Title: Customer service, university student segmentation and institutional commitment

Authors: Leslie J. Wardley; Charles H. Bélanger

Addresses: Shannon School of Business, Cape Breton University, 1250 Grand Lake Rd., Sydney, Nova Scotia, B1P 6L2, Canada ' Faculty of Management, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, ON, P3E 2C6, Canada

Abstract: Currently, many institutions of higher education are trying to solve student retention problems with student customer service strategies. However, a one-size fits all approach can lead to dissatisfied students, the loss of resources and issues with brand management. Segmenting the student population and exploring institutional commitment based on the combined measurements of satisfaction, word-of-mouth recommendations and repurchase decisions are important. Thus, this paper attempts to investigate empirically: 1) what differences exist between university students-based entry points (high school vs. college), age configurations (traditional vs. non-traditional), living on-campus in university residences vs. living off-campus, and the distance between the university and the student's permanent home; 2) which variables influence these profiled students' commitment to their institution as it is a predictor of students' intention to persist. Various stringent statistical techniques were employed to assess which variables were actually influencing the institutional commitment of these specific segmented groupings (combined n = 1,094). Key results point to college transfer students' problems with transitioning to university, the impact of helicopter parenting practices, students not finding their classes intellectually stimulating and issues created by not severing ties to prior support systems, among others.

Keywords: higher education; customer service; university students; student segmentation; institutional commitment; helicopter parenting; college transfer; university residence; millennials; non-traditional students.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2017.087488

International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2017 Vol.22 No.4, pp.498 - 523

Received: 07 May 2016
Accepted: 20 Jul 2016

Published online: 05 Oct 2017 *

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