52: Building Student Service Hubs at Lynn University w/ Gareth Fowles

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Gareth Fowles, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Lynn University, discusses why higher ed needs to follow the lead of customer-service oriented companies from other industries when it comes to student support.

It's incumbents into upon a higher education to ensure that we are providing net level of service to our students that they've come to expect over the years and in today's ever changing, global, multifaceted day society. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Aleson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Gareth fouls, vice president for enrollment management at Lynn University. Gareth, welcome to the show. Thanks very much for having me. Eric. Really excited to chat with you today about why hiread needs to follow the lead of customer service oriented companies from other...

...industries when it comes to student support. Before we dig into that, Gareth, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Linn University and your role there? Sure Lynn University is located in Bokertown, Florida. So we in a great part of the country here in south Florida. We are relatively young institution. We are founded in one thousand nine hundred and sixty two. We've gone through three name changes and we became Linion of did in one thousand nine hundred and ninety one. We an independent institution with around three zero students and we attract students from all over the world, but twenty four percent of our students come from foreign countries and within that twenty four percent we have about a hundred nations that are represented and we attract students from forty four states as well. So geographic reaches a far reaching and we are very in progressive, forward thinking and innovative university that has been named an apple distinguished school...

...for a number of the years now. And my role here at the university as vice prison for enrollment managements, I have the fortune pleasure of overseeing our undergraduate programs, our graduate programs and our online programs, as well as students success here at the university awesome. Let's dive right into why those distinguished recognitions of innovation for Lynn are true. I know some in higher education kind of bark at the idea of calling students customers, but talk about the necessity of bringing customer service Best Practices from other industries to higher read I think you definitely correct the Eric. I think the word customer and Higher Education for many years as almost been taboo. But say I think more and more institutions nowadays are actually talking about customer service and now we incorporating it into language that's being used and thought about. But I think it's more about defining who our customers are.

I think in today's Day and age is not just traditionally seventeen or eighteen year old with online programs, with graduate programs. We have faculty, we have staff, we have parents or that fits into the realm of what it is that we do here within the higher education and I think in today's Day and age where customer service is integrated into every sector, whether it's the retail sector, whether it's a transportation arena, hospitality arena, entertainment arena, customer service is extremely important and as students they have come to expect a high level of service, no matter what's a line of a work or industry that students may be looking to go into. And I think it's incumbents into upon a higher education to ensure that we are providing that level of service to our students that they've come to expect over the years and in today's ever changing, global, multifaceted day society, in order to provide that kind of high level of...

...experience that they're experiencing elsewhere in the world. Let's talk specifically about the genius baresque student services hub that you're currently developing it in and the one stop shop you're hoping it to be for current students. Sure so, here at the university, our presidents has really encourage your senior leaders, as well as our faculty, administrators, staff and students to look at a different type of education and we are providing an education to our students that is very progressive and very innovative. And the number of years ago we unveiled a program here at the university where we provided all of our students with a IPAD, and it wasn't the device that we were particularly enamored with, because we knew that apple, being the organization that they are, that the IPAD would constantly go through various iterations, but it was more the ecosystem that went along with that, making...

...sure that students were on a platform that was a uniform and that our faculty members could actually start creating our own textbooks and loading those up onto itunes you. So we have developed a really close relationship, as we do now, with apple, and we started looking at organizations that are sort of industry leaders, such as apple in the the technology space, such as the roots, Colton and the hospitality arena, Amazon on the retail side, Netflix on the the entertainment side, and started looking at these types of organizations that are really providing a high level of customer service and engagement from their customers. And when we looked at apple, when you go into an apple store, no matter what your need is, it really serviced very well. And we looked at the various levels of services that we provide to our students, whether it be academic advising, the Registrars Office, Financial Services, students affairs and so forth.

We started looking at all these services that students make use of an a regular basis and started thinking how can we better incorporate those services into a centralized entity that would make the customer service, the student experience, that much more seamless and easier for our students to navigate their experience here at the university. So we trying to incorporate that and we've recently developed a task force here at the university. It's forty members that really all encompassing across the entire university community, and we've brought those individuals together to start looking at what the students experiences like here at Lynne University with the mindset that we want to further engage students in the academic experience, we want to expand the programs and services that are available to students and we want to elevate that student experience while they're here with us, with the ultimate goal of improving our attention rates and graduation rates.

Love it, Gareth. What are some other ways that you and your colleagues are trying to implement this kind of design thinking elsewhere across campus, from updates to architecture to other initiatives? Sure design thinking has become a big part of a who we are as an institution as we look forward to the future. So design thinking has been a practice that has been accommodated and incorporated into a number of different initiatives that we are embarking upon here at the university. One of the biggest initiatives that we've really adopted this mindset is through the unveiling of our new strategic plan. We recently completed strategic plan that was launched in two thousand and six and it was a fifteen year plan. I take that back. was actually launched in two thousand and five, or was a fifteen year plan to be completed in two thousand and twenty and then, truelyn fashion, we completed this plan two years ahead of schedule. So we've actually just unveiled a new strategic plan, which is called Lin two thousand and twenty five.

Just really shortened that a that time frame and within unveiling that new strategic plan, we adopted the principles incorporated in design thinking and various discussions were had here on campus among a wide variety of constituent groups. We had sessions with our board of trustees, we had sessions for senior executives, faculty and staff, students and alumni to say to them this is where we are looking to go and really incorporate their feedback into the type of institution that they believe that the new Lin University should morph into and what type of curriculum we should be looking to offer and they we firmly believe that we've been incorporated the voices of a multitude and a breadth of a diverse constituent groups that we believe will lead the...

...institution to much continued success in the coming years through this new strategic land care at the lot of our discussion today has been about improving the on campus experience. How are you attempting to replicate this focus on customer service for your online audience? Sure so. The online audience for us has a somewhat of a relatively new audience that we are targeting and and servicing, being a relatively young student student population, a young institution with a relatively small student population of around three stars and students. Most of a the experience that we've provided has been targeted at the residential experience for our undergraduate students, but over the last five or six years we really made a concerted effort to start targeting graduate students. We've provided a considerably larger number of courses and programs offered online and we now have what we call an online program for the non traditional learner where they can complete the degree online. So it's a space that many institutions have been in...

...for many years, but sometimes their level of experience that students have on the online arena could be different from a residential students. But we are really very invested in making sure that that experience is similar to what our students on campus have. So those same programs and services and departments that I alluded to before, registrates offers, financial services and the like, we looking to take those services and make those services easily available to students online. Once again, as an institution, we have a far reaching arena where we attracting students from. So how do we ensure students that are in California that are taking a graduate program or one of our bachelist programs online is adequately served and feels that the same level of customer service that students on campus would be experiencing or provided to them online? Because, at the end of the day, the level of...

...education that a student receives online compared to on ground here is the same offering, and so that customer service needs to be adequately prepared and availed to students online as well. Gare at any final next steps advice for other institutions looking to upgrade their current student service experience, or customer experience, if you will. I'm not sure that it's necessary, advice, Eric, but what we found here at the university is, given the changing demographics of students at the high school level, we know that there's going to be a decrease in the number of high school graduates from now and so two thousand twenty three, that the population that will be going to college in the coming years. We're going to see more first generation students, more students of color and more lower socio economic families coming to our respective campuses. We know that it's more expensive to...

...attract a students than it is to retain a students and keeper students. So with that shrinking pool of students at all these four thousand plus institutions here in the United States, is they are going after. It becomes that much more incumbrance upon us as institutions to ensure that the students that we have attracted to our respective campuses we are servicing in the appropriate and adequate manner in the minds of our customers, that being students at the end of the day. Otherwise they're going to seek services from other institutions and I think higher education is in somewhat of a precarious a position and fortunately there are institutions that have been around for many years that are going through some interesting times and, as we've seen, some institutions have to close their doors and some institutions will be merging with other institutions. So we as an institution or very mindful of the national landscape and making sure that the investment that students and families make in a Linn University Education is one that's is going to be sound for the respective families and ultimately...

...yield the return on investment that they are making and adequately prepare them for life after the university and while they are with us, that the heaven engaging and enriching and dynamic experience that they will be able to use that education for a their professional careers. Gareth, thanks so much for sharing both your time and your thoughts with us today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? I can be easily reached a here at l university and my email address is g fouls at Lynden DOT EDU. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. Gareth. My Plea Jeric thanks very much for having me on your show. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprize wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new...

...education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcoma playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the shown itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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