The power of recommendation, or why the School Promoter System supersedes mere ‘satisfaction’

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Blog
Positive thinking was the theme for the ISBI Marketing Conference at Frensham Heights last week and what can be more positive than recommending a brand that has given you great service?

Our session centred on the Net Promoter System that was devised by Bain and Co in 2011 to test the likelihood of a recommendation for their clients and then act on this to improve sales. In its original form the system requires absolute commitment from management to score, analyse and act on the findings from this research over a number of year in order to track progress. However, its detail makes it inappropriate for the majority of schools to implement. As we know, human resources in school admin departments are frequently over stretched already, without adding another layer of work.

However, the tenet of the net promoter system is still totally relevant to schools and this is why we have adapted it and developed the more user-friendly School Promoter System.

This is how it works.

First prime your Governors and SMT that you are going to implement this very simple metric/system

Then, involving all stakeholder groups, ask respondents the question, ‘Would you recommend our school to others?’ giving them the options of Yes, Maybe or No and requesting the reasons they have given for their answers. This can be done as a discrete project or as part of a more comprehensive brand audit

Those that answer ‘no’ are your Detractors, those that answer ‘maybe’ are your Neutrals and those that answer ‘yes’ are your Promoters.

The next step is to analyse the findings (by the whole school community of stakeholders and/or the different segments) to give a snapshot of feeling towards the school – good, bad and indifferent, showing these responses as percentages.

Two beautiful young women holding cup of coffee and talking to each other. Young blonde woman in conversation with her best friend while sipping a cup of capuccino. Friends meeting up for coffee after a long time.

Now down to the action part!

Gathering the SLT, look in detail at the reasons why stakeholders gave the answers they did and discuss a) the pertinence of these and then b) how you can react by building on the positives and rectifying the negatives.

Put your resulting plan in place and make sure you publicise your actions, so that everyone knows you really were listening to them!

Ask the same question the next year and see whether you have made a difference to the positive scores by pushing them up.

In order to fully realise the relevance of implementing the school promoter system, consider a time when you’ve had a great customer experience, what that meant to you and how many friends you told. That recommendation will no doubt have had a hugely powerful effect on sales for the company in question. Conversely, think about a bad experience and how reporting that may well have had a negative effect on sales. We asked our delegates to tell us about their experiences, good and bad. They tended to centre around restaurants and retailers, which by definition are relatively low value (but no less important) purchases.

Consider, then, the average lifetime spend on one child at an independent day school from age 3-18 being in the region of £251k (about the cost of the average house in the UK) and you can certainly see how the power of recommendation (or detraction) could, over time, make or break a school.