This article is written by our friends at Emmet Consulting, an independent strategy consultancy based in Melbourne, Australia.
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
Jeff Bezos, Founder and Chairman of Amazon
Kicking off with a quote from the founder of Amazon may feel like a far cry from the world of school enrolments. Then again, as one of the most successful organisations on the planet, perhaps Jeff Bezos and Amazon aren’t such a bad place to start when looking for lessons in building an exceptional and highly efficient customer experience.
Besides a school’s website and social media channels, Admissions is often the first point of contact for families. This means that Admissions teams usually take on a second role: the Directors of First Impressions. Making a great first impression is a lot of pressure. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge in delivering that great experience is often simply being unable to have enough time to consider how to build and execute it!
So, this brings us to how Admissions teams can gain back hours of their time with a little help from technology.
The Admissions team is a busy one, with a long list of tasks to complete. Amongst those tasks are often several repetitive but necessary activities and a tonne of administration. These tasks are time-consuming and as important as they might be, they aren’t where the value of an Admissions team truly lies.
Instead, the strength of Admissions comes from building relationships with prospective parents, selling the key benefits of the school, and representing the brand and ethos in every parent or student interaction. These are the efforts that produce a full, healthy waitlist for every year level. However, finding time to focus on the ‘value add’ means freeing up time from administration and low-value tasks.
The good news is that this can be achieved through the streamlining and automating of base processes and having accessible, visible data that help speed up decision-making and day-to-day execution. Now, this is where the magic (AKA technology) comes in!
Adopting technology enables Admissions teams to focus on high-value work that can’t be automated or outsourced while taking care of those day-to-day tasks. For example, replacing a paper-based admissions form with an online solution can eliminate manual data entry. Then, integrating that form with a dedicated school CRM can enable admissions teams to start automating follow up tasks with prospective families.
As you become comfortable with Admissions-enabled technology, you can even consider something as complex-sounding but relatively simple as building automated customer journeys. Journeys can cover many tasks, such as acknowledging initial application enquiries, automatically following up on incomplete applications, or drawing the Admissions team’s attention to an important application for a priority year of entry. In addition, you can manage reminders to those who are registered to attend a tour, handle check-ins as your guests as they arrive, and send different versions of thank you communications after the event automatically.
These are just a few examples of how technology can rapidly become a great ally of Admissions, freeing up time to focus on high-value interactions while wowing your next generation of families with personalised, highly efficient interactions. Together, an Admissions team with well-implemented technology can be a recipe for enhanced customer experiences and reduced workloads!
To wrap up, here are five tips for driving efficiency and an improved enrolment experience:
Remove the need for manual data entry and provide families with a simple online process, which lets them start the application one day, returning to complete it on another. With more mobile phone connections in New Zealand than there are people, people now expect to be able to complete life-admin tasks on their phone with a few clicks. A school enrolment form is no exception.
Choose a school CRM platform that centralises your prospective student and family interactions. Make sure it’s easy to use and helps you gain real-time views of application demand across areas such as Year Level and Year of Entry.
When schools have a clear line of sight on their waitlist, it becomes easier to highlight families applying for years which are a priority for your school to fill. In turn, you can pinpoint opportunities during conversations with prospective parents, fill spaces in those years and deliver a fabulous experience to your families as you do so.
With the right school CRM in place, even relatively complex automations can become simple! Setting up simple triggers and actions means that key tasks, such as issuing administrative forms, reminders and checklists, can be actioned and even chased up simply and efficiently.
Choosing technology is one thing, but making the most of it – and make no mistake, the potential benefits are enormous – requires navigating internal processes and behaviour changes. So, just as you invest in your new technology, remember to invest just as much in process mapping, consultation and training to support your teams through an exciting but very real period of change.
If you’d like to learn more about how technology can enhance your school Admissions team, get in touch with the team at Emmet Consulting for more information.