Some universities approximate luxury hotels with their amenities: resort-quality swimming pools with juice bar service, organic food in the cafeteria and even exorbitant amenities like steak restaurants and free plasma televisions in dorm rooms.
It wasn’t too long ago that colleges and universities assumed the measure of their value was the reputation of their academics. Now there’s much more to it than that. The “student experience,” or customer experience, is increasingly important to campuses that want to attract more students and retain them once they’re there.
In business, “customer experience” (CX) is the new way to distinguish your company and rise above the competition. And, as college administrators know full well: as business goes, so goes the nation. That includes academic institutions, who are now in the business of offering improved “customer experiences” to their students, if they want to remain competitive.
The “Customer Experience” for Students
Of course, for colleges and universities, we say “student experience,” not “customer experience.” Nail that, and you’ve not only improved student satisfaction, you’ve also promoted loyalty to your institution and planted the seeds for a whole new generation of “fans.” After all, satisfied students make generous alums and many go on to have kids who just might want to attend their parents’ alma maters, too.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
An Important Part of Student CX: Dining
Improving the CX of students is, for some institutions, as simple as investing in upgraded food service operations. Food is, after all, the key to the heart, and for students away from home for the first time, their dining experience can make all the difference in the world.
So, how do you know if your students’ impression of your food service operations is meeting their expectations? And how do you know if what you’re aiming for is being delivered? In other words, the fundamental question for administrators tasked with measuring CX results is this:
Does the actual experience = the designed experience > the expected experience?
We call this the “CX Loop,” and closing that loop should be the priority of anyone concerned with improving the student experience.
But how do you close the CX Loop?
Closing the CX Loop
Finding out what students think has traditionally been accomplished with surveys. The problem with surveys, however, is that there’s usually a serious time lag between when the subject experiences the product/service and when they fill out a survey questionnaire.
You lose the emotional response, which is the most telling.
If you could find out what students think of your food service operations instantly, it would almost be like you were there with them in the dining hall, the food store, or the cafe… watching them react, hearing their words in real time.
Call this “real-time feedback.”
The other part of the loop involves discovering whether staff is complying with service and quality mandates to provide the experience you intend to deliver (the “designed experience”).
There are two methods of gathering these types of data:
In-the-moment feedback using smartphone technology (to check the “actual experience”)
Mystery shopping feedback (to check the “designed experience)
The best way to collect real-time feedback is to communicate with students in the way they prefer. And that is via their phones. According to data provided by OpenMarket, three-quarters of Millennials prefer texting over talking on their phones.
Conclusion: Use Mobile Surveys to Keep Pace With Digital Age Students
If you want to find out what your students are thinking at the point of experiencing your food service options, going digital is the best way to get accurate, honest responses. According to OpenMarket data:
63% of Millennials prefer receiving texts, because they’re less disruptive than a phone call
75% consider receiving texts for surveys to be helpful reminders
22% currently receive satisfaction surveys
And if Millennials live and die by their phones, just imagine how much more intensely connected to their phones your students are! Mobile surveys are the key to closing the CX loop, so you can gain the insight you need for achieving all your goals.
To learn more ways you can close the customer experience loop and gain the insight you need for achieving your goals, check out Touchwork’s KINETICA CX solution.