This blog post was written by Erica Winters, Sr. Research Analyst & Social Media Strategist, and is a summary of a recent project completed by Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS).

Background: A higher education institution recently partnered with RMS to conduct enrollment process research. The client wanted to better understand the follow up, efficiency, and effectiveness of enrollment services. The market research objective was to follow-up on and measure improvements from the mystery shopping results completed several years ago.

Approach: To determine the effectiveness of enrollment services, RMS performed 26 mystery shops. The mystery shops were performed via telephone or online, and explored how inquiries regarding enrollment services, admissions, residence life, and financial aid are handled by institution staff. Individual scenarios were used for each mystery shop. The client provided RMS with a list of contact points to be tested, which represented a broad spectrum of department touch points and services. Fieldwork lasted approximately one month. Following the data collection and analysis period, a comprehensive report was delivered to the client, which included a visual dashboard of the findings, as well as next steps and recommendations.

Results: Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • There was a noticeable improvement in staff response and response time to online inquiries.
  • Staff has gotten better at encouraging prospective students to take the next step in the enrollment process.
  • Online inquiries, in general, received a timely response but did not answer all scenario details/questions that a prospective student may have.
  • Telephone inquiries, in general, received no response on multiple occasions, but answered more scenario details/questions that a prospective student may have than online inquiries.
  • Of the inquiries where next steps in the enrollment process were provided, most mystery shoppers felt the amount of encouragement received was appropriate.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Syracuse, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.