There’s a lot that higher education and the National Basketball Association have in common. Yes, you read that correctly.
One of the biggest priorities that they have in common is their need to focus on their first year customers. The universities’ biggest risk of drop out or transfer occurs with freshmen. The NBA teams’ biggest risk of loss of season ticket holders comes with the first year season ticket holders. Both of these customer groups come in with certain expectations, certain dreams, certain perceptions that either they themselves have developed or that the organization has created with their marketing and recruiting and sales efforts. But the question is, how well are those expectations being met?
For organizations to do a great job in retaining first year customers – whether they be the student for the four-year university or the season ticket holder for the professional sports franchise – they need to make sure they have a “Year One Strategy.”
Much of what a Year One Strategy involves is research. Since you’re going through a sales process with a season ticket holder or going through a recruitment process for the new student, you need to take that opportunity to gather a great deal of intelligence on why they are coming to your organization and why they would go. You need to know what they understand and expect of their experience as a new customer, so you have an understanding of how well that will match with the reality that they are about to experience.
Setup an ongoing research strategy that involves an early survey of these individuals to gauge what their experience is like and what issues they might be having. As part of that Year One Strategy, you also need to have an ongoing intelligence-building set of research efforts taking place to gather more and more information about what is unique about these individuals, what they want to get out of their experience, and how satisfied they are with your organization.
The other key component of your Year One Strategy needs to be education. And that educational focus is not just for educational institutions, but it’s for any organization wanting to grow by retaining their existing customers. Part of the educational process needs to focus on getting your first year students, your first year customers, knowledgeable about your processes so they are comfortable working with your organization. You need to foster education of their knowledge of your products and services so they know how they can benefit from their relationship with your organization. You need to have an educational program in place to make sure you build comfort, confidence, and set realistic expectations in the minds of your customers.
Learn from the universities and the sports organizations of the world. Have a Year One Strategy that focuses on research and education.
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