After a back breaking January, i’m happy to be bringing another post.
Customer relationship is one of those things you can’t neglect. If you overdo it, parents will not enjoy it, but if you lack the effort, parents won’t stay very long either.
What type of communications are essential
1. The initiation
When parents come in for the first time, your attitude and general atmosphere can have a serious impact on how they perceive your school and whether they will commit to sending their children to your school. You need to develop a game plan, and it has to tie together with your overall offer as a language school. Something that still confounds me in Korea is that parents don’t see English as simply English. There are different subgroups, with the major cut being test prep. You need to find out how you want to be perceived as a hagwon and that is how you sell yourself.
2. The improvement
Parents want security, or in the least have a sense of control over their childrens’ development. Don’t forget that they are shelling over a minimum of 10% of their disposable income just to learn English. The problem here is the cost of administration. When you are having your capacity filled at 80% (in my case) you will have about 40 kids per teacher. How do you manage that? Most people think that a website can increase communication, but I believe they are wrong, you still need a teacher to put in the data for the parents to see. You could of course hire an additional admin to reduce the workload of the teacher, but then you have an increased cost AND an increased level of mistakes. Every time you add someone to the chain, the further away you are from the parents and the less real information goes through. Communication is still a 2 way street.
The solution is in trying to find a communication tool that allows minimized admin on the teacher’s part and minimal distance between parent and teacher.
I haven’t found this solution yet, but I constantly experiment with different tools.
3. The goodbye
How you handle the goodbye might actually determine future income. Not all parents leave because they think your school is not good enough. Some leave because of the cost, some leave because they move to another area. There is a natural outflow of student outside of anybody’s control. What I do, in these cases, is always have a follow up on a leaving student. We will give them a call and simply try to find out why they decided to discontinue. This simple call can, even if you made a mistake, even out the bad feelings parents might have about your school. Students do return, when an experience at another hagwon is even worse, so keep the message positive and don’t show disappointment or anger at a student leaving. Apologize in a simple way and tell them you hope to be of service to them at a later day. Even if you decided to remove a student from your school, which will happen, keep it friendly and give an explanation to why you decided to remove the student, if it is a behaviorial issue, you are giving a positive signal to the parents, and they could start working on improving his habits. Those parents will come back to your school and see if you want to try again.
To be honest, I believe that my school still needs to find an efficient way to communicate with the parents. We are sorely lacking, mostly due to me not being able to speak the language.