What Higher Education Can Learn From The Corporate World

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This may not be accepted too well by those in academia, but I think there is plenty that higher education can learn from the corporate world.

Whether some in higher education would admit it or not, we are in business and our students are our customers.  Granted, higher education receives funding from government and are not-for-profit institutions, but in today’s economy we are all competing to get students in our seats.  So what lessons and principles can higher education apply into their business models that will allow them to be more effective in the recruitment and retention efforts.

Here are few points that higher education should apply from the business world:

  • Customer Service: I wrote a post called Customer Service is the New Marketing that shares some ideas and a great video.  If some in higher education have a problem with referring to students as customers, just call it Student Service is the New Marketing.  In this hyper-connected world we live in, word-of-mouth (or word-of-twitter) is extremely important.  We need to ensure simple things like responding to inquiries quickly are implemented to improve the overall experience of the student.  A positive experience will turn it self into ‘free’ marketing very quickly with social media.  Also, a negative experience will turn into poor advertising just as quickly.
  • Communication Efforts: The corporate world seems to grasp on to new technologies at a faster pace than higher education.  They also seem to be more proactive when it comes to new technologies.  This is because their business is really all about business and dollars, whereas the primary focus for higher education is education and the business needs sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve. Coca-Cola has just created a new Office of Digital Communications and Social Media.

  • Measuring Success: While spending over 10 years working in the public sector, I’ve noticed that measuring the success of online efforts were nothing more than web hits.  Its almost crazy spending time and money publishing web pages, PDFs and other information online without measuring success.  Through web analtyics, we can quantify the Return On Investment (ROI) on web efforts.  Web analytics is a huge topic in itself, but some ideas would be to traffic originating from marketing campaigns and also tracking conversions (calls to action).  Web analytics is a large area of study, but check out my post – Google Analytics: A Getting Started Guide.

There are many other lessons that higher education can learn from the corporate world including usability efforts, viral marketing, etc.  What are some lessons that you’ve learned from the corporate world?  Please add a comment and share your thoughts.

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  • Guest

    Speaking from experience in both worlds, most academic institutions could learn a lot from the corporate world in creating efficiencies in their business systems/core organizational functions, such as HR, finance and administration, and IT systems. If you get those basic business systems set up and run well it will go a long way to making the overall organization run much better and be much more customer (students, faculty and staff) friendly.