Silver Award Winner of Customer Experience in the Crisis Category
DECEMBER 15, 2020 DONNA O’TOOLE Winning Awards with Donna O’Toole
Coming up with plan A, B, C, D and E with Dr Rebecca Zhi Herbert, Silver Award Winner of Customer Experience in the Crisis category at the UK Customer Experience Awards.
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Donna catches up with Dr Rebecca Zhi Herbert, founder and the Academic Director of Wisdom Spring Education. As Silver winner of the UK Customer Experience Awards for Customer Experience during the Crisis, and finalist of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, 2020 has certainly been an eventful year for Rebecca and her team!
Originally from Wuhan, China, As a highly respected and Chinese/British education expert based in the UK, Rebecca set up Wisdom Spring Education in 2014 to help families in China to give their children an outstanding British education.
Since this time she has ensured children from the ages of 10 – 18 can safely and securely travel between the countries for their education and thrive in the schools and universities they attend.
However, in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, Rebecca was ahead of the game, having been aware of the outbreak in her hometown months earlier. In today’s podcast, I welcome Rebecca to tell us her incredible story of how the pandemic impacted on her business and the children and families she was working with, and how this has resulted in a new educational journey for both her students and her business.
Donna O’Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community. https://www.buzzsprout.com/1306723/6855982
At the end of another year, it’s commonplace to pause and reflect. This is something we’ve always liked to do at Wisdom Spring Education. It’s important to consider the lessons learned; the things we did well and highlight the things we can improve upon. And vitally, how we can apply such learnings into our business in the future.
The past 12 months, of course, have been anything but commonplace. Almost overnight, businesses have had to pivot their entire operations as they’ve adjusted to the ‘new normal’ and adapted to everyone’s new favourite acronym WFH. As for the unprecedented use of the word unprecedented…
However, in the midst of such turbulence, we’ve discovered that the more we’ve stuck to our principles and our values – which, in essence, is our customer experience – the more successful we’ve been at navigating our way through the events of 2020.
Trust is central to the customer experience
As an education consultancy, customer experience is central to everything we do at Wisdom Spring Education. Our aim is to introduce the British boarding school system to overseas students and support them through the school journey till a successful university entrance.
Our educational methodology effectively sharpens students’ skills and increases their chances of getting into top schools and universities. Our goal is to seamlessly integrate overseas students into the British school life and we hope to inspire overseas children to become global citizens through British education.
As pupils’ de facto guardians during their stay in this country an enormous amount of trust is placed in us – both by students and their parents, most of whom reside in China.
A customer-centric approach to safety
So when the pandemic struck earlier this year, our responsibility was to repay that trust. As early as January we were requesting health check-ups, distributing an eHandbooks to students detailing Covid-19 prevention and purchasing PPE for students to allay parental concerns.
In March, we began arranging flights back to China, and by the end of the month all our students had returned home. During this time, we kept a regular flow of communication to parents back in China, answering their many questions and reassuring them when necessary. I know this early and recurrent communication was appreciated by parents.
Social integration and studies
Once students were safely back home, the next priority was to continue their education. This involved establishing online learning platforms for home schooling and encouraging students to maintain social links with their peers and staff.
We monitored student progress and provided educational resources as a supplement. Throughout these difficult times, we stressed prioritising tasks, flexibility of working style, empathy for students and their families, technologies and creation.
Rather than actively seeking a financial return on our actions, we focused on students’ well-being and sought to minimise any negative experiences. Nevertheless, we believed our efforts would benefit the company in the long term.
Excellent educational and financial results
And this has come to pass. Keeping the customer experience front and centre has led to increased trust from our clients. Our customer retention rate has risen from an already healthy 88.2 per cent to 94.4 per cent. There have been enhanced financial benefits too. Our online tuition revenue grew to £43,110 during lockdown – up from £8,300 in the same period last year. Furthermore, no existing Chinese customers requested a ‘discount’ for a contract renewal.
Throughout this chaotic and traumatic journey, students still achieved notable academic results. There were excellent school reports, exam results, higher education offers and even scholarships and prizes.
And we have been recognised too. We recently won a Silver Award at this year’s UK Customer Experience Awards for demonstrating great customer experience during the crisis.
The judges noted our actions were “an excellent example of providing good customer experience during the crisis, with some great lessons learned.” They also praised our values (‘Your child, their education, our guidance’) stating: “This was a proactive approach, thinking outside the box, with an ability to pivot and increased revenue through tutoring income – as well as maintaining client relationships with schools and parents.”
The key takeaway from 2020, then? The more things change, the more some things – in this case the importance of customer experience – should stay the same.