How to enhance the student journey
  • International Study

How education agents can enhance the customer experience

September 02, 2019

What’s more satisfying than a job well done? Maybe when it’s also one of the most effective pieces of marketing you’ll ever do. Well, what about a job well done that will help wrangle more work and widen the worth of your weekly winnings? That’s where enhancing the student experience comes in.

Regular readers will already know a recent study found 55 per cent of US students picked their education agent based on word of mouth. So you would be crazy not to put as much effort as possible into making the ones you already have happy and watch on as they rave to their friends and help grow your business. Here are six tips for how to do just that.

Communication

Just like in most walks of life, when it comes to keeping students happy, communication is key.  World Education News and Reviews’ 2017 report is pretty much the go-to guide for what students do and don’t like about education agents. Unfortunately, this was an easily identified area for improvement, with 26% of students unhappy with the help they received “initiating or managing communication with admission officers, departments, professors etc” at their institution of choice. More anecdotally, some students also scolded agents for a lack of clarity in both communication and fee structures. So upping your game with easy-to-understand communication both on your website and while talking to your clients can be an easy win for improving the customer experience.

Expenses

Money makes the world go round and in the international education market, there’s a lot of it. International students are forking out huge sums of cash to study what they hope will be career-defining courses. Cohort Go’s 2019 Aussie Study Experience report found just 18% of students described their course as reasonably priced and 48% classed it as expensive. So, while charging less for agent services is often not ideal from a business standpoint, there is a simple way to save your clients money on their biggest expense: school fees. Quick plug: Cohort Go obviously helps with that, and comes in as the cheapest way to make an international education payment. The simple platform converts payments at foreign exchange rates usually only available to large corporations and passes the savings on to students. An easy win.

Other services

Strangely, as more and more options start to pop up for all the little extras that go along with packing up your life to study on the other side of the world, it can actually make things harder. Sure, students have many times more choices for things such as accommodation and insurance than they did 10 years ago but not all of them are equal, and it can be overwhelming. That’s where agents can step in to handle some of the stress. That same study experience report found 59% chose their health insurance with the help of an agent, and only 12% for accommodation, an area that is already a pain point for Aussie studies in particular. Take away that trouble and it can only improve the students’ experiences.

Cohort Go can also help with booking accommodation and finding insurance.

Make things easy

This is obvious but it’s important to realise that most students have reached out to an agent in the first place because they want to make their life easier. For students involved in the WENR study, 45% went down the agent route because they didn’t think they knew enough about US college admissions. Almost as many, 41%, wanted to “reduce the time and effort needed to prepare and/or complete admission applications”. This was even higher in some areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. So it’s critical to keep that in mind, whether that’s through getting everything right first time, catering to the needs of students with English as a second language or other simple approaches.

Work

Among many other things, the Cohort Go 2019 Aussie Study Experience report highlighted the importance of working to anyone studying in Australia. The high cost of living means the vast majority can’t survive their course without some form of income, so getting the right visa and landing a job as soon as possible, are both critical. Almost 60% had trouble finding a job in Australia, so while job assistance may not yet be widespread among education agents, it’s an obvious opportunity for those looking to expand.

Responsiveness

This one goes back to communication but it’s about more than just being clear and accurate with what you’re saying. Working with multiple students and institutions at once, almost by definition on other sides of the world or at least different time zones, can be tough. It’s easy to think that email or question can wait until tomorrow or the next day to answer when you’re inbox is overflowing. But students can often feel like you have their life in your hands and the longer they’re waiting for a reply, even for something simple, the more anxious they will usually get.  The WENR research highlighted “unresponsiveness to student queries” as one of the three key pain areas when dealing with agents, so don’t become part of that statistic.

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