ALLOWING PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS TO SEE IN REAL TIME WHAT PERSONAS THEY FALL IN
To make better use of the findings, McDonough focused on four key time periods in each journey map. The first was the earliest stage applicants go through in reaching schools and establishing criteria for picking MBA programs. “We really wanted to start by telling people we knew where they were coming from,” says Hubert. “If they come to us, we want them to know we are going to be transparent. So we added the Journey Map in our presentation to potential applicants. We now ask people who come to our events which of these four personas do they see themselves? What have been the highs or lows for them? It allows prospective students to see in real time what personas they fall in.”
The other stage of scrutiny became the submit decision process. “We were really surprised that they had this sense of relief when they hit the submit button,” says Hubert. “But even to get to that point is a big move. It can be as long as 18 months from the time they first began to think about getting their MBA. So we really want them to celebrate that. We created a video and at the time of submission we send it out to them to thank them for submitting their application.” The video includes the face and name of each person on the admissions staff, what their roles are and what the school will now do to process the application. The goal: To make it less of a black box experience.
“We also decided to enhance the front office experience to give them a better sense for Georgetown and see the great things we have been doing,” adds Hubert.” When they come in for an interview, there’s a welcome sign with their name. It’s to make them feel this is a personalized process, and we are excited to see them, regardless of the outcome. We wanted to show them that we respect the commitment and time they have put in the process.”
‘WE WANT TO WIN MORE THAN WE LOSE BUT ALSO TO ENGENDER GOOD WILL’
In the admission-to-matriculation stage, the school is now working more closely with colleagues in career management to collaborate earlier on strategies to improve yield (the percentage of admitted candidates who matriculate). It’s also improving the process for wait list candidates and providing feedback to anyone who has been denied so they can strengthen their application if they reapply the following year. “We want to win more than we lose and show some increase in yield. But we also want to engender good will so that applicants who don’t get accepted will have a good feeling for Georgetown McDonough as a brand.”
That message resonated among the admissions team. “The approach they decided on was to really care about everyone they touch in the process—not just the people you want in your institution, but also those who were rejected, viewing the pool as composed of people who can market your program,” adds Richmond. “We learned a ton about how people experience admissions at McDonough, but also how people just go through the process at any number of schools. It was a great team-building exercise for the team to put their thinking caps on and assess the process.”
More changes are likely. “We are still continuing to think about improving our communication during the lull periods,” she says. “We are maybe 50% along the way.” At the end of each round, McDonough plans to survey applicants to gain a better understanding of whether or not they felt a positive difference going through the school’s process. “We have received some unsolicited and anecdotal feedback from applicants stating that they can tell that our process/communications are more personalized and high touch, which is a good sign,” says Hubert.
The First Half Of The Journey Map For MBA Applicants
(See the following page for the high and low points of each applicant persona)