Thursday, January 04, 2007

Parking - Losing Enrollments in C -Lot- 1of3

Losing Enrollment in C-Lot
part 1 of 3 (Full article is at University Business)

Maybe I shouldn't be writing now. I have always been told not to go food shopping when I am hungry, or swim right after eating, or take action when upset. I am upset. But then is writing really action? Just for my fingers I think. So I will let my fingers do the squawking and write this while distraught. Besides, I don't want to lose the immediacy of the moment.

I was at a school to conduct a customer service audit. The school was losing enrollment and population was dropping. Sure, they planned on a 32 percent attrition rate in the budget. I think that a 68 is a D+. Passing but not by much.

And when translated into dollars and jobs, it seemed they were actually planning for failure. Easy to hit that goal-- a goal to fail, that is. Maybe failing to budget but failing nonetheless. So I was hired to come on campus with my team to find out why this college was failing so badly.

When doing an audit, my team studies every service and marketing aspect of a school. We act as would potential students and see what it feels like to attend the institution. So we do everything a student would do when coming on campus for the first time. Then once we're "in" we check out, explore, and measure every aspect of the service at the place except one--teaching. That's the one area that is most important, the central customer service finally, but almost always not open for review. I wonder why schools would not want potential students to preview or try out a primary aspect of their purchase? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

This particular college is primarily a commuting college with very little public transportation access. So, almost everyone drives his or her car to come to the campus. We started out in our rental car to find the place. Turns out, that was a real chore. The directions on the website were not clear. They included the usual false assurance that, "Oh, you know the way.-You'll find it." There was no indication of the correct exit off the highway or the correct road that leads to the college. There were no clear directional signs pointing the way once we did figure out what exit we should have taken.

Students cannot get to a school if they cannot find the way! Keep in mind that many students are quite tentative about college and are actually seeking reasons not to come. The surest way to be sure a student doesn't come is to keep them from getting there. "Uhhh Mom, I tried to go and register but I couldn't find the place. I drove around and around and finally saud the hell with it."

Try driving the route yourself as if you do not know where the school is. Just use signs along the way. Can you do it? Didn't think so. Just like the first time you tried to find your way for that job interview. Recall the anxiety? The angst? The distress? Potential students don't need any additional stress.

Make it easy for them to find their way to the school.

By the way if you wish to learn more about a campus customer service audit, just let me know.

1 comment:

Blake said...

Great article! We were just having a similar conversation about our parking situation this morning.

BTW, could you add an RSS feed to your blog? Those of us that use feedreaders would appreciate getting the latest posts through the reader. :-)

Blake Vawter
Associate Director of Admissions
Oregon State University