California State University, Fullerton’s (CSUF) Extended Education and International Programs and Global Engagement (UEE/IGPE) divisions approached us in 2015 about transforming their approach to student engagement to ensure more student-centered interactions and experiences, as well as effectively aligning with broader institutional priorities. UEE/IGPE specifically sought to re-evaluate their methods when it came to service, branding, proactively approaching organizational challenges, and closing any functional gaps that might impede structural success.

Due to increased regional competition, recruitment and enrollment infrastructure limitations, and a historically programmatic and product-centric culture, the time had come for UEE/IGPE to become more strategic with their marketing, operations and student interactions. After initial discussions, it was clear that Story+Structure’s experience-driven approach was an ideal fit to help them reach their goals.

We quickly got to work with the in-depth discovery process, looking at the customer experience from all angles, understanding existing approaches, perceptions, risk and readiness. Through customer surveys, and interviews with faculty, staff, and students, it became clear that UEE/IGPE was facing some growing pains, and there were ample opportunities to ramp up internal functions. Working closely with UEE/IGPE, we determined that the following areas were most in need of addressing and/or re-designing in order for CSUF to achieve its desired levels of student satisfaction and operational accomplishment.

  • Configure and prepare for a CRM system and its many benefits through technological and support enhancements
  • Consider existing marketing processes for planning effectiveness and centralized communications 
  • Implement a unified recruiting and enrollment management system
  • Standardize and systemize “the UEE/IGPE student experience”
  • Determine where to replace custom in-house technology with off-the-shelf solutions
  • Create an online registration process
  • Update the website for responsiveness
  • Ensure ease-of-use and clarity for all customer-facing interactions

To accomplish such intensive and far-reaching goals, we began by breaking the essential functions down into four critical areas: marketing, recruiting, critical transactions, and the classroom experience.


  • Establish a strategic internal framework prior to CRM installation - what would an effective solution look like? What are the roles and responsibilities of marketing prior to hand-off to enrollment management or other departments? What does a marketing win look like?
  • Explore the organizational structure - reorganize the marketing & communications team for greater functionality. Consider options such as outsourcing collateral production and list generation and shifting to strategic support. Alternatively, marketing & communications could serve as an in-house agency providing required services, and optional ones based on programmatic needs. Determine whether marketing & communications should serve as the brand managers.
  •  Define performance metrics - establish performance metrics including cost-per-lead, lead quality, leads-per-conversion, and cost-per-conversion. Define what a successful marketing effort looks like, and develop a strong brand identity to tie together collateral and provide consistency. 
  • Create a service blueprint - create a unified and holistic view of the relationship between UEE/IGPE and the student with a service blueprint documenting all touchpoints encountered across the entire spectrum of the student experience.


  • Create a service blueprint - understand how the pieces fit together in this area, from the students’ perspective; clearly define who is responsible for recruitment, clarify hand-off points, and ensure a seamless transition from the students’ viewpoint.
  • Create program journey maps - document the steps a prospect takes to become a student, from inquiry to conversion. Create a communications strategy to support this journey.
  •  Adopt marketing automation - implement a marketing automation system in support of marketing messaging and relationship-building, and to nurture leads.
  • Update information architecture – ensure that all customer-facing interactions on the website are intuitive and mimic the familiar shopping experiences students will have elsewhere; understand visitor expectations, and mirror those in architecture and navigation design.
  • Designate a service experience leader - determine who will serve as the experience leader, incorporating this responsibility into their job description. This person ensures the critical customer experience through governance, training and support, and participation in all decisions that could potentially impact customers.

Please come back next week for Part II when we will look at the remainder of the key customer-focused efforts that we and UEE/IGPE undertook to revolutionize their approach to student experience management.