Transitions in life can be both exciting and nerve-racking, especially when it comes to education. Whether a learner is deciding to enroll in a higher education program or a parent is deciding to home school their children, it’s often a very personal and often emotional journey. With so many options from the traditional classroom to online learning, it can be difficult to navigate through the myriad of choices. Much like consumers, students expect experiences with their educational providers to be personalized, easy, and convenient. After all, they’ve been dealing with digital disruptors such as Amazon and Apple for the past decade or more and have grown accustomed to a much more consumer-centric focus. From enrollment and orientation to graduation, educators have the opportunity to optimize the student experience and build loyalty at every stage of the education journey. Sharpen your number 2 pencils and take note. Here’s your cheat sheet to create the ideal student experience.
Tip #1 Establish Trust
Trust is a critical component to healthy relationships between learners, parents, and educators.
When educators build and foster a culture of trust, it has a positive and lasting impact on student retention and referrals. The first step to building trust and creating openness is to establish credibility. This includes listening to the needs and unique situations of your learners and parents, demonstrating common courtesy and etiquette, and choosing language to optimize comprehension. When properly enacted, learners and parents will feel that someone is listening to them, they are being treated as unique individuals, they are understood, and they can trust the people they are speaking with.
Tip #2: Assess Conversational Need
When learners and parents have questions about the educational opportunities available to them, it’s important to first assess their conversational needs. Are you speaking with a social buyer who wants someone to listen to their stories and past experiences? Or, are they a nervous buyer who is either overwhelmed by the countless options or seeking genuine reassurance that they are making a good decision? Perhaps they are a curious buyer who wants to be educated because good decisions require accurate information. By assessing the conversational needs of learners and parents, a skilled communicator can adapt the conversation to confidently handle the engagement.
Tip #3: Ask Insightful Questions
Pursuing education is a lifelong decision. Often, students will seek additional diplomas, certifications, and trade skills. This means educators have an opportunity to create and maintain loyalty with students. To do so, it’s important to know your students and what’s driving their educational decisions. Start by asking insightful questions to gather high quality information about the student and the context (want, need, or issue) behind the interaction. Additionally, use persuasive statements to increase buy-in and communicate expertise. And, engage in verbal matching by offering solutions that match student wants or needs.
Tip #4 Make Things Easy
Each semester or school year brings new challenges for learners and parents. Often, there are uncertainties about how to complete specific steps across the student journey. This could be anything from applying for scholarships and financial aid to enrolling in courses, accessing online materials, and submitting homework assignments. Educators should evaluate all elements of the student experience to determine how to make it easy. When communicating with learners and parents, use verbal guidance and other techniques that help minimize effort and maximize understanding both during and after the interaction.
Tip #5 Promote Goodwill
Learners and parents are increasingly aware of the many choices available to them when it comes to life-long learning. If they don’t feel valued by the educational systems and universities they are enrolled in, they will seek out other alternatives. That’s why it’s critical to promote goodwill and build rapport. This includes engaging in every conversation by responding to disclosures made by learners and parents, engaging in or initiating skillful small-talk, communicating a positive image of the other person, and protecting face when a vulnerability is voiced.
To compete and win in a highly competitive industry, educators must be prepared to adopt a customer experience approach across all interaction channels and touchpoints. This requires the right training and coaching around proven communication skills so that educators can:
- Respond to concerns optimistically and with emotional understanding;
- Educate learners and parents in ways that reduce their anxiety;
- Anticipate learner and parent needs and build rapport; and
- Create an engaging and effortless experience.
Educators who adopt a customer experience approach will reap the benefits by measurably driving student satisfaction, loyalty, and lifetime value. To learn more about creating better relationships with your current or future students, visit our website at www.startek.com and fill out the Contact Us form.