California State University, Northridge Launches New Customer Satisfaction Program

How College Campuses Are Leveraging Real-Time Feedback to Increase Revenue

California State University, Northridge Launches New Customer Satisfaction Program

What do you do when you look at your operations and think, “How can we do this better?” That’s exactly what Mike Lennon, Associate Director, Campus Dining of The University Corporation (TUC) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) thought a year and a half ago.

Mike was interested in finding a way to improve customer service operations, primarily in locations that did not staff in-person resources, such as vending machines and bathroom facilities. He saw an opportunity to implement a customer satisfaction program to help ensure that heavily utilized services like vending machines and restrooms were incorporated into the overall mission to deliver an exceptional campus experience for all students and staff.

CSUN’s enrollment was nearly 40,000 in 2017. Its auxiliary services are responsible for over 100 vending machine locations and 14 bathroom locations. To provide services and options that are important to its students, CSUN’s stated dining mission is, “to provide sustainable food choices that are healthy and delicious in its campus food service locations,” and this also includes at its vending machine locations.

The right questions to ask

To accurately assess what TUC needed to reach its goals, it first had to identify where it needed to see the most improvements. They considered the following:

  • What is our current customer satisfaction program for these operations?
  • How are we currently notified if there are potential issues with a vending machine or a restroom facility?
  • What mode of notifications is ideal for students and our auxiliary staff?
  • How do we make it easy for students and others to communicate with TUC operations when needed?

What was needed to improve student satisfaction

Ultimately, Mike realized that he was looking for a solution that would enable a quick and easy way for people to report an issue or send a question/comment at these self-service locations.

  • CSUN did not have a customer feedback program in place for these services, so he needed to implement one.
  • There was no way for people to notify staff of an issue, except searching for the facilities maintenance number on the college’s website or sending an email.
  • CSUN needed a more efficient way to issue refunds to customers who experienced vending machine problems.
  • Text message was identified as the fastest, most convenient way for students and others to report a problem.
  • Clear directions needed to be posted on site, so people knew exactly what to do to report a problem.

The solution

After careful consideration, Mike endeavored to find an easy-to-implement solution that could provide him and his team with instant notifications from students and staff. He found the solution he needed with Touchwork Solutions, a customer feedback solutions company that specializes in CX technology that captures, assesses, and reports on customer feedback.

Touchwork has a particular focus on serving the higher education industry, and its FixIt Problem Reporting offering was especially well-suited to address CSUN’s needs.

Mike has been using Touchwork’s FixIt Solution for a year and a half now. “It is a great customer service tool,” he reports. “It’s super simple and was easy to implement.”

How it works at CSUN

The feedback system CSUN created on campus for its vending machines and restrooms operations could not have been easier.  In each restroom, they have a simple poster displayed with a number people can text to report an issue/provide a comment. Each restroom is assigned a unique code. The posters offer clear instructions on how to report a problem – simply text the code plus a description of the problem.

What’s more, TUC staff are alerted instantly by email and text. Autoresponders are set up to immediately communicate back to a student that their communication was received, and then TUC is able to provide rapid responses to all reported issues.

A sticker is placed on each of the 100 vending machines on campus with instructions and a number someone can use to report a problem or provide feedback. Each vending machine is again assigned a unique code and customers simply include the code plus a description of the problem in their text message. To streamline the refund process, customers receive an immediate reply text message informing them where to go. TUC staff is also notified immediately by email and/or text about the problem.

A major benefit of the solution is that all feedback is recorded in a secure web portal. This enables TUC to track issues, monitor response times, identify vending machines that need to be repaired or replaced, and obtain detailed insights into overall customer satisfaction.

The outcome for CSUN

After implementing a customer satisfaction program for its vending machines and restroom facilities, TUC reports receiving good feedback from students and staff alike. They are now thanked for providing great service through the system itself.

The response from CSUN students and staff has been so positive, they are looking to expand their customer satisfaction program to other areas on campus – self-service and otherwise.

As for Mike, he considers the launch of a customer satisfaction program a success on campus and for his team. When asked what he liked most about the Touchwork FixIt Problem Reporting technology, he stated, “It has given us insights we never had before and a way to improve service the way our customers appreciate most.” He concluded his sentiments with, “It’s a good feeling knowing that we’re meeting, and in many instances exceeding expectations.”

About Touchwork FixIt Solution

Touchwork’s FixIT Problem Reporting solution enables people to quickly and easily report problems on the spot using their cell phones by sending a text message or accessing a short web form. Designated staff members are immediately alerted by email and/or text message so that corrective action can be taken. A complete record and history of all problems are maintained in a secure web portal. A personal response can be sent to the person reporting the problem and issues can be raised, assigned, and tracked for resolving complex problems.

When combined with routine inspections, this results in enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced costs as small problem are attended to before they become more serious, and lower overall risk.

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About the author

Johann Leitner is the founder and president of Touchwork, a marketing management software company.