Everyone knows how delivering valuable service is crucial for any business. But clients often don’t understand the value of the service they are being provided. If you are an education agent, you know what I mean. Starting a education agency may be an easy-in business, but keeping up with the growing competition is becoming impossible. There are simply too many players nowadays, and in order for you to become successful, you have to deliver excellent service to clients.
So, how to provide valuable service, so that your clients recognize your effort to get them what they want? Well, this may not be as simple, but here are a few things for you to try out:
Actually listen to your Clients
As an education agent, listening to your clients is always important. Whether it is feedback for your services or when they express their desires. Your ability to retain such information determines the quality of your service.
Do not make up your mind before your client does
This may not seem as apparent, but an education agent tends to make up his/her mind once a client provides their profile. Most agents will have pre-decided the city and even the university that they think is appropriate for the client. This is a bad practice. Yes, it is true that your experience allows you to determine what might be best for their client. However, actually listening to the clients is a rare virtue any education agent must develop. But, in order to deliver excellent service to clients, you should never force your decision on them. It is highly unappealing.
Understand your client’s true desire
Students, more often than not, tend to go abroad to experience the lifestyle of that place, education is secondary. Very few actually seek quality education and not the lifestyle. Also, keep in mind that not everyone who travels is looking for a PR or a Green Card. As an education agent, you must learn to identify what their desires are. Be open with them. Communication is the key to client-agent relationship. Understand their purpose, and help them achieve it. Your clients will most definitely appreciate your service even more.
Minor details matter the most
Smallest details tend to matter the most. Hence, you must always strive to identify your clients with their names and faces. If you can do this, believe me, your clients will be impressed. Memorize important things like their preferred country and courses, to the smallest details you discussed in your last meeting. Keep plenty of notes and before any appointment, give it a thorough read. Always prepare yourself beforehand. It will be easier for you to create a personalized environment, and your clients will open up like never before. Getting them to talk is the best thing that can happen to any education agent.
If you’re not good with handwritten notes, it’s better to keep them organized digitally. Computerized note taking practice is very efficient due to its ease of accessibility. Agency management platforms provide easy-to-use note keeping tools. These notes are attached to respective their clients’ or partners’ profile, making them available anytime. Using a digital agency management platform will help you deliver excellent service to clients. As an education agent, you can use educational agency management system.
Manage client expectation
Managing client expectation is very important. Especially since clients generally tend to either overestimate or underestimate themselves. As an education agent, you must learn to recognize your client’s capabilities. Once you’ve got this right, you will have a much better success rate. Also, your clients will appreciate you for the effort.
Provide genuine advice
Always be honest with your clients. If something is not achievable, you should let them know immediately. However, there are different approaches you can take so that your clients are not offended by your proposition.
First of all, understand why your client has chosen a particular destination. If you know for certain that it is not achievable, never criticize the client. For example, agents usually tend to criticize client’s portfolio making them feel inadequate. Never tell them that they are not capable enough for their choice of destination. Rather, criticize the idea. Tell them that the idea of that destination is not appropriate for the client. Follow up with a suggestion that suits the client better. And always do it in a non-authoritative manner by making requests rather than demands. Your clients need to know that they are in control of the destination rather than their education agent.
Under-promise and over deliver
This is probably the oldest trick in the book. But it works every time! You must have noticed that clients are generally impatient. They tend to think that they are the only clients you have. Hence, they are easily disappointed if you don’t meet their expectations. This is why you should never declare if something is easily achievable. Therefore, under-promise and over deliver.
Better yet, never fully assure them of anything and always say that you will try to do your best. Also, ask for longer deadlines than you need. So that when you meet your deadline earlier than expected, they will think that you have put in extra effort. Keeping your clients satisfied should be at the top of any agent’s priority no matter how you do it.
Constant communication and career planning
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but constant communication is fundamental. Never stop communicating with your clients and make sure that they keep communicating with you too. It is through this stream of constant communication; you will be able to understand exactly what they expect from you. Listening to feedback is crucial as an education agent if you want to deliver excellent service to clients.
And don’t just blurt out ideas, plan an education and career path for your client. Talk to them about the possibilities, giving them the full scope of what is achievable and what isn’t. Let them clearly know your intentions and understand what they intend for themselves. This will at least help you set a middle ground making it easier for you to set appropriate goals for your clients.
Information & data management
Nobody likes stepping inside a messy office. Therefore, how you manage your agency’s data and moreover, how you manage your clients’ information says a lot about your agency. Proper data management and organization helps build trust between you and your clients. It also makes you seem much more professional. It is important to exhibit that your clients’ private information is as valuable to you, as it is to them. Here are a few suggestions that can help you smoothly manage data.
Managing agency data
Managing your agency’s data (i.e. partners’ and visa information) is crucial. Presented the opportunity, you must be able to instantly provide this information to your leads and clients. Hence, you must keep it well-organized and easily accessible. However, as your agency grows, so does your database. Managing paperwork becomes exceedingly tedious. You must expand your horizons and look for solutions early on itself.
Taking your agency digital is the most prominent solution. Don’t just rely on papers and physical copy of your data. It’s always in your best interest to have multiple back-ups. Besides, computerized data is always available at your fingertips. An education agent can even use MS Excel or Google Sheets in the beginning. But you will require and agency management platform as your business grows.Using an agency management software will help you deliver excellent service to clients.
Managing clients’ information
First and foremost, I want to begin by stating that your clients’ private information is their own. This data does not belong to your agency. So giving out such information to any third party is not only unethical but can be punishable by law. Hence, it is only normal for clients to get sensitive about their personal information. If it happens, don’t take it personally. This is also the primary reason why you should always protect clients’ data with utmost responsibility. Always maintain privacy and discretion if you wish to deliver excellent service to clients.
So, if you haven’t considered digitizing your agency just yet, make sure to keep such data well organized and safely locked. However, if you keep digital records, make sure you keep plenty of backups. Also, ensure that your computers and hard drives are password protected. Most successful agencies also use CRMs to manage clients, where all data is securely stored in the cloud. Give it a try!
Maintain ethical standards
Now, here’s a topic no one seems to be interested in discussing – ethics in the agency business. Any education agent would understand that this is a sensitive topic and avoid it whenever possible. But, for you to deliver excellent service to clients, we’ll discuss some ethical dilemmas you may face, that most agents struggle to deal with.
Commission based counseling
You know exactly what I’m talking about here. Of course, some partners pay agents more than the others. However, providing counsel solely on the basis of such selfish decisions will not get agencies very far. Yes, sometimes doing these things seem necessary to keep up with your competition, but you must avoid it as much as possible.
Your intentions with your clients should be clean and transparent. Engaging in such activity is very short sighted. If an education agent truly want to deliver excellent service to clients, sell them what they came to buy.
The Discount Race
As agency competition stiffens, rival agencies tend to practice The Discount Game, in order to get ahead. It’s exactly what it sounds like, agencies giving off discounts to clients that they cannot afford. This is also partly clients’ fault, since all they seem to care about is ‘discount’. But, just keep yourself in their shoes. Wouldn’t any education agent be excited? It’s just human nature. However, providing a low-cost service shouldn’t be your only target and marketing strategy.
Such practices tend to automatically affect your performance in work. You will start feeling discouraged to maximize your service effort. If you have done your homework and worked hard, the commission you have earned is yours. You deserve it! Making sacrifices every once in awhile is understandable, but engaging yourself in this vicious cycle can destabilize your agency’s financials. Besides, if you provide your clients with genuine service, they will happily pay.
There is no single or guaranteed method for any education agent to deliver excellent service to clients. But these practices will definitely get you on the right track. All you need to remember is that you should always provide a personalized service and make your clients feel special. Let them know that they are the center of your universe and will do anything to provide what they want. By the end of your client’s buyer journey, you should have established a healthy friendship with them.
Well, that’s all for now, but please let us know what you think. Also, if we have missed mentioning anything we are open to suggestions. Have a good day!