Why Student Feedback Will Be Essential for Food Services in the Fall

How Campus Food Services Are Adapting Amid COVID-19

Why Student Feedback Will Be Essential for Food Services in the Fall 

On school campuses, one of the areas most strongly affected by the pandemic is food services. New safety restrictions are already being implemented, but the challenge now is this: how can schools adapt to restrictions while maintaining positive experiences for students? 

Communication-based technology is making it easier for schools to give students a voice, quickly implement changes based on student feedback, and keep students engaged. This article will explore some of these challenges and solutions in detail. 

How is COVID-19 Changing Campus Food Services?

With heavy foot traffic, cramped spaces, and high-touch surfaces, on-campus food service facilities have always been danger-zones during cold and flu seasons. In light of the global pandemic, these risks have only been amplified. 

As a result, campus food services are being modified in the following ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19:

  • Implementing take-away food options.
  • Removing buffet-style options.
  • Offering mobile ordering and food delivery services.
  • Reducing the capacity of students allowed in dining halls.

But as the above changes are implemented, new challenges arise:

  • Customer Service Gaps: With food service staff being reduces to skeleton crews, there will inevitably be a gap in customer service experiences for students.
  • Tracking Tech-Related Issues: As schools move toward automated solutions, such as food delivery and contactless ordering, students will likely encounter tech problems. Without a centralized way to address and track technical issues, this will create poor user experiences. 
  • Meeting Students’ Needs: Students with specific dietary needs often rely on directly interacting with food service staff to get the food they need. With little-to-no food service workers, schools will need to implement other communication methods to accommodate students’ dietary requests.
  • Communication of Ongoing Updates: As the pandemic evolves, schools must be able to immediately communicate safety updates regarding food services. Lack of consistent, accessible communication may lead to fear or frustration among students.
  • Decreased Campus Culture: For most students, part of the campus experience includes dining with friends. But with strict safety standards in place, such as social distancing, this experience may look much different than it did during pre-pandemic times. While everyone adjusts to the new normal, schools will need to adapt without sacrificing campus culture. 

Post-Pandemic Solutions for Campus Food Services

For campus food services, open communication and student feedback will play critical roles in helping schools successfully adapt. 

Touchwork’s digital, web-based solutions are ideal for solving many of these challenges:

  • TXTandTell enables real-time feedback via SMS messaging, empowering students to share their thoughts about on-campus food service experiences.
  • MarketIT can keep students and staff updated about ongoing safety restrictions via SMS alerts, while also promoting new food service products, events, and more.

How can these technologies be used practically? Here are just some of the ways that schools can successfully adapt their food services using these solutions:

  • Gather Feedback in Real Time: When rolling out changes, gathering feedback should be the top priority. TXTandTell makes it easy for students to quickly communicate what they like and dislike about campus food services via text messaging. This feedback is available immediately in secure, cloud-based servers.
  • Respond to Student Inquiries: With reduced food service staff, students may have trouble getting the answers they need. TXTandTell allows students to text their questions and get immediate responses regarding campus food options, safety protocols, and more.
  • Tailor Food Services to Students’ Needs: Schools using TXTandTell can evaluate student feedback and tailor their food services to better accommodate students’ needs and preferences.
  • Track and Resolve Issues: TXTandTell enables students to report issues with campus food services. For example, if there are broken vending machines, a lack of food options, problems with food quality, or glitches with contactless ordering technology, these issues can be easily monitored, tracked, and resolved via SMS messaging.
  • Keep Students Engaged and Informed: MarketIT, which is a permission-based mobile-club, makes it easy to send important updates about on-campus food services directly to students’ phones. Students who opt in can also receive special offers, announcements about new food products, promotions, and more.
  • Make Safety Part of Campus Culture: When safety is embedded into campus culture, it removes the otherwise gloomy aspect of pandemic-related restrictions. The key is to make students feel comfortable. With MarketIT, you can bring some fun to your messaging with videos, GIFs, audio, and links. This can reinforce the importance of safety while integrating it with campus culture.

A major advantage of these solutions is that they are all completely customizable. They can be utilized via SMS text messaging, QR codes, email, social media, and more. Ready to see how this technology can work for you? Contact Touchwork today for a free demo.

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About the author

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