On-Campus Auxiliary Services and COVID-19: Challenges and Solutions

On-Campus Auxiliary Services and COVID-19 Challenges and Solutions

How Student Feedback Can Support Auxiliary Services During the COVID-19 Crisis

The global pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of campus life, from housing to food services. Amid these changes, auxiliary service professionals are grappling with new challenges, such as:

  • Is there a way to easily update students about COVID-19 restrictions that affect on-campus auxiliary services?
  • Are newly implemented restrictions also in line with students’ needs?
  • Is it possible to gather real-time feedback from students about these changes? 
  • How can schools monitor pandemic-related restrictions and ensure they are being followed by staff and students?

Without student feedback, it’s impossible to successfully implement change to any on-campus service. As a result, schools are turning to technologies that enable collaboration and real-time communication. 

In this article, we’ll look at these challenges in detail, and explore how technology is helping schools adjust auxiliary services amid COVID-19. 

Expected Changes To On-Campus Auxiliary Services 

As the global pandemic evolves, on-campus services are increasingly being affected. Schools that are planning on reopening face the following changes:

Food Services 

Food services and dining halls have been significantly affected by COVID-19. Schools will likely offer takeaway food options and food delivery instead of buffet-style options. As a result, food service staff may also be reduced. Dining halls will also need to have capacity limits in place and enforce social distancing. 

Housing

Like dining and food services, housing is another area of auxiliary services that has been severely affected by the pandemic. Move-out and move-in procedures, in particular, have seen major changes. 

Re-opened schools are limiting the number of people allowed in on-campus residences during the moving process. Students are typically limited to one additional person to help them move. Students are also instructed to maintain social distancing, wear masks indoors, and regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces inside their residence or room. 

Laundry

Most on-campus laundry facilities are located in shared buildings. Without safety restrictions in place, laundry facilities may become hotspots for COVID-19 transmission. Students will need to practice social distancing, and wash their hands thoroughly after using shared laundry services. Schools may also limit the number of students allowed in the laundry building. 

Bookstores

Like any other retail store, on-campus bookstores will need to adapt to the global pandemic. Bookstore workers and students should wear face masks and practice social distancing while in the store. 

To avoid overcrowding during peak times, schools should also consider limiting how many students can be in the bookstore at one time. 

New Challenges for Auxiliary Services Amid COVID-19

While the above changes may solve the immediate safety issues, new challenges are arising. Specifically, schools will need to: 

  • Monitor the effectiveness of newly implemented restrictions and changes.
  • Quickly communicate ongoing updates to students and staff.
  • Create an open dialogue for student feedback.
  • Enact changes in light of student feedback.

As you can see, successfully transitioning to a post-pandemic campus will need to be a collaborative process. This is why communication-based technologies will be ideal.

Touchwork offers a full suite of web-based technologies that can keep students informed and engaged while providing important insights for auxiliary service professionals: 

  • TXTandTell: Collects real-time student feedback in dining and retail environments using SMS text messaging.
  • MarketIT: Sends updates directly to students’ phones via SMS alerts, and directly markets new on-campus services and events.
  • ShopandTell: Allows students to complete on-the-spot surveys so that compliance with safety restrictions can be monitored, tracked, and improved. 

Looking Ahead: How Can Technology Solve These Challenges?

Touchwork’s digital solutions are completely customizable and have powerful reporting capabilities. Here are just some of the ways they can assist auxiliary service professionals amid COVID-19:

  • Identify Customer Service Gaps: Changes that affect essential services, such as dining or housing, must meet safety standards and maintain positive student experiences. With real-time feedback through TXTandTell, you can identify what students like, what they need, and what can be improved.
  • Facilitate Safety Protocols: As schools reopen, many students are anxious about what to do in the event they are ill. TXTandTell allows students to text “I’m sick” to a number, and then receive detailed instructions about how to proceed. This service can also be used to communicate protocols when using dining halls, bookstores, laundry rooms, and other on-campus facilities.
  • Communicate Updates: Build trust with students by providing timely updates as the pandemic evolves. With MarketIT, students can sign up for mobile alerts and get important updates delivered straight to their phones. Messages can also be enhanced with GIFs, videos, and audio for a more interactive experience.
  • Monitor Compliance with Safety Restrictions: Safety restrictions are only helpful if students and staff can easily comply with them. This is where ShopandTell can help. This mystery shopper-style technology allows students and others to complete web-based surveys about their experiences using auxiliary services. Responses are immediately sent to a secure web portal for viewing.

Above all, auxiliary services should serve students and enhance their campus experiences. While COVID-19 requires some modifications to these services, communication-based technology will help maintain positive experiences for students going forward.

Interested in seeing a demo of these solutions? Contact Touchwork today to get started.

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About the author

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