Over the last month we've been working hard on tracking and measuring outcomes for students and listings. We're pleased to announce a new collection of tools that proactively seek feedback from students and providers about their outcomes from using StudyStays.
Because students don't directly book accommodation through StudyStays (at least not yet), it's been hard to tell what kind of outcomes they've had using the website. To know whether a student had found accommodation, was still looking for a place, or had given up was not information that was readily available. So we decided to improve this situation.
One approach to collecting this information up until now has been to send out a follow-up email some time after the student has registered asking for feedback. Another approach is to have a survey form on the website to solicit feedback that way. And some universities were using a combination of these techniques.
The problem with sending a follow-up email a set duration after registration is that we don't really know when to send it. Send it too soon and the student may still be looking for accommodation, and send it too late and they might have lost interest.
The problem with posting a link to a feedback form on the website is that many students might not see it.
Both approaches suffer from the problem that the feedback forms weren't really integrated into the website, and so their experience didn't adapt depending on their answers. They just fill out the form and that's it.
The new approach is to wait until the student has stopped using the website for a while (they've "disengaged") and then send them a very quick email survey which can be filled out without even needing to log in.
If students have found accommodation or have given up, we won't ask them again. If they haven't found a place yet, we'll wait a while until they haven't actively used the website for a couple of weeks (yes there's a setting for that), and then prompt them again.This will continue until they either find a place, give up, or unsubscribe from these emails. There's an unsubscribe link on each follow-up email to make it easy to opt-out.
And for students that tell us they've given up, if they do log in again later, we'll treat them as having re-engaged in their search for accommodation and begin following up with them when it looks like they have disengaged again.
This allows us to track things like:
- Approximately how long it takes students to find accommodation
- What kind of accommodation they choose (shared, rental or commercial student accommodation)
- Where they end up (address, suburb and postcode)
- Price, move in date and length of stay
- If they found accommodation through your StudyStays site, which is the listing that best matches
As an administrator, you can see details about student outcomes directly on a student's record (when they have responded). You can also view a history of all student outcome responses by clicking Student outcomes on the right hand side of the "Students" tab in Admin.
The Student Outcomes page in admin lets you filter outcomes, and export the raw data as a spreadsheet if you need to do further analysis, send emails to certain segments etc.
You can edit the email template for the follow-up email that gets sent to student by going to Admin > Settings > Email templates and looking under "Students" for "Outcome follow-up".
You can adjust when the follow-up is sent (or disable it altogether) under Admin > Settings > Students: "Email students to ask about their accommodation outcomes".
For quite some time we've been asking accommodation providers if they've found a tenant as a result of their listing. But up until now we only asked when the provider actively closed their listing in advance.
Now, we'll include a link to the listing outcome survey in every email that gets sent when a listing ends.
We'll also display a prominent message on providers' dashboards prompting to them respond (if they haven't already).
This should result in much more information collected about listing outcomes.
The survey for providers is even shorter, just one question: "Did you find a tenant through our website?"
You can find information about the listing outcome when viewing the listing though admin, and in aggregate by running the "Listing Outcomes" report from the Reports tab.
These improvements are an important step in collecting metrics about how effectively your Off-Campus website is serving students. We've opened up more possibilities for analysing and reporting, as well as more opportunities to gather information about how your website is performing. There's even the potential to include custom feedback questions on these forms. We'd love to hear from you if you have ideas about how to extend this even further.