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“Customer” is Not a Four Letter Word: What continuing education providers can learn from Amazon.com
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“Customer” is Not a Four Letter Word: What continuing education providers can learn from Amazon.com

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For years, higher education administrators have shied away from using the term customer to describe students and prospects. Why? In today’s competitive learning market, where competition is just a ...

For years, higher education administrators have shied away from using the term customer to describe students and prospects. Why? In today’s competitive learning market, where competition is just a click away, prospective students have come to expect more from their education providers in terms of online service and experience. Students and prospects who’s questions and needs are not met online now have many other options to choose from. As a result, institutions that do not provided excellent customer support are at a competitive disadvantage.
While some higher education institutions are increasingly looking for ways to become more customer centric, many continuing and professional education providers fail to follow key customer service principles that could help them: differentiate their programs, convert more leads and provide a better experience to students and prospects.
Fortunately, higher education does not need to re-invent the wheel with respect to online customer service. Borrowing from best practices established in the world of e-commerce, this session will outline how your institution can treat online prospects as valued customers by:

· Personalizing their online experience

· Engaging them with proactive service invitations

· Maintaining contact with prospects through email and social media

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  • Introduce conference theme/meaning
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  • If you buy a house and you don’t maintain it and it loses value, do you blame your realtor?If you crash your car by driving wrecklessly, do you blame your auto dealer?If you purchase a software license, but don’t use it… No. Being a customer does not mean you’re always right. In fact, when it comes to large purchases – such as higher education – there is a responsibility on the part of the customer to make sure they get the most out of their purchase and put forth the effort they need in order to b successful.
  • In 2005 we had a customer service team with a supervisor. Now we have no customer service staff. Everyone is customer service, everyone answers the phone, everyone is responsible for enrollment management?We were acting just like our counterparts in undergraduate enrollment. Our systems and processes were set-up with us in mind first. Now we answer every “what should I do?” question with “what’s best for our students?”We had enormous gaps in the methods and channels through which prospective students could interact with us. We continue to close gaps. Now our students know who to call.How did we get there?
  • Zappos Shoe storyEnrollment funnelWhat do we really do for people? What are they looking for when they come to us. We aren’t the only game in town any more. We need to understand why someone would choose us. We need to give them more reasons than just “we have convenient locations.”People come to use because they have an aspiration and they want to know if we can help them reach their goals. 2. How do we help them?People want information about our programs. They also want to know if we can help them reach their goals. Program information is one part of it. We need to show them we can help, before they spend their money with us. Are we giving them what they expect?Our program mix is mostly professional development offerings, with only a few programs under $1,000.00. We need to honor the investment our prospective students are considering making in our programs and give them a service experience that matches that investment.
  • Phone dayAdvisor model
  • Go external to show old and new sites
  • Difference in contact methods after technology integration

“Customer” is Not a Four Letter Word: What continuing education providers can learn from Amazon.com “Customer” is Not a Four Letter Word: What continuing education providers can learn from Amazon.com Presentation Transcript

  • “CUSTOMER” IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD WHAT CONTINUING EDUCATION PROVIDERS CAN LEARN FROM UPCEA SOUTH REGIONAL CONFERENCEDan Obregon, VP of Marketing, Intelliworks (@dobregon)Guy Felder, Program Director, University of Houston (@GuyFelder)
  • “CUSTOMER” IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD WHAT CONTINUING EDUCATION PROVIDERS CAN LEARN FROM UPCEA SOUTH REGIONAL CONFERENCETodd Gibby, CEO, IntelliworksGuy Felder, Program Director, University of Houston
  • WHY WE AVOID THE WORDCUSTOMER…
  • THE GRAND DEBATE
  • TOP TEN REASONS WHY WE DON’T SAY “CUSTOMER”1. Education is not a business2. See above3. See above4. See above5. See above6. See above7. See above8. See above9. See above10. See above
  • WHAT IS A CUSTOMER, REALLY? cus·tom·er Noun /kəstəmər/ A person or organization that buys goods or services.
  • POP QUIZ Do you offer a service? Do people pay you for that service? Do you compete with others that offer a similar service? Do you want those who pay you for that service to pay you again for similar services?
  • YOU MIGHT BE A CUSTOMER-CENTRIC ORGANIZATION…
  • WE’RE NOT SAYING “THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT”"If Im a customer," the student thinks, "and the customer is always right, then whyam I getting a C in this class?" The next logical step in that thought process is to visitthe instructor -- followed by the department head and the dean, if necessary -- todemand an A, the way any other customer would demand satisfaction at any otherplace of business.” -Source: The Chronicle for Higher Education, January 31, 2007 -Rob Jenkins, associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College,
  • RESPONSIBILITY IS MUTUAL R E S P O N Institution S B I Student L I T Y
  • THE JOURNEY TO BEING CUSTOMER FOCUSEDFrom: We have a staff who does that To: Everyone answers the phone Customer Director service Rep Customer Marketing Operations service Rep Customer Coordinator Student service Rep worker
  • It all started with a shoe order and a blog.1. What do we really do for people?2. How do we help them?3. What do they expect of us?
  • What do we really do for people? (or who are we)
  • How do we help?
  • What do they expect of us?
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3qltEtl7H8
  • WHY DOES CUSTOMERSERVICE MATTER?
  • CHANGING LANDSCAPE OF HIGHER EDUCATION 2005 2010InstitutionsNumber of public institutions 1,738 1,705 Percentage of all institutions 39.6% 36.8% that are publicNumber of private, nonprofit 1,745 1,713institutions Percentage of all institutions 39.7% 37.0% that are privateNumber of for-profit institutions 909 1,215 Percentage of all institutions 20.7% 26.2% that are for-profitEnrollmentsPublic institutions total 13,085,114 14,909,531 Public institutions as a 74.5% 71.9% percentage of all studentsPrivate, nonprofit total 3,589,454 3,924,278 Private, nonprofit as a 20.4% 18.9% percentage of all studentsFor-profit total 899.896 1,893,712 For-profit as a percentage of all 5.1% 9.1% students Source: Carnegie Classification, January 2011
  • PUBLIC OPINION OF HIGHER ED INSITUTIONS Public Private For-Profit Positive Negative Positive Negative Positive Negative 35% 48% 52% 52% 48% 65% Source: Harris Interactive, August 2011
  • HIGHER ED NOT VIEWED AS SERVICE ORIENTEDStatement: Colleges/Universities do not care if students succeed, only ifthey enroll and pay tuition. 60 50 40 30 For-Profit Non-Profit 20 10 0 Agree Disagree Source: Harris Interactive, August 2011
  • WHAT EDUCATION CUSTOMERS EXPECT 1 As few barriers as possible 2 Friendliness and understanding 3 Control over their options 4 Assurance that their voice matters 5 Convenience and flexibility 6 Help when they need it 7 Clear benefit from their investment
  • A FEW THINGS TO NOTE FROMAMAZON.COM (AND OTHERS)
  • SO WHY AMAZON.COM?1. They basically INVENTED the idea of online service.2. They know how to bridge the gap between online and offline interactions.3. They deliver the right information at the right time to the right audience.4. They learn from their mistakes.5. They inspire others to provide even better service.
  • ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS…
  • SHOWCASE POPULAR SERVICES
  • PROVIDE MORE DETAIL
  • GETS PERSONAL
  • OFFERS RESOURCES
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwE1zb9fiVs
  • HOW ZAPPOS “WOWS” THEM…• Service is accessible• Customers are heard• Agents are empowered• Communication is clear• Decisions are made quickly
  • WHAT YOU CAN DO TO“WOW” CUSTOMERS…
  • HOUSTON PICKS UP THE PHONE
  • ENHANCE ONLINE EXPERIENCE• Highlight key offerings• Provide search and directory up front• Give a clear benefit statement – “How We Can Help”• Offer multiple channels to contact us and stay informed
  • OFFER ADDITIONAL RESOURCES/COMMUNITY • Informational videos via YouTube • Feedback and blast messaging via Twitter • Community engagement via Facebook
  • Funnel Relevant Messaging
  • Proof positiveThrough the launch period of our CRM 668 Inquiresand the re-design of our website wehave seen a positive change in ourinquiry traffic from phone to web. 21 via 316 chat 239 via 92 via from live for phone email Website two weeks)
  • COMPARISON7/7/11 to 7/14/11 10/7/11 to 10/14/11 Touchpoints Touchpoints Phone Email Email 19% 22% 30% Chat Phone 17% 60% Web Web 10% 42% Chat 0%
  • OCT/SEPT YOY GROSS REVENUE September October $330,000 $210,000 $90,000 $120,000 2010 2011
  • Major Outcomes• Funnel to conversion forecasting takes guess work out of filling classes• Funnel guides marketing decisions• Advisors and programming staff worry less about filling classes and more about meeting potential student’s needs• CRM provides valid data to help leadership understand and make decisions about offerings
  • EAGLE LEARNING’S LOFTY CHALLENGES• Because the majority of our programs are graduate programs, our target audience tends to be nontraditional students that work full-time, often have families, and are not able to be on campus very often.• Since we have a lot of different programs that operate independently, it was really important that we standardized our branding across multiple communication channels. - Amy Thornton, Program Manager, University of Southern Mississippi, Eagle Learning Online
  • ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGEUNIFIED BRANDING• We were able to create program microsites and inquiry forms for every unique program while creating a consistent look and feel that portrayed the image we were looking for in Eagle Learning Online.RIGHT PROGRAM FOR THE RIGHT STUDENTS• Able to collect appropriate information to direct students to the programs that were right for them.PROGRAM BUY-IN• We’ve learned that getting faculty on board often requires the help of another faculty member who’s already on board.
  • THE RESULTS?
  • HOW CAN WE BECOME MORECUSTOMER CENTRIC?
  • THE KEYS TO SUCCESS1. Know your students’ motivations2. Hire good communicators3. Build “hoop-less” admissions / financial aid processes4. Take a proactive approach to student advising5. Automate routine communications6. Hire faculty suited to online teaching7. Set and maintain high standards for student/faculty communication8. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate9. Check your program’s vital signs regularly10. Use cross-functional teams to develop enhancements and improvements Source: American Public University System and Intelliworks
  • ABOVE ALL…BE HUMANE. A LITTLE PERSONALIZATION GOES A LONG WAY• Offer a clear path to service• Provide multiple touch points: – Inquiry Forms – Phone Numbers – Online Chat – Email• Personalize follow up Source: Fast Company Magazine, September 2006• Be proactive not reactive
  • AND, JUST FOR THERECORD…