What Private Institutions Are Teaching Us About Customer Experience

Private institutions were never meant to be in the business of customer service. They didn’t have to be responsive to their customers or understand what it meant to play a role in their lives.

However, this has changed greatly over the last few decades. Education used to feel like an exclusive club that was only accessible through certain means — family money, legacy status or military service. Yet, the reality of today’s college experience is much different.

While there are still many private institutions where you feel like you need to be a member of high society to get into, many affordable schools offer incredible educational experiences designed to meet students’ needs.

Here’s what we can learn about the customer experience from private institutions.


1. Hiring and Training Have to Support a Strong Customer-First Strategy

Hiring is important because it’s hard to provide great customer service without the right people. When employees understand what good customer service looks like, they’re more likely to deliver it themselves. And if they value their customers, it’ll show in every interaction.

The same goes for training. Even when you hire the right people, it’s up to you as a small-business owner to teach them how to use your resources and tools. That way, you can provide excellent experiences each time.

Therefore, you can’t rely on only hiring great employees — you must invest time and effort into giving them all the tools they need to do their jobs well.


2. A Strategic Plan Keeps Everyone Focused on Shared Goals

A strategic plan is a roadmap for success. On the other hand, it keeps everyone on the same page and enables you to prioritize your goals.

For instance, private institutions will use it as a communication tool to address staff concerns about customer service. By having a strategy, leaders improve internal alignment by providing employees with concrete steps to address those issues.

As part of the process, leadership teams encourage employees to contribute their ideas about improving customer experience, so they have everyone on board.


3. A Customer Experience Strategy Helps You Invest In Student Success

Private institutions heavily invest in student success through secure financial aid processing, mentorship and advising — but how do they know how much time to spend on improving the overall student experience?

A customer experience strategy gives institutions a framework for identifying areas of opportunity across their institution. In addition, it provides a method for driving improvements in those areas.

A customer experience strategy is a way to focus on the customer experience and take a proactive approach to improve it. As such, it allows you to measure your progress while providing tools and resources that help you make data-driven decisions.


4. The “Customer Journey” Is Key to Guiding Your Business Toward Its Goals

Private institutions use the customer journey to understand customers’ needs and how they can optimize their interactions with their establishment. A customer journey is a helpful tool for marketers as it gives them a better sense of how customers feel about their brand. Plus, they learn what information they’re looking for and when.

By diving deeper into how the customer feels, companies can tailor their marketing campaigns to better reach the people who matter most — loyal customers.


5. Implementing Culture Change Starts With Leadership Buy-In

As the saying goes, “if you want to win over an audience, first win over your boss.” This is especially true when implementing culture change within private institutions.

Private institutions gain leadership buy-in on a firm’s customer experience strategy to drive the desired outcome — a motivated workforce that delivers great experiences for students and families.

They accomplish this goal by setting clear expectations for how employees should act toward customers. However, leadership should communicate these expectations in a positive tone. And everyone should understand what kind of behavior management expects at all times — from answering calls to closing out daily tasks.


Focus On Your Customer Experience First, and the Rest Will Follow

We’ve seen how investing in customer experience helps private institutions compete with public ones. Yet, it’s also important to remember that this is not just a marketing tactic—it’s a strategy for success.

When they put students at the center of everything they do, students learn more and graduate sooner. Then they become more likely to recommend their school to others.

Consider these efforts that private institutions make to drive student success. You can implement these strategies in your business to drive better experiences and achieve higher customer satisfaction.


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Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.




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