Monday, March 13, 2017

Admissions and Basketball

It is March and the brackets for the NCAA Tournament have just been announced making me think about admissions. That might strike seem as odd, to think about admissions from basketball but it makes sense if you just realize
a couple of things. For example, in basketball, two common defense setups are the man-on-man and the zone. In the man on man, each defensive player has a specific opponent to guard. And the defender stays with that player no matter where on the court he goes. In the zone defense, the defender works on whatever player comes into the zone he or she is assigned to. 

In customer service, these approaches also come into play. The man-on-man or woman calls for a service provider to stay with the customer no matter where he or she roams to. If it is a clothing store for example, the service provider would go with the customer from say dresses to blouses to shoes to socks back to shoes to sweaters and back to shoes again. The provider is usually in a commission situation and does not want to take a chance of losing out on some commission or credit for the sale. 

In schools this is seen most clearly in admissions. If an admission’s rep starts with a student, he or she will want to stay with the student to get the credit for the enrollment. The rep may allow others to assist him or her in closing the sale but will certainly stay on top of the process. This is because each rep is usually “goaled” with an enrollment target to hit. Though there is no allowable commission (federal rules) a person’s position and salary can be influenced by hitting goals or not. 

The strength of this approach is that the student has a face to get to know. That can provide a personal tie to the school as well as a clear point of service when it is needed. The weakness is that if the rep is busy or not there, the student ends up as an orphan that no one else will really accept ownership of. I have seen too many instances when a student in a man on man service situation ends up sitting around in a lobby waiting for “his or her” rep to become available. Or worse, the student wanders about without really getting the help needed.

The zone defense comes into play when a student goes to an area and whoever is there waits on him or her. To follow our admissions example, the student sees whoever is there at the time to get the service he or she needs. Say the student needs to drop off a form. He would be able to leave it with whoever is there as opposed to having to track down a specific person who takes that form. This can occur when the admissions department works as a team toward whatever the goal is and everyone helps one another because all succeed when an enrollment comes in.

The strength here is that the student will never be without a rep to help out. That could be good. But the weakness is that a student may not get to have a single individual that she believes cares about her personally. That could weaken the personal connection that can be so important to a student bonding with the school. The zone approach would only work if an entire admissions department had a common goal and thus saw the value as a team. Sort of like profit sharing.

But wait what about another approach? Double teaming. Like in basketball when the other team has a really important player, the defense often throws two people up against him. Well, every potential student is a very important player in the school’s success so assign two reps to each. Each of the two reps shares in the success or failure of that potential student. That way there is incentive to share the responsibilities. Further, if one has to cover something else or out of the game then, the other is there to help the student so he or she is never “open” to non-service.

Two reps per student would also be very helpful with the stitch-in process that keeps the student in the enrollment pipeline through day one at the very least and the first year preferably. The stitch-in process calls for at least a weekly human contact between a prospective student and the reps. All student are prospective until they show on day 1. These weekly contacts keep the student tied into the school and if any issues or problems arise, they can be caught and solved as a result of talking with the prospective student. Having two reps, or even a team of reps making the calls makes stitch-in contacts more probable and easier to do. If one rep is busy or cannot make the calls, she can pass the ball to another rep who can then put the proverbial ball in the hoop and assure a completed enrollment. 

NRaisman & Associates is the leading provider of admissions and retention assistance through academic customer service and other services that increase both admissions and retention. Since 1999, NRaisman & Associates has helped over 500 colleges and universities in the US, Canada and Europe increase enrollment and population through training, workshops, its campus service audits and research as the top consulting firm to help increase institutional success. Contact us today to see how we can help your school increase admission and retention success. 413.219.6939.

To get more articles and advice on improving customer service, retention and revenue on your campus, get a copy of the best-selling books  From Admissions to Graduation and The Power of Retention by Dr. Neal Raisman.

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