Published on 2018/08/03
The EvoLLLution | How the Amazon Experience is Impacting Students’ Expectations Around Registrations
The kinds of shopping experiences being offered by eCommerce leaders like Amazon are reshaping student expectations of what the enrollment and registration process at a college or university should look like.
No matter their age, every student enrolling at a college or university today—be it in a traditional degree program or a non-credit offering—is an experienced consumer. Companies like Amazon, Uber and others have set the bar high for eCommerce practices and, by extension, have shaped students’ expectations for what their registration and enrollment process at a college or university should look like. In this interview, Belinda Elliott-Bielecki shares her thoughts on how companies like Amazon have shaped learner expectations around the registration experience and reflects on what that means for postsecondary institutions.

The EvoLLLution (Evo): How are students’ expectations of the university shaped by the experience they get from companies like Amazon and Uber?

Belinda Elliott-Bielecki (BEB): Amazon makes it easy to purchase whatever you are looking to buy. The best part is that with just one click, your item is on its way to your door. Amazon allows for the customization and tracking of the purchase process. Once your order is placed you can track where your package is and when it will arrive.

It would be wonderful if university registration and application processes worked similarly, so students can know exactly where they are in the process.

Evo: To your mind, what are a few key characteristics of the shopping experience provided by Amazon?

BEB: Companies like Amazon and Uber provide completely online customer service. If there’s a problem, you don’t need to call; you can chat with someone online and get the issue resolved then and there.

They’re also renowned for easy solutions. They don’t fight with customers about nitty-gritty details or get caught up in red tape. They do whatever they can to make the experience a positive one, including refunding orders with minimal effort on the part of the customer.

Evo: As a marketing professional, why is it important to pay attention to the enrollment and registration experience the institution provides?

BEB: Fundamentally, experience affects reputation. The enrollment and registration process are a direct reflection of the university. Ease of registration demonstrates valued customer service and may aid in the retention of a student.

If universities fail at the enrollment and registration experience, they could lose the customer altogether. All the marketing in the world won’t matter if the registration process is too confusing or difficult to navigate.

It needs to be easy to use and intuitive, otherwise people might decide it’s not worth the hassle. This can have a ripple effect as well. Frustrated individuals might tell other people how difficult the process was, thereby persuading even more people not to register or to register at a university where the process is simpler.

Evo: How can universities apply some of these characteristics to their own organizations to improve the enrollment and registration experience?

BEB: At the University of New Brunswick, we are working with our IT department to improve the online registration experience. We are developing a shopping cart to streamline course selection and payment.

In the meantime, we have customer service experts available to register students directly or walk them through the online experience. Universities can find solutions to help if the customer is stuck, even without sophisticated purchasing systems like Amazon.

At UNB we have created a “How To Register” video to help students understand the registration process. Auto-emails are issued when a submission is received through our system, thanking the client and providing them with next steps, if necessary. We also have shortened many of our registration forms to collect only the essential information to save students from having to duplicate their efforts.

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Key Takeaways

  • The level of ease and convenience offered by companies like Amazon have changed the expectations students bring to the table when they consider administrative processes at colleges and universities.
  • For a college or university, the ease of the registration experience directly demonstrates the institution’s commitment to customer service and can have an impact on retention and enrollment.
  • Marketing is good enough to bring students to the door, but the registration experience is critical to ensuring they enrol.