Optimizing Value

A few weeks ago, I purchased new glasses.  Before leaving the shop, the staff adjusted my glasses for a proper fit.  They also tested to ensure my vision was actually better than before.  At the end, they reminded me that my vision would be optimal if my glasses were properly positioned on my face.  Then they suggested that I return every 3 months or so and let them adjust the glasses to ensure they continued to rest properly on my face.

There are dozens of shops that will happily sell someone new glasses.  Very few are interested in extending the value of the glasses they sell.  Extending the value of the glasses is an inexpensive way to provide customer service that has durable value.  It sends a message that the vendor cares more about customer value than just ensuring the customer has a good experience while in the shop (customer satisfaction).

Most parochial schools try hard to ensure that every student has a good experience while they are on the premises.  Providing a good experience is the norm rather than a competitive advantage.  There is nothing durable about a good experience.  Therefore, while necessary, a good experience does nothing to increase your school’s sustainability, your school’s reputation, or students’ success.

If a periodic adjustment maintains my comfort and perpetuates the usefulness of my glasses, it adds meaningful, measurable, and durable value to the transaction.  It helps create an engaged customer and it strengthens the reputation of the store.

What is your school doing to improve student engagement, to increase your school’s sustainability and reputation through student services, and to add durable value to your services?

One of the challenges parochial schools face is tracking their outcomes.  When a school is unable to stay in touch with a student, it is impossible to know if the desired outcome was achieved.  The same is true for eyeglass providers.  However, by providing a service every 3 months or so, they are motivating their customers to keep in touch.  If the customer sees value in the service, there is no reason for the shop to chase the customer.  It is probably cheaper to adjust glasses periodically and have meaningful contact with the customer than to send dozens of mailings, which have a high probability of being ignored.  Cheaper for your school and better for your student is a win for everyone.

What post-graduation services can your school offer that will encourage your students to stay in touch?

Periodic contact also builds trust.  It encourages customers to create a relationship with the store.  The staff is able to determine when the customer will need a vision checkup, new glasses, etc.  That turns the staff into problem solvers rather than sales people.

How will your school use the periodic contact with your students to build trust, strengthen relationships, provide additional services, ensure the desired outcome materializes, earn referrals, and ensure that students become donors and their parents remain donors?

Next Step:

Create post-graduation services for your students

Train your staff to use the return visit to determine the student’s progress and suggest next steps

Use the durability of your post-graduation relationship to determine the success of your programing

For-profits usually measure their success based upon payment when the transaction is complete.  However, schools are in the business of changing lives.  That implies that success only occurs when a life is changed, which is usually years after services are rendered.  It also implies that the relationship must be sustained long after the primary services are delivered.

The key to sustaining the relationship is offering post-graduation value.  The value must be sufficient to motivate the student to sustain the relationship.  Creating ongoing value tells your students, parents, and donors that your students have enduring value and your school sincerely cares about your students’ long-term success.

Give your students and parents more than they expect and they will give you the support your school needs for increased sustainability and financial strength.

Take It Further:

Use the durable relationship with your students and the durable value your post-graduation services offer to increase donor engagement

Remind your board that for-profits focus on transactions and schools focus on changing lives

Remember the services that really matter are the services your school provides beyond what is available from the public schools (non-academic services)


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