The Student Experience Has Transformed: The One Stop Portal Higher Ed Needs to Stay Competitive
- November 21, 2017
At Acorio, we realize that the mandate to drive digital transformation and offer “consumerized” student services has come to Higher Ed.
Think about it: The freshmen walking onto campus today have all grown up as consumers in an online community. From the application process through graduation, colleges are interacting with students who have different needs and demands than even a decade ago.
This evolution of the student consumer comes hand in hand with a host of transformative pressures shaping a new collegiate experience. As college costs skyrocket and enrollment numbers decrease, institutions face an audience with increasing expectations. Here are some statistics to consider:
The more students expect, the more colleges have to deliver. Today, students and parents expect their interactions with colleges and universities to be easy, if not automatic. This requires a new paradigm shift for Higher Ed CIOs and administrators.
How Much is a Student Worth? (Hint: About $200,000)
How much is a student really worth to a university? Between tuition, housing, and other fees, a 4-year student can easily reach $200,000. This doesn’t include graduate programs and doctoral candidates, who can reach that level or more on their own.
Universities have to shift to thinking of students and their parents/guardians as consumers. Unless you are lucky enough to have a massive “wait list” of talent, investing in recruiting and retaining these types of students (customers) is a competitive battle. In fact, even those institutions who have a wait list are not immune to competition for the same top-talent student customers.
If students and their parents are the new customer, then universities must think more like high-end customer service organizations to survive the sea change. Satisfaction and net promoter scores are the new harbingers of long-term competitive success.
How Am I Competing with Other Institutions?
The evolution of student expectations and institutional goals has led to a consolidation and improvement of student-facing services. This normally manifests in one of three scenarios. Sometimes, it’s all of them at the same time.
Critical on the path of driving a strong brand reputation is being perceived as top-notch in customer service and creating strong “brand ambassadors.” Tactically, that involves increasing overall student satisfaction metrics, such as customer (student) satisfaction and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for the institution. Net promotors are those who would “strongly recommend” your institution to family, friends, and colleagues.
Students are demanding instant turnaround and modern methods of engagement, especially on mobile devices, and Higher Ed needs to comply with these needs.
The goal should be to eliminate un-traceable systems of work (like email and spreadsheets), reduce or automate manual processes, and improve interdepartmental communications. This grants the power to both transform the student experience and improve efficiency in your work environment. Many institutions are already making this shift by physically relocating to one spot on campus. Now they need to consolidate systems into a unified system of work.
The [New] Student Lifecycle:
Managing the student lifecycle end-to-end is critical to the success of transforming the student experience. The phases may differ at some institutions, but the image below effectively captures the lifecycle that most students experience throughout their college career.
Acorio University Portal: Your Turn-Key Student One-Stop Portal
Today, forward-thinking institutions are redefining the student experience on the ServiceNow Platform. They are better managing the new student lifecycle, driving consolidation of systems, and growing synergy across student-facing service groups.
Acorio’s Student One-Stop solution has the power to rapidly modernize and consolidate student work into one system while creating a more modern, mobile-enabled student experience.
Part of the Partner Catalyst Program, this designed approach is making it cheaper, faster, easier, and more intuitive for students to navigate university resources
Suffolk University: Curating the Student Experience and Increasing Satisfaction
Leading the charge in the transformation of the student experience is Suffolk University, a major university in Massachusetts
For 100 years, Suffolk University has committed to providing a positive student experience from initial interest to graduation. Suffolk falls into the “competitive” college landscape of building enrollment as the school grows and managing student retention through undergraduate and graduate programs.
With ~15,000 students, Suffolk University has adopted a Customer Service paradigm to improve student support services across 4 groups: Financial Aid, Registrar, Bursar, and a newly formed student services group call the Ram Desk. These groups moved into one physical location last year and started working more closely together. Now they are unifying their system of work in ServiceNow to enhance their student facing services.
Suffolk’s goal is to fully capture the workload, rebalance work between the front-line and the departments, and measure critical success factors from their student interactions.
These factors include:
Suffolk has now unified the Registrar, Bursar, Financial Aid, and Ram Desk teams so that they all run through ServiceNow to work together on cases that are structured around student accounts. They are also using knowledge management and a call center integration to route and link calls to the correct sources.
In rolling out ServiceNow, Suffolk has improved their “customer” experience on multiple fronts:
Nine Questions to Better Serve Your Student (and Parent) Consumers
Regardless of where you are on your student experience journey, here is a checklist of questions that can help define your goals for 2018 and beyond.
Come away from the dark ages of spreadsheets and un-trackable requests, or get left behind the new student experience. Schedule a demo on your unique challenges today.
Interested in seeing the One-Stop Portal in action? ServiceNow and Acorio are hosting a webinar on Thursday, November 30th. Click here to reserve your space today.