In the past there used to be marketing, sales, and customer service – three different stages of customer interaction that were delivered, often in very different ways, by different groups of people.
That’s still true in most schools – with different people responsible for attracting people to the school, ‘closing the application’ with visits, events, and forms, and then delivering the actual educational experience to their children - even if the marketing and admissions teams are working more closely than they used to.
However, this is being challenged by the rise of the concept of ‘customer experience’ or CX. Digital technology allows much better tracking of all the interactions between a customer and a service across the whole ‘customer journey.’
But how can we use these ideas in our school marketing, especially when so much still relies on face-to-face events and meetings? Here are some ideas…
- Think about ‘touchpoints’ rather than website visits, calls, events and so on. One key principle of CX is that every time a customer encounters your brand is an opportunity for both sides to learn more.
- Gather more data from each touchpoint. The initial touchpoints are more and more likely to be digital – website or social media visits - which offer more opportunities to gather data, but some will still be by telephone or face-to-face – can you capture details here about their needs and interests and put them into the same system?
- Find the touchpoints you don’t control. These can include online reviews and social media comments and are highly valued by many prospective parents because they are independent. However, if you’re monitoring these areas, you can take steps to increase positive comments and remove those that are negative.
- Share data throughout the ‘customer journey.’ I’ve written before about the importance of this – for example ensuring that parents who visit your school meet the right people and get the right information for their children. This also needs to flow through to teachers and tutors.
- Track changes to get ahead of problems. Customer service is often seen in terms of having to solve customer problems that have already happened – but if you’re aware from your data of times or issues that regularly cause problems you can make changes to your processes in advance
- Think about your ongoing touchpoints. Keeping the confidence of parents is important both for retaining students and for your reputation in the wider community. So, think carefully about both events and communications – are they showing off the strengths of your school? Are they open to feedback? Are they carefully scheduled so parents can read them all?
Marketing Advice for Schools has worked with schools to develop customer journeys for both students and teachers that extend through their time at the school. Get in touch to find out if we can help with yours!