Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

What is Your College’s Lasting Impression?

January 6th, 2016

[Part 4 of our blog series on how exceptional pre- and post-enrollment customer service can increase yield at your college or university.]

The holidays are behind us (I hope yours were full of family, friends and fun) and now we are all gearing up for the year ahead. In the world of enrollment management that means yielding the best possible incoming class of 2016.

Customer service sealIn recent weeks, we have been sharing insights with you about how providing exceptional pre-enrollment customer service can impact your ability to achieve your enrollment goals. When you get it right, it will differentiate your school from all others. But, if you have breakdowns in your pre-enrollment service, it can be the single element that derails you.

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.

Prospective students and parents view the pre-enrollment service they receive as predictive of how the student will be served after enrollment.

The research is very clear but it was a chance encounter with an old friend over the holidays that crystallized the message for me.

My friend Dave is assisting his oldest daughter, Emily, in her college search. Dave is a savvy consumer and he is also well aware that Emily has the GPA, college test scores, and extracurricular activities that colleges find attractive in a prospective student. As a matter of fact, he shared with me that she has been on the radar screen for a number of schools for several months. “She gets daily emails, letters and phone calls from all of them,” he said. “I figured we would take a hard look at two or three and it would be an easy decision. Instead, she is more confused now than ever. The whole experience was a huge disappointment.”

Here is Dave’s take on the college shopping experience:

  • At College A:  Emily and her dad were given the standard tour which did not include any of the areas of specific interest to Emily. “She is a likely music major but that wasn’t part of the tour. When she asked about the music program, which we know is considered to be among the finest, the guide provided a spiel right out of the handbook.” And this was after numerous phone conversations with the admissions counselor.
  • At College B:  The tour was far more personalized. “Someone had done their homework because she was shown the music department and told about specific opportunities available to her.” Dave said that Emily got excited about the campus and he had a feeling they had found The One. That is, until they had a one-on-one with the admissions counselor. “What a turn-off,” Dave groaned. “He recited an encyclopedia of stuff about the school but didn’t relate any of it to Emily. I don’t think he asked her even one question about her interests or what she wanted from the college experience.”
  • On to College C:  “The admissions staff was enthusiastic and helpful. The counselor truly seemed to care about my daughter,” Dave said. But it all fell apart when they left their office. “The campus atmosphere wasn’t friendly and the grounds were unkempt. We got turned around and couldn’t find anyone to help. ” When they finally found their way back to the car, Emily told her dad, “No way!”

Unfortunately, Emily’s experience is not unique. It does, however, offer a cautionary tale for all colleges and university enrollment teams.

Here is the Good News:  You CAN be the college or university that stands out with exceptional pre-enrollment service.  Review this multi-part series for the necessary processes and steps. Taking control of your pre-enrollment service delivery will allow you to better serve prospective students and increase your yield.  Make it your New Year’s resolution!

The Business Principle You Can Adopt Today for Increased Yield

Take this First Step Toward Increasing Yield TODAY

Don’t Let These 3 Pitfalls Derail Your Enrollment Success

Worth watching. About a year ago Chris D’Orso interviewed Longmire and Company on Higher Ed Live about customer service in higher ed.

If you have any questions, please give me a call. Longmire and Company offers Service Quality Management (SQM) surveys to help you achieve these goals. And we conduct workshops on campus to help colleges chart their course in providing better service to prospective and current students. Contact me today and I will show you how we can help you measure and manage your pre-enrollment service. Continue the conversation on Twitter @LongmireCo.

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


An Effective Tool to Minimize Melt AND Improve Yield

June 1st, 2015

“The admissions department never sleeps,” an enrollment manager shared with me recently. “On one hand I still have a handful of spaces to fill for the upcoming class plus an anticipated summer melt of around 10%, and on the other, we are full-swing into our recruiting efforts for next year. Summer is no longer a quiet time for us.” Sound familiar?

Wouldn’t it be great it there were one singular, powerful tool that could help you combat the dreaded summer melt AND shore up your ongoing recruiting efforts?

MeltingIceGood news: Improving your pre-enrollment customer service delivery, all the way up to the point of registration, can help you reduce melt and positively impact your ability to truly close the sale with students who have deposited. A recent nationwide study conducted by Longmire and Company of nearly 5,000 prospective college students and parents showed that 53% reported that their decision to enroll in a given school was heavily influenced by the level of service they received during the “college shopping” process. As we all know, for many students the shopping process continues well beyond the point at which they make a promise to enroll.

Our study 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.

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.

Certainly, every communication, every interaction, every brand touch-point with a prospective student and/or parent has the potential to make or break the relationship that you have worked so hard to establish. You may know this, but does every other member of the team? And, by “team,” I mean every person at your college whose actions may influence the student’s decision and ultimate action. Certainly, interactions with faculty, admissions and financial aid are critical, but many schools are surprised to find the impact that campus maintenance, grounds keeping, security and even the switchboard operators can have on creating a lasting impression.

What is the first step?

We suggest you take a walk. Yes, you read that correctly. Sure, fresh air and exercise always does a body and mind good, but the primary impetus for this walk is to experience your campus from the perspective of prospective students and their parents. This walk could very possibly save you enrollments. Every college should have a comprehensive pre-enrollment customer service program in place. Whether you do or not, a self-audit is a must to help you identify and correct any service gaps.

Specifically, here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself during your campus stroll:

  • Are the grounds, pathways, and buildings out of orderpleasing to the eye, clean and well-kept?
  • Are the restrooms in all the public areas well-stocked and clean?
  • Is signage easy to read and accurate? Are maps intuitive and understandable?
  • Are information areas easily identifiable? Are they properly staffed with friendly faces?
  • Are staff and faculty interacting pleasantly with the students and visitors?

Here are some of the questions you should be asking about your continuing interactions with students:

  • Are we providing students with the information they need, when they need it?
  • How are we continuing to make students and parents feel wanted?
  • Are we continuing to build on the student’s excitement about attending?

When you return to your office, consider making a few phone calls, too. Not as a member of the admissions team, but as a prospective student or parent. You need to know if calls are answered pleasantly, promptly, and quickly routed to the appropriate party; if the hold times are minimal; and if each call is handled to the complete satisfaction of the caller.

Next, review your forms and processes and ask yourself this key question: Are they user-friendly? If not, how can they be simplified?

We suggest asking your entire admissions team and other department representatives to “take a walk,” too. Not only will their involvement offer unique insights but it may also facilitate necessary improvements after they are identified.

We are seeing a growing trend in the industry among colleges large and small, public and private, paying much more attention to their campus-wide customer service delivery. Some people on campus may still believe that students are not customers. And that colleges are exempt, by their nature, from having to measure their service delivery in the same way as other organizations. But the data we collect through the Service Quality Management assessments we conduct for clients clearly show that students and parents have the same expectations of service delivery with regard to colleges as any other enterprise with which they do business.

With so many contributing factors, it can be a challenge knowing where to start on a pre-enrollment customer service improvement initiative. Your audit is a good start and should be followed up with a baseline measurement to determine where you stand now vs. where you need be. One college president at a major Eastern university summed it up like this, “We invest millions of dollars in recruitment and yet we discovered that there were changes that cost very little that greatly impact our efforts.”

We help colleges and universities with their recruiting efforts every day, including offering Service Quality Management (SQM) to help you measure and manage your pre-enrollment service. If we can help you, please let me know.

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.

Karen Full picKaren Full is a highly-respected higher education professional who has held positions in admissions and enrollment management at several institutions in the Midwest and Florida. With her vast experience working with large and small, public and private colleges, Karen brings a valuable perspective to her role as an Enrollment Strategist at Longmire and Company. Call Karen at 913/492.1265 x.711 or email her at Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenAFull.

Get More Production From Your Admissions Office

December 2nd, 2009

When you think about how much revenue a college generates annually and the source of that revenue, the trail typically ends in the office of admissions. For state supported colleges, the percentage of total revenue generated through tuition may be well over 60%. For privates, it’s often 80% or more.iStock_000009277706XSmall

When I suggest that the trail of this revenue ends in the admissions office, I’m referring to the department that employs and manages the people who are responsible for generating interest among prospective students, managing the “sales” process and “closing the sale”. The aim, of course, is to match the student’s needs and preferences with the attributes of the institution: to best serve the student’s educational aspirations and personal growth. Fortunately for students, they may choose among many fine institutions that are fully capable of doing just that.

In truth, academic sales and marketing is similar to that of the B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to consumer) marketplaces. That is, generate interest, prove that the institution is a good fit, and manage the communication and human interaction process toward a successful conclusion (enrollment).

Here’s the $64,000 question: how much does an institution invest in the people and processes that are central to generating the vast majority of the revenue collected by the college? I’m not referring to things like direct mail and website development. I’m referring to people and processes –  the hiring of  the admissions team, building a motivating culture, engaging in a comprehensive training program,  implementing effective sales management, providing CRM software designed to enable sales, and enhancing communication between people and departments.

The answer? Not nearly enough. And why not, when the potential return on investment is so large and immediate?

Every institution can find its own reasons why they aren’t investing in these areas. We’ll often explore those reasons as part of our consulting engagements with clients. The most common barrier is perceived cost. But that barrier is easily removed – at little cost – with a change in perspective.

Here’s something that any institution can begin doing tomorrow that promises improved functioning and production out of the admissions department: identify the strengths of each and every member of the department, fully align their tasks with those strengths, and lead them with an understanding of how someone with their strengths is most productive.

While this may sound simple in concept, it requires a radical change in thinking on the part of many organizations. All too often, organizations work more on trying to fix a department member’s weaknesses than maximizing their strengths.

strengthsfinderbook2I highly recommend two books from Gallup Press that define this philosophy and enable you to take immediate action. The books, Strengths Finder 2.0 and the companion title, Strengths-Based Leadership give you immediate access to assessing the strengths of each member of the admissions team and, what’s more, provide direction in managing each member of the team based on their individual strengths.

I suggest purchasing the Strengths Finder 2.0 book for every member StrengthsBasedLeadershipof the team because each book contains a unique code that provides access to an online assessment that isolates and reports their top five strengths.

When we work with enrollment management departments as a part of our consulting engagements, we use a similar model to enhance productivity. You would be amazed at the results achieved when people are allowed to discover and play to their strong suits.

Likewise, in our Interactive Training Workshops for admissions offices, we see team members revitalized by the commitment that their leadership has made by investing in their future with professional training.

We see it work every day: hire the right people, put them in roles that let their strengths shine through, give them the proper tools, and structure their compensation to reflect the value they bring in terms of revenue generation and populating the institution with students who will be successful and committed to the institution long after graduation.

Bob Longmire is the President and CEO of Longmire and Company and has been helping colleges and universities across the country maximize their yield for over 20 years.