Shaping the Next Generation: Customer-Centricity in the Education Sector

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Thursday, August 5, 2021

You might not necessarily think of the education sector as having ‘customers’, but in reality, it does. They just go by different names: students, teachers, parents, and stakeholders.

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Shaping the Next Generation: Customer-Centricity in the Education Sector

Though largely, when we look at customer service in the education sector, we’re referring to the experience students and stakeholders have when interacting with the educational establishment.

Although educational roles such as teachers or lecturers might not be deemed ‘customer service’ roles, there is a lot to be said about these positions. In fact, a study found that a student’s experience in education changed the outcomes of their success.

For example, the study revealed that effective communication from teachers could reduce the number of students who drop out of higher education in their first year.

And these results don’t just apply to higher education either; all students of all ages can benefit from access to information and effective communication with their educational establishments.

It’s clear that customer experience is important in the education sector. Despite this, not enough institutions will have put proper thought into how they incorporate more customer-centricity in their experience strategy.

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What is customer-centricity in education?

When we talk about customers, we’re primarily referring to students and even teachers, but this can also include parents, government bodies, board members, and taxpayers (to a certain extent).

Customer-centricity means putting customers at the center of every business process and every new decision that is made about the organisation. So, when it comes to customer-centricity in education, this is referring to the optimisation of the interaction between customers (students, parents, etc.) and the school establishment.

In the education sector, you are often dealing with young minds and investing in their career goals. But when it comes to corporate customers, customer-centricity is also about offering them the best possible experience and return on their investment.

How to improve the customer experience and boost customer-centricity

Here’s how you can improve the customer experience and ensure your customers are at the heart of every process and decision - placing particular focus on how this can help shape the next generation of students.

Be responsive

Whether you’re responding to a student’s question or a query from a parent or stakeholder, being responsive is one of the best ways to deliver a good customer experience. And this needs to be done in a timely manner as today’s consumers expect almost instant results.

In fact, nearly half of all customers (46%) expect companies to respond to them in less than 4 hours. Despite this, the average response time for any business is 12 hours and 10 minutes.

And that’s too long.

This is particularly true for students who might be feeling stressed about their work or exams, and worrying if they’ll get a response from their teacher in time can cause additional stress. Therefore, quick responses, whether through email, social media, or online collaboration platforms, can help reduce pressure and get students back on track.

Nurture a culture focused on quality service

Customer service in the education sector can seem like a complex task because there are so many different parties involved. However, nurturing a culture of customer-centricity should start with the students and emulate outwards from there.

This means that all teachers and staff members need to put student’s wants and needs at the heart of everything they do. From this, a culture of quality service can be engrained in all other departments such as HR, office admin, and more.

By nurturing a culture that is customer-centric, the need to meet customer demands will trickle down through the ranks, ensuring that every party is happy and feels they are appreciated and supported by the institution.

Choose the right tools

In order to interact with students, parents, and other relevant parties in a timely and effective manner that makes them feel valued and heard, you need to have the right tools in place.

This is supported by a 2017 study that found 83% of students used social media to research higher education institutions before making a decision. So, if you’ve received bad reviews or you’re not accessible via social media, students might choose to go elsewhere.

With the shift from physical to digital learning in higher education becoming more apparent, institutions are challenged with delivering the same level of compelling content and maintaining interaction whilst ensuring enrollment numbers are not compromised.

And this is even more important for today’s on-demand generation as students interact across a range of different platforms. Therefore, institutions need to make sure they facilitate an omnichannel experience that allows students and teachers to interact across different platforms and pick up where they left off.

Some of the most important tools that can be used to create a customer-centric establishment include:

  • Online help centers and information points
  • Customer data platforms
  • AI chatbots and instant messaging platforms
  • Online portals that can be accessed by students, parents, and teachers
  • Relevant social media accounts

In a nutshell, educational establishments need to put some careful thought into which tools will work best for employees, students, parents, and stakeholders, then invest in these.

Introduce personalisation practices

In the same way that lots of businesses will define their target market and create personalised marketing campaigns, educational institutions can support the specific needs of their students, either on a one-to-one level or in different clusters based on their characteristics and learning styles.

This way, students and their parents can be targeted with unique and useful information that is going to add real value to their learning and goals. They should also be given access to relevant information centers or portals.

For example, there might be different sections, forms, and advice on student finance depending on a student’s unique situation. Are they an international student? Perhaps they’re from a low-income household?

Whatever the case may be, personalised experiences and targeted content can make students and their families feel heard and appreciated, offering a much better experience.

If you’d like to know more about how you can build a 360° view of your customers in your business, you can check out our comprehensive guide here.

Further reading

Sitecore

Sitecore is a global leader in digital experience management software that combines content management, commerce, and customer insights. The Sitecore Experience Cloud™ empowers marketers to deliver personalized content in real time and at scale across every channel—before, during, and after a sale. More than 5,200 brands—including American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, Kimberly-Clark, and L’Oréal—have trusted Sitecore to deliver the personalized interactions that delight audiences, build loyalty, and drive revenue. 

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