Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Do You Really Know What Students and Parents Think About Your Campus Visit Experience?

June 8th, 2017

First, let me share some data. Then I’ll extend an invitation that I think you’ll want to accept.

The Data:

Colleges do not differentiate themselves through their tour and visit programs, students say. In our national co-sponsored studies, and through focus group research we conduct, 60% of students say that campus tours are “all the same,” and they don’t consider that a good thing. Students tell us that most don’t generate any more or less excitement than all of the others they experienced.

The key reason, students tell us, is that most tours focus on the college and its attributes without consideration for the student’s specific interests. This is especially so in group tours. In contrast, students who receive one-on-one tours where the focus is on them and what they want, tend to see the campus visit experience as a demonstration of the college’s personal interest in them.

Ask yourself:  Do our tours and visits capture the magic that is unique to OUR college?  Does the visit feel personalized to the interests of the student? 

In our recently released study, “Hidden Influences,” over 18,000 college bound students were asked what they remembered seeing or experiencing on a campus visit that made a college especially attractive to them. Two primary themes emerged. Students were enamored with the campus itself (which they described in many different ways) and the students (both prospective and current) they observed and interacted with on their visit.

Students most frequently express their appreciation for the campus less in terms of physical attributes and more in emotional attributes such as the “feel” of the campus, “atmosphere” and “vibe.”

Interaction with current students on a campus plays a critical role in their college selection decision. It gives them a feel for what their life will be like if they enrolled. Prospective students respond very favorably to current students who are friendly, enthusiastic, happy and welcoming.

Ask yourself:  Are visiting students given a variety of opportunities to interact with each other and current students in a positive environment?

When prospective students were asked what they remembered seeing or experiencing on a campus visit that made a college especially unattractive to them, the same two primary themes emerged: the campus and students/people.

Interestingly, though, their comments about things they find unattractive are notably more visceral than their comments about things they find attractive. They describe campuses as “gloomy,” “dreary,” “dirty,” “run down,” “desolate” and “empty.” They describe students as “snooty,”“unhappy,”“unfriendly,” “mean-spirited” and “rude.”

It’s hard to imagine that any student would enroll in an institution at which they had such negative emotional responses as described above.

During a campus visit about one-half of prospective students see and experience things about the college that they find unappealing. This finding may be expected since all students are not going to like everything they see at all of the campuses they visit. What is more concerning is that only 13% of students say that an admission counselor ever inquired if they had seen or experienced anything the student found unappealing or concerning about their campus.

Ask yourself: Are you asking your visitors if they saw anything they didn’t like? Simply asking, “How was your tour?” isn’t enough. Probe for the specifics of what they did and did not like. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell and you will never know the real reason they didn’t enroll.

Perhaps the most important questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Is your campus visit program resulting in greater yields?
  • How well do you use this golden opportunity to cement the emotional commitments of prospective students and their parents?
  • Do you accurately measure the results of these visits and the impact on enrollment?
  • Is every campus representative well-trained in their role?

The invitation:

After our last two co-sponsored studies, we wondered: Just how much and how precisely are colleges capturing the thoughts and opinions of students and parents after their campus visits? Are they capturing truly relevant data, or are they capturing data that doesn’t prove to be all that useful in helping them improve their campus visit experiences in the hearts and minds of prospective students?

So, out of curiosity, we asked a number of our clients to let us see the “post-visit” surveys they use. They were more than happy to have us review and comment on them.

In a nutshell, the surveys were mostly boilerplate. With questions like “Were we helpful?. Or, “Did you see everything you wanted to see?” Or, “Can you see yourself enrolling here?” Etc. Etc.

The questions on these surveys did not measure CHANGE in a student’s view of the college. Or dominant EMOTIONS that were or were not instilled in students and parents as a result of the visit experience. Or how the visit experience COMPARED to other campus visit experiences the student had with other colleges.

We’d like to look at are larger number of “after-visit” surveys in use at colleges across the country. We’d like to see how they can be improved.

So, if you’d like to send us your campus visit survey please do! (Don’t worry, it won’t be shared with anyone.) We’ll take a look at it along with others we receive. We’ll then share with everyone the best, most incisive, most actionable, and most creative questions we see. There is no cost for this!!

Send your campus visit survey to Bob Longmire by CLICKING HERE. You may want to leave your contact information in case Bob has a question or suggestion specific to you.

Shifting gears:

I hope you’ll check out the national co-sponsored higher education study we are launching now:  Emotional Motivators. This study is based on the adage: “Facts tell. Emotions sell.” Students want and need facts and information about the colleges they consider. But their college selection decision will hinge on how they FEEL about the school they’ll ultimately enroll in. This study will tell you how they feel about you relative to the other colleges they considered (or chose to attend).

You should get in as a co-sponsor! There is still time. You can get a deeper level of insight on the pool of prospective students you were/are working for 2017 and get a clear understanding of how you were or weren’t tripping their trigger. You can click here for a video with all the details.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here.  Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.

Data Driven Strategies to Finalize Your Class and Minimize Melt

May 10th, 2017

Four-Studies_698x400Congratulations on successfully navigating Yield Season 2017!  Now, on to the next phase—ushering your class through the required processes to ensure they show up on the first day of class. The predictor of enrollment is excitement and emotional commitment. Students who don’t feel an emotional attachment to your college are far more likely to melt.

You can look to findings from four recent co-sponsored  studies for some guidance.  The studies point to specific actions you can take during orientation and beyond to strengthen and maintain the relationships you have worked so hard to build with your admitted students AND create meaningful connections with those students who have yet to bond with your college.

Here is what the data tells us students really want and the techniques you can successfully implement today to give it to them.

Understand Us!

In our most recent co-sponsored study, “Hidden Influences: Revealing the unspoken perceptions that prospective students have about your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control enrollment, we asked over 18,000 college-bound students whether they felt the colleges they considered were more focused on understanding their needs and preferences or more focused on presenting information about their institutions.

We were stunned by their response: Only 20% of students felt that colleges placed the focus on them. This feeling was shared by students bound for both public and private institutions. In a prior higher-education study, The Excitement Factor!, college-bound students were asked if the colleges they were considering had taken a personal interest in them at any point in the recruiting process. The response was shocking. Two-thirds said “No” or “Don’t Remember” and in our view “Don’t remember” is the same as “No.”Personal_Interest_460x287

Showing your interest in and focusing on the specific needs and concerns of your committed students is crucial to ensuring they matriculate. Students see college as the beginning of a new chapter in their life and many are apprehensive about all of the transitions associated with going to college including moving away from home, meeting new people, leaving the comfort and familiarity of high school, and new educational challenges ahead. Without the safety net of the high school counseling office to turn to, some students may fall through the cracks.

Excite Us!

In our Value Proposition” study, we learned that a student’s excitement about attending a college is more predictive of enrollment than other key factors, such as cost and perceived quality of the institution. We explored that further in The Excitement Factorand discovered that over one-third of students actually experience an “AHA” moment where they can recall the precise instant, place or circumstance when they experienced a rush of emotion and realization that a specific college was the right choice for them.

In most cases, the student’s epiphany happens when they are on campus but the people, places and circumstances involved are widely varying, highly personal and unpredictable.

The job of any college, as it relates to recruiting students, is to put the student in a place or frame of mind where this epiphany can happen. To enable the student to envision what their life will be like. You’ll have additional opportunities to do that for students you expect to enroll.

Impress Us!

Consider this: In our national co-sponsored study, How Customer Service Delivery During the Recruiting Cycle Influences Enrollment,” we found that 53% of students and parents say that the service they receive from a college during the “shopping process” influences their selection decision.

We also see this in our work with individual colleges that utilize our assessment program, Service Quality Management (SQM). They know, as do you, for many students the selection process continues well beyond the point at which they make a promise to enroll.

Our studies have found that poor service delivery, across any brand touch point on campus, often outweighs other important factors, including strength of academic programs, faculty reputation and even the financial aid offered. Prospective students and parents view the pre-enrollment service they receive as predictive of how the student will be served after enrolling. They will change their mind about a college or avoid it altogether if they receive poor service.

Actions You Can Take to Excite, Impress, Build the Student/College Bond

Counselor Actions Relationship_Makewith Impact

Your admission counselors can be powerful influencers in creating a bond between your college and the students they have recruited.

Here’s how:

  • Stay in touch, ask questions and have meaningful conversations throughout the entire process. Make the student feel wanted, important, and engaged with the college.
  • Connect the student to people, places and activities that will create excitement about the college.
  • Identify students who are at risk for summer melt and enlist support for them from current students, faculty or other new admits.

Meaningful Social Media Strategies

Find unique ways to connect your incoming class to current students through social media sites, texts and your orientation programs.  Some colleges have created videos of current students addressing their own pre-enrollment concerns that they share with newly-admitted students.  Seeing a successful, happy student talk about how their own anxieties turned out to be unfounded can be a great stress reliever.

Orientations that Excite

What goals have you established for your orientation program?  Do they read like a laundry list of paperwork, must-do’s, must-know’s and must-see’s?  Instead, your goals and practices should be developed in the context of, “How does this strengthen (or create) the emotional bond each student has with us?”

By its very nature, college orientation is very process-driven: read this, hear this, watch this …  Instead, create entertaining programs and activities that engage students, foster enthusiasm, and enable the student to feel what it’s like to be a student and a part of your community.

Moat importantly, build in opportunities for admitted students to connect with (not simply meet) other newly-admitted and current like-minded students.

Service that Shines

To avoid losing students before classes start, be sure to give them a stellar experience everywhere and at all times. Students and their parents agreed that a single bad experience can be the catalyst for completely derailing the prospective student’s original enrollment plan. The most often cited negatives include unkempt grounds, buildings and restrooms; lack of clear signage; unfriendly staff and faculty; excessive phone hold times; unresponsive staff; and overwhelming paperwork.

Just as importantly, the study concludes that offering great pre-enrollment service will not only “save” enrollments but it is also one of the best possible ways for a college or university to differentiate itself in today’s competitive environment.

NEWS: Longmire and Company’s just-announced national co-sponsored higher education study has been launched to explore – in depth – the topic of emotional motivators in college selection.

Emotion study boxUnlike any other higher education research to-date, “Emotional Motivators: How to increase and control your enrollment by getting a deep and accurate understanding of how students really feel about your college,” will explore how students feel and, more importantly, why they feel that way, to give you a deeper understanding of the students you’re trying to recruit. The actionable insight yielded by this study will give you greater control over your conversations with prospective students, better ability to craft sharper mass marketing messages, and more direction to design highly productive campus visit experiences.

We hope you will join a prestigious list of co-sponsoring colleges and universities, large and small, and participate in this study. Co-sponsors find our studies valuable because of the wealth of new insight they gain about their individual pools of prospective students – insight they can use to drive action and change.

Colleges are signing up now so we encourage you to contact us soon if you are thinking about participating. CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION.

Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. For more information about Longmire and Company’s Interactive Counselor Training Program, click here. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.

Yes, Students Break the Promises They Make to Colleges. Here’s How to Change That!

April 18th, 2017

Do the students you are recruiting have “commitment issues?” As in, telling you they will attend an event but actually being a “no-show,” or promising you that the necessary paperwork is on the way when it actually never arrives?I promise graphic

Whether it’s completing an application, sending in transcripts, attending an open house or taking a campus visit, students frequently make promises to colleges that they don’t keep. With our latest co-sponsored study, “Hidden Influences: Revealing the unspoken perceptions that perspective students have about your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control your enrollment,” we tackled the question of why students will make and, then break, a commitment to a college.

The 18,000 college-bound students participating in the study frankly admitted that broken promises are part of the college shopping process. In fact, 30% of students say they will make a promise that they know they are unlikely to keep.

And they are equally honest about why they tell a college one thing and do another with 79% attributing their broken promises to wanting to “keep my options open.”  Another common reason, shared by 61% of students nationwide, is that they “thought there might be a possibility of keeping the commitment.” For the most part, the wide-ranging responses demonstrate that most students will seek the path of least resistance. What they do not want is anything resembling a confrontation with a college representative.

Recommended Strategy:  Change the way you ask!

Not only are missed deadlines and broken commitments frustrating to college admission teams, they are confusing. One admission counselor recently summed it up like this, “When a prospective student doesn’t show for an event or complete paperwork on time, I don’t know what that means. Are they no longer interested in us? Did they forget? Is there some other issue at play?” committment chart

Typically, admission counselors ask prospective students binary questions such as:

  • “Are you going to make it to the open house on Saturday?”
  • “Will you be able to get those forms to us by next Wednesday?”

To the student a “yes” answer means “discussion closed” whereas a “no” could lead to an extended discussion, which in their minds, means a confrontation.

Instead, use an open approach:

  • “How likely are you to make it to the campus visit on Saturday?” 
  • “So, on a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to come to our open house next week?”
  • “Is there anything getting in the way of you completing your application by Wednesday?”

This technique is far more likely to uncover any barriers that might be keeping the student from attending your event such as a scheduling conflict or transportation issues. Barriers you may be able to help the student overcome once they are identified. The same techniques can be used to qualify any commitment you are asking of the student and can be used by any member of your team. And, this technique can be integrated into your email and text communications as well.

SACAC LogoJoin us for our presentation of the “Hidden Influences” study on Monday, April 24 (9:45 am) at the TACAC/RMACAC/SACAC Super Conference in San Antonio. Bob Longmire, and study co-sponsors Jeffrey Fuller, University of Houston, and Troy Johnson, University of Texas – Arlington, will share their unique insights on the data and the best practices they have uncovered.

We are preparing to launch our next study!

Each year our national co-sponsored studies attract even more colleges that want to “get in” on the new and different insights we give them about their prospective students and students nationwide. If you’d like information about the topic of our next study, and the benefits you receive as a co-sponsor, be sure to CLICK HERE now to be alerted soon when we put together our next group of co-sponsors.
You can also CLICK HERE to receive an advance copy of the Hidden Influence study report prior to its national release.
Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.

Are Your Counselors Prepared When an Admitted Student Plays the Cost Card?

April 11th, 2017

During the first of a series of focus groups we conducted during the development phase of our latest study, “Hidden Influences: Revealing the unspoken perceptions that perspective students have about your college and why it matters in your ability to grow and control your enrollment,” we asked the group of college-bound students if they received many calls from admission counselors late in the recruiting cycle trying to “close the sale.”

“Of course,” said most of the students in the group.

“Do you take their calls?” I asked.

Not if I don’t have to,” answered one of the students to laughter and agreement from the group.

When a counselor reaches out to you and you’re not sold on their college, what do you tell them?” I asked.

One student blurted out, “I just tell them they cost too much or I’m getting more financial aid at another college.” Other students in the focus group acknowledged that they say the same thing.

“So, cost and financial aid is the reason?” I asked.

“Not really,” one student said. “But it gets them off the phone and they don’t call you back. I mean what can they say? They can’t give you any more money.”

Another joined in, “Yeah, I call it the ‘Cost Card.’ It’s pretty good at shutting down the conversation when you play it.”

We wanted to know just how pervasive is playing the “Cost Card” as a way to end the college selection conversation? So we asked 18,000 college-bound students in our national study, “Have you ever told a college that your decision to enroll elsewhere was because of cost or a better financial aid package when, in fact, the true reason was something else?”

We found that 2 in 10 students nationwide are using this diversion/excuse with the counselors they are talking to. They are telling you cost and financial aid is the reason for not enrolling when, in truth, the real reason is something else.

This finding has two critical implications.

First, private and public colleges across the United States are hearing this false excuse and believing that their tuition and aid is non-competitive when, in fact, the real reason they are losing enrollments is because of some other issue(s) that remain unidentified. Were colleges able to uncover the real reasons why a student is hesitant to enroll, they may find it easy to fix, change, or improve the thing(s) that dissuade a student from enrolling.

The second implication here is equally compelling: Students have been conditioned to use cost as an excuse because admission counselors aren’t skilled at uncovering their real concerns and objections. For college-bound students and their parents, the college search can be a real roller coaster ride and it is inevitable that questions and concerns are going to arise. For the savvy admission counselor (or faculty member, tour guide, or student caller), unmasking those concerns are opportunities to turn an unconvinced applicant into an excited enrolled student.

What should a counselor do when the Cost Card is played?

The first way to deal with the cost excuse used by a prospective student is to test the validity of it. It’s a pretty simple process, really, that any counselor can learn and use to isolate the real reason behind a prospective student’s hesitancy to enroll. The counselor can simply level the playing field by asking the student, “Let’s just imagine that our cost and aid package were equal to that of the college you are comparing us to. Would you rather enroll here?”

The counselor is going to get one of two types of answers to this question. One variation is the student sincerely regretting that he or she won’t be able to attend because of cost. “I absolutely love your campus,” the student might say. “I loved the people and the professors and the current students and the atmosphere on your campus!”

Another variation is less enthusiastic and convincing. “Yeah, I liked everything and the people were nice. My parents think it’s a good school.”

The former response clearly indicates that it’s a money issue. The latter response indicates it’s something else. And, when it is something else, it’s the counselor’s job to probe and uncover the non-cost objections and concerns the student may have. The counselor may find that a prospective student’s barrier to enrolling is based on a false assumption they may have about the college that, if corrected, would make a world of difference. It could be something based on a fear that the student has about your college; that they won’t fit in with the other students, that they will be too far from (or too close to) home, etc….  Whatever the real reason is, a counselor must uncover it so that it can be addresses and, hopefully, overcome. Doing so best serves both the student and the college.

Strategies and practices for uncovering and overcoming objections are beyond the scope of this blog post but we can help elsewhere. You’ll find videos on our website and YouTube channel that provide guidance and best practices for uncovering the objections and concerns that prospective students have during the college shopping and selection process. I encourage you to look HERE and HERE for help.

Of course, feel free to call us. We’re happy to provide resources and help.

We are preparing to launch our next study!

Each year our national co-sponsored studies attract even more colleges that want to “get in” on the new and different insight we give them about their prospective students and students nationwide. If you’d like information about the topic of our next study, and the benefits you receive as a co-sponsor, be sure to CLICK HERE now to be alerted soon when we put together our next group of co-sponsors.
You can also CLICK HERE to receive an advance copy of the Hidden Influence study report prior to its national release.
Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo. Be sure to Subscribe to Versions of Conversion today so you don’t miss any of this highly-valuable information.

RickMontgomery_100x100Rick Montgomery is as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. With over 20 years in higher education marketing, he brings an innovative and dynamic approach to helping colleges and universities meet their enrollment goals. Rick can be reached at 913/492.1265 x.708 or via email at rmontgomery@longmire-co.com.