November 18, 2021

2 ways personalization improves enrollment management


Sujoy Roy

Here's the story of how some of our clients have mastered personalization at scale.

As this generation of students’ expectations shift, innovative teams have turned their focus to driving on-campus engagement to a whole new level. When you think of major brands that have created lifelong memories, who comes to mind? Institutions like University of Pittsburgh and Florida International University, who take inspiration from “the most magical place on earth” – Walt Disney World – bring the world’s best hospitality and experiences to each visitor. Heather Howe, Director of Visitor Engagement at Pitt, says, “Even my Mickey Mouse watch is a reminder every minute to build on Disney’s customer service foundations. That brand is the gold standard for customer service.”

Today’s best campus visits are akin to the world’s greatest hospitality experiences, and the institutions that embrace this vision are improving their enrollment yields. The combination of cutting edge technologies and world class customer service creates personal experiences for prospective students at scale. By making every aspect of the campus visit easier for admissions team–and more engaging for students through mobile-friendly scheduling and check-in, automated communication, accurate surveys, and robust insights – colleges and universities can focus on the events that are the most impactful and scale up to ensure visitor number 1 and visitor number 90,000 both have exceptional experiences.

University of Pittsburgh campus tour. Photo credit: University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh campus tour. Photo credit: University of Pittsburgh

Achieving High Standards for Enrollment Management in Higher Ed

University of Pittsburgh welcomes about 90,000 visitors to campus each year. Pitt sets the national gold standard on how to deliver personalized experiences at scale. Recently, Heather Howe, Director of Visitor Engagement, was wrapping up their big Blue & Gold day programs (this is a full-day program designed for high school seniors to meet academic and student affairs team members, hear from current students, explore campus and the city of Pittsburgh, and learn how to apply) when a prospective student showed up. Instead of trying to reschedule her, Heather found a Pathfinder (Pitt’s student tour guides) who was currently studying the same major and arranged a personalized tour just for her. The student went on to apply and is currently enrolled at Pitt! Going the extra mile is critical in customer service and it makes a difference in the eyes of prospective students.

The Florida International University campus. Photo credit: FIU

The Florida International University campus. Photo credit: FIU

Florida International University in Miami, Florida, brings added customer service experiences and inspiration from Disney. Jody Glassman, Director of University Admissions, trains her team in the Disney way. She has instituted a program called “monkey on your back,” which she learned during her time working at Walt Disney World. This program teaches team members how to own a problem when a guest approaches with one. They learn how to communicate effectively, find a resolution, and see the problem through to the end. This type of customer service accountability allows for teams to grow together and to have everyone work towards the same goal of creating world class experiences. Both FIU and Pitt rely on a mixture of technology and exceptional customer service to ensure that every campus visitor has a seamless, welcoming, and memorable experience that makes them want to apply and enroll.

Technology Powers Exceptional Service in Enrollment Management

The blend of technology and customer service helps higher education institutions more effectively craft world class campus visits and gain the insights needed to provide curated experiences for prospective students and families. Barry University is often called a hidden gem that feels like a resort. Yvette Brown, Vice President for Enrollment & Digital Strategies and Chief Information Officer at Barry University, wants to ensure that every visitor has an amazing first-experience with the university. She focuses on the tremendous experiences that she has personally had with Zappos and Amazon to help her think about how to be dedicated in designing the best experiences with the end customer as the focus. The goal of every tour is to have each visitor excited and informed about applying to and enrolling at Barry because as Yvette says, “everyone likes to be recognized on some level.”

Scalability and personalization is something that leading higher education institutions think about. At McMurry University, a smaller private university in Abilene, Texas, personalization is their bread and butter. From asking students about their favorite candy upon registration (and having it waiting for them when they arrive), to having special announcements for each student across campus during the tour, and scheduling one-on-one meetings with professors, McMurry has focused on creating experiences that make students and their families feel welcomed, special, and leaves them wanting to apply to the institution.

By combining VisitDays seamlessly with Salesforce, each of these institutions are creating scalable and personalized customer service experiences to help them navigate a rapidly changing enrollment environment. By adding a layer of concierge service, institutions that focus on the experience have far better results on yielding the best-fit students.

“Exceptional customer service is in the details. It takes planning to get it right,” says Howe. “Technology, particularly through VisitDays, has helped Pitt focus on the details that wow.”

This article originally appears as a blog, published on November 5, 2019