Maintaining strong enrollment numbers is an important goal for any school. And while there are many factors that play into your ability to reach this goal, one of the most important is customer service.
But why, exactly, is customer service so important for a school?
Within the context of a school, you can consider virtually every interaction your staff has with current and prospective students and their families to be customer service.
That’s because each of these interactions can have a major impact on whether a student decides to enroll and whether they remain at your institution for the full duration of a program. Knowing that your school needs to provide excellent customer service is one thing. But knowing if you’re reaching this goal can be much more challenging.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of 15 questions you can ask to determine whether you’re providing the level of service that your students and their families deserve.
1. Is Your Strategy Tailored to All Segments of Your Audience?
When looking at your school from a business perspective, your most obvious “customers” are your students. After all, they’re the ones who enroll in, attend, and benefit from your educational programs.
But they’re not the only ones that play a role in deciding whether your institution is the right choice. In many cases, their families also have a say in this decision and help pay for tuition and other expenses.
This means that as you develop your customer service strategy, you shouldn’t limit your scope to students. Consider their families, too.
2. Do You Have Dedicated Support Staff?
When students and parents reach out to your school for information, who assists them? Ideally, it should be a trained support agent.
Having a team dedicated to customer service is the best way to ensure that there’s always someone available to help and that a qualified person answers each inquiry quickly and efficiently.
3. Do You Offer Multiple Support Channels?
Today’s consumers expect to be able to reach businesses in a variety of ways, and schools are no exception to this rule. This means that, at the very minimum, your support team should be reachable by both phone and email.
From there, adding other channels like live chat and social media can be a great way to engage your audience on multiple platforms.
4. Are Your Support Options Easy to Find?
Once you’ve determined which support channels you want to offer your audience, you need to make them easy to find on your school’s website.
The best way to do this is to create a “Contact” page that lists all of your contact information. Then, make this page accessible from any other page on your site by adding it to your footer or main navigation bar.
The easier you make it for visitors to find this information, the more likely they’ll be to get in touch and be satisfied with your service.
5. Do You Offer Omnichannel Support?
As you add new channels to your support strategy, it’s essential that your team is able to manage each of these channels from a central platform. This approach is called omnichannel support.
To illustrate why this matters, let’s say that a student calls your support team with a question about financial aid. The agent who answers the call answers that specific question, but the student later emails your team with a follow-up question.
If your channels aren’t connected, the agent who reads the email will have no record of their previous interaction. They may need to ask the student to repeat the information they provided on the phone call.
With omnichannel support, you can eliminate this need for repetitiveness and provide a seamless experience across every channel.
6. What’s Your Average Response Time?
If your team uses a support platform, it’s easy to see how long, on average, it takes your team to respond to inquiries. Keeping tabs on this number is a straightforward way to assess the customer experience and track your team’s performance over time.
7. What’s Your Customer Satisfaction Rating?
Today, many support platforms have built-in tools for tracking customer satisfaction, or CSAT. If you have access to this data, monitoring it on a regular basis is one of the best ways to get a quick look at how satisfied students and their families are with your customer service.
8. Do You Personalize the Customer Service Experience?
Although many of the inquiries your team fields will likely be about similar topics and involve similar questions, it’s never a good idea to provide generic responses.
Instead, write unique responses to individual people and make sure that they fully address their individual needs. If the support platform you use allows it, you can also use information from previous support engagements to tailor your responses right from the start.
9. Does Your Team Follow up After Resolving Inquiries?
You can’t resolve every inquiry in a single conversation. This means that your support team should make it part of their approach to follow up with the customers they assist and ensure that they have fully resolved their issues.
This way, if a customer needs additional help, they can provide it. And if not, they still show that they cared enough to check in on the situation again.
10. Is it Easy to Find Information on Your Website?
Today, many people turn to the internet for all of the information they need. And that’s certainly true of those who are researching colleges and other educational programs.
This means that your site needs to not only have the information they need but also make it easy to access that information during the research process.
Take the time to evaluate your site and determine whether visitors can find important information with one or two clicks from your homepage. If not, consider restructuring your navigation for easier browsing.
11. Do You Update Your Website Regularly?
Along with making your content easy to find, it’s essential that you keep that content current at all times. Outdated information is not just unhelpful to visitors. It can also create a poor perception of your brand.
Making regular updates may only take a few hours each month. It’s more than worth the time and effort.
12. Do You Ask for Feedback?
Collecting feedback is an important part of the customer service process, and your school should do so on a regular basis. Send surveys to both students and their parents and ask for input on your programs, facilities, and the overall experience.
Surveys also provide an excellent opportunity to collect feedback on your customer service team and learn more about where you have room to improve.
13. Do You Make Changes Based on Feedback?
Once you collect feedback, it’s important to review the responses and determine what kinds of improvements your customers want to see. After all, providing feedback isn’t beneficial to your audience unless you use it to make impactful changes.
Look for common themes and then use that insight to adjust accordingly. This will show your customers that you care and help you improve your school as a whole.
14. Do You Take a “Customer-centric” Approach?
Hiring a support team is an important step in the process of customer service. But when it comes down to it, your entire staff should see your students and their families as valuable customers.
You should encourage your entire staff to focus on the needs of students and their families and have them look for ways to assist whenever necessary. This is important for everyone from your teachers and professors to your admissions staff.
15. Do You Look for Ways to Assist Current Students?
Some institutions make the mistake of focusing their support efforts solely on potential applicants. And while this may have the most direct impact on incoming enrollment numbers, it means that current students aren’t receiving the same level of support.
Many students need assistance even after they’ve enrolled, and providing that assistance can have a major impact on retention.
Many schools don’t think of themselves as businesses. Similarly, they don’t think of the students and parents who are paying tuition as customers. Still, many of the principles of customer service hold true in this model.
Maintaining and growing enrollment numbers requires that you provide assistance whenever students and their families need it. It also means actively looking for ways to improve the overall student experience and ensuring that the service you provide satisfies your “customers.”
And if you weren’t sure before reading this post whether your school provided that kind of assistance, the fifteen questions above should give you the clarity you need.