How Voyage Advisory Helped a Leading Education Service Provider Find Their Best Practices and Build Better Processes
In the process of researching options, choosing a college, and making it to the first day of class, there are many hurdles that can get in a student’s way. Without a guide or some form of outside help to navigate a complex system, it’s easy to get lost.
Our client, an education services provider, is there to help students move through the college decision-making and admissions process, but over years of growth and change, their own process for helping their clients had gotten muddled. The client engaged Voyage Advisory to help clear the path and make it easier for their advisors to get students from the start of the higher education search process all the way to a conversion — their first day of class.
By law, educational providers like this client are not allowed to “sell” their services, nor can they pay comission to their staff when a student enrolls at a given school. The team needed to refine enablement techniques without crossing the line into sales, while simultaneously completing a process redesign and customer experience improvements.
GUIDING STUDENTS TOWARD THEIR LEARNING DESTINATION
A student considering college may have any number of questions and concerns, including program fit, admissions, financing, and even the distance from home.
To help students address these obstacles, this client employed a team of about 400 enrollment advisors (EAs). Because conversions aren’t counted until a student’s first day, EAs need to keep their clients on the right track and moving toward that destination. Unfortunately, growth and acquisition had created a siloed structure and inconsistent processes among EAs, who were finding that students would abandon the enrollment process at a variety of stages that could have easily been addressed.
Our client set a goal for EAs to improve the number of students they moved to the next stage of the conversion funnel by 50%, but the EAs were operating without crucial resources for training and development. That’s where Voyage came in.
DISCOVERING BEST PRACTICES
The Voyage team was able to help organize and outline current processes and best practices by partnering with the EA team. With their expertise and on-the-ground experience, we determined which processes had the highest success rate. From there, we worked in tandem with the EA and leadership teams to coax out the best ones and make them part of the SOP.
As consultants, we always look to the people who are most affected by an issue within the business. In this case, we focused on the EAs, paying special attention to three areas:
Processes: If the goal is to improve conversions throughout the funnel, ultimately leading to greater student acquisition, what are the processes that will best enable EAs to achieve that goal?
Tools and Resources: What tools can EAs use to overcome objections or answer student questions? What guidance can they use tailored to specific situations so they’re not forced to improvise?
Leadership Actions: How can leadership support the EAs as they engage with students and encounter difficulties?
FOUR TRAINING MODULES FOR IMPROVING ACQUISITION
Digging into those areas helped us to chart a course for how our client could improve results for their EAs. Ultimately, we zeroed in on four training modules for their teams.
1. COACHING AND GOALS
Even though they had goals for improving conversions, those goals weren’t something our client was regularly discussing with their teams. They weren’t ingrained in the coaching process when they needed to be front and center.
“You want to make sure that you’re referencing those goals every time you have a coaching session,” our consultant Holly Soave explained. “And we outlined what we want that coaching session to look like so we’re making sure that we’re on track to meet those goals.”
2. PLANNING AND PRIORITIZING
With goals front and center, we equipped EAs to set their priorities around achieving them. They took proactive steps to meet their targets, and if those targets didn’t feel achievable, they could speak with a manager to get the resources they needed to bring goals within reach.
3. PROCESSES, TOOLS AND RESOURCES
In this module, we drew on what we learned from the teams in the discovery phase. Once we had a clear view of which methods worked best for dealing with student objections and moving them through the funnel, we helped turn these winning strategies into templates and other resources that any EA could use.
This codification proved especially important after they have enrolled but before they have started classes. Unfortunately, this step was where our client saw the lowest conversion rate, meaning students who were a step away from their higher-ed dreams were not falling through at the last minute.
As a solution, we created a set of topical lists designed to help the EAs stay engaged with students at various points during this period. By addressing any lingering concerns the student might have, the EAs helped learners proceed with confidence.
4. CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
EAs had seen a lot of short-lived changes by the time we came along, which meant we needed to overcome the impression that new processes were simply the flavor of the month and gain buy-in to a culture of continuous improvement.
With that in mind, we wanted managers to regularly observe their EAs in action and look for ways to make their lives easier by implementing more efficient processes. Spotting those issues means that particular process can be improved for all EAs across the board.
A BETTER EXPERIENCE FOR EAs AND STUDENTS
All told, roughly 400 EAs and managers went through the training in the first phase, and the success stories began coming as soon as they put the new tools to use.
“We had an agent say something like, ‘I used the objection handling resource with a student who wasn’t sure how to fund their degree, and the student was crying happy tears because they weren’t having to figure it all out on their own,’” Soave said.
At the conclusion of our engagement, the client had the practices, training modules, and tools needed to equip its team for success.
READY TO REBOOT YOUR COACHING?
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