How to gather feedback from your campus events – and action it for maximum impact!

Last month we wrote a post on how to track attendance at campus events. The two reasons why you’d want accurate tracking is to 1) analyze the data and, 2) action it, in a smart way. This links nicely to this week’s post: gathering and actioning feedback from campus events. The trick to gathering useful feedback and driving response rates is to ask student’s contextually relevant questions about their experience. To do this, you need to know what the student experienced, so you need to track their attendance at the session-level.

Gathering feedback from an event and doing something with that information seems simple enough, right? There are actually three distinct stages to this process for you to carefully consider to drive the best results.

1. Gathering feedback

Events are often planned months in advance, they’re fast-paced and pretty stressful on the day owing to the coordination of thousands of students and hundreds of staff, sessions and tours. It’s no wonder there’s a huge release of pressure afterwards. However, this post-event hiatus often leads to a lack of timely and appropriate follow-up with students.

Feedback forms should be sent within 24 hours of the event otherwise you tend to experience response atrophy. Arguably, even making contact 24 hours later is already too late. Why not catch students at a greater point of relevancy and send them the form when they’re about to leave campus, have their tour guide encourage response or mention it in the last few slides of a session? However you decide to encourage response, most importantly, these communications should be set-up in advance and automated so when everyone is enjoying a much-needed post-event rest, the feedback is taking care of itself.

When asking for feedback, make it as convenient as possible. Part of this is going multi-channel. Think email AND text and if a student doesn’t respond through one channel, try the other.

Whether it’s email or text, it’s important to make your forms responsive so they’re mobile-friendly. This doesn’t just mean resizing the form to fit mobile but also keeping them short so students aren’t typing long responses on small screens.

One trick to keeping forms short is to only include the most impactful questions. For example, don’t ask them what their name and email is, you already have that information! If you’re wondering what other questions make an impact, read on to the next section…

2. Segmenting feedback

Every student is different. Every event is different. So if you’re looking for real insight and steer on effective action, lumping every bit of feedback into one pile isn’t the best strategy.

Counter intuitively; it helps to think of how you’d like to segment your feedback before you even ask it. Reverse engineering it in a way. To do this, you need to know who your students are and what they did, before even constructing your feedback form.

For example, if you have student athletes visiting, you’ll care much more about their views on your athletics facilities, sessions and other offerings. Of course they’ll still need accommodation just like everyone else but the focus of the feedback could be on something only a sub-section of your visitors can provide valuable insight on. But just defining these segments won’t get you the really powerful insight you’re after. To get the detail that really matters, you need to drill down into athletics-specific questions such as ‘how has coach Smith’s presentation influenced how you think about your future at our school?’ Questions of this granularity help you get to the real issues or assets of an event. Coach Smith’s presentation might be costly to put on and poorly attended but drives the majority of its attendees to enroll. By getting feedback on particular sessions, you could take those learnings and apply them to other, under-performing sessions in the event calendar.

Athletics is of course, only one segment. There are many other valuable segments to consider. For example, students who have already been admitted to your school, those wanting to study within a particular faculty or students who are visiting from abroad.

Across all these segments and all event types, there are probably only a handful of questions that are relevant to everyone. This means you really need to dig into the details. Feedback from each segment will differ but that’s fine! It may be a little bit more work for you but it’s worth it in the end as you’re much more likely to get feedback that triggers more appropriate and valuable action.

3. Actioning feedback

Let’s get bad feedback out the way first. If you get some less than positive responses, make sure you escalate it. Quickly. If you uncover something that is really off putting for a segment, you can immediately improve the next group’s experience by addressing it quickly.

Make sure you carve out time to review feedback when it’s quieter and you have the headspace to properly review the implications of what is being said by visitors. Also, involve multiple teams, including the faculty etc. They’ll have great insight into faculty-specific sessions and can pinpoint some of the more specific feedback segments of students might have.

If you know how each event influences your enrollment numbers, then you’ll know that some events (or sessions, or student segments) are more valuable than others. It’s at this point you need to keep the bigger picture in mind because it’ll help you prioritize the feedback you receive. It would be great to have unlimited time and resources to improve upon every nugget of feedback, but in most schools, you’ll have to focus on the big wins.

So despite the whole process of feedback seeming quite straightforward initially, when you dig into it, there are a number of things you could do make sure you get the most value out of this activity. At the end of the day, it boils down to personalization and experience. Whether it’s being timely with feedback requests, asking relevant, personalized questions or customizing responses by segment, just going that extra level deeper will make all the difference!

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