Monday, February 26, 2007

Campus of Dreams Marketing to the ME Generation

So how do you market to the Me Generation? Maybe you don’t. At least not in the old traditional academic way. You know, the Field of Dreams view book approach in which you shape a reality you want the potential students to see. (Even if you have to fake aspects like pictures of students who don’t go to a school.) The goal of this approach is to manipulate the reality and the image to manipulate the target audience. So the Campus of Dreams.

I am sure you can picture it now. A group of four or five students (one white, one black, an Asian, an Hispanic and maybe a male of an alternate lifestyle) walking together (all healthy, well dressed like a TV show teen) across a sunlit but slightly shadowed green campus with some wonderful building slightly out of focus in the rear of the scene. Then in other pictures – reading a book while leaning against a tree, sitting in class while a better looking faculty member or a model hired to look like a teacher smiles while writing on the board and so on and on.

You know, the campus of dreams where marketing ideas from the past are supposed to attract students to that new dorm you just built out in what was a parking lot. The Build it and they will come. Not the building but the image. We think the cliché worked in the past. Maybe then. Not at all now.

This was a marketing concept built on control of image and the buyer. It was marketing 101. If we marketers control the message and the image, we can control and manipulate the mind and emotions of the market. That will get us the results we want. We will make the school look like the college we wanted to go to. That’ll do it. And for a while it did just that.

An example. When I designed a community college marketing campaign in 1998 for a school that had eleven years of enrollment decline with “traditional college marketing” we came up with a campaign called “Harvard on the Hill” (a traditional slight against community colleges) we decided to position ourselves against well know schools in the first two years as a transfer option. Most community colleges can compare themselves very favorably in those years against name brand schools in class size, student teacher ratios, cost…followed by transfer to a four-year school. So we developed billboards that had text such as “A Harvard education. Just $62,540 off.” Start here. Go there” Or “First two years of Georgetown. Just less Hoya Paloya. Start here. Go there.” And so on. We backed it all up with detailed advertorials that flushed out the numbers and details.

I received letters from other schools complaining that this was no way to market a school. It was “anti-collegiate.” “Not academic.” “Too (choking sound) commercial.” They were bothered by the humor we used and by comparing ourselves to othet schools. These all came from colleges and universities which were then having no enrollment issues. Now..? A couple school trustees even questioned the marketing as perhaps not appropriate to an educational institution. “They seem out of control” one said.

Ahhhhh. Perhaps that was the secret.

Now the real test of marketing. Marketing is to finally sell product, services, and purchases. That’s what even image marketing or branding is supposed to do. So, if the campaign worked and enrollment went up, it worked. It worked. Then when there was a change in leadership, they went back to the old academic marketing and enrollment dropped again.

Lesson. The old ways are not the best ways. They do not work. We just put so much money and tradition into them that we must believe they will work. They don’t. they are control-based.

Perhaps what needs to be done is realize that to a very large extent what we call marketing doesn’t work. And maybe didn’t really work well in the past. Though it may have pleased the internal campus and even won an award from peers, did it really sell enrollments? Not really sure. But I am sure now that what is thought of as traditional collegiate marketing will not sell to the ME generation market.

As Scott Donaton, Editor of Advertising Age was quoted in the December 2006 WIRED (p 231) The era of control is over: “You can either stay in the bunker, or you can try to participate. And to not participate is criminal.”

It is criminal because schools are spending huge, ever increasing amounts of money to market for enrollments. But they are doing it with traditional collegiate control the image and message approaches that will not work with the ME generation. This is a generation that does not respond to a message unless they can at least participate in forming it.

So now, what will work?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Enrollment, Retention, Marketing and The ME Generation

What do iPods, TIVO, FaceBook, My Space, SecondLife, Lonelygirl15,videocams, Power Director, on-line and podcast learning and a survey by MY College Guide tell us when looked at as a group? I can tell you now, once you realize it, you will look at students, as well as your marketing and retention efforts quite differently. And you'll rethink all that Millennium Generation stuff.

Look a bit more. Think about what the connecting concept here is…. Ahhh. You have it. Right.

The connecting concept is personal control. But a new sense of control. Not the old control of restraint, or structure, or domination of one by another. Certainly not “your not the boss of me” Big Brother or en loco parentus. But control by me over my environment , my experience by me, for me, and without you. And I want it personalized.

Control is by and for the individual. Not for me over you but over my environment. I will listen to what I want, when I want and not when a radio or TV station schedules it. And I will watch only what parts I want. Ads? Nah. I'll fast forward through them and drive the marketers nuts. I don't need to watch and I won't watch if I don't feel like it. Your old styles and modesjust won't work with me.

I will devise my self-definition of who I am and how I want others to see me. I won’t leave it up to you. If I want to be someone else, I will do that too. Hey, I’ll look like Robert Redford. If I want. See my picture. And my description of myself.... I will make me who I want to be.”

And I will take classes when I want and where I want. In my underwear at 2:00 in the morning. If I want. I’ll start it on my computer and finish it on my video MP3 player on the bus.

I will control my own world as I can. At the very least, I will manage my experience. I don’t need you to do it. I don’t want you to do it. I am a member of the ME Generation. The generation that Manages Experience.

A generation defined not by age just as a college population is no longer bound by ages 18-21. Adults are major factors of colleges today. A generation defined not by when they were born but what they can do, especially with technology. From 19 year old Jessica Rose as Lonleygirl 5 to the 54 year old creep who goes on FaceBook and creates himself as an eighteen year old high school student, they are all potential members of the ME Generation on your campus. They crave control over their own reality, time and desires.

Granted at many schools, the traditional age college student is predominant as the primary market. But to reach that market, it is necessary to realize they are part of a generation that wishes to manage its own world. And may decide to opt out of yours which is why campus clubs, and organizations may not get many really interested visitors at their tables during orientation.

Yes, the ME generation also seeks strong community connections but they do not have to be high touch ones. High tech lives can suffice and substitute as a form of reaching out to touch someone. A FaceBook community is a community for this generation. A chat room can be a ‘face to face” discussion. Even comments left on TorrentSpy can form a social group with shared norms, traditions and heros.

The concern that students do not seem to go out together as groups like we used to is correct but not a concern. Identity with an assemblage of friends to go to the mall for example, is not the point. Going to the mall and then seeing who’s there to form a temporary group is enough. “I will decide who I will be with tonight when I decide to decide that. Not before.”

Le Soleil c’est Moi. The world revolves around me. I will manage my own experience. And I have the technology available to do it. I want it all personalized to me. If I cannot manage it completely I want to at least participate in forming it. So you'd better let me in on forming the experience or I will not accept it. Markting? Better make it personal and personalized if you want to get my attention.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Customer Service, Colleges and Nordstrom

Customer service in academia is a very different animal than retail and commercial service. For one, the buying patterns are very different. At Nordstrom for example, the service focuses on a unique one-time purchase and hoped-for future purchases for those in a particular social bracket. The purchase is a one time event.

Let’s say I go to Nordstrom (for me, the Rack) one day to buy a shirt, maybe a tie to go with it. These are limited and specific material objectives I can obtain and achieve in this one event. I buy them and leave, not to think of a purchase again until a particular need arises. The service focuses on that one purchase.

Disneyworld the same. One vacation a year. Not so college. Purchases are made very day, every class.

Too often we think that the decision to enroll is the one and only buying decision of our students. Not so. Not at all. That is just the first of many, many purchases on their way to graduation or attrition.

In college, our customers are in a constant buying/purchasing pattern. They are making a decision on your product every day and most every hour/class. Every day, students get up and decide whether or not to go to school and go to classes. They decide whether or not to go/purchase each and every class depending on a number of service-based factors and ROI’s, “is this worth my time, does the faculty member give a damn, is it part of my major, can I blow it of and still get a good grade, do I just feel like it today?”. These decisions ultimately lead to retention or attrition with steps in between of course. We buy a shirt once every so often. College is an every day purchase. And one might successfully argue that it is more important then a shirt.

This is very different than a unique purchase in retail which is a self-contained event in all cases with a simple temporal and commercial conclusion. Retaining a customer in retail is much easier than in education. When I buy a shirt, I walk out with it I can even wear it right away if I want. It’s material.

An education? Can’t wear it. Can’t carry it. Can’t touch it. It’s more like love. We all need it. We all crave it but it can be hard to define, pint down or sometimes even know it is happening. It takes faith, trust. And that is often the basis of retention because all one can get from an education is trust that I have learned something, I can get a job with it and I have a piece of embossed card stock with signatures that says education took place. Retaining a student is much tougher than getting someone back in a store.

You can’t even get rid of an obviously poor service provider in college while in a store, if they don’t perform according to store requests for service and at least a smile, one can fire them. Try firing a faculty member because he or she treats students like crap. And teaches with total indifference to the customers’ needs and learning style. Have fun in the grievances and court. Unless of course the faculty member is an adjunct. Then we will let him or her finish the term, teaching horridly, pissing off students and increasing attrition. Don’t need the hassles, grievances, lawyer calls and legal suits to follow. Better to provide horrendous service to our customers. Or a clerk who growls when she has to help students. Can’t just let him go. Need at least a long period of progressive discipline before one can even contemplate dismissal. And if he is in a union… Rather different than most stores or a resort.

There is quite a bit more too. Poor service in a store just makes the customer leave and go elsewhere. Unless of course he needs the particular item that you sell. Then he’ll grit and bear it to buy it.

Education? Can get composition, math, psych, etc. etc. most anywhere. Bad service in a school may well make the student leave creating bad debt you have to collect or write off. There is a direct correlation between service levels and WTP (willingness to pay). Could go on but I hope you get my point that what we can learn from commercial entities needs to be taken with a grain of kosher salt.

You may also want to get a copy of my book Embrace the Oxymoron: Customer Service in Higher Education.It is still the best selling book on the topic for the past five years. Yes, I admit crass commercialism here but there are times I will sell, but only as part of the background to my, uhhhh research............

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Customer Friendly - The College-Way

I often get calls or emails asking about good books to read on customer service. Many people ask about ones by or about Disney, Nordstrom’s, Starbucks, Southwest, and some by Ken Blanchard and company. These are all good to interesting books. You can pick up some ideas from any of them. I have read most of them as I look for new knowledge I can apply to our unique world.

But they do not really talk to our issues in higher education or post-secondary. These are all focused on retail and commercial services usually in entertainment or food areas. They are all part of the company’s branding control campaign as well. They are promoting the image that the company is great on customer service which is true for some, may have been true for others and just a marketing illusion well sold for others. Keep in mind that if you tell customers we are customer friendly, they may believe it and buy from you.

Isn’t that the basic marketing approach of most schools by the way? No, not customer service. Schools do not talk about that. They just claim things like “small classes, caring faculty”. By the way, small can run anywhere from maybe 25 to 250 in the small amphitheater and no student is over 7 feet tall. If the school can make the language part of its language, can present it often enough in its marketing, the view book and admission presentations, they believe they can create an image that will “sell” the school best. Just like businesses try to manage their impression.

A quick example. I was in a Starbucks the other day. One of my favorite places for coffee and nosh plus observing our students in their natural habitat. College is an unnatural environment really. I was standing in line so I could order and stand in another line. Always seems to be a line. Hmmm, people hate lines yet we all know Starbucks is high on the customer service list. Oh well, the people there are invariably friendly and the coffee usually good. In any case, the young woman behind the counter announced she could help the next “guest”. Me. So I stepped forward and asked if I were a guest. She assured me I was so I ordered and then she asked for money. “You want me to pay? But I am a guest. I never ask my guests to pay for their drinks or meals at my place. That’s what you ask of a customer. To pay.”

She was bewildered of course but I helped her out. “Okay, here is my credit card but I am not a guest. Guests don’t pay. I don’t mind being a customer by the way so why. I came in here expecting to pay. Why do you have to call me a guest?”

She explained that it was a new company initiative to improve customer service and improve branding of the image of Starbucks as being customer friendly. Not that they actually need to do that. I would suggest they seem to have figured out that if they can please customers with good coffee and make-believe drinks plus friendly servers, they will keep customers and build their business. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if this approach works for them.

Could it work in higher education? Outside of the fact that they are notoriously cheap with coffee, it could. If schools actually provide good service and not just lip service.

Let me give you a suggestion to try to put all the stuff above into action. Not with words, but action. And an action that will not just put action to words but make students believe you on day one, or maybe two.

During registration, or anytime when students new students stand in that long line have a coffee station there. Let students get out of line to get a cup of coffee and then take it back with them. Better still, build off of what I found at North Georgia Technical College as students waited to meet with financial aid advisors. There, students took a number to meet with an advisor. They could wait in one of number of rows of chairs set up for them to wait for their number to be called. What if the school had a coffee bar for them to get a cup of coffee, tea, soda or juice students could get up and grab to keep them company while they wait. Better yet, what if they had tables, couches and comfortable chairs? Now, that’d say guest. (Cue the Beauty and the Beast.)

Actually, as you can see the solution is simple. The school is your home. You’ve invited these guests in. Just show them the treatment you would provide to any invited guest. And don’t get all hung up over the small amount of cost involved. It is absolutely insignificant. Simply place the cost of some beverages and snacks against lost tuition when a student gets fed up waiting in lines and being ignored. I mean a couple hundred dollars against what…anywhere from a few thousand to $25,000-plus when just one student gives up. Do not overlook the reality that that having to wait for anything is in the top ten “things I hate” of students. Students will actually walk out if they feel they are waiting too long. Or they may not leave right then and there, but the “this place does not give a damn about me” can certainly start in a slow moving line.

Think about where you can make students feel like real guests who wish to stay?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

College Tours to Nowhere Can be to Additional Enrollment

One of the most important parts of the enrollment sequence – the campus tour - is also one of the worst for many potential students and their parents. We have cited before that at least 12% of potential probable enrollees is lost as soon as the interested potential enrollees encounter the campus. The poor customer service of the tour is a major contributor. Not the only one by any means, but can be a major one.

Most colleges relegate the tours to a group of students who likely start out enthusiastic and interesting but soon devolve into the bored rote voices of students who have more important things than this #$%ing tour on their mind. This is especially so for students doing the tours to make minimum wage.

And the tour itself…. “Here is a typical classroom (yawn). A computer lab (Woopie! Computers in rows) This is a sample dorm room (which is almost always staged much better than any other room). This is our cafeteria (where the food sucks but I have to pretend it is fine), And on and on. How exciting and motivating.

The tone of an article in today’s (2/13/07) New York Times summarizes rather well.

College tours are pretty standard. A student walking backward will show you the library, the athletic center and a typical dorm room. Then there will be the requisite safety talk. The tour guide will point out blue boxes -- emergency call buttons for the campus police -- and extol the security systems in the residence halls. The spiel usually includes a bit about how, if a student feels uncomfortable walking alone at night on campus, he or she can simply call security for an escort.

Gee, wouldn’t that tour just light up your “gotta go there juices”? Not really since most any tour of one school could also be the tour of another. Sort of interchangeable like school catalogs and websites. No wonder the student tour guides lose their enthusiasm too even though taking students to the library might be their only visit too.

The idea is that a student will provide a more authentic voice and customer service that will seem genuine. Can’t be done when the tour is trying to please two audiences at once – parents and students. These are two very different audiences and one rule of customer service is that it must e focused correctly on the correct audience. And well, let’s face it. Students have different interests than their parents.

Students want to know they will get a good education but also have a good time. Parents walk through the tour focused on the ROI for their tuition dollars, yes the library because they believe students will use books rather than the web, safety issues and how much this all is going to cost me.

Okay, the solutions. First, have two tours and two tour guides. The potential students should go off with a student without the parents. That way they can see the aspects of the school they really want to see and ask real questions like “where do people really eat? Is one dining hall better than another or should I skip them entirely?” “What dorms are the ones you don’t want to get stuck in?” “What’s with web access for downloading on campus?” “If I rush a frat/sorority which is really which?” And so on. Take them to where students really hang out. Buy them a cup of coffee or the such and talk there, in their habitat; not the schools official one. They will feel more comfortable and will feel as if they have joined the school community already. And community is one thing this generation craves. They feel isolated by the society so they have a need to feel as if they can belong in some community. Sitting and talking in an environment they are familiar with sets them into a sense of community with the group around the table. We already suggested this sort of structure for admissions to increase enrollment in another posting.

Parents should go with an adult tour guide and be shown a classroom, a library tour, safety including a brief meeting with the head of security, an introduction to the financial aid office and director to set appointments, an quick introduction to an academic officer, a dean or a chair if you schedule by academic interests. They should meet the Dean/VP/Dir/ Head Honcho of student services too. They want a feeling that there are real people there to help them and their potential tuition provider.

If it is not possible to have two tours, then hire professional tour givers or train the admissions officers to give the tour. And I do mean train. Do not assume that because a person is an admissions representative, he or she can give a good tour. Simply walking with people and pointing out the classrooms like a flight attendant pointing out the emergency doors “two doors aft and two doors in the back…” is not pointing out the safety aspects of our Boeing College 387. Teach them how to fake enthusiasm if it is not there and then wonder why you keep a less than enthusiastic admissions rep. Train them how to get the tourists to talk more than the reps. Teach them questioning and listening as a touring technique.

Combine aspects of the student tour with the parents tour on a checklist and ask the tourists what they want to see. Let them decide or at least provide them the illusion they are deciding. Ever been on a guided tour and felt like you were really missing the good stuff on the “okay everyone, over here now!” Find out what interests them and not what you assume they want to see. Then show it to them.

Keep in mind that this is the ME generation. The I will Manage my Experience generation which by the way is more a state of mind than an age. From what music they load on their IPod, to designing their own home and Face Book pages, to Tivo-ing to watch 24 when they wish to rather than the time the network set, to most everything, they want to make the decisions on how their experiences will be set up and managed. They want control and community. They want to control/manage their experiences. So let them make some decisions and don’t assume you know what they want to see and experience.

Also when setting up the basic concept of the tour, you may want to get external guidance that knows what students really want on a tour. There are consultants who can help. Or get some focus groups pulled together from high school students and learn from them. Let them guide you so you can guide them on their tours of their school - if the tour doesn't lose them somewhere out by Classroom Building B.

Feel free to contact us at AcademicMAPS with any thoughts, questions or issues you'd like to discuss. We are always there to help. Or contact Neal directly at at 413.219.6939.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Focus on Customer Service and Retention to End Deficits

Ohio University (not THE Ohio State as they say in Columbus) is projecting an $11 million deficit for 2008 due to what is incorrectly labeled as an enrollment problem.

It is a population problem that ended up losing 400-468 more students to attrition or non-transfer-in than was budgeted (using their figures extrapolated out). That means the actual entire attrition number is actually quite a bit higher. Somewhere close to +/-30% of population overall and the 464 is simply above budgeted projected losses.

Enrollment is okay. OU just missed its fall freshman recruitment target by 6 students. They are bringing them in but they are losing them as the year goes along – just like most every other school. They are losing population by not focusing enough on retention.

Let’s look at some figures. By the way, you can plug your schools numbers in as we go along because the OU issue is one we all can learn from. This is especially so because OU has actually diagnosed their own problem but has neither fully used the information nor fully learned from it.

The school is projecting a deficit of somewhere between $6 to $11 million for fiscal 2008 and is considering raising tuition by another 6%. A tuition increase may stave off some fiscal problems for 2008 but it is not the answer.

The answer lies in increasing retention. Let’s look at the numbers.

OU had little trouble attracting applications. In fact, they had almost 3 applicants for every one of the 4,100 freshman openings. The actual show was 4,094 on a budget of 4,100 which would indicates a fairly strong primary desire to attend considering that the show/yield rate was at 38%. But then, something occurs to have over +/-30% leave OU prior to graduation.

Using a 464 student budget shortfall as a base and not even touching the larger attrition number which looks to be in the range of 8,486 students from a total reported population of 28,287, we can quickly see a solution to the forecasted deficit.

Each of the lost students takes $8,727 out of the budget. So that means that the “excessive unbudgeted attrition” costs OU $4,049,328. Add to that the cost of recruiting and processing every student needed to replace that 464 and that equals another $2,442,496. Now, room and board is a revenue item in the budget so at a housing and food cost of $7,839 the lost revenue is perhaps $1,818,648 (working on a 50% housing rate of the 464). So the excess attrition (I’ll talk about this foolish concept of acceptable attrition in a minute) costs OU,

lost tuition $(4,049,328)

replacement costs (2,442,496)

lost housing revenue (1,818,648)

Hit on budget $(8,310,472)

Okay let’s agree that this is not necessarily exact since it could be that all dorm rooms remained full with replacement students and correlating budget figures to other reports from the University may not be exact. And don’t forget that these numbers have nothing to do with the other thousands of drops that were accepted in the budget. And with all that, we are still talking HUGE NUMBERS – DEFICIT ERASING NUMBERS! Not just at OU BUT AT MOST EVERY UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE.

Imagine what OU and all schools could do with the revenues they could apply to the growth of the school, the freezing and reduction in tuition for students and families, the salaries and benefits of employees, the collections in the library, maintenance and cleanliness of facilities and on and on.

And OU already figured out what is wrong. A Follow-up Study of Involvement Intervention Efforts at Ohio University (Nov 2005) from its Institutional Research Office, found that an early intervention program with identified at-risk freshman cut attrition and increased returns of stepping-out students. Laudable results!

More of the students participating in the early intervention program said they would return (81%) followed by 56 percent of the students in the regular intervention program. Fifty-four percent of students identified in the extra-female minority intervention process said they would return (p.3) The intervention program works. Unfortunately it is only for freshman which we have already said is a sure guarantee for the sophomore retention bubble popping. Intervention and involvement should be in place for all students – even grad students.

Costs too much? Can it cost more than $8,310,472. I don’t think so.

And why do students leave OU, and all other schools? No surprise here. The issues I have been writing about, talking about, training on and trying to get schools to work with. Here is what the report cites as the first self-reported reasons.

Non-returners cited personal reasons for leaving Ohio University, for example having trouble adjusting personally to Ohio University and did not feel they fit in at Ohio University.

Cheers University is where they want to be. Good old CU! Customer Service Principle 1 (if you'd like a copy of the 15 Principles of Good Customer Service in College, click here)

Yes. That is it! Or at least a big part of it when it is success! Give them CU at OU or any U.

At-risk-for-dropping students who were personally contacted and were personally counseled by a person with a name who knew their name and showed he or she cared, tended to stay at higher numbers and return if they left. OU became CU when it showed students it would know them as an individual, a person with a name not just a tuition bill and number. And OU showed then were glad they came.

Other reasons were too far away from home; small town atmosphere. These students also did not feel the attachment to OU a student must have if they are to persevere. OU never became home or provided them a sense of security and comfort. They obviously wanted to get away from OU and go home where they felt welcome if they felt too far away. My guess is that these students never were given enough reason and care once on campus to unpack their emotional suitcases. And remember, these students had chosen OU which had about three applicants for every spot. They felt good about getting in but then wanted out.

Another reason students reported they left was they could not get the degree in their preferred field (poor sales service? Promising more than OU could deliver?) Still poor customer service here.

These are all customer service and retention issues. They can be solved or at least significantly mitigated. OU even has identified a part of the problem now they just need to figure out how to act on that information to create a customer service culture that retains more students and erases deficits

And the concept of acceptable attrition, same as collateral damage I fear. We can plan for it but that does not ever make either one acceptable.

Feel free to contact us at any time on how customer service and retention can help your bottom line. You can discuss this directly with our president, Neal Raisman, by clicking here and emailing or call at 413.219.6939.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Butterfly Effect from Customer Service

The customer service posting on Hillel explained a central aspect of customer service delivery in academia. This is how I have interpreted Hillel for our purposes of relating well to one another. BTW, it works well outside of the campus too!!

“Do unto others as you would have them do

to your son, your daughter,

your mother or your father.”

This axiom can have major positive effects. Certainly on retention and enrollment but also on individuals, whole families and even the world. For those of us who went into education with the hope of changing the world and the lives of people for the better, customer service can be a major factor in meeting or mission It is what I see as the “butterfly effect” of customer service.

The butterfly effect suggest that the simple, slight flapping of delicate butterfly wings can change the course of history. The wings will create an almost unnoticeable but actual change in the air that can effects on the condition of the atmosphere which in turn can lead to a series of events that could lead to major change in weather like the creation of a tornado. So from simple, almost imperceptible actions, events, deeds or words, lives can change.

While consulting at Beckfield College in Florence KY a most perfect example of this theory occurred. Beckfield is a four-year career college with five programs that has a culture of believing in its students. The staff and faculty really provide levels of personal service that are outstanding.

A mother came to the College to meet with an admission’s representative She brought her daughter with her because she could not get, or maybe afford, a babysitter. The mother and daughter sat with the representative and talked about the Beckfield program and how it could change her life. The representative spent all the time the mother wanted and very personably and carefully explained the program, financial aid and how she believes the mother could succeed.. Every question was answered fully and with compassion. The mother it seemed needed a major change in her life but was somewhat unsure of herself. She would be the first in her family to go to college.

She met other people at Beckfield who all took the time to help her and respond to any concerns from paying for school to what if she needed extra help having been out of school for quite a while. By the time she had finished meeting with the admission’s representative, she had her answers and believed in herself again. She thanked the rep, completed an application and she and her daughter who had been sitting patiently and hearing everything, started to leave the building.

As they got to the end of the hall, the little girl turned around and ran back into the admission’s rep’s office. She ran into the office and stopped. She then reached into her hair where she took out a barrette and handed it to the admission’s rep. A small token but a huge one too.

The butterfly effect! The admission’s rep had followed Hillel and created what some might see as a small change in the air but it was a major shift for the world. Yes, the mother will likely attend Beckfield and she will probably graduate. Her daughter will also see college as a good place, somewhere she will go and Beckfield by the way will have first consideration I believe.

The mother’s family will change, for the better. If she goes into nursing, other families will also be changed and helped. The daughter will attend college. Her family will be better for it. And her children and so on. The good will spread geometrically and affect the future of the world itself. Maybe it could seem in small ways but as the mother and daughter touch others and they touch others and they… Well, you see the progression.

Oh by the way, the barrette the daughter gave the admission’s rep. It was a little butterfly.

Beckfield College Selects Leadwise to Personalize and Increase Enrollments

Beckfield College (KY) has chosen Leadwise, the award and enrollment winning web-based generator of self-qualified enrollment leads and personalized marketing to power its website. “There isn’t anything out there that can speak so personally to potential students while providing us self-qualified leads and real-time marketing information so we can focus our marketing dollars better,” said Dr. Ronald Swanson, President of Beckfield.

Leadwise matches student interests from a questionnaire to a college’s catalogue and marketing materials to generate a fully personalized College Plan focused specifically on that student’s interests and goals. Leadwise simultaneously takes the details the student enters and sends it to the admissions department as a self-qualified lead in script form. The individual responses to the questionnaire are compiled in a Marketing Management Data Base to inform marketing decisions based on what potential students want and are viewing.

Leadwise personalizes college catalogues and materials while also generating informed leads that convert to enrollments. The program digitizes college catalogues and marketing materials so that when students complete a brief questionnaire on their background, goals and interests, a fully personalized, on-line “college plan” is created and sent back to the student’s computer. The questionnaires include basic information such as name, etc but also obtains information on radio, magazine, movie preferences through higher tech information like pod casting or mobile webs. The pages all use the student’s name combined only with that information he or she wants. Each section is also personalized to the college using the pictures and welcomes from administrators, faculty and others.

Leadwise also generates a self-qualified lead in the form of “sales sheet” from the questionnaire providing the details an admissions representative needs to help the student decide to enroll at the school.. The program also adds the individual details from each student into a data base that the school can use to inform its marketing decisions.

Leadwise™ is a flexible system that is customized and personalized for each school to integrate it into the college’s visual identity. It has been shown to increase applications and interest in enrolling by 14% and has cut admission’s representative time by as much as 34%. This allows admission representatives more time to follow up to increase show rate or enroll more students.

The system was developed by AcademicMAPS and COREdataCenter in New York. Jerry Alloca is the award winning president of CORE and wrote the technical software for Leadwise™ in partnership with Neal Raisman, president of AcademicMAPS. For information on Leadwise, contact AcademicMAPS or Jerry Alloca at Core Data

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Tale of Really Poor Service

The recent series of postings on faculty and customer service led to a number of comments and phone calls. There were more than enough stories that Stephen King would have found to horrific. And in every case, the reporter of the story requested anonymity. They were concerned they would suffer retaliation from colleagues. Sad to hear. I mean even Ari Fleischer came clean in public.

I will relate one of them from a SUNY college that will remain anonymous. The story came to me from a counselor at the school and was corroborated by the parents of the student.

It seems that classes just started again for Spring semester. An adjunct is teaching an introductory foreign language course there. He announced to the class on the first day that “if you aren’t already pretty fluent in ______ you will not do well in this class.”

"But" protested a student, "this is introduction to ____________ . We took it because we don’t know any _________.”

“Too bad. I’m not wasting my time struggling to teach you introductory stuff. It’s too much work. If you don’t have facility with ___________ already you may want to get out.”

“That’s not fair. I’m paying to learn ____________ and you’re supposed to teach us.”

“Wrong understanding. See, I’m an adjunct and retired from teaching so I do this just to augment my income. And what can they do to me? Fire me? So what. If you don’t already know some ____________ better plan on working extra hard. Now who needs my syllabus?”

A group of students raised their hands including one student who already had obtained a copy through the bookstore. When the teacher saw she had one yet raised her hand, he derided her by saying “Let me try this again. I said Syl- A- Bus.” He broke the word into syllables and said them slowly as if he were talking to a simpleton.

“I see you have a syl-a-bus so may-be you do not need a-nother” again slowly and drawn out. “May-be this course will be toooooooooo touughhhh for you since you do not speak English very well.”

The student who was treated to this derision spoke with her advisor to see how one goes about transferring to another school. The student also surely told anywhere from 6 to 12 other people about this event including his or her parents who told me the tale after I heard from a colleague of the one man attrition machine. Checked the sources so be sure of the validity. I may have a word or two off but from the two reports, it is very close.

This is not a slam against adjuncts at all by the way. I heard from full-time faculty about tenured colleagues as well. The stories reminded me of my first day in grad school when a tenured professor at the University of Massachusetts tossed me out of a history of the novel course because he didn’t want to teach a class larger than 24. You see, I had read some of the novels on the syllabus so I had to go. I stayed at UMAss - Amherst by the way because other students assured me the teacher was an ---hole but most everyone else except------ and ---------- and oh yuh ------------ were good and grad school vacuums anyhow so lower expectations. Those who got profs --- and ---- and ----early on did get the heck out of grad school. Besides, I couldn't be able to afford anywhere else. I am sure that you can recall some similar attrition boosting behavior.

But my grad school colleagues were right. There were some great student oriented teachers, some of whom I have stayed in contact with all these years. And for the most part, grad school was often a long rectal exam but absolutely required as a vocational necessity.

By the way, out of a sense of ethical behavior, I sent a copy of this posting directly to the college president the student plans to leave after this semester so he can investigate. Can’t just let a mumzer like that prof kill the spirit of students.