Sharing timely information with purpose and clarity is the best way to build client relationships. Before envisioning a client communication strategy for your study abroad center, the first step is to understand how you have been communicating with them so far. Is your approach traditional, contemporary or technology-driven?
In a traditional study abroad center, client communication mostly takes place in the office, and clients have to visit personally. A contemporary agency will use scanners, digital file storage, and correspond with clients via emails. Technology-driven firms use technology to stay in touch with clients 24/7, and can work from anywhere in the world.
As clients become more tech-savvy, there is a sense of urgency among study abroad centers to adapt quickly. However, this does not mean every technology is suitable for your business. In fact, the wrong communication strategy can alienate your clients.
Here are five steps to assess and build your agency’s client communication strategy, and change the way clients interact with your study abroad center:
Step 1: Map out client interactions
One of the best ways to find out what kind of effective client communication strategy will suit you is to map out current client interactions. Every stage is important. Pick out any client from your database and assess their interactions, based on these factors:
Identify your client touch points
Touch points are your points of contact with clients, from start to finish. It could be your website or social media page, subscriptions, ratings and reviews, emails, and any other points of contact where clients get to know you, ask questions or interact.
Review every touch point
Once you have a map of the customer’s journey, consider each interaction, whether it is via email, phone, letter, website or social media of your study abroad center. Do you understand client queries? Is the communication friendly, accessible, and clear? How promptly are you responding?
Identify best practices
Based on your review, identify what would be the most effective ways to communicate with clients. List them down and try to make these practices part of your study abroad center culture.
Step 2: Make client communication strategy part of agency culture
You have taken the first essential steps to identify your agency’s touch points and best practices. Now is the time to make this strategy an integral part of your agency culture. This is essential because a study abroad center that is unable to adopt this strategy wholeheartedly cannot change how clients interact with them. Here are some ways to make it happen:
- Train your employees to improve their written and spoken client communication skills, as everything they do and say will reflect on your agency’s brand.
- They must be well versed in your agency’s client communication strategy so that everyone in your agency understands its value, not just the customer service department.
- Eventually, your employees must understand that their jobs are directly dependent on understanding these values. It is not an option.
- Look out for employees who do not take this seriously and let them go, if you have to.
- Use posters, banners, and info-graphics in your office space that motivate as well as educate the employees about your client communication strategy.
Step 3: Don’t forget the human touch
Study abroad center need management software that can give them timely information and manage their data efficiently. However, merely using technology is insufficient without the human touch. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure all your conversations are polite and clear.
- Greet and respect your clients.
- Use positive words and sentences like ‘Thank you’, ‘May I’, ‘If I May’, and so on.
- Using technology to communicate and update your clients does not mean the tone has to be robotic, so be yourself yet professional.
Step 4: Use technology wherever and whenever it is applicable
Using the right technology at the right time can do wonders for your study abroad center business and help build strong client relationship. For instance, if you find that your client is unable to understand certain details, just pick up the phone and explain it personally.
- Send automatic emails using professional business email etiquette whenever possible, whether they are reminders about events or certain immigration updates you want clients to know.
- Use emails to keep multiple parties in the loop, but be careful while adding cc or bcc.
- If your agency uses management software, make sure the client relationship manager has clear access to it.
- The manager should be able to integrate other departments like IT and finance into the software.
- If your agency is sending newsletters to subscribed clients, you may want to try sending an occasional physical copy too. It is experimental, but there is nothing to lose in trying.
- Phone calls still happen to be one of the most effective ways of client communication, so use it well. It is particularly helpful if you have to explain something in detail.
- If you need to make a call to many people at the same time, try Skype, Google Hangouts or other mediums that allow conference calls.
Step 5: Listen & Learn
The art of listening works very well, if you are willing to learn and grow. Receiving feedback or comments about your study abroad center services is the best way to understand the business. Besides, it is an interactive way to maintain good client communication and build relationships.
- Should you incentivize feedback? The answer is yes and no. As long as you are confident about getting genuine answers, it should be fine.
- Make sure your agency website has a feedback form, either separately or as part of the contact form.
- Once clients fill the forms and send them to you, set an automated reply saying something like, “We will get back to you ASAP”. It will be even better if you can specify the time.
- Sometimes you need to reach out to clients instead of waiting for them to reply. Invite them to your events, where they can fill out feedback forms or sign up for future events.
- Be active on social media. It is currently one of the best platforms to ask for service feedback and acknowledge comments, praises or queries.
Merely creating a client communication strategy is insufficient, if your team does not practice it sincerely. It is important for education agency CRM. Be adamant about making it part of your agency culture! At the same time, it must be flexible enough to adapt to changing situations and client demands.