To say that students today are demanding consumers is an understatement. Studies tell us that 60% of students say school does not meet their technology expectations and even more say higher education doesn’t provide a good value for the money. All institutions recognize that there is a new kind of student, teacher, and parent that we must service today in ways that are beyond current capabilities. When you have constituents that are used to the service levels they get from the Genius Bar at their nearby Apple store, expectations are clearly high. Facing a generation of students who grew up with information at their fingertips is a daunting task. These students have multiple devices and seemingly endless demands. They want to “plug in,” get instant information, and go about their day. When those needs can’t be met they go someplace else. Or they escalate their poor experience using mobile social networking applications to alert their friends and colleagues.
Case in Point: Embry-Riddle Worldwide
I’ve had the opportunity during my career at Blackboard to get to know our clients very well. I learned that just three years ago, the team at Embry-Riddle Worldwide was in this very position. Potential students with a passion for aviation wanted to know more about the programs available to them. They wanted information instantly. Having to wait on hold or in a line to talk to an enrollment or financial aid advisor simply wasn’t acceptable to them. For Embry-Riddle Worldwide, every Monday started with 40+ calls in their support office voicemail box and hundreds of waiting email inquiries. Student demand for information was at an all time high, but the institution’s ability to meet that demand was at an all time low. And the reality is that Embry-Riddle Worldwide was not alone in today’s education environment.
What To Do?
Dramatic action was needed. Lost enrollment opportunities and a less than optimal student experience left the leadership at Embry-Riddle Worldwide exposed. The problem wasn’t going to be solved by technology alone. It needed, in their words, “the power of people.” Embry-Riddle Worldwide took the bold step of finding a partner to help them solve a problem that historically they had managed themselves.
A partnership evolved with Blackboard Student Services to offload the routine tasks of managing enrollment and financial aid and gave the administration the relief they needed.
I am often asked to share a story about the moment we knew our partnership was working with a particular institution. In this case, to help prepare Blackboard, Embry-Riddle Worldwide flew planes to our Student Services Operations Center in Killeen, Texas. One-by-one, graduates of Embry-Riddle took the Enrollment and Financial Aid Advisors on a test flight to give them perspective. This helped our team realize the passion that students have for aviation and ensured our team could specifically talk about the thrill of flight from their own personal experience.
Since I’ve been with Student Services team, I can tell you that we have learned a tremendous amount from Embry-Riddle Worldwide. This is why we took the time to create a video about our journey together. Watch the full story.
Let me know what you think!