How the Campus Experience Impacts Brand Management

A school campus is not just a place students go to learn. It’s a community. A central hub where people gather to connect, exchange ideas, innovate, socialize and even live. From the cafeteria to the bookstore, student residences and coffee shops, a school campus is an intricate network of individual experiences and touchpoints. How everyone, from a prospective student, to a staff members, interact with these key areas on campus will make up their greater campus experience and leave a lasting impression of the institution’s brand, either encouraging or discouraging them to promote the school to those they interact with on and off campus.

So what do you want people to say about your institution? Do you want them to share how the cafeteria menu had everything they were looking for? How a negative situation at the bookstore was escalated and resolved effectively? How effectively the student housing department communicates with students about the health and safety measures taken on campus?

By using the Loop Experience Platform, you can measure the campus experience using feedback and messaging at key moments of truth while people visit the school. With this data, you can make informed decisions on programs and initiatives to improve satisfaction and leave a lasting impression on all those that visit campus.

Measure Everything

So what is “campus experience”? In a UK led survey that aimed to benchmark campus performance, identified campus experience as: “Any impression or perception someone leaves the campus with. The buildings, the public realm, the staff and services are all part of the campus experience.”

This means that the coffee shops, to the student bookstore, print shop and common areas are all part of the student experience.

So what purpose does campus experience serve? The survey discovered that, “Respondents highlighted that the most important roles that the campus played were to attract new students, enhance the student experience, offer students security and a sense of wellbeing and affect how people feel when they are present on campus.”

With many different types of facilities and vendors, it can be challenging for stakeholders at the institution to manage the experience in each of these disconnected locations.

Bringing in a customer experience solution, such as the Loop Experience Platform, will help to measure the satisfaction and sentiment of those who come into contact with that touchpoint. With that data, you can make improvements to enhance the customer experience at each location, contributing to an improvement in overall campus experience.

It’s important to remember, that not everyone who visits campus lives on campus. Commuting students have a remarkably tougher time connecting with campus, but that doesn’t mean that their voice shouldn’t be heard. Quite the opposite. Ensure you are measuring opinions on parking, accessibility and flexibility for students that travel to and from campus every day. Have these students leave campus every day with a positive experience to share with everyone they meet outside of the school grounds.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so by having a pulse at these key locations throughout campus, it will give students, facility and staff a voice where they think they are not being heard.

Act On The Data You Collect

Make data-informed decisions about how you spend your budget to improve campus. Knowing the trending issues that students are concerned with can help focus priorities to improve the overall campus experience.

Are the opening hours of the library a cause for concerns for students? Maybe study spaces don’t have enough power outlets or the WIFI isn’t strong enough in common areas. Address the key areas of concern for those who visit campus and improve the overall experience.

In the UK led survey, it was revealed that it is not always complex initiatives that help improve the student experience. “The survey also asked what more needs to be done to improve the campus experience, and the most common answer with six responses was to improve wayfinding. Signage, lighting, paths, road crossings, connections between buildings Directional signage is poor and location codes not readily available Intelligent signposting.” All seem pretty straight-forward, right? Imagine improving your overall brand, student loyalty and satisfaction by simply adding a new sign on campus. Having the data analyze trends of what is top of mind, can offer easy solutions and provide improve overall performance.

With the Loop Experience Platform, all your data is in one place. Whether you have 3 locations or 30 on campus, access all the data you are collecting and analyze it with custom dashboards for a variety of stakeholders at the institution for effective project management.

Real Time Makes a Real Difference

If someone is not happy with the order they received at the on-campus restaurant, or a student has a concern about safety in residence, escalating and resolving those issues at a later date doesn’t add much value. Being able to interact in real time is essential to ensure satisfaction and brand loyalty when visiting campus.

The Loop Experience Platform uses native applications, such as SMS, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to offer real time communication on campus and those who visit. With natural language processing and routing, issues can be directed to the right person for faster resolution time.

The experience in residence weighs heavily on the need for a sense of belonging and community. From amenities, to price point students will have powerful opinions on student residence. Give these students a voice, so that you can encourage them to remain the following year, or be an advocate for new students who come on campus. Real time communication for those who live on campus is a key resource that can have a large impact on overall experience.

Compete on Experience

Competition continues to intensify and the importance of branding has become a key strategy to recruit and retain students and staff. According to Whisman, he considers internal branding as “a university’s most valuable intangible asset”.  Higher education is a unique environment as it can have a multitude of different goals, and campus experience plays a role in each of those. Some institutions wish to increase the number and quality of students, improve student loyalty, improve alumni links, recruit talented employees, and gain support from the corporate sector as well as further distinguish themselves from other actors in higher education according to research paper on branding for higher education*.

Investing in your campus can become a key differentiator in the marketplace, and knowing where to put those dollars is essential to getting the most out of your budget. Using data collected by those who use the services every day will help to shine a light on areas that will have the greatest impact on the overall campus experience.

Never has the campus experience been more important to students and, arguably, never under greater scrutiny in terms of value for money. Attending a higher education institution carries both a financial and opportunity cost, so expectations are doubled when it comes to what students expect from their campus.

The study suggested that student engagement is tightly connected to campus experience. Those who engage with students are found to achieve better campus experience scores, than those who do not.

To be on top of your game on campus, you need actionable data, organized in a meaningful way to help manage projects and investment on campus.

* Whisman, R. (2009). Internal branding: A university’s most valuable intangible asset. Journal of Product and Brand Management, 18(5), 367–370.

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