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Higher Ed eCommerce Gurus on How to Make Students and Staff Happy

Higher ed eCommerce gurus on how to make students and staff happy

I love how honestly and openly schools tell each other what works and what doesn’t. Spalding University and Indiana Wesleyan University recently chatted about how they make students and staff happy. I wish you could have joined us for this eCommerce discussion for clients of Colleague® by Ellucian

But you don’t have to miss out on the best quotes. Here are some of our handpicked highlights.

Service fees save money while satisfying students

1. “We had a PR concern about charging a service fee. But students and parents did not push back when we introduced a fee to pay with debit or credit card. We mitigated upsetting them by offering eCheck for free. Now we save $500,000 per year and do not unfairly raise tuition for all students due to the small segment that pay with cards.” – Zach Whitesel, Director at Indiana Wesleyan University

Most Higher Ed Institutions Charge Service Fees

2. “We switched to charging a service fee for card payments. I thought this would lead to complaints from students. We did have a few students call, but we told them they could still pay with eCheck for free and that satisfied them.” - Sarah West, Bursar at Spalding University

Real-time payments interface enabled student self-service and reduced costs

3. “Selecting a strategic partner of Colleague by Ellucian makes a big difference. We tried in the past to integrate a vendor that was not a strategic partner. This required so much IT time that we actually scrapped the software.” – Zach

4. “Students expect to do everything instantly, including see their payments post. We addressed student concerns by integrating our payment plan in real-time. Now we get a lot less questions from students about when payments will post.” – Zach   

5. “Launching real-time Colleague integration for payment plan and campus payments reduced our staff count. Because of the efficiencies gained we saved the salary of one full time employee through natural attrition.” – Zach

6. “Before we were doing everything manually. The woman who was previously keying these payments wanted to decrease her hours in preparation for retirement. But she did not want to leave the university strained. Now that we have real-time payments and payment plan integration, she is now only working 3 days a week.” – Sarah


These comments align with what I hear as well from colleges and universities. A survey of 78 of our higher ed clients reported that after upgrading their eCommerce system, they saved 19% on related staff time. Schools incorporate all of these results into their business cases for upgrading their eCommerce systems.

The biggest surprise from our discussion was that institutions create these fact-based business cases in only 40 minutes. Schools forecast the revenue and cost savings based on the results similar colleges and universities achieved. These business analytics make it easier to make smart decisions. 

Higher ed eCommerce gurus on how to make students and staff happy | Business Case

Want to see more? Watch the replay of our discussion.