Sunday, 2 September 2018

Come on schools - give parents a helping hand

This article was prompted by an advertisement in Saturday's Times...



You are choosing a school for your child, so you read this advertisement. And you are going to use every other resource available: friends, colleagues, the school websites and reviews.

Reviews?

Do parents really use reviews to help them choose a school? Well the answer, currently, is that they try to. How do we know this? Because Google helpfully tell us. Let's take just one example, heading up the advertisements in the supplement above, UCS Hampstead. First let's see how we know that prospective parents are searching for reviews...




...there we are. The fourth most popular search is 'UCS Hampstead reviews'. Interestingly way ahead of 'A level results' - and we know how seriously schools (and prospective parents) take those. 

And what is the first thing a lot of interested parents will have done after reading the advertisement? That's right - they will have searched online. So what are schools doing to ensure their prospective parents get a great - even fair - impression when they search online? The answer, currently, is 'not a lot'. UCS is in exactly the same boat as almost every other school advertising in the Times yesterday...


...Helpful? No, we thought not too.

So what should UCS Hampstead and other schools be doing? Here's a simple five-point guide...

  1. Invite stakeholders to review them 
  2. Have those reviews moderated by an independent body (HelpHound?) to ensure, as far as possible, that they are genuine
  3. Publish those reviews on the school website
  4. Invite their reviewers to copy their reviews to Google
  5. Respond to all their reviews

Addressing schools' concerns

These break down into three simple headings...

1.  That they will attract malicious reviews, principally from pupils (of the school or other schools), ex-pupils or others.

2.  That stakeholders will resent being asked to write a review

3.  That the process will be difficult to manage


Our answers...

Three months ago a private school agreed to be a 'guinea pig' for HelpHound. They were reassured... 
  • that HelpHound had a wealth of experience in managing reviews for complex high-value businesses
  • that HelpHound provides much more than just software and moderation - we support our clients every step of the way
...and that HelpHound would address the three issues above as follows...

1.  Malicious reviews would be addressed by our moderation system pre-publication.

2.  That, far from resenting the invitation to review, our experience suggested that stakeholders would actively appreciate - welcome even - being asked to voice their opinions.

3.  That the process would be very straightforward and compliment their existing communications with stakeholders.


The results

We are pleased to report that the exercise has been a great success. The reviews - which we have hosted 'off-site' (i.e. not on the school's own website) until now are about to be transferred to the school's own website, and if you read just one you will understand why...



...and the same applies to the School on Google where they has one single-word review - albeit that word was 'Fab!' - and a single rating (a rating is where someone has allocated stars but no words, not very helpful) before joining HelpHound...




So, schools, before you embark on your next round of advertising, adopt HelpHound and harness the power of reviews. Your prospective parents will thank you for it straight away, and their children will thank you for it when they have the kind of experience we see reviewed above.



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