I had an interesting personal experience over the past two days as I and my family made our first college campus visits with my teenage daughter (eek! I can already feel the money being sucked from my bank account!). She is interested in Art and Design schools, so we visited two different campuses over the past two days.
At one of the schools, my family was given a tour by a very nice young lady – but we all agreed that it was a terrible experience that soured us on the school. The tour guide was a freshman at the school (in her first semester) and it appeared that she had just gotten out of bed and thrown on a pair of old jeans and a ratty sweatshirt. She had a very sheepish voice and we couldn’t hear about 90 percent of what she said. When I could hear her, the conversation was so laced with the words "um", "like" and "insane" that I felt we needed a translator. Being a freshman, she knew very little about the various programs and most questions were answered with, "Well, I’m not really sure…".
As we pulled away from the school, we all agreed that any one of us could have spent 15 minutes with the college’s catalog and given a better tour than the one we received.
The thing is, this school is training their students – along with the arts – in the disciplines of business advertising and marketing. They should know that the first impression they create with prospective students and parents will have a huge impact on the "purchase decision" – and a college education at this school is easily a six-figure purchase decision.
I’m always saying that companies can typically differentiate themselves from the competition on one of three things: product, price or service. This school seems to have a good product (based on what I saw students producing), their tuition is in line with similar schools, so the only way to differentiate themselves from other art and design schools is the relationship they can build with us and the quality of their service when we call or visit. They had one shot to make a first impression – and they failed miserably.
You’ve got a great product. Wonderful.
Your product is offered at a fair and reasonable price-point. Super.
Now, what are you going to do to earn a customer’s business, differentiate yourself from the competition, and build/retain a loyal customer relationship?
How’s your "serve"?