One-stop shops in universities across North America are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. These integrated service centers are designed to make life easier for students, faculty and staff by providing a hub for all of their administrative needs. From registering for classes to financial aid, to obtaining student IDs, one-stop shops are a game-changer in terms of convenience and efficiency. This shift towards one-stop shops has been driven by a number of factors, including the desire to improve efficiency, reduce administrative redundancies and enhance the overall experience for everyone involved.
Making student service delivery more efficient
With all administrative services housed in one centralized location, students can quickly and easily get the help they need from various departments without having to navigate throughout the school or wait in long lines. Inefficient processes such as filling out multiple waivers and forms are streamlined, creating an efficient experience for students needing support. Consolidating all services in one place saves time and minimizes stress and frustration for staff and students alike.“ It is frustrating being bounced around from one office to the next and sometimes back to the first office reached out to in an endless loop,” said a student at a private college in Michigan .
When students experience lower levels of frustration, it positively impacts the staff as well. This creates a ripple effect, halting the spread of negativity and fostering a more positive environment. In a Student Voice Survey done by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse with support from Kaplan, 35% of students at colleges with a one-stop shop for services say that staff across campus seem very happy to be doing the work that they do, compared to 14% of students whose colleges do not have a one-stop .
Service-centered culture for universities and colleges
In the past few years, universities have shifted to a more customer-centric mindset when it comes to their students. This is because there are now countless options when it comes to choosing a university or college to attend, whether that be online or in-person. This means that giving students a service-first approach is essential in staying competitive with other universities and ensuring students feel like they belong. A 2022 survey  conducted by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse with support from Kaplan found a students’ satisfaction with service requests such as financial aid or course registration, was generally higher if their college had a one-stop shop for student services . “One of the most powerful tools for increasing enrollment, retention, and progress to graduation is an efficient and effective one-stop-shop for student services. A successful one-stop-shop is student-focused and designed to enable the graceful navigation of complex administrative processes that are often barriers to enrollment. -Maureen O’Mara Carver, AACRAO Senior Consultant 
When students have a positive experience on campus, they feel empowered and encouraged to pursue their education and achieve success at the institution. By visiting a one-stop shop on campus, students can have all their needs met and queries answered at a single location. This approach not only enhances student success but also makes all services easily accessible to every student at all times. By investing in a one-stop office, an institution sends a clear message to both its staff and students that their needs are highly valued, and that they will receive comprehensive support at every level of service .
“Students ability to navigate complex administrative processes should not be the factor that determines whether they stay happily enrolled at their current institution or seek enrollment elsewhere. Additionally, as institutions expand and upgrade the breadth of resources available to students, it is necessary to provide students with easy access to those resources, with options for mobile, web, or walk-in service as appropriate” .
Digital transformation for one-stop shops
At first, one-stop shops can be difficult to implement for universities that have been serving students from different locations or departments for years. One of the hardest parts can be triaging students with different needs and using staff with varying levels of knowledge in certain areas. Another challenge is the influx of students in one particular service area and organizing the students in a way that makes sense for everyone .
One of the ways to navigate through this transition from multiple service locations to one service hub is through the implementation of technology. It has allowed one-stops to provide students with better services and support by streamlining processes, consolidating systems, automating mundane tasks and improving communication.
Enhance the visitor experience with digital tools
Queue management systems can be integrated into one-stop shops to improve the visitor experience by minimizing wait times and ensuring that people are served in an organized and efficient manner. These systems enable students to book appointments online and monitor their position in the queue, which saves time and reduces frustration. Staff can use these systems to manage appointments and allocate resources more effectively, which optimizes service delivery and reduces the risk of staff burnout.
Workflow management tools can also be implemented in one-stop shops to automate administrative tasks and ensure that all visitors receive consistent service. These systems can track visitor flow, monitor service levels and generate reports, which help staff to identify areas for improvement and optimize service delivery. They can also be used to manage administrative tasks such as behind-the-counter operations and record keeping, which saves time and improves accuracy.
In addition, one-stop shops can incorporate self-service kiosks and online portals to enable visitors to access services independently. This not only reduces wait times but also empowers visitors to take control of their own administrative needs. These systems can be linked to back-end databases and information systems to ensure that visitors receive accurate and up-to-date information.
“If you don’t have a queueing or workflow system, I think that’s something institutions really should look into. It really does change the way the one-stop works, and the way that we serve all of our students and families.” – Jessica Rodriguez, Texas One Stop
Overall, the implementation of technology solutions in one-stop shops can greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative processes, while also enhancing and simplifying the student experience. To learn more about the wide range of solutions we offer one-stop shops across North America, click here.