How Florida Tech is enhancing the student dining experience

Evan Olsen, Associate Director, Florida Tech | Campus Dining

Adding a touch of excellence to student menus

Touchwork’s TxtandTell is enabling Florida Tech Campus Dining to ensure the best experience for the many college students and guests who dine at its main dining hall, Panther Dining, as well as Panther Food Court, Center Court, Panther Grocery and the Rathskeller, Florida Tech’s evening and late night option.

“Students are interacting with us instantly and we are responding to them in real-time via the system. Moreover, the analytics and reporting component of Touchwork’s TxtandTell enables us to track trends; solve recurring problems; and provide the university with valuable report data. This has improved our ability to respond effectively to the demands of a dynamic campus dining environment.”

Outstanding performance and analytics exceed expectations

Florida Tech Campus Dining has been a self-operated program for more than 20 years. It caters to about 3,500 Florida Tech students, of whom 2,000 reside in housing located on campus. This is in addition to their many guests and regular visitors to the university who dine at the various facilities on campus.

The Panther Dining Hall is the busiest, serving a variety of menus to about 1 million people every year. It is open 14 hours a day, seven days a week and only closes at the end of the academic year in December for about 10 days for cleaning.

Prior to using Touchwork’s TxtandTell, Florida Tech Campus Dining was unable to garner sufficient comment on dining experiences from the student body for various reasons. While focus groups had also been established specifically for this purpose, they only represented the opinion of a very small portion of the student population. To accurately gauge customer satisfaction levels and receive constructive feedback on how to improve services, Florida Tech Campus Dining needed to obtain a significantly larger sample of opinion in the most efficient manner possible.

When the dining facilities were temporarily closed to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Florida Tech Campus Dining team had time to consider various other methods available to effectively garner feedback from students. The preference was for a digital system that provided instantaneous feedback and response features. Very importantly, it also needed to provide sound reporting abilities.

Olsen says that Touchwork’s TxtandTell system exceeded his expectations. “The performance of the system in terms of being able to garner instantaneous feedback from our customers and its analytics are outstanding. Using Touchwork’s TxtandTell, we have been able to identify important trends and respond to them quickly and efficiently. The system has also made us aware of what we are doing well and where to intervene to improve our services. This wealth of information is also being efficiently reported to university administration,” he says.

Touchwork’s TxtandTell helps to improve dining experience

The constructive feedback that is being received from students via Touchwork’s TxtandTell is enabling Florida Tech Campus Dining to continuously raise its service levels.

One of the first changes that Florida Tech Campus Dining implemented was to include popular dishes on the permanent menu at the main hall. Suggestions received from the students via a simple text helped Florida Tech Campus Dining to prioritize and select meals for the new menu. For example, different fruit types were widely requested by students on Touchwork’s TxtandTell and were, therefore, included on the menu.

The wealth of information garnered by Touchwork Txtandtell also informed ways of reducing food delivery times from the Rathskeller in the evenings. By analyzing the time that the feedback was sent by; general commentary from; and regular meals ordered by the students, Florida Tech Campus Dining removed certain dishes from the menu because they took too much time to prepare. Removing this bottleneck, alone, reduced food delivery time from an hour-and-a-half to between 45 and 50 minutes. Notably, Florida Tech Campus Dining has not received a single complaint from students since the new system was implemented at the Rathskeller.

Touchwork’s Txtandtell also alerted Florida Tech Campus Dining to shortfalls in existing processes. These were mainly because of staff skills gaps and were, therefore, resolved quickly through targeted training. Equipment capacity constraints that were exacerbating the situation were also successfully addressed to further streamline processes.

Moreover, the system has extended the reach of Florida Tech Campus Dining’s “Global Kitchen Series” by enabling more students to critique cuisines from around the world that are prepared by Florida Tech Campus Dining for country-themed events. The overwhelming positive feedback received from the students on the various dishes have also been used to motivate kitchen staff.

An accurate measure of student satisfaction

Touchwork’s TxtandTell’s state-of-the-art analytics is also being used by college management to inform ways of constantly enhancing student experience on campus. The rich information garnered by the system has already played a key role in a campus-wide accreditation assessment. This is considering that it provides a very accurate measure of student satisfaction and, therefore, the university’s ability to meet its customer service goals.

Measuring the success of external service providers

Based on the success of the system, Florida Tech Campus Dining is now also considering using ShopandTell, Touchwork’s mystery shopping solution. The system will enable Florida Tech Campus Dining to determine customer preferences at various times and days and then respond to these trends timeously. It will also provide insights into the performance of external service providers and the role that they are playing in helping Florida Tech Campus Dining meet students’ expectations.

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