The Secret to Successfully Providing Life-long Learning
Jun 18, 2017
Everyone is looking for effective and efficient ways to consistently deliver a unique, valuable student experience because it will help attract and retain adult students. Not only in the near term but over the course of the life – so your institution can be positioned to be the student’s primary source for life-long learning!
Key to this lofty goal is understanding how effective your institution is at consistently delivering a unique, valuable experience across the board.
That said, there are three approaches that colleges take – we’re here to offer you a fourth approach that offers you greater benefits at a lower cost.
The Big 3: What Are They, Their Benefits and Shortcomings.
There are three typical approaches to this topic. No formal evaluation. A focus on the key factors. Input from the student.
For many, there is no formal evaluation beyond the traditional ‘annual employee review which typically comes down the supervisor’s observations and reactions to individual staff performance for the 30-days prior to providing the employee with their annual review. (After all, we’re too busy to keep notes on individual staff performance every day!)
Obviously there are many problems with this approach ranging from the failure take in all of the effort the employee puts forth over the course of the entire year, to the fact that many following this approach fail to establish clear performance objectives for each individual on their team so the final rating is extremely subjective.
This approach is also very “internally focused” in that the supervisor will be evaluating employees based on “…how I feel you contributed to this department as a member of the team…”
In other words, the student’s perspective isn’t included at all.
The second approach is mystery shopping.
Now, this could be a rather informal approach where the employees police themselves or the more formal approach where an outside service provider is hired to perform the research.
This approach is best suited for focusing on compliance to certain processes.
- Were you greeted by a member of the staff within 5 seconds of entering the office?
- Did the staff member introduce themselves?
- Did the staff member that assisted you ask if you had at additional needs before thanking you for your visit?
This approach is effective for making sure your team is performing their duties as originally conceived – that they are delivering the institution’s and/or department’s vision of what great service and experience is.
The challenges of this approach are that you have certain services that can’t be mystery shopped by anyone other than an actual student (prospective, current, former).
And, of course, this approach also fails to consider the student’s perspective and that brings us to the third approach which is student satisfaction measurement.
Student Satisfaction Measurement (SSM)
Student satisfaction measurement is all about gaining the insights and opinions of the student – prospective, current, alumni and/or drop-out – in order to understand their perspective of your effort. The reason this is critically important to your short and long-term success is that you could be effectively and efficiently delivering an experience that falls far short of what the student feels is acceptable.
Our Recommendation – A Blend of Mystery Shopper & Student Satisfaction Survey
Right now, those that are hiring outside research firms to perform mystery shopper research are most likely paying dearly for it. You see, those research firms are hiring college students to be mystery shoppers.
Our recommendation is to directly hire your students to act as mystery shoppers and to also include the student satisfaction survey approach to those students using the services but not acting as mystery shoppers.
You save money because we’re not marking up the cost to hire your students to be your mystery shoppers.
You get the data you need to measure staff compliance to processes in any and all areas.
And you get the data you need to understand student perception of your efforts to serve and support them.
(And when you hire us, you also get the management of all aspects of the work from our experienced team so you save time and can focus on how to take the recommendations and implement them so that student experience continues to grow positively.)
Student Success First is what we call our Student Satisfaction Survey work – and you can have this service customized to your needs. To learn more about this service, click here. And if you have questions, please contact us at 651-666-0934.
Patrick McGraw is VP of Higher Educaton Marketing Services and has more than 25 years experience in market research, competitive intelligence, business intelligence including database marketing and CRM, strategic planning, brand development and management as well as operations/campaign management. His work has consistently helped his clients and employers develop and implement more efficient ways to attract and retain profitable customers, enter new markets and launch new products. His areas of focus include the education, hospitality, travel and tourism, hi-tech, telecommunications, financial services, and retail industries on both the agency and customer sides.