The Importance of Good Customer and User Experience in Higher Education with Marc Riesenberg – CB78


Have you ever thought about the end-to-end customer experience of a student in higher education? From interfacing with the admissions department to the platforms used to register and access school resources – the overall customer and user experience impacts a student’s success and perception of the program.

In this episode, I speak with Marc Riesenberg, Director of Marketing for Coding with Kids, who spoke about implementing a CX program and improving the UX while serving as the Associate Vice President of Customer Experience at Bridgepoint Education. Bridgepoint is the parent company of Ashford University and University of the Rockies; its programs are delivered primarily via a progressive online learning platform.

Combine Good CX and UX to Improve the Customer Journey

As a creative who worked heavily on the visual design and marketing side of the business, Marc always saw customer experience as an extension of user experience. At Bridgepoint, Marc had technical UX experience and did things like update the website and back-end logistics. Ultimately, he wanted to know more about what happened after the experience where his technical work ended. He wanted to know how he could impact the customer journey after a customer left the site and got in touch with an advisor.

Marc and his team realized a lot of work needed to be focused on improving the user experience and understanding the customer journey. As anyone who’s been a student using school Internet resources knows, the digital platform of operation is a major component of the customer and user experience. According to Marc, their previous platforms were outdated – revamping the digital platform would be a critical step to improving the customer experience.

Being a student isn’t cheap, and the team didn’t want students to feel like they were spending money to get an outdated experience. Since the university provides an online degree program, it’s a primary part of what the students interact with.

Unite the C-Suite and Prove the Value of a CX Team

Podcast Takeaways Episode 78Ultimately, there was an internal consensus on a fundamental business issue to unite the customer experience. To begin this process, there were a lot of conversations with the C-Suite to ensure that what they did was beyond just making something pretty. As Marc was transitioning out of his marketing-heavy role into a CX role, he had to prove that they were providing value by truly understanding the audience and their underlying values. He wanted to be sure they were impacting the whole journey.

There were conversations with the CMO and COO about having a dedicated team and the COO was behind the initiative as most of the major business arms reported into him. The COO held monthly meetings with all the departments that really pushed the progress forward. In these meetings, they discussed friction points that customers were having – so they could address how each department affected that portion of the journey. By doing this, they were able to change and tweak the journey to be a little more frictionless.

Key Takeaways About Implementing the CX program:

  • Marc and his team brought on a consultant to help them develop an end-to-end journey map. It’s imperative to have a customer journey map. You need to understand the experience from the customer standpoint so you can make adjustments along the way. *Tweet this
  • Once you learn how each area of the journey affects the overall process and how you can continue to drive that forward, develop appropriate KPIs in order to measure success. In Marc’s case they had to think about helping students from their ideation of “I need to go to school” to “I need to graduate.”
  • Do the CX metrics in place ladder up to the core business metrics? In addition to enhancing the customer experience, are you looking at retention rates and lead conversions? Continue to maintain the balance of improving customers’ lives and proving ROI.
  • When it comes specifically to for-profit higher educations, another aspect of the customer journey to consider is teacher performance and the effect teacher perceptions has on student behaviors. Since the professors of an online degree program aren’t as visually present to the students as an in-person course, there’s a higher perception of them being representative of the school’s brand.
    • Since the professors are so closely tied to the school’s brand, think about the following: How available are they to students? Are there any inconsistencies in overall performance that would negatively affect a student’s work and expectations of the program?

What do you know NOW that you wish you knew THEN?


  • I would rethink how I handled the initial communication with the leaders in the organization. It’s important to have a very clear understanding of the roles that you’re impacting when you implement a new CX program. Do the research to truly understand who does what in the departments that are affected *Tweet this. Just as you research and gain insights on the customers, it’s good to do that with the internal teams as well. 
  • It’s not about me coming in and helping me look great, it’s about what you’re doing and how you’re able to help other people be successful.

To piggyback off Marc’s last point. It’s so good to hear that all of you great leaders agree that it’s so critical to check your ego at the door! When you’re working on a major company program/overhaul, it’s not about you, it’s about the success of the united company.

About Marc:

With over 20 years of experience, Marc has worked in companies small to large, start-up to established, and retail to services. Starting out in graphic design, Marc brings a design-thinking approach to his work in brand strategy, creative, marketing, operations, and customer experience.

If you enjoyed this episode, I’d love for you to search for The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show on iTunes or Stitcher and let us know what you think with a review. And of course, take some time to check out some of our older episodes!

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