How Customer Experience Evaluations Can Improve Education Services

How Customer Experience Evaluations Can Improve Education Services

Learning evaluations are key for successful education organizations, but are you taking time to also evaluate your customer’s experience? Understanding your current customer experience will give you the insight needed to make changes and move closer to creating a “frictionless experience” for your customers. The move from evaluating learning to also evaluating customer experience is the next evolution in evaluation.  Removing obstacles to content consumption by improving the customer experience will enable your education organization to further foster product adoption. What are Customer Experience Evaluations? Evaluating the customer experience looks at all the interactions customers have with the education organization that are not related to the training itself. What are the considerations when evaluating a customer’s experience with your education organization? Well, it starts with asking questions such as:

  • How easy is it to interact with the education organization?
  • How easy is it to purchase training?
  • How easy is it to register for a course?
  • How easy is it for learners to find the training they want/need?
  • How easy is it to navigate the learning website and/or portal?  

These things have nothing to do with the quality of the content or the instructor. Instead, customer experience focuses on assessing all those things that sit outside of the course evaluation.

Using the Net Promoter Score

Some companies and education organizations assess customer experience using an instrument called Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS was created by Fred Reichheld at Bain & Company in 2003 and works from the premise that people trust recommendations made by friends and family.  NPS is based on a single question:

On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our product/service?  

Customers who provide higher scores, like a 9 or 10, are likely to recommend and are categorized as promoters. Those who give a score in the 0 to 6 range are categorized as detractors and are not likely to recommend your product or service. Lastly, customers who score the question in the mid-range, 7 or 8, are categorized as passives.  Our TSIA Education Services Benchmark Survey data shows that fewer than 50% of customer training organizations use NPS and that its usage has not varied much over the past four years.  

NPS Use in Education Organizations
NPS Use in Education Organizations

It is more likely that an education organization will use NPS if its company is already using it to assess corporate-level customer satisfaction.   Bain & Company suggest the following relative to score:

  • Above 0 is good
  • Above 20 is favorable
  • Above 50 is excellent
  • Above 80 is world class

The average NPS score for those TSIA Education Services Benchmark Survey participants that use NPS is 60. It’s encouraging to see that most education organizations that do measure NPS are in the excellent category.

Average NPS Score for Education Services
Average NPS Score for Education Services

Applying NPS to the education organization enables a specific view of customer sentiment.  Sentiment is the feeling and emotion that a customer has about a brand.  Clearly, your education organization is looking for indicators of positive sentiment and NPS provides that. While NPS provides a view of customer sentiment at a given point in time, it does not provide specifics as to why someone does or does not recommend your products or services. It is likely that you will need to gather more information to truly understand and evaluate your customer experience.

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Variables to Evaluate Your Customer Experience

When gauging customer experience, a word that is often used is “frictionless.” Customers are looking for a seamless, painless experience throughout their customer journey. The concept of a frictionless customer experience should be evaluated by looking at the experience of working with your company as a whole. However, there is certainly merit in looking at customer experience within a specific organization, such as education services.So how can you evaluate whether or not you are providing your customers a frictionless experience? As research for my report Digital Transformation in Education Services: So Much More Than Digital Content, I randomly selected several TSIA Education Services member’s websites to assess customer experience. I used three variables that capture essential interactions between customers and the education organization:

  1. Purchasability: The ease or difficulty for customers to transact business with the education organization.
  2. Findability: The ease or difficulty for customers to find the content they want, when they want it.
  3. Communicability: The ease or difficulty for customers to communicate with the education organization.

I experienced many shortcomings on these websites (which I detail in my report), and found that my experience as a “customer” failed in some or all of these categories.You might be wondering how your own websites stack up in these areas. A useful way to assess your success in achieving purchasability, findability, communicability, or whatever variable is important to your organization, is to evaluate the following:

  1. Success: Was the customer able to complete the task (e.g. make a purchase, find content, communicate with the education organization, etc.)?
  2. Effort: Was the process smooth and easy, or did it require a lot of effort by the customer to make a purchase, find content, or communicate with the education organization?
  3. Emotion: Did the customer come away feeling good, or are they frustrated because the effort was high, and they were unsuccessful at completing whatever the task might have been?

In a frictionless customer experience, success is high, effort is low, and emotion is positive.

Two Tactics for Capturing Customer Experience

Now that you know the importance of evaluating the customer experience, how might you go about improving it?

- Take a page from B2C’s Playbook.

In my own business-to-consumer (B2C) experience, I notice that more and more websites now ask questions such as: Did you find this information helpful? Did you find what you needed? Would you like to chat with Rob, our personal digital assistant? Often times, a thumbs up/down rating system is provided so that customers can rate their experience.These are just some of the ways I’ve seen companies evaluate experience. I’m sure you’ve encountered these techniques and others in your online B2C experiences. Education organizations need to employ some of these basic B2C techniques as part of their customer experience evaluation process.

-  Add CES to Your Evaluation Arsenal

Another instrument like NPS that helps gauge customer experience is Customer Effort Score (CES). CES is a customer experience metric that measures how easy it is for a customer to do business with you. Customers rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 7, based on how much effort it takes to complete a transaction, resolve a problem, or otherwise interact with the organization. CES was developed in 2010 by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) when they determined that customer effort was a key driver to loyalty.  A CEB study found that improving a customer's CES score from 1 to 5 (on the 7-point scale) increased their loyalty by 22%. Further improving their CES score from 5 to 7 only increased loyalty by around 2%. On a scale of 1 to 7 individual customer effort scores of 5 or more are a reasonable target.  Currently, CES is not a metric that I capture in the Education Services Benchmark Survey.  Its usage, however, is becoming popular in support services organizations. So, you might want to check with your support organization to see if they are using CES. If so, ask them how you might leverage it in your customer training organization.

Creating an Experience That Fosters Product Adoption

For customer training organizations whose charter is to help drive product adoption, removing obstacles that prevent or reduce content consumption is critical. Evaluating the customer experience allows you to understand those things that make it difficult for customers to buy content, access content, navigate your learning portal, communicate with you, and so on. The job of the education organization is to remove obstacles that create friction and make interaction with the organization difficult.A difficult purchase process might prevent a customer from buying. A student could feel like finding content is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, or that communicating with your organization is challenging and time consuming. All of these scenarios will likely lead your customer to say, “It’s just not worth the effort.”If it’s not worth the effort, customers are not going to consume content at the level you want them to. Consequently, this hinders the education organization’s ability to help drive product adoption.   Don’t make it hard on your customers. Provide the best experience possible–one that ensures learners keep coming back for more content, more certifications, and more time on your learning platform. All that “more” creates a greater likelihood that your education organization is indeed impacting product adoption.

Looking for Ways to Improve Your Education Services Organization?

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