Improving your consistency in delivering a flawless student journey is one of the best ways to create value. A student enrolling, registering, selecting her classes, receiving a class schedule, paying tuition, and attending first class successfully with no issues, is a journey. And while each one of those areas may be 80 to 90 percent successful at each stage of that sequence, only 30 to 40 percent of students will have a flawless experience end to end. (McKinsey’s Article on Customers and Value).

Student retention is a critical factor in receiving federal funding these days, and graduation rates and retention rates matter greatly. Today’s students are looking for ease of processes in the experience surrounding the learning in the classroom. They want the focus of their attention to be spent on the degree-seeking content, not on how to get into the classroom and all the variables in the experience surrounding the transfer of the professor’s knowledge.

How do you improve the entire journey and not just the touch points? Listen to the student complaints and interview students who have recently undergone the journey. Conduct focus groups with employees who work in those areas and do site visits. Identify the pain points of frustration and/or feelings of being hassled, or passed off from one department to another. Listen for missed expectations or desired opportunities. Looking through the lens of yourself as a potential student, take a walk through of the journey and create a map of the way the experience is now. Highlight the duplication of information requests, hassle points, run around, and opportunities to streamline.

Make a list of all these areas and decide where you will get the biggest bang for the buck. Will it be in creating happier students, reducing the costs to serve (not having students to keep coming back), or maybe improving overall satisfaction for both employees and students? Any one of these three areas will result in greater value to the student. Start with one area, make the changes and then go to the next. Overtime, the successes will accumulate and you will be well on the road to a flawless student journey. Giving added value increases student loyalty and when you can differentiate your institution from improving or eliminated critical pain points from your journey, you will have delivered that value.