Monday, February 06, 2012

The Customer Service Focus of Learn and Earn

Learn and Earn
Learn and Earn is a client/customer service focus that is a variation created by N.Raisman & Associates based on successful models of many thriving businesses. The basics of it are: When you attain a customer, do all you can to retain him so you do not have to replace him. Furthermore, the objective is to lower the required number of new customers to balance the budget while increasing loyalty and investment in the school. The goal is to upsell students, i.e., two-year degree students stay to go for a four-year degree; bachelor students continue on for a graduate degree; graduates come back for additional courses such as license prep and professional/personal growth courses and greater alumni involvement and support.
Not retaining and upselling the students is costly for a college. Every new recruit brings significant start-up costs that must be recouped and/or amortized over the whole business. A college has to bring in at least six new students for every student lost before the end of the freshman year in a four-year program to gain full revenue from each attrition student. That's assuming an average acquisition cost of the schools I have studied at about $3,516, plus lost potential tuition and fee revenue. Yes, it really is that high when one factors in all aspects, from marketing, leads, collateral media, salaries--not just of admissions people but all the people who work to bring that student into the school--specialized activities, publications, and so on. Most schools do not recoup their initial investment in a new student until into the second semester. So, if a student quits before then that creates a negative revenue situation as well as probable bad debt, collection costs, and write-offs.

Implementing Learn and Earn
Implementation of learn and earn is not all that difficult, but it does take a shift of focus to emphasize learning from a school's customers and then creating customer service around that knowledge as a primary operational tool and strategic advantage, rather than focusing on churning and burning admissions. Students become the teachers to the school on issues of what services they desire, need, and find lacking. And this is not the customer service that many schools think of, because education is a different business arena and culture than retail, which is where most customer service books focus. For example, in almost every book out there the old platitude “the customer is always right” is there front and center. Not only is that a false statement in business--“I wore the dress three times and now I want to return it.”--but it is absolutely unrealistic in higher education. If the customer is always right, why have tests for example? Indeed, a school that simply gives the student/customer what he or she wants--like high grades with no work--will soon find accreditors and the feds breathing down its neck.
The easiest way to explain how a school can implement Learn and Earn is first, learn about and listen to the student. Understand who they really are--not what you would wish them to be. Study the social and communal demographics of the students. Forget about assuming they are Generation Y, or Millennial, or whatever term is in vogue. These are PR grand labeling generalizations and may not at all encompass the reality of the particular community of students at the school. For example, over 50 percent of all college students are adults, yet the labels do not even address them. Your students may come from a social niche, region, or mindset that has nothing to do with the labels. Learn who they really are.
Colleges that learn about their clients/students will succeed by providing the clients relevant education, good customer service, and the ultimate student goal of having companies and professions that will hire and accept their graduates. These schools use what they have learned to assure student satisfaction leading to increased retention, which is how they earn present revenue and future donations.
Provide quality learning, in an appropriate environment that speaks to actual students and offers them opportunities to enjoy themselves and their learning. Get them to want to learn more and wish to be at the school. Help the students keep focus on their goals in life and career and how the school will help them get there. How to do it? Simple. Improve your customer service focus. The result is earning-- for the school and the student.
Sounds easy and it can be with some simple customer service training that focuses on the business we are in—education and learning within schools and colleges. One quick lesson: Students are not exactly customers, they are more like clients. A client hires someone to study the situation, indicate what is wrong, and then offer the tools to fix what is needed to succeed. Like clients, students come to the experts (school) to find out what they must do to improve and grow so their futures will be successful. Schools need to understand their student clients, understand what they really need and want, then provide them the academic and social services to strengthen and grow. And though some skeptics might believe it is easy grades students want, it really is not. What I have found in my studies of and for schools is that most students want three things. And it all has to do with the three ROI's. They want to feel an f-roi , a solid e-roi, a full sense of an a-roi
N. Raisman & Associates is the leader in increasing student retention, enrollment and revenue through workshops, presentations, research, training and academic customer service solutions for colleges, universities and career colleges in the US, Canada, and Europe as well as businesses that work with them 
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