Tips for Retaining Adult Learners Through Customer Service Excellence: The Concierge Model, Lisa R. Braverman, PhD, Long Island University

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Presentation at CALEM 2013. This presentation looks at the current national context for adult degree completion, in addition to comparing the US to the rest of the world. It goes on to discuss the …

Presentation at CALEM 2013. This presentation looks at the current national context for adult degree completion, in addition to comparing the US to the rest of the world. It goes on to discuss the Concierge Model (customer service) and shares various examples of its success.

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  • 1. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 Tips for Retaining Adult Learners Through Customer Service Excellence Lisa R. Braverman, PhD Associate Provost for Adult Programs and Outreach Long Island University The Concierge Model July 18, 2013
  • 2. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 | 2 Thank You to: • Brian Murphy for sharing the NE model • Sean Gallagher for his great advice and for introducing me to Brian • Carol Aslanian and Scott Jeffe for their excellent market research • Tim and Jennifer Copeland for their unique internet inquiry management support
  • 3. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Born in rural mountain town in upstate NY, pop. 5000 • Attended Bennington, Brandeis University (B.A. 1978); first in family to complete degree • Took year off, worked for Harvard psych. J. Kagan 1975 • Spent senior year studying and traveling in Peruvian Andes • Completed Ph.D. in Spanish, Latin American Studies at NYU • Over 25 years in continuing, nontraditional education • CE Dean, instructor at major colleges in NY metro • First child at 45, weekend athlete, ex-member MENSA • Strong interest in innovation: pioneered Centers of Innovation at two different SUNY college campuses • Forged partnerships in Latin America, Asia, 2009-11 • Consult, write, present on important topics in CE, HE Bio | 3
  • 4. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 Today’s Agenda: | 4 • Look at national context for adult degree completion • Understand why excellent customer service is the “new norm” for retaining and graduating adult students • Describe the Concierge Model and its roots in industry • Review examples of how it has been adopted by HE • See how the approach is being used at Long Island University
  • 6. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 “The United States risks an unprecedented shortage of college-educated workers in coming years. By 2018, the economy will create 47 million job openings or jobs. 64% of all job openings will require at least some postsecondary education or training. With the global economy demanding more and more highly skilled workers, economists and labor experts say increasing college attainment is a national imperative.” Lumina Foundation | 6
  • 7. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 “State policymakers are continuously searching for ways to upgrade their state’s human capital so they can develop their workforce and improve their economy…at the same time, demographics are shifting, financial pressures are mounting, and everyone from the nation’s President to our states’ governors, as well as business and private foundations, are underscoring the need to boost degree attainment to meet the demands of the changing global economy.” Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) | 7
  • 9. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • 38% of U.S. pop. holds 4-year degree, same % as in 1942. • U.S. ranks second-to-last in 4-year college education attainment in OECD (top 30 economically developed) nations. Is the only country with a younger generation with a lower high school graduation rate than the older generation. • 58% of first-time, full-time students who start at a 4-year college receive a bachelor's degree from that college within 6 years • 38 million US adults have some college, but no degree. 59 million have no postsecondary education=97 million US adults without B.S. • Less than half the workforce has A.S. degree or higher, creating a gap that calls for an additional 3 million credentialed workers. • 77% of respondents to a survey of HE institutions did not know graduation rates for their adult students. Only 16% said they understood the key reasons adult learners don’t complete credentials. College Retention and Adult Learners | 9
  • 10. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Do we ask adult learners how we’re doing in terms of customer service? • If so, do we listen to what they are telling us? • Are we doing a satisfactory or an excellent job? • Does your campus conduct regular focus groups or use survey instruments to get at critical satisfaction data about its adult learners? • How are you using that data to continuously improve service performance at your institution in order to retain increasing numbers of adults? Are We Listening? | 10
  • 12. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 “One critical element that can help you do a better job of enrolling, retaining, and graduating adult students is to have what we’ve started to call “the adult concierge.” We have witnessed, on a national level as well as on our own campus, that having people in this role can make a tremendous difference in the admissions, advisory and enrollment processes you have in place.” --Luke Dowden, Executive Director | 12 Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana (CALL) Louisiana Board of Regents
  • 13. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Concierge often becomes the face of the hotel for guests • Concierge desk acts as hub for guest activity planning, which means that the guests' hotel experience depends on the concierge's knowledge and prompt attention • Handles complex problems; has knowledge others don’t • An expert on local area, builds relations with area VIPs • Must accommodate guests who approach with requests, seek suggestions and demand problem resolutions. • One goal in mind: positive, seamless guest experience Concierge Service Model in Tourism and Hospitality | 13
  • 14. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • GHN-Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Firm • “We boast a team of dedicated Service Executives deliver a ‘high-touch’ approach to match ‘hi-tech’ services” • “Companies today require you to call into a nameless bank of customer service staff. Our Service Executive develops a personal relationship with our clients and acts as an advocate for you the customer, inside our organization.” • “Behind our Service Executives stands a team of support personnel that are coordinated to serve your needs” • Great service delivered with the benefit of continuity, ownership and accountability Concierge Service Model in Private Industry | 14
  • 15. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 | 15 “Additional Benefits” • Simplifies communication as single point of access • Coordinates all internal and external support needs • Monitors complaints and issues resolutions • Leverages the Support Enterprise team, operating within Service Level Objectives (SLO) • Closely manages customer service, response time, resolution and dispute, customer satisfaction survey and measurement, relationship management and escalation • Provides clients mutually agreed upon SLOs • Customers experience a “new level of service”
  • 16. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 | 16 The Concierge Model in HE • Anticipates rather than reacts to needs of students • Delivers programs and services that accommodate adults • Focuses on relationship building from prospect to degree attainment • Uses consistently adult-centered processes and practices • Offers one point of service for all of students’ program and support needs • Provides visible staffing and other critical resources that adults can access seamlessly and efficiently • Typically an office with specially trained employees who know how to work with returning adults
  • 17. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 | 17 Walden University • Recognized for best practices in online student services by The Center for Transforming Student Services: – “Its signature online concierge service, which offers personalized support for students from the time of enrollment until graduation, was highlighted as a model for other institutions to emulate.” • Its “Online Concierges” offer: – Technical support in the online learning environment – Guidance through the new student orientation – Course and assignment scheduling reminders – Personal assistance in working with other univ. depts.
  • 18. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Customer service helps prepare students to start classes and ensures that the online learning experience • “It is smooth and trouble-free throughout one’s education at Walden. We pay careful attention to the step-by-step experience of our students and try to anticipate their needs every step of the way.” • “We know our students want to focus on learning and can’t waste time getting stuck on technology or logistical challenges. Walden has built the concierge philosophy of customer service that’s proven VERY successful.” Walden, cnt’d | 18
  • 19. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Founded in fall 2005 • A virtual resource for higher education institutions interested in assessing the quality of their student services offered via the Web • Second year that CENTSS cited best practices that institutions like Walden implement to make effective services available over the Internet | 19 The Center for Transforming Student Services(CENTSS)
  • 21. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 | 21 Council on Adult Experiential Learning (CAEL): Adult-Learning Focused Institutions (ALFI) Principles of Effectiveness for Serving Adult Learners: 1. Outreach-Conducts outreach to adult learners by overcoming barriers in time, place, and tradition in order to create lifelong access to educational opportunities 2. Life & Career Planning-Addresses adult learners’ life and career goals before or at the onset of enrollment in order to assess and align its capacities to help learners reach their goals 3. Financing-Promotes choice using an array of payment options for adult learners in order to expand equity and financial flexibility 4. Assessment of Learning Outcomes-Defines and assesses the knowledge, skills, and competencies acquired by adult learners—both from the curriculum and from life and work experience—in order to assign credit and confer degrees with rigor
  • 22. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 5. Teaching-Learning Process-Faculty uses multiple methods of instruction (e.g. experiential and problem-based methods) for adult learners to connect curricular concepts to useful knowledge, skills 6. Student Support Systems-Assists adult learners using comprehensive academic and student support systems to enhance students’ capacities to become self-directed, lifelong learners 7. Technology-Uses technology to provide relevant and timely information and to enhance the learning experience 8. Strategic Partnerships-Engages in strategic relationships, partnerships, and collaborations with employers and other orgs. to develop and improve educational opportunities for adult learners 9. Transitions-Supports guided pathways that lead into and from institution's programs and services to ensure that students' learning will apply usefully to achieving educational and career goals ALFI | 22
  • 23. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Integrated –they work together • Indivisible –they form a whole • Imperative –not just “a good idea” The Principles of Effectiveness Are: | 23
  • 25. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 Traditional Undergraduate Students Admissions, Enrollment Management Adult Learners Faculty, Curriculum Student Services Academic Advisement From:
  • 26. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 Adult Learners Proactive Recruitment, Outreach Through Graduation Employment Information and Placement Instructor Mentors, Teaching Excellence Flexible Schedules Just In Time, Mobile Student Services Online Learning, Communities, and Support To:
  • 28. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Targeted those with some college, no degree; over 20% of US adult population (25 years and older) • Successfully reaching these students, i.e. “ready adults,” identified as key aspect in effective strategy for increasing degree attainment • Worked with 6 states to identify adults with substantial credits who had not yet returned to college to remove barriers to their completing • Goals included: – Building degree pathways focused on eliminating barriers in academic affairs, financial aid/financing, student support services – Developing communications strategies for this population to draw them back to degree education • “These individuals have demonstrated that they can succeed by amassing significant credits. With the right guidance and a clear path to a degree, they often complete their studies relatively quickly.” WICHE and Lumina: Nontraditional No More Project | 28
  • 29. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 WICHE and Nevada-2010 | 29 • Policymakers, leaders in Nevada borrowed idea of concierge from state’s tourism industry to serve students at critical juncture • WICHE and Nevada System of HE convened staff from public institutions to serve as campus concierges • Staff were trained to help adults navigate application, enrollment and registration process in the same way a hotel concierge assists guests in finding activities that suit their needs/interests. • Concierges shared ideas, discussed common challenges and identified barriers for ready adults • “These “ready adult concierges” help guide students to the appropriate office, work with institutional colleagues to address issues, and help eliminate unnecessary obstacles that prevent individuals from reenrolling and earning degrees.”
  • 30. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 | 30 • States identified the reenrollment process as a major barrier for ready adults • Adults interested in reenrolling get lost in the shuffle of a process dominated by traditional students; steered toward several different offices and departments within an institution • Bring credits from multiple institutions; have difficulty getting clear answers about how these will transfer and how to complete their degrees • Combined with anxiety re their return to campus, these stumbling blocks can be enough to prevent them from ever actually reentering a classroom. • Adults are vulnerable in that if the institution does not serve them well at the start, they may give up and not return again Challenges Faced
  • 31. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 1. Financial Aid 2. Reenrollment Process 3. Class schedules 4. Transcript Issues 5. Anxiety and Fear 6. PLA Process The Barriers | 31
  • 32. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 The Ready Adult Concierge | 32 • A ready adult (or reentry) concierge is a single-point of contact at a college or university • Helps returning adult students navigate the application-enrollment- registration process and overcome barriers to college success • Is an office to which all adults can turn, whether they are prospective or current students • Though campus concierge may not solve every problem, s/he can be an essential guide or champion who helps students manage barriers and challenges efficiently throughout their study • Helps institutions and systems identify areas where change can help minimize or remove barriers students face • The adult Concierge requires the support of institutional leaders and others in order to be effective
  • 33. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 Characteristics | 33 • Student-oriented. The concierge must help students navigate the entire process of returning to college. This requires support from the institution and often necessitates a change in mindset. Concierges must remember that they exist to serve the students, not just the institution. • Accessible. The concierge should be reachable by phone and email, and through in-person visits. There should be a mechanism for ready adults to contact this person after standard business hours as many ready adults also are employed. • Known to everyone. To be effective, everyone at the institution needs to be aware that the person exists so that if a ready adult has a problem or question, other staff can direct that person to the concierge. • A continual resource. The concierge should be available to the student throughout the college experience, not just during admissions and registration. While most ready adults tend to need the concierge less as time goes by, relying more on other campus resources as they become more comfortable at the institution, it is important for the concierge and the students to know that they still have a place to go should an issue arise. • A creative problem solver. Sometimes a solution to a problem requires creative thinking, and the concierge needs to be empowered to do that. For instance, successful concierges in Nevada use policy waivers, or exemptions to standard policies and practices, in appropriate situations and step outside the usual protocols to find answers to questions and solutions to problems.
  • 35. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • 90 year-old university in metro NY with main campuses in Brooklyn and Long Island. One of largest comprehensive private univs. in U.S. with 500 undergrad, grad and PhD programs and certificates, with over 24,000 students. • Very strong liberal arts, health sciences, pharmacy, AACSB accredited MBA program. • Long history of successful Education programs, grad and undergrad • Ed. programs began to lose significant enrollment. Leaders looked at attracting area adults with new degree completion programs • Conducted market research to explore needs of region • Formed a committee to create a new 2-year interdisciplinary degree program | 35 LIU
  • 36. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • 2 Professional Tracks in Business, Healthcare Administration • 8 and 6-week semesters. No classes in August • Blended-mostly online, classes meet every 3 weeks • 64-credit degree completion in under 2 yrs. • Monthly open houses with on-site transcript eval. and app. fee waiver • 23% tuition discount • Free IPad; all books all online • New Orientation every session • Strong Career Services component, all online LIU Bachelor’s Completion Program | 36
  • 37. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Reenrollment: – Seamless admissions and transcript evaluation process – Connects students to financial aid payment plans – Registers all students in first four courses • Student Success: – Orientation for every session, including digital library, how to use Blackboard and study online, intros of faculty, adult program staff – Proactive outreach call campaign monthly to find out how students are doing – Regular emails containing updates and encouragement; individual periodic check-in emails – Informal meetings over coffee at the campus cafe on days of class – Works with Advisement Center to identify any early warning signs – Conducts student satisfaction surveys every 2 months and online course evaluations after every class LIU’s Concierge Model | 37
  • 38. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Communication: – Promote Division and its services on campus for students and staff, e.g., Adult Organization, Return to Learning Workshops, PLA application processing, Alpha Sigma Lambda, advisement • Guidance: – Division of Adult and Nontraditional Programs: one point of service for students for any need they have at any time – Advocate with depts. and instructors about problem classes – Help student build important support networks • Service Excellence: – Stop and spend time when a student with challenge calls – Recognize when a student needs to talk to someone and provide that time – Bring services to student, no need to visit campus between classes – See themselves as personal student concierges who are never done improving the experience of the adult learner LIU Concierges | 38
  • 39. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Students express satisfaction with program • 21 Students recruited since March 2013 launch • 92% retention rate in month four • Students report feeling very supported • Image of University is enhanced • Staff transformed from administrators to skilled recruiters and concierges • Office morale increases as a result of placing students first • We help students succeed and achieve their dreams Outcomes | 39
  • 40. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Create a culture of service excellence. Seek best practices literature, models of great CS. • Get Personal. Connect, get interested, personalize your students’ experience. • See your students as “guests”. Design an awesome experience for them and be their on campus concierge. • Meet students where they are. Deliver services that are customized, suited to your students. • Be accessible to students via phone, email, or by appt. • Stop and ask: how might I enhance this student’s experience? What does s/he need right now? How can I really help this student succeed? What Can You Do? | 40
  • 41. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 1. Conduct “secret shopper” activities at your institutions. Call the main telephone number at your institutions and tell them that you have a significant number of college credits and would like to explore your options for coming back. See where you are directed and how these calls are handled. Are you directed to individual departments, admissions, the registrar’s office? Can the person who answers the phone address common questions that a ready adult might have? Surf your institutions’ Websites. 2. Develop an internal communications effort to ensure that everyone at the institution knows about the concierge. Institutional leaders need to inform everyone about the concierge and establish internal communications processes so that all ready adults are directed toward the appropriate person. The concierge needs to be part of the institutional culture and supported by the institution’s leadership. 3. Track student success. Providing the necessary academic and student services to ready adults is critical as they initially return to campus, as well as once they enroll. Establish a process for collecting and analyzing data to monitor the progress of ready adults and make necessary adjustments along the way to ensure the academic success of this population. 4. Establish a process to allow concierges to influence institutional policy and practice. Establishing a process by which the concierge can provide feedback to decision makers about obstacles that may be addressed through institutional policy changes is beneficial to students and to the institution and helps lead to a more efficient degree path for future ready adults coming back to college. “Bringing Adults Back to College: Designing and Implementing a Statewide Concierge Model”—WICHE 2010 Practical Strategies | 41
  • 42. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • Establish adult-friendly campus programs, policies and practices • Provide a single point of contact for returning adult students • Provide training for faculty and staff on adult student needs • Work one-on-one with returning adult students and help remove obstacles that impede success • Provide ongoing support networks for these students and proactive outreach campaigns TIPS | 42
  • 43. CONFERENCE ON ADULT LEARNER ENROLLMENT MANAGEMENT 2013 • “Good is the enemy of great” • Apple: “excellence is expected…absolutely delight the customer.” EXCELLENCE | 43