You may have noticed that we bang on a lot about first impressions here at Stickman. In fact, our Founder – Emily Richards – is just back from preaching, erm sorry, ‘talking’, about this very topic at Bett Show in London. Let us explain why we’re so passionate about this and why it’s so vital for schools to listen.

Parents now have more choice than ever before about which school they send their child to. At the touch of a button, they can review a school’s reputation; at the blink of an eye, they can visit online forums and compare and contrast your school with others; or in a flash, they they can speed over to social media sites and examine how your school is being talked about. So it’s absolutely crucial that every single ‘touchpoint’ with a prospective family creates a superb impression. At Stickman, we like to call this ‘creating the wow’.

This is why mystery shopping the experience a prospective family are receiving during your admissions process is so powerful. It can provide a school with insight that enables you to fix the gaps and embellish the good! Therefore making your admissions process customer-centred and effective.

How does it work?

An experienced and skilled third party acting as a mystery shopper, will interact with your school under the guise of a prospective parent and assess the experience offered. This will  either be by phoning into the school or by visiting the school (more on the types of mystery shopping further on). They will then provide feedback and recommendations following this contact. This feedback can range from the pleasingly reassuring to the eyebrow-raising and revealing. Armed with this knowledge, you can then plan and implement the recommendations to enhance the experience of prospective families. These can include ‘quick wins’ as well as longer-term strategies to follow.

What types of mystery shopping are there?

There are two main types of mystery shopping:

  1. Telephone enquiries – mystery shopping how school office staff are engaging with prospective parent on the phone.
  2. School visit – mystery shopping the experience offered at a school tour or an Open Day.

Let’s talk about them in turn:

  1. Mystery shopping – telephone enquiries:

Prospective parents will glean a huge amount about your school from that phone call with a school and it’s crucial to ‘wow’ during this exchange as it’s often the first point of contact with a prospective family. It’s no longer enough for that member of staff to be polite and professional either. Parents now have greater expectations and they’ll want to feel reassured at every stage that your school is right for them.

  1. Mystery shopping – school visit:

Similarly, a mystery shopper carrying out a school visit will consider all aspects of their experience, from greeting and ‘way finding’, to cleanliness, atmosphere and those all-important interactions with individuals. An experienced mystery shopper will report back in detail and share valuable observations and recommendations for practical, achievable improvements.

Put simply, if you don’t WOW families upon their first encounter with the school, you may never get a second chance to progress that enquiry and boost pupil numbers. At Stickman, we absolutely concur with the old adage “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”. Ask yourself, can you really afford to lose prospective families through being unaware of the experience you’re offering to them?

If you’re interested in knowing more about Stickman’s mystery shopping services, simply get in touch. We’re always happy to explain how our work helps schools to get results that impact positively on their school recruitment and revenue.

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