Students are coming back. Are you ready?

As summer speeds along, there’s one thing every higher ed foodservice operator knows: Fall semester will be here before we know it. As students flood back onto campus in full-force, many features of our dining halls and campus cafes will look comfortingly familiar. But not everything will (or should!) go back to the pre-COVID status-quo. Chief among them? Ordering.

Ordering on the go is the new standard in foodservice, especially for digital-native, college-aged customers. But getting mobile ordering right is about more than simply updating your website or connecting into a third-party ordering app. Developing an ordering program that both delights your customers and keeps your behind-the-scenes operator efforts running smoothly takes a strategic alignment of operator experience (OX) and customer experience (CX). 

Simply put, great ordering must be built on a mature foundation. But how do you know where you are now—or where you need to go? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

How mature is your ordering program?
Take the quiz.

The Four Levels of Higher Ed. Foodservice Ordering

While every higher ed. foodservice operation is different, each one falls into one of four maturity levels when it comes to the quality of their ordering program. 

Maturity Model GraphicLevel One - Call to Adventure

What it looks like: Level one operations are in the early stages. In some cases, level one programs don’t even have an ordering program in place, while in others, an existing program isn’t running as smoothly as it could be. Some indicators include:

  • Confused students
  • Excessive time managing point solutions

What’s next: Operators at this level are best served by going directly to the source. Or should we say, sources. Among other things, they should:

  • Survey students about their experiences
  • Map out the full journey orders take—from the moment they’re placed until they’re fulfilled—to pinpoint problem spots

Level Two - You’ve Got Skills

What it looks like: At this level, operators have ordering programs up and running, but aren’t quite hitting the mark when it comes to their customer or operator experience. Often, one side of the equation (internal or external) is happy, while the other is struggling. That might look like: 

  • Problems that have been reasonably straightforward to identify but much trickier to solve
  • Poor ROI on technology investments

What’s next:  At this stage, it’s crucial to start thinking about the big picture of your ordering program by tackling tasks like:

  • Finding the right tech partner
  • Getting familiar with the food buyer’s journey to ensure you know how you’re engaging with students at every step of the process

Level Three - Skills Become Superpowers

What it looks like: Operators at this level have a firm understanding of the way CX and OX work together to keep campus foodservice humming and are well on their way to aligning them fully. Level three operators have:

  • Identified specific problems and begun working toward solutions
  • Committed to unifying the goals of an outstanding student and operator experience 

What’s next: Those at level three have the opportunity to bring their big-picture understanding to life, by taking steps including:

  • Creating tactical plans that create ideal experiences at each step of your students’ Food Buyer’s Journeys
  • Auditing the ordering program to ferret out any unforeseen problems or gaps

Level Four - The Star Player

What it looks like: If you’re at level four, there’s no other way to say it—you’re straight-up crushing it. These pillars of ordering success tend to have:

  • CX and OX aligned across the entire ordering program
  • Minimal maintenance required for their program beyond daily tasks
  • Happy, engaged students
  • Low-skilled labor managing orders and CX channels 
  • Menus organized from a single platform

What’s next: Innovation is the name of the game for those at level four. Continuing to be best-in-class might encompass:

  • Amping up brand experience with immersive campaigns and more
  • Testing ideas to get ahead of the next big thing students will be clamoring for

What Level Is Your Ordering Program?

With time left in the summer holiday, now is the perfect time to diagnose your ordering maturity score and develop a game plan to level up. Luckily, you don’t have to guess where your operation falls. We at Nutrislice have developed a quick yet comprehensive quiz. Answer nine questions to get your score, plus actionable insights and in-depth analysis of where you are and what you need to do to reach the next level.

Take the Quiz