Smart schools use customer experience techniques to improve their open days. Here’s how to anticipate what parents are looking for, so you can plan effectively and better.

It’s a fundamental of marketing to put as much effort as you can into understanding your target market. For schools and school open days, this means parents of prospective pupils, of course. And one of the best customer experience techniques to use is look at is the customer journey.; the parents’ journey through the school on open day. Look at it through their eyes, if you can.

Here’s our guide for improving customer experience by understanding what parents are looking for. The way we do this is to try and understand what parents are likely to do, ask and watch. And this is not necessarily what you want them to!


Ensure that Leadership Team Speeches are Clearly Focused

Parents aren’t just looking for somewhere nice to drop the kids off to. They want to see an organisation that’s going places and has a clear plan for improvement. They’ll want their kids to be part of that improvement, too. So, to focus on the customer experience, be sure to deliver the information that parents are looking for. They’ll want you to be up-front about performance to date. Also, what your plans are and how (and when) you’re going to deliver them.

Above all, the senior team must show leadership to generate confidence and a positive customer experience.


Scrub Up the Team!

As you’re operating in competitive arenas nowadays, schools need to convey a professional image to prospective parents. What parents are looking for is confidence that each teacher is going to take care of their offspring. Taking care of their own presentation will show commitment to that. We know it’s difficult to get everyone on board, but it’s all down to the briefing and your focus on customer experience.

It’s not just about physical appearance, either. You need to do your bit as open day planners by ensuring that all staff colleagues have easy access to the key facts that show you’re all going in the same direction. These include performance data, Ofsted report summaries, what happens to kids when they leave the school and what the school’s improvement plan is.


Carefully Brief the Ambassador Studentsschool-kids-hands

Another aspect of briefing are those students chosen to escort parent groups around the school. Smart parents will be asking them questions, too.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of Ofsted, says asking these carefully selected pupils lots of questions can be very revealing.

“Most of the hand-picked students will say nice things about the schools,” says Sir Michael. “But ask them about achievement, ask them if they’ve made progress from year to year.”

“Ask if they are taught in mixed-ability classes – in all subjects, in some? Are there setting arrangements in the core subjects?”


Make Sure the School is Spotless

Obvious? We’d hope so, but in the pressure of daily work plus these special days, even the simplest things can get missed. Be sure that every room is cleaned, including the toilets, changing rooms and anywhere ‘off-piste’ that the inquisitive parent  may investigate.


It’s worth checking on the advice given to parents by Ofsted and other bodies. There’s a good blog, aimed at parents from the BBC’s Education team, including one from September 208 by Katherine Sellgren, ‘School Open Days: Eight Things to Look For’. It’ll give you some more advice to consider when thinking about customer experience.

While we’re on the subject of marketing, have you updated your school’s profile here yet?