Jodi Spethman, director of marketing, shared some of her wisdom from 20 years of professional experience and working closely with e-commerce and higher education.
Q: How long have you worked in higher education?
In 1999, I started working in the financial aid office of a university in Orlando. I was an advisor for incoming students. It was so gratifying talking to students for months before they even came to campus, helping them develop a financial package that allowed them to attend college. Seeing those students graduate and sometimes come back and thank us for helping them achieve their educational dreams was a humbling and awesome experience.
Q: What does Nelnet Campus Commerce offer as an e-commerce product?
Our main ecommerce product at Nelnet is eStore.
eStore gives all departments across campus the opportunity to “sell” what they need to students — from t-shirts and tickets, to registering for an event and even raising funds — while providing centralized reporting for the business office. It’s a great way to keep track of all the payments being made across campus.
Q: What are the keys to a great e-commerce experience?
There are three keys that I think are important to the future of e-commerce:
- The first key is personalization. How can you use the individual data you have to give your students valuable information that is specific and unique to them? When they’re about to make a purchase, show students, “Here are the things we know you like; we think you’ll like this too.” By providing those kind of efficiencies, students are able to make a quicker purchase or a smarter decision.
- The second key is to provide multiple channels to make a purchase. I do a lot of online shopping, but there are specific purchases where I do the research online, narrow it down to the top two or three products, then, go into the store to look and feel those products to decide which one I want. At that point, I want to purchase the chosen product right there within the store. So you have to give your students and other customers options to make a purchase in that moment.
- The last key is automation in customer service. You want to have a balance between the services you can automate, versus what a human being can provide. You need both. Wherever it makes sense and creates a better experience for your customers — automate. Wherever you need compassion mixed with expertise, that’s where a human will serve your customers better.
Q: Why should an institution choose Nelnet Campus Commerce?
Our mission is making educational dreams possible through service and technology. We have a suite of payment technology products that can be served up a la carte to meet each campus’s specific and unique needs.
We create best-in-class service by providing the right technology and supplying expert people — someone who understands you, understands the products that you have, and can help you with those along the way. Having a balance of both is key to providing that best-in-class experience.