How Customer Experience Impacts Meal Plan Sales

How Customer Experience Impacts Meal Plan Sales

How Customer Experience Impacts Meal Plan Sales

Do students have to buy a meal plan? If so, you might think that their dining experience won’t affect your meal plan sales. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Regardless of whether or not a student must purchase a meal plan, your overall sales could be quite different depending on the experience you provide.

Typically, your resident students will need to purchase a meal plan if they choose to live on campus. But they are not the only ones who have the option of investing in a meal plan. Which is why it’s important you focus on providing a customer experience that’s not only satisfactory, but also one that exceeds expectations and makes the optional purchases of meal plans a no-brainer.

Your Campus Community Members Are Your Customers

Just like any restaurant relies on providing a high-quality dining experience to its customers, so should be your goal in serving your students, faculty, and staff.

There are many features that contribute to the overall experience in your dining hall:

  • Speed of service
  • Friendly staff
  • Freshness of food
  • Clean eating environment
  • Ambiance
  • Selection
  • Price
  • Value

Keep in mind that your customers might not always consider how quickly they got their food, or that the trashcan wasn’t overflowing, or that every table was wiped clean. Because those things should happen regardless.

But they will remember if they waited in line for 15 minutes for pizza and ended up late for class. They’ll notice if food or trash is left on the table or floor. They will complain if they get a bad banana or if the soda tastes flat. And they will also take care to mention these things to their friends and families, some of whom may have yet to visit the dining hall for themselves.

That’s why it’s critical to continually observe ways in which your overall customer experience may be suffering, and then take care to make adjustments that can fill those gaps.

The Negative Impact of a Poor Customer Experience on Meal Plan Sales

Don’t think that just because a student has no choice to purchase a meal plan you shouldn’t focus on a quality dining experience.

Most schools tend to offer a variety of meal plan options to choose from, oftentimes ranging from 10 to 21 meals each week. And if students must make a choice, they might opt for a lower tiered plan to avoid a poor customer experience at every meal.

Not delivering a positive customer experience could mean that students who move off campus will never consider purchasing a meal plan based on their previous low-quality experiences.

In addition, your dining hall might gain a bad reputation that will deter incoming students from purchasing a meal plan. This is especially possible considering how quickly word travels on social media.

The Positive Impact of a Good Customer Experience on Meal Plan Sales

So what happens to meal plan sales when you take care to incorporate a good customer experience in each aspect listed above?

You go from being a basic necessity to a place where students want to gather.

Students will choose to dine in your hall because they want to, not because their meal plan makes it easy.

Those who don’t yet have a meal plan might consider purchasing one. And those who have to purchase one will feel it was money well spent.

In Summary

Every campus dining hall can find some way to make improvements in the experience it delivers to its customers. Start by considering those things that are most important to your diners. If you aren’t sure what those things might be, it never hurts to ask. Your meal plan sales will let you know if those changes are working.

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