Touchpoints, Losspoints, and Everything In-Between
By Dr. Laurie Kattuah-Snyder, Chief Student Success Officer
Early in my tenure at Schoolcraft, I was pleased to attend the Foundation’s annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the Women’s Resource Center at Schoolcraft College. The event was highlighted by the presentation of a video that allowed students to express their appreciation to a person at Schoolcraft who had made a positive impact in their lives. Students were shown holding a whiteboard with the name of a faculty or staff member written on the board. The students and names were going by fast but there it was. A female student had written my name on her whiteboard.
I was immediately filled with emotion; happy that I had made a positive impact in her life, but disappointed in myself because I didn’t know who she was. Had I spent time listening to her in an advising meeting? Did I advise on a new major or how to transfer to a four year college? Whatever I had done, it meant something to her.
This is an example of something I call a “touchpoint” – an intentional or unintentional interaction with a student that makes a positive difference in his or her life. A touchpoint doesn’t have to occur between a professional staff member and a student but can happen with anyone employed at the college. Case in point, I remember watching the face of a young man paying for his lunch in the cafeteria when the woman working the register asked, “Hey, how did you do on that exam?” The student’s face lit up when he heard her question, and his expression said, “Wow, thank you for remembering me!”
A touchpoint supports the student’s feelings of acceptance and belonging at our school and can even influence their decisions. Should I change schools? Should I stop going to school? Am I able to do this “college” thing? Students can often formulate answers when they have been impacted by someone else.
Touchpoints may appear as a well-stocked cafeteria offering multiple food choices, a comfortable study area with plenty of electrical outlets, an academic advisor who remembers a student’s major, or an instructor who greets her students with a smile and calls them by name. Touchpoints tell students they matter and they belong.
A student can use a touchpoint to balance out the “losspoints” — the impediments or challenges that they face every day in college. Losspoints are unintentional. They may take the shape of a poorly written college policy, a busy front desk clerk who doesn’t look at a student when speaking, or litter on the campus. Working as an academic advisor, I remember encouraging a pre-medical student to tour a local and very competitive four-year college. When she returned to tell me about her experience, she said she wasn’t going to apply to that college. When I asked her why, she replied, “I hate the parking!” For her, the losspoint that made her decide not to apply to a great school was parking! But maybe if she had experienced some touchpoints during her tour, she may not have given the parking situation so much weight in her decision-making. Nobody and nothing from her tour made a positive impact on her, and consequently, she made a life decision because of parking.
How do colleges reduce losspoints and increase touchpoints?
People, Processes, and Environment
- Look at your campus through a student lens. Lighting? Cleanliness? Activity? People greeting you with a smile? Opportunities?
- Empower employees, especially frontline staff, to use eye contact, to say a student’s name, and paraphrase a student’s question before answering. Students will feel like you listened. Students will feel like you cared. Students will feel like they belong.
- Walk around the campus and pretend you’re a student. Regardless of your role at the college, observe the campus with a student lens.
Create Intentional Touchpoint Opportunities
- Show others by role-modeling eye contact, paraphrasing, and using names
- Require “customer service” training and apply metrics to annual evaluations
- Make class attendance mandatory and contact your students if they miss class
Reduce Unintentional Losspoints
- Review your admission and onboarding process. If you were a student, would you feel welcomed and ready to start at your college?
- Assess the steps needed to register, get financial aid, buy books, get academic help, meet with an instructor…
- Conduct a process review. What is the student impact of each process? How does the process benefit the student?
It Sounds So Easy
Not! We can’t control what a student perceives as a losspoint or a touchpoint. We can only control how we treat others with our verbal and non-verbal interactions, how we build the college infrastructure with policies and processes, and how we use the physical environment. The goal is to make this intentional and part of the way we operate the college. Help a student find a balance so when they make a decision to attend your college, they don’t give too much weight to something that won’t help them in their future.