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The Importance of Understanding the Customer Experience in Higher Education

Christina Dumeng

Curriculum Innovation

June 30, 2021

2 min read

The following is an opinion piece published by Christina Dumeng, MS, CPC, Associate Dean at Southern New Hampshire University. Christina Dumeng is a member of the Future Talent Council and the Curriculum Innovation Think Tank. In the post-pandemic era, students have almost complete freedom to choose which online university they attend and if they stick with the same institution throughout their journey. Today’s students are marketing-savvy, price-conscious, and outcomes-oriented. Now that higher education is more accessible online, colleges and universities will need to up their game to avoid retention and persistence issues. The key is knowing that whether students stay or leave depends on their customer experience (CX) from purchasing and using a very likely expensive product, which of course, is their education that they hope ultimately leads to an academic degree and better career and life options.

Christina Dumeng

Christina Dumeng serves as an Associate Dean of Business and educator at Southern New Hampshire University with over 10 years of experience. She has a...

Conversely, what is lesser-known is what the CX holistically looks like for higher education administrators to understand where to improve the experience strategically. For this reason, having a comprehensive understanding of the voice of the customer (VOC) is paramount as it provides invaluable insights into their needs and satisfaction with any part of the product, which could include course design, curriculum, textbooks, faculty, technology, etc. There are various ways to capture VOC, and most likely, colleges and universities have tons of student data on hand. The problem usually is that they are data-rich and information-poor. To deeply understand the VOC is to deeply dig into the data and interpret it correctly while understanding its narrative. In other words, data analysis, in this case, is more than just quantitative. It is also qualitative and intuitive. It is asking the right questions at the right time and ensuring action is getting taken as a direct result of the VOC data.

How your university can transform its CX

  • First, caucus your talented faculty and staff for data heroes and form a cross-functional customer experience team. 
  • Use the rich data you have already to create an informed picture of the university’s performance regarding student satisfaction metrics. 
  • Then conduct pilot projects in the form of engagement surveys related to the student (customer) experience.
  • Be transparent about the results of listening to the students and delivering satisfaction. 

Ultimately, institutions should find ways to ensure their students are successful, satisfied, and keep coming back for their higher education needs for life. The most important thing to remember in creating a good customer experience for your students is that their journey begins as soon as you attract their attention as a possible learning partner for life. By creating a student-first environment and involving them in the journey by asking the right questions at the right time about their experience may prove fruitful. Making improvements based on their feedback will likely lead to increased customer satisfaction and happy students that recommend their university to friends, family, and colleagues.

This was an opinion piece published by Future Talent Council Member Christina Dumeng.

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