it to work with you?
Professor Challagalla explains how emotions and trust play a major role in customer experience. It’s imperative for colleges to reduce effort and friction in their enrollment processes.
“Effort is the biggest predictor of customer loyalty.”Professor Challagalla
That is a powerful statement!
Your College Enrollment Process Needs to Center Around Creating an Amazing Student Experience
Your enrollment process can create a positive or negative impression on prospective students and their families. If most of your students are more traditional 18-24, be sure to include parents in your communication strategy along with your prospective student communications.
We’ve worked with some large state university systems that receive applications in October and will communicate with students to get the necessary information for their application but then will go silent from October to sometime between February/ March when acceptance or rejection letters are sent out.
Delivering a cumbersome and frustrating experience can impact a student’s trust and confidence in your college’s ability to meet their needs.
Enhancing the Prospective Student Experience (PSX)
Have you considered reimaging your enrollment process? This can be a perfect inflection point to layer in PSX processes and get different departments focusing on improving the enrollment experience, reducing friction, and delighting incoming students from day one.
We want to get everyone at your university to align around the student with the goal to improve yield with metrics tied to this goal.
If your college can delight prospective students with superior customer service throughout the enrollment process, then your college should see an increase in referrals, social media mentions, and, most importantly, enrollment yield.
In Who Gets in and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions, award-winning journalist and higher education expert, Jeffrey J. Selingo, observes a major increase in college applications, with students applying to as many as 10 colleges.
This trend makes enrollment competition even more intense. We propose a much larger focus on enhancing your college’s Prospective Student Experience, so your college can become the top choice for many of these students. And, your college doesn’t need to be Harvard or Yale. With so many students submitting 10 or more applications, your college has an opportunity to compete when it comes to the student’s experience.
Using a Mix of Strategic Technology Automations and Human Touch
Your college needs to consider using text messaging (SMS/MMS) throughout its enrollment process to keep prospective students engaged in the enrollment process and to know what is coming up next (setting expectations). Keep reading to learn how to use text messaging can be used in your enrollment strategy.
Gen Z students unlock their phones an average of 79 times a day. Digital engagement should be at the foundation of your strategic approach to recruitment and conversion throughout the funnel.
Rory Sutherland, Vice-Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, one of the largest and most renowned advertising agencies in the world, shares this sentiment. In My Advertising Is So Efficient It No Longer Works, Sutherland explores using strategic communications and a mix of technology and human touchpoints to remove uncertainty from the advertising process.
In Higher Ed, the goal for this initiative is to remove as much friction and uncertainty as possible for a more personalized enrollment process that will “feel like a service and not like a transaction.”
This video clip shows the power of removing uncertainty out of the [enrollment] process. We can do this with strategic communications and a mixture of technology and human touchpoints.
I started this clip at 15:54 minutes, and you can stop at 18:29—less than 3 minutes.
At 18:20 in this video, Rory speaks to how Uber has already created a frictionless payment experience.
The entire video is wonderful, and I recommend watching the whole thing when you have an hour to spare.
The Need to Remove Friction in Your Enrollment Process
The goal is to reimagine your enrollment process to “feel like a service and not like a transaction.” It helps to remove as much friction and uncertainty in your enrollment process by proactively communicating and setting appropriate expectations.
At the moment your college accepts a student, I recommend creating a moment of elevation.
In the book, The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, the authors share the importance of building in moments of elevation into your business process. Check out this great blog post for a helpful summary of the book.
Research indicates that 72% of students who do not re-enroll give customer service as the reason. (Neal A. Raisman, The Business of Higher Education).
The more we increase personal touch and “wow: factor into the enrollment process, the more we increase the chance of student enrollment.
When your college accepts a student, I recommend creating a moment of elevation. This can be done by memorializing your college’s acceptance with some fanfare. Acceptance boxes are a creative and personal way to celebrate a student’s acceptance.
Below are several images of other colleges creating acceptance boxes that they are sending to students who are accepted into their college. These are real examples from other universities and colleges.
The goal is to get more of those accepted students to start at your college. This can contribute drastically to revenue because the cost to acquire the student to enroll has already been paid (that’s the sunk cost). If your college can get more students to enroll after being accepted, it will drastically improve your revenue and drive more referrals. Delighted students are more likely to recommend your college to their friends and family.
Acceptance Packages from Other Colleges and Employers Who Welcome New Employees
Not Convinced? Here Are Some Statistics to Highlight the Importance of Customer Service
Statistics Outside of Higher Education:
- 81% of companies view customer experience as a competitive differentiator.
- The top reason customers switch brands is because they feel unappreciated.
- 63% of CEOS want to rally organizations around customers as the top investment priority.
- According to a survey conducted by Accenture, 90% of B2B leaders “already believe that customer experience is crucial to their companies’ business priorities.”
- Companies that lead in customer experience outperform laggards by nearly 80%.
- 77% of consumers view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback.
- 84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.
- American consumers will pay 17% more to purchase from a company with a reputation for great service.
- Companies that excel at customer experience have 1.5 times more engaged employees than less customer-focused companies.
- 22% of Fortune 100 companies have a C-level customer officer, compared to 10% of Fortune 500 and 6% of Fortune 1000.
- 90% of global executives who use data analytics report that they improved their ability to deliver a great customer experience.
- In the UK along, KPMG found that 95% of companies surveyed preferred/were satisfied with a sole human relationship manager. When the relationship is solely automated, the satiation drops to 61%.
We Can Help You Delight Your Prospective Students.
It’s not easy to figure out how to actually delight your prospective students — but we know how! Schedule a consultation with us to discuss how we can help you create an exceptional enrollment experience that delights your prospective students.