College Mystery Shopping: May Tales from the Trail

— Ever wished you could be a fly on the wall during your competitors’ admissions interviews?  Prospective students now have access to more online information than ever before and teams of virtual and in-person representatives eager to help them enroll.  Prospective students no doubt compare each school, beginning with that first phone call, web chat, or lobby visit.  Sometimes our trails include stops at competing schools, where our evaluators are tasked with visiting the campuses and providing detailed comparisons.
School A had a slightly nicer receptionist, although both schools’ receptionists made me feel somewhat unwelcome at first by not making eye contact, mumbling greetings, and made me feel uncertain about whether they were even receptionists or if I had offended them by thinking they were there to help. I was not asked to fill out an information survey at School A, and I was immediately greeted by my admissions representative, which made me feel like my time was valued.

We can learn a lot when we ask an evaluator where they would enroll after visiting a school and their neighbors!

I would be much more likely to enroll at School A. I was very impressed by both the campus appearance and the program presentation. At School B, I was given three different amounts for tuition depending on how I paid, and the website provided little to no detail on the program.

How much visibility does your campus have?  Can a first-time visitor find your front door?

School B is a bit more difficult to find because the entrance is much smaller and it is surrounded by so many other buildings. I mistakenly entered another building before I found the correct one.

Through the eyes of a prospective student, find out what impression your campus facilities and equipment make and how they compare to the competition!

School A was much more aesthetically pleasing.  The floors were clean and polished, the massage tables and chairs looked new, and the walls had images of their students and graduates.  School B had some nice rooms, but some classrooms had grimy floors, tables and chairs with rips in them that had been patched with black tape, and the florescent lighting flickered in a few rooms.

How do representatives react if we say we’re interested in a competitor?

I told Ned that I was still looking at School A and School B, so he told me that he understood that I needed to make the right choice. During the tour, he told me that School B’s program was only a certificate, and if I wanted to move out of state, I would be unable to work there.

Hiring a fresh set of eyes to visit your school and share their experiences can help to identify your strengths and potential weaknesses.  Understanding the student needs your competitors are meeting can help to pinpoint your own campus’s opportunities for improvement or enhancement.  What might you find when you hire our eyes?