Word-of-mouth is the single biggest driver of enrolment enquiry at your school. What, then, drives word-of-mouth? In large part, it is the experience of your customers; current and prospective parents sharing their experience with others.
So, how good is the customer experience at your school?
It might seem simple: ensure prospective parents have the best experience when they enquire at your school. But there are many steps to creating a unique and profound experience that makes a lasting impression and truly answers the critical question, ‘why choose this school?’.
What is customer experience?
Customer experience (or CX in marketing jargon) is the complete journey that your customers — prospective parents, current parents and students — take. From researching local schools and enrolling, to being part of your school community, to then becoming a member of the alumni family, the journey is long and has many touchpoints. These include looking at your school website, downloading your prospectus, viewing printed materials, going on school tours, communicating with staff — every interaction between your school and your customer. Each of these interactions is a ‘user experience’ which collectively create the whole ‘customer experience’.
You can’t have customer experience without user experience. And this is where things can go wrong …
People and product are the two key elements that must work together to create a positive customer experience. Often there is a disconnect between enrolment and marketing staff, both believing they can work separately. They shouldn’t.
It is clear from imageseven’s mystery shopping studies that most do not work together. The goal of every member of your staff should be the same: create a mind-blowing experience for students and parents — give them something positive to share so that they become advocates.
The customer journey
How do you ensure your team effectively manages the customer journey? Get them to work together. If your team (every single one of them) understands your school’s brand promise and knows how to deliver your key messages concisely (your marketing department can build an easy-to-follow breakdown of these), then your school will be better placed for customers to see and identify the difference. Of course, this is almost impossible if you haven’t articulated your brand promise.
It’s this difference that will set your school apart from your competition.
A holistic approach
Once everyone is on the same page with the messaging, it is important that every touchpoint in your customer’s journey is easy to navigate, friendly and informative, but not overwhelming. Ensure everyone who answers the phone has a level of knowledge they can provide to prospective parents rather than taking a message if the Enrolments Officer is unavailable. Again, articulation of your key messages ensures everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. It is vital that teachers, receptionists and leadership all speak in alignment with the school’s mission, objectives and goals.
How many times have you visited an excellent website only to be let down by the customer service? Every point of contact a customer experiences at your school can, and should be, outstanding.
Understanding pain points
Ask questions. Being able to identify why prospective parents may not enrol at your school is vital. It means you can offer answers and solutions to any doubts early in the customer journey, showing the school’s benefits and easing any fears. By identifying and understanding real or perceived issues, the ideal outcome of retention or enrolment is easier to manage.
How to measure customer experience
Keep asking questions! Communication is key and if you’re not asking your customers how their experience was, how can you know whether it was good, bad or mediocre? Exceptional customer experience is the difference between maintaining, growing or losing enrolments. Send surveys to recently enrolled parents and students; ask them what their experience was (and is) like. Send surveys to those who decided not to enrol; ask why they did not choose your school and gather insights into where improvements can be made.
What could you be doing better?
Building your school’s brand and delivering on your brand promise should be a holistic strategy lived and breathed by every member of staff at your school, not just communicated by the marketing department. Every touchpoint of prospective parents and students should be identified and harnessed, enabling you to successfully create a unique and positive customer experience that can have a profound impact on the future of your school.
Jenni Smith is an Account Manager at imageseven with a background in television, marketing, social media and print. Along with a journalism degree, Jenni holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing, accreditations in copywriting and has a wealth of marketing experience. imageseven.com.au