Technology and the advent of multichannel experiences has made communication easier for students but management more challenging for higher education institutions. While the student can reach out on the channel of their choice, many schools don’t have the capacity to respond to every inquiry, consolidate questions and comments or segment to the right departments. Conversations then come in at an influx, with thousands of students on campus vying for attention. Although this paints an overwhelming picture of managing the campus experience, it doesn’t have to be this way.
In fact, with the right tools in place and an experience strategy, you can better manage student experiences all while streamlining operations on the backend.
Map The Student Journey
The first step, and arguably the most important in managing the campus experience, is mapping the student journey.
Without a clear understanding of the experience you’re providing, it can be difficult to pin down what exactly needs work and where you’re already excelling.
Consider a typical business marketing funnel and ask yourself; how do students hear about you? What areas of our school are the busiest? What journey does a new student take versus a seasoned student? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you mock up your map and identify opportunities.
For a more holistic journey map, dive even further; do students have a clear avenue of communication at these touch-points? What channels are they using versus what you offer? What areas of your school do students typically complain about or praise?
Although it can seem like a monotonous or long exercise to map the entire journey, it’s beneficial to keep you organized, manage touch-points, and assist in understanding student preferences and patterns.
Create A Workflow For Real-Time Feedback
Surveys play a critical role in improving the experience. They provide you with insight right from the source, that can help you shape your institution’s reputation.
However, managing feedback on the backend can be challenging. Especially if there are hundreds to thousands of students asking questions and writing in. Fortunately, there are tools that can help simplify the influx of messages. With a sophisticated customer experience platform like Loop, you can actually automate a workflow to direct specific conversations to the right team member. This ensures a more accurate answer within a short amount of time. Further, Loop offers templated messages for redundant questions and seamless bot-to-human handoff so responding is simplified and each student gets the attention they require.
The Importance of Student Real-Time Feedback
On this point, we also want to stress the importance of real-time feedback for students. A concept we argue is pivotal with younger generations who expect immediate action.
In recent research by Bernard R. McCoy, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Nebraska, it was found that “immediacy” of texting and social media is leading students to favour those forms of communication over email. He continues; “Text messaging and many social media tools seem to carry a greater expectation that viewing and responding happen as a real-time conversation.”
If you’re considering sending surveys or building better communication with students, we highly suggest leveraging Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or having kiosks placed at key points on campus.
Create a Regular Flow of Internal Communication
Manage experiences effectively by having a steady stream of helpful and proactive employee communication.
In most instances, if there’s an issue on campus, there’s a department that can resolve it. The problem occurs when a student writes in and their message is directed to the wrong department, or the student has to message multiple channels to find the right person. Without effective internal communication, finding the right person and managing the inquiry becomes challenging.
Thankfully, a customer experience solution can help with this. Using an ideal solution, you can tag fellow staff in conversation through private messaging.
For instance, let’s say a student writes about food service. With a solution like Loop, the conversation gets directed to staff at the cafeteria so they can address the question. Mid-conversation, the student pivots and asks about extracurricular programs. The employee can create a private thread in conversation, not visible to the student, and tag the guidance counselor or administrative assistant. Employees can have full conversations in the thread and then turn off private conversations to resume communication with the student. This ensures the right information is relayed to the student and they’re not bogged down with being redirected or having to hop on multiple channels.
Getting into a regular cadence of internal communication makes managing the campus experience much easier. It ensures everyone on the team is on the same page, and students enjoy a fast and efficient journey.
One of the most important qualities of effective campus management is consolidation.
Without consolidation, your team is hopping from one webpage to the next, opening individual apps, and later manually recording data. What’s more, assigning different people to different apps or platforms, can get confusing and create a disjointed student experience.
With the right tools in place, like a dedicated customer experience solution, you can consolidate all messages to offer a unified experience throughout the entire student journey. Take the Loop Experience Platform as an example, whether a student writes in from your cafeteria using Facebook Messenger or at the gymnasium through text, Loop aggregates all inquiries into to single view. This not only ensures every customer message is responded to but also ensures conversation consistency. For instance, if an employee has been talking to a student and then has to transfer the conversation to someone who is more suited, that new employee can see the entire thread of communication – making it easy for them to pick up the conversation.
When it comes to managing student conversations, it’s critical to invest in the right tools that help your brand elevate communication and maintain a great reputation.
Use Campus Experience Data
Lastly, manage your campus experience with confidence as you use data to understand student preferences and employee performance.
By actively sending surveys or encouraging conversations on devices, you can gather data to better manage library hours, food preferences in cafeterias, residence opinions, events that engage students, lecture hall best practices, and more. Your students are the ones who know the experience best, so asking their input and using that data allows you to improve satisfaction rates and build a solid reputation.
With the Loop Experience Platform, for instance, you can send surveys, but also gather actionable insights, all in real-time. Easily ask students about their experience, and receive responses, sentiment, location, trending topics, the department responsible, and more so you can make data-driven decisions.
Further, with Loop’s analytics capabilities, you can get advanced and aggregate insights across the entire campus. Create benchmarks that track your school’s performance long-term and compare against other schools. For instance, measure the sentiment of your library or study hall through Cleanliness and Service using either Boolean or Customer Satisfaction question types. With actionable real-time data, you can ensure your school is always meeting brand standards no matter where students visit on campus.