Monday, August 06, 2007

The ROI of Retention part 3 CSFactor 3

A school loses an average of 12% of its potential enrollments as soon as a prospective student makes contact with it. Whether that contact be the website which was created by the tech designers of Sites That Hoover, by telephone, email, or make it onto campus, 12% of probable enrollments are lost with actual contact. And these are most often people who were seriously thinking of enrolling in the college.

They had found an enough interest in the school to explore it and consider applying or enrolling. But then they made contact. And that contact convinced them that they were no longer interested. That leads to

Customer Service Factor 3

[(AE x12%=EL) x tuition] = CSF3

IE - Initial actual Enrollment

12% is what is lost on initial contact

EL - is the Enrollment Lost and

T once again is the tuition.

So, continuing with Mammon U, (which has just written a formal complaint about US News and World Report for not including it in its top tier of colleges and universities which everyone at Mammon knows is an error and just makes education a commodity in the minds of the public which should care about purer motives while Mammon knows that a top ranking will improve its application flow and mean a more likely full class and reduced advertising expenditures and can actually consider raising tuition for more revenue because it can still attract a class at the higher cost from the increased ranking…..)

Mammon’s original enrollment is budgeted at 200 in the Fall. They aren’t there just yet so the admission’s folks are beating the bushes and going through every potential applicant they have. They are at 180 enrollments at this point so the CFO is concerned that the budget they created in June will not be met for the third year in a row. And the president is now reading the Chronicle starting with the career section. So if Mammon does not find the last 20 enrollments, CSF3 will be calculated like this.

CSF3 [(200 x 12%% = 24) x $13,000] = ($312,000).

The point that may hit you immediately if you are not an admissions or enrollment management person is the revenue loss of $312,000. That is a solid amount of lost revenue which may lead to starting the year with some budget, employee, equipment, maintenance or other cuts. That will usually catch most everyone’s attention. We all hate cuts.

But if you are in admission’s what you will be thinking now is “DARN (well maybe stronger than that) “Darn, we would not have just hit the 200 goal but we would have exceeded it by 4! We would be celebrating instead of commiserating”. The formula could have shown
[(200 +12%% =+224) x $13,000] = +$312,000.

Okay, So Now What?
So now the issue is what to do in the future to gain, rather than lose 12%. The list is unfortunately long for some schools but realize it all has to do with how the school presents itself and provides its services to potential customer/ clients/applicants on their first contacts with the school. Since the list is long, we will address parts of it in other postings. But for now, one of the first customer service turn-offs.

Websites and CSF3
Far too many of them simply vacuum. They do not provide viewers with what they want but with what we, a group of adults, out-of-contact with our potential students’ world and technology, think they should want. We load them up our web pages with words when the web is a visual medium. The words we use are those we are comfortable and generally have little meaning to those outside of academia. This is so since they are too often our academic-ese technical or vernacular language. The information we provide is how we would want to see our college and not how a potential student might wish to see it.

We make sure we load the web site up with things the staff and faculty ask for such as a link labeled FACULTY that if a viewer clicked on, he or she would be told it’s not for them. Foolish viewer. Thinking one might learn about the faculty from a tab labeled faculty.

We often even include the whole college catalog on our sites as if someone would want to try and read a long, turgid, ponderous, tedious, self-important document that even less than 5% of the college has ever read through. And they had to since they were assigned to do so on the catalog update committee. And what’s even more foolish is on the websites, the catalog do not even come with an active index. There is no search protocol to help users find what they are looking for. There may be the original index but fear not, the entries are not active links to take the reader to a specific section. Would not want to make the catalog accessible after all. By the way if you do want to have the catalog on the we site,at least use a program like Leadwise to make it accessible and personalized.

Even if we discount all the many, many, many words on a web page, the graphics and the layout of the pages immediately tell potential students “old skool technology.” BORING! The designs and layouts are old fashioned and the graphics used too often clich├ęd. There is little that conveys a message that this university is technologically exciting or even up to date. And the so-called “blog postings”, c’mon. Everyone realizes that they are either written by the PR office or by people so carefully chosen that they sound like advertising copy. They do not make the college sound up-to-date but manipulative. If you you want to use blogs, take a chance and let people say fully what they want to say.

I could go one quite a bit more but then I will sound to much like an entry on one of these web sites. Just one more issue. One that really ticks off potential students and viewers. Difficult or impossible navigation. This includes links that don’t work (and yes, I know I too have created and apologize for them). Links that take you to a page you cannot return from since there is no return link. Or links that say a reader can make contact or ask a question that take people to an “apply on-line” or fill in the request for an “admission’s person to contact you” form. That pushes the issue and makes the viewer feel once again, manipulated.

Sure the goal is to get the potential student contact admissions. But let them make the decision. Web users like to at least have a semblance of control over their use of a site. They want to be the ones to initiate the contact. So let them click on, contact admissions or apply on-line or some such link. Don’t manipulate. Even if they do complete the contact the college form that goes to admissions without their assent, the college is not getting anything more than a very weak inquiry. It is not a lead.

We will get to other negative CSF3 factors such as poor phone protocol, messages not returned, misleading or just plain ugly signage, parking problems, rude greeters and a few other issues in other postings. This one has gone on long enough.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The assumption that higher education is a matter of individual concern is, to me fundamentally flawed. While individual students benefit in many ways--for example, increased income, better decisions for families and children, advocacy for one's interests in the public sphere--the greatest benefits are to society. Higher education is a core institution of democratic society. We all value members of our community who can provide leadership in synagogues, churches, civic organizations, government, and so forth. Plus, college graduates design the roads we drive on, provide our health care, decide on the laws that we abide by, and produce the arts that enrich our lives. In short, higher education is a concern of democracy--not just its individual members.