Building Student Relationships: A Customer Experience Model for Recruiting and Admissions

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Mike Butts, Senior Marketing ManagerLecture auditoriumHigh-school seniors get a lot of mail. That means that sending a really stand-out brochure into a mail drop of ten others much like it reduces your chances of standing out much at all. When email became our shiny, new toy (circa 1995?), schools discovered they could stand out from the print mail by reaching students through this new channel – and within a few years, seniors started to get a lot of email, too.

Today, the channels have shifted (text messages and social media follows are common) but the why hasn’t the approach?

The business model of higher education demands that we look at students and parents as consumers – and as modern consumers, today’s students expect a different style of interaction and engagement than students even a few recruiting cycles ago.

Let’s look at why this is happening. Growth of the digital marketplace has resulted in a fundamental shift in the way we as consumers expect to do business with all companies, including colleges and universities. Faced with explosive market choice and availability, as well as peer opinions and new modes of self-service, consumers are suddenly looking for “more” than simply an exchange of goods and services. When they can get the same or similar transaction from a number of businesses, at competitively similar prices, the differentiating factor more often comes down to one thing: the customer experience.

Or, to phrase it in a way our high school seniors might:

Love. If they ain’t feeling it, they ain’t sharing it.

This is why CRM technology makes sense for the education market (and also why, not surprisingly, this is not the first time you’ve heard me mention it.) The positive, long-term relationships formed with students and parents from the very first interactions are the relationships that will lead to greater enrollments, endowments and donations through the years.

I’d be interested to know what impact you feel this so-called consumer power shift has had on the education market, and whether you see trends like this continuing.

Till next time.

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