Customer Data: How Insights from Customer Data are Paying Off for Education CX

Customer Experience is the leading strategy for the education sector as today’s students expect more from their experiences

Consumer expectations are growing—and students are no different. 

While it may not seem like education is something one “consumes,” for students, their education is a hefty investment—and one that they’re not always convinced has a worthy payoff. As enrollment numbers decline and trust in major educational institutions dwindles, higher education institutions need to consider how to give students more value from their educational experiences. 

One way to do that? 

Understand your customer data, and implement customer data insights to strengthen your customer experience for students across their entire educational journey.  

At ROI CX Solutions, we’ve been helping industry leaders in education strengthen their customer experience for more than 40 years. In this comprehensive Education Customer Experience Guide, you can explore the importance of CX for higher ed institutions, understand how data impacts and improves student experiences, and learn how to leverage customer data to improve student experiences and reap the benefits.

Why Learner Experience is a Key Strategy for the Education Industry

As colleges and universities scramble to find new and effective ways to attract and retain students amid declining enrollment numbers, understanding customer expectations—and how to use them to favorably shape the learner experience—will continue to be a key strategy for education institutions.

Learner experience isn’t just crucial for the prospecting and recruitment process—it’s also critical for retention, student success, and alumni experience as well. As such, colleges and universities that prioritize learner experiences stand to set themselves apart in the changing education industry.

The success of higher education institutions depends on the ability to excel across the student life cycle. Regardless of the type, size, or focus of a college or university, they all strive to attract and enroll high-quality students, retain and graduate students, and maintain strong relationships with alumni.

One of the keys to realizing these outcomes is using analytics to go beyond reporting on what has happened in the past, to providing a best assessment on what will happen in the future. By applying analytics to student life cycle data, universities can generate deeper insight into students before they arrive, while they are on campus, and after they leave.

Changing learner expectations have already been well-documented by recent surveys, but many education institutions are struggling to keep up. For example:

prefer “at least some of” their classes or class meetings to happen virtually. However, only 38% of university leaders have indicated that their institutions would implement hybrid models of instruction by 2025.

believe their university doesn’t have the technology needed to help learners succeed. In line with this, only 26% of university leaders have “significantly increased” their digital learning tools over the past two years.

say that “a holistic view of learner data pulled across multiple systems would benefit their team.”

As the data clearly indicates, better data analytics can significantly shape and transform the student experience in higher education settings. Further, higher education institutions are being pressed to incorporate data-driven insights into their planning and transformation if they want to stay relevant and provide attractive experiences for students.

The faster learner expectations shift, the faster transformation needs to happen at the institutional level to provide seamless student experiences and meet rising expectations. The more education institutions can focus on and improve the learner experience, the more relevant they will be, and the better they will be able to serve their learners.

At the core of this transformation is data.

Ready to take the next step?

How Customer Data Pays Off in Education

Although you may not think of your students as “customers,” when it comes to data, it pays to keep this framework in mind.

The key to making customer data pay off in the education industry is by turning data into insights. Data alone won’t help you—at that point, it’s just a long list of numbers. However, insights drawn from the data can give you valuable action items that can be implemented to make data-driven decisions for both student and institutional success.

Data analytics can improve student success or university operations by allowing you to:

  • Understand student needs and preferences
  • Optimize academic programs for retention and student engagement
  • Identify warning signs for student retention, graduation rates, and other attrition events
  • Appropriately prepare for and schedule staffing for surges in call volume and student support during registration, admissions, and financial aid processes
  • Strengthen budget, resourcing, and enrollment forecasting with advanced data analytics
  • Optimize scheduling and faculty teaching loads based on student demand, enrollment numbers, and graduation needs
  • See how students are engaging with classroom materials to strengthen student engagement and deepen student learning

In general, students are comfortable with the data their schools collect on them, especially “if the institutional behavior can be linked to academic help-seeking,” Inside Higher Ed reports. According to their data:

The majority of students have “no concerns” about how “their attendance (66%), grades (55%) and enrollment (51%) data are handled.”
In addition, almost half of students have no concerns with how their “course engagement data (47%) and financial information (46%)” are handled.

While educational institutions may be concerned about the effects and perception of data collection on their student body, there really isn’t much need for concern. As long as institutions are upfront about what data is collected and how it’s used, and provide opportunities for students to opt out of data collection, the majority of students are willing to provide data in exchange for better learning outcomes.

Of course, in that case, you have to understand how to leverage that data for better learning outcomes and institutional effectiveness. How do you do so? That’s what we’ll discuss next.

How to Leverage Customer Data for Educational Insights

Gathering customer data and developing actual insights from it are often two different initiatives—and implementing those insights can be difficult as well. However, with the current market, universities and educational institutions need to leverage customer data to create better experiences if they want to adapt, grow and maintain relevance.

[T]he act of collecting data isn’t enough. Effective classroom data needs to result in detailed measurements of student outcomes and instructor actions, ultimately helping instructors identify effective teaching interventions.

Times Higher Education

Not only can data help provide classroom-level insights that improve instruction and “teaching interventions,” but data can shape—and improve—customer experiences across the entire educational lifecycle, from prospecting and admissions to financial aid, registration, extracurriculars and campus life, job-searching and post-graduate experiences and more.

Collect and analyze data at scale

It begins with data collection and analysis at scale. The scale is important since the majority of data insights begin with having a sufficient amount of data to pull meaningful insights from. In addition, the more data you can collect, the more widespread your results will be and the more impact you can have on student experiences as a whole.

Once you’ve collected huge swaths of data, you also need to have the right tools and expertise in place to make sense of it—and preferably, to make sense of it in real-time, when you can action it for better learning outcomes.

There are a number of new EdTech platforms that make this easier. But if analyzing and actioning your data insights is an ongoing challenge for your organization, you can also consider outsourcing your customer experience insights to a team of experts, like our team at ROI CX Solutions. With decades of experience in the education industry, we’ve helped education institutions with call center solutions and other customer experience support.

Expand talent pool

In addition, when you work with nearshore providers, you get access to an expanded talent pool for your contact center.

With in-house teams or onshoring providers, you’re restricted to the US labor market. Unless you have genuine restrictions, there’s no reason to limit your talent to one geographic region. When you work with nearshoring providers, you’ll have access not only to more workers but workers who have quality expertise, advanced training, and specialized skill sets.

At ROI CX Solutions, our nearshore solutions can provide your business with inbound, outbound, or lead generation services at an affordable price and high quality of service. With cloud-based and remote platforms quickly becoming the norm, there’s much less need for geographic proximity.

Nearshoring also means you’re not limited by the ebbs and flows of the US market. The current labor shortage, combined with the “Great Resignation” and increasing inflation in the US, has made hiring across many positions and industries more difficult. Nearshoring can eliminate many of those barriers.



Postsecondary enrollment in Spring 2022 dropped to 16.2 million, a 14.7% decline from Fall 2020.



Since 2010—a peak enrollment year for colleges and universities—enrollment has steadily declined, now down 9.6%.



A survey of high school students indicated that the likelihood of attending a four-year school had declined to just 53%, down almost 20% since 2020.

With trust and satisfaction in higher education waning, colleges and universities can use internal data to improve the recruitment and retention process, making it more effective and engaging prospective students more compellingly.

Data-driven recruitment decisions can provide additional insight into what students actually want—that is, consumer preferences—which enables you to make your marketing more effective by providing superior customer experiences. For example, if a prospective student reaches out but you’re not able to connect them with a member of your admissions team for several weeks, you’ve likely already lost the lead. If you can’t reach out quickly, another university will.

Similarly, your recruitment strategies need to be personalized accordingly depending on your student audiences. Customer segmentation is just as important for education institutions as for e-commerce and other brands—yet, it’s not often utilized fully. For example, colleges could employ unique recruitment strategies for first-gen vs. legacy students, for students interested in different programs, or for students who have expressed interest in studying abroad or living off-campus.

Showing you understand your audience is a key way to create effective and memorable customer experiences that will ultimately increase trust and affection for your institution. However, creating a good customer experience doesn’t—or shouldn’t—end with enrollment. Instead, universities also need to focus on retention, by creating compelling customer experiences for current students.

How are students experiencing their educational careers? And how does it compare to other students at other universities?

Great customer experiences—whether your customer is an adult learner taking classes in the evenings online or a traditional student studying full-time on campus—are the basis of retention. And making data-driven decisions based on key experiences, touchpoints, institutional interactions, and other drivers is essential for implementing customer experiences that matter.

Provide excellent customer service

Many educational institutions overlook this, but this is also a key piece of the student experience and the decision-making process. Recent data reveals that at least 54% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on their customer service experiences—and decisions in the education sector are no different.

For most students, their education is one of the biggest financial investments they’ll make. As a result, the service and experience they have before they make that decision are crucial. Customer service is especially important in departments like admissions, financial aid, student loans, and the registrar’s office—departments prospective students are likely to speak with and have lots of questions for. Positive or negative experiences here can make or break their decision.

Thankfully, good customer service doesn’t have to be complicated.

According to a study by PwC, more than 80% of consumers cited four areas of service—speed, helpfulness, friendly agents, and convenience—as the most essential elements of a positive customer experience.

Speed and convenience are often difficult for higher education institutions. While students are accustomed to 24/7 service that’s available instantly and on-demand, many institutions are still offering service during business hours only, and often only via a select few channels, such as phone and email. As students come to expect more accessible, quick service, education institutions need to catch up.

As a result, many higher ed institutions are partnering with outsourcing providers to fulfill customer service needs. For example, with ROI CX Solutions, we work with higher ed institutions to provide customer service for financial aid, enrollment assistance, and more.

In addition, working with an outsourcing partner can help strengthen the usage of data to improve customer service. Tracking metrics like CSAT, FCR, average wait time, and more are all relevant for the education industry—and measuring these metrics over time will provide valuable insights into how to improve and cater your customer experience to your students.

Use predictive analytics to look for warning signs

While most data analytics look for historical trends and insights, using predictive analytics can allow you to understand—and take action on—important warning signs and trends before they create negative repercussions for your customers or institution.

Consider the usage of predictive analytics by the University of Alabama. Through their data, they realized that first-year students who requested a copy of their transcript were at high risk of dropping out. As a result, they were able to connect students who made a transcript request with counselors and other support staff to reduce their risk of dropping their program.

Similarly, your own data can yield these types of insights as well—but first, you need to be measuring and analyzing large-scale data. Once you are, predictive analytics can help not only your operations but can also provide a better student experience.

Predictive analytics can help you identify learner risks such as:

not graduating on time

losing a scholarship

not completing an application on time

not completing financial aid requirements

not passing a class

likelihood of withdrawing from a class early

By using data to understand the likelihood of some of these negative student experiences, instructors, support staff, and other administrators can work together to provide support and resources to improve student experiences and outcomes.

Integrate technology to use data for student success

As technology in the classroom becomes more ubiquitous and the demand for EdTech grows, the ability to have real-time data and classroom insights will grow as well. This is great news for student success: the more data available, the more instructors and educators can make data-driven decisions to guide student success and improve learner outcomes.

We are entering a new realm of possibility where we can measure, in real time, how each student is engaging with their learning space, the types of interactions they are having with their peers and their responses to subject matter presented in class. There is a growing recognition that insights provided by data analysis are essential to the short- and long-term support of a student’s learning journey.

For example, modern digital learning platforms can provide insights for instructors into how students are engaging with course materials, help gauge students’ understanding, and understand which students are in “learning zones” vs. “panic zones.” Having accurate data for such minute engagement details can allow instructors to make real-time adjustments to lessons and course curricula to increase additional scaffolding, support struggling learners, and ensure students get the support they need.

Improve learner experiences with data

Finally, data—and data-driven insights—can allow institutions and instructors to understand student experiences and improve them, both inside and outside of the classroom.

As discussed above, integrating real-time data via EdTech in classroom experiences can provide better learner outcomes, which indirectly improves student experiences. But data can improve student experiences directly as well.

For example:

  • Do your current students prefer watching lectures online or in person?
  • Are classes more effective with more face time in the classroom or more 1:1 time between instructors and students?
  • Are students more interested in theory or practical experience?
  • What types of classroom formats do students enjoy and learn the most from?

In short, by measuring not only learner outcomes but also learner satisfaction—aka CSAT—higher education institutions can use data to enrich and strengthen learner experiences.

In addition, paying attention to CSAT in non-academic areas of the student experience with your institution can play a major role in not only improving retention and demand but also in improving loyalty among alumni.

For example, higher education institutions could be considering customer experience and satisfaction with areas such as:

  • On-campus experiences
  • Residence life
  • Sports and extracurriculars
  • Student life and community resources
  • Alumni network and job prospects

For today’s generation, their post-college prospects, or the ROI they’re getting with their college investment, are more important than ever. Not only do fewer college students inherently trust that their education will pay off, the downward economy, challenges of the pandemic, and other global conditions have increased younger generations’ focus on stability and efficiency.

As such, using data to not only understand what learners want from their college experiences but also to provide and improve it is essential to provide a good customer experience.

Is CX Outsourcing Right for You?

For many educational institutions and organizations, CX outsourcing is a necessary resource for data analysis and execution.

Outsourcing CX provides institutions with additional technology, more advanced analytics and insights, and a greater capacity for both analyzing and executing data insights. Strengthening your data collection, analysis, and implementation is essential as you strive to keep up with the increasing pace of customer expectations and the younger generations’ needs and preferences.

In addition, outsourcing can provide your organization with a team of high-quality customer service agents that can improve your customer experience for students across their entire educational journey, from prospecting and admissions to financial aid and graduation.

Outsourcing customer service also enables your organization to scale affordably as seasonality demands. For example, at ROI CX Solutions, we intentionally partner with clients who have opposing seasonalities so that we can effortlessly shift agents from one client to another to enable quick scaling. With one of our education clients who needed to scale quickly, we were able to not only scale but achieve lightning-fast results.

Within the first full month of our partnership, ROI CX Solutions delivered:



(10% above goal)





Ready to see how outsourcing can help you improve your customer experiences and set your institution apart in the education sector? We’re here to help.

Connect with an ROI CX Solutions expert today!

About ROI CX Solutions

ROI CX Solutions drives customer satisfaction and business success through outsourced customer service and global sourcing management. With decades of experience across our expert team, ROI CX Solutions has innovated results-driven performance and improved customer experiences for brands across a variety of industries. With flexible, customizable solutions, state-of-the-art technology, and world-class customer service representatives, we deliver results for your business—and your customers.

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